Board of Visitors member S. Douglas Bunch: From Virginia to the World

S. Douglas Bunch / Courtesy Photo

After graduating from the College of William and Mary, Board of Visitors member S. Douglas Bunch ’02, J.D. ’06 still centers education within his career. Whether working as a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC or as a U.S. representative at the United Nations, Bunch continues to emphasize the importance of learning.

“I think education may be the number one factor in advancement and mobility, socially, economically, in terms of the progress of humankind in general,” Bunch said. “I think it’s the way that we can do the most to improve our own ability to help the rest of the world and advance our common interests as human beings.”

Bunch’s desire to improve opportunities for others is rooted in his personal experiences.

“I grew up in Augusta County, Virginia,” he said. “My dad drove a UPS truck and my mom was a public school teacher. I was the first person on my dad’s side of the family to graduate from college. For me, William and Mary was truly transformative. It inspired me to think critically, creatively and globally.” 

When investing in the education of others, Bunch thinks big and doesn’t shy away from ambitious projects. As a Monroe Scholar in 2000, he founded Ascanius: The Youth Classics Institute, a nonprofit organization which teaches classical studies to elementary and middle school students. In 2006, Bunch co-founded Global Playground, a nonprofit which has built educational infrastructure in 11 underdeveloped and developing countries.

“We run Global Playground on less than $75,000 per year,” Bunch said. “That allows us to build roughly a project a year. Normally classrooms or sometimes an entire school, sometimes a community center or a library… We’ve had a huge impact with a very small investment, and that’s been really fulfilling to see.”

Global Playground hosts students from the College participating in Freeman Intern Fellowships in East Asia. Starting in 2018, the Charles Center for Academic Excellence began sponsoring unpaid internships in the region.

“Both last summer and this coming summer there will be Freeman Fellows from William and Mary who are residents at our school in Northern Thailand,” Bunch said. “That alone has a significant impact.”

In 2022, President Joe Biden appointed Bunch as a public delegate of the United States to the 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly. In this role, he has made several statements in the UNGA Third Committee, which addresses social, humanitarian and cultural issues.

In this role, Bunch organized a consortium of colleges and universities to regularly engage with the U.S. mission at the U.N. The U.S. Mission to the U.N. hosts monthly briefings on “significant issues of mutual interest,” such as climate change, the one year anniversary of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, water and food insecurity.


“It’s been a privilege to be at the table and in the room when we advance U.S. policy interests, which very often are the policy interests across many other member states,” Bunch said.

Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Bunch to the College’s BOV in 2016, and he was reappointed by Governor Ralph Northam in 2020. As a member of the BOV, Bunch has a say in critical decisions at the College, including choices regarding tuition rates, granting tenure and hiring the College’s president. 

“We also set the vision and mission of the institution,” Bunch said. “We’re a constant sounding board for the president and other senior staff as they make important decisions.”

“We also set the vision and mission of the institution,” Bunch said. “We’re a constant sounding board for the president and other senior staff as they make important decisions.”

Bunch’s engagement with the College is extensive. As an undergraduate, he was an aide to former College President Timothy J. Sullivan. Bunch also received the inaugural W. Taylor Reveley Award in 2011, recognizing his commitment to public service, and spoke at the College’s first Lavender Graduation ceremony in 2018, celebrating the achievements of its LGBTQ+ graduates.

“The institution has progressed far beyond where it was when I arrived in 1998 but also when I graduated in 2002,” Bunch said. “We’re far more diverse, inclusive, [and] forward looking… [We’re] demonstrating to the rest of the world what a special place we are. A place that truly values undergraduate research. Where community means something. Where people have each other’s backs. Where the alumni community is strong and loyal. Where there’s a focus on development of your entire self as an undergraduate.”

Bunch attributes his experiences and perspective gained as an undergraduate at the College for his achievements as a lawyer and diplomat. He spoke optimistically about the College’s current state and its future.

“We’re in a really special place as an institution,” Bunch said. “President Rowe has been fearless in her leadership and bold in all the ways we needed. Entrepreneurial in ways that we asked her to be. She’s truly taken us to the next level and then some. We’re heading towards an exciting place.”

CORRECTION (4/18/23): Article was updated by Sarah Devendorf, the Standards and Practices Editor to change “The U.N. hosts monthly briefings…” to “The U.S. Mission to the U.N. host monthly briefings…”


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