Peter Cunningham, Commencement Speaker

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Several years ago the Hampton Bays School District began its distinguished speaker series at the High School Commencement Exercises. This year Peter Cunningham, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Communications and Outreach (OCO) at the Department of Education, imparted words of wisdom to the Class of 2010.

Composed of more than 125 employees, OCO is charged with broadcasting the President and Secretary’s education agenda, as well as supporting policy development and promotion. From the Secretary’s speeches to the Department’s website, OCO promotes the Department’s efforts to a variety of interested parties including national, regional and local press, education nonprofits and interest groups, elected officials, administrators, teachers, students and the general public. 

Upon joining the Department, Mr. Cunningham resigned as President of Cunningham Communications, a Chicago firm specializing in local government, politics and non-profits. Peter began his career as a reporter and writer for business and general interest publications including the Southampton Press. He went on to work for several years as a speechwriter for the Illinois Attorney General's office, the Finance Committee for the Chicago City Council, and for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. 

Mr. Cunningham is a graduate of Duke University, where he earned a BA in Philosophy, and Columbia University, where he earned a Master’s in Journalism.  In addition to a professional career as a Communications strategist, Mr. Cunningham is a guitar player with an affinity for jazz, blues and rock. His love of music is shared by his family, son Liam, age 16, daughter Sima, age 19—also musicians—and his wife, Jackie Kazarian, a Chicago-based artist.