Mark Brunner joined The Cohen Group in 2015 after serving as the Senior Advisor to Senator Mark Warner of Virginia from 2009 to 2015 following a 20-year career in the United States Navy where he served as a Navy pilot. During his tenure in the Navy, he also served on the staff of the NATO Military Committee, as a Defense Policy Advisor at the US Mission to the European Union, and as the Military Legislative Assistant and Defense Fellow to Senator John Warner.
As Senior Advisor, Mr. Brunner was Senator Warner's principal counselor on defense, foreign policy, and energy issues. He also served as the Director of the Senate India Caucus during Senator Warner's tenure as the Caucus Co-Chair. During this time, Mr. Brunner was instrumental in growing the Caucus to become the largest country caucus in the US Senate, and refocusing its efforts to address issues of importance for US-India foreign policy and business-to-business relationships. He created a partnership between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the India Caucus to bring basketball to India, and facilitated a landmark agreement between the Indian government, American community colleges, and private sector foundations to construct new schools in India for vocational skills training.
Mr. Brunner's work on energy policy enabled him to co-lead the creation of the National Commission on Energy Efficiency, and he served as Senator Warner's designated representative to the task force, which produced a blueprint for how the US could double its energy productivity by 2030. The plan was endorsed by President Obama in the 2013 State of the Union address, and Mark was recognized as an "Energy Hero" by the Alliance to Save Energy and inducted into the Energy Efficiency Hall of Fame. He led the Virginia Congressional delegation's defense policy efforts with a bipartisan approach to promote a Virginia defense industry that receives over $50 billion in annual Pentagon spending. In 2011, Mr. Brunner was also a key driver in creating a comprehensive plan to reform Arlington National Cemetery by creating a private sector task force that provided a pro bono assessment of the process and technology challenges at Arlington. Army officials implemented the recommendations that transformed the business and management processes for our nation's most hallowed ground. Mr. Brunner was recognized with Northern Virginia Technology Council's "Chairman's Award" for this innovative solution.
Prior to working for Senator Warner, Mr. Brunner served for 20 years in the Navy, retiring in 2009 at the rank of Commander. He began his Navy service as a pilot, and flew several types of aircraft and helicopters, deploying multiple times on ships including the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) to the Arabian Gulf, where he led the first H-60B Seahawk armed helicopter deployment on an aircraft carrier. During his last Arabian Gulf deployment, he flew over 50 combat zone missions, including many low-altitude flights at night with US Navy SEALS intercepting Iraqi vessels. Later in his Navy career, he served, as the Military Legislative Assistant and legislative fellow for Senator John Warner when he was Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and as one of the Navy's senior representatives to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees covering aviation funding and all classified programs.
Mr. Brunner earned a BA in Political Science from Tulane University, an MA in National Security Affairs from Georgetown University (highest honors), and is currently pursuing a PhD. He is a member of the Atlantic Council, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Seminar XXI program for national policy leaders and the Air Command and Staff College. In 2015, Mark was awarded the US Navy's Superior Public Service Award by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Mark is a member of National Journal's "insider's group"-- the top 50 national security policy experts who provide an assessment of foreign policy and defense issues through a weekly poll featured in National Journal. Mr. Brunner was recently appointed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve as the Special Advisor to the Virginia Commission on Cyber Security, and also serves on the Board of the William & Mary Law School's Puller Veterans' Clinic.