|Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs|
May 12, 1994 – December 23, 1997
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Frank E. Loy|
|Counselor of the Department of State|
April 23, 1993 – April 30, 1994
|Preceded by||Robert Zoellick|
|Succeeded by||Wendy Sherman (1997)|
|United States Senator|
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1993
|Preceded by||Gary Hart|
|Succeeded by||Ben Nighthorse Campbell|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Colorado's 2nd district
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1987
|Preceded by||Donald Brotzman|
|Succeeded by||David Skaggs|
Timothy Endicott Wirth
September 22, 1939
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
|Relations||John Wirth (brother)|
Peter Wirth (nephew)
|Education||Harvard University (BA, MA)|
Stanford University (PhD)
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1961–1967|
|Unit||United States Army Reserve|
Timothy Endicott "Tim" Wirth (born September 22, 1939) is an American politician from Colorado who served as a Democrat in both the United States Senate (1987-1993) and the United States House of Representatives (1975–1987). He also served in several appointed roles in government, including as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Education during the Nixon Administration and Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs for the U.S. State Department during the Clinton Administration. From 1998 to 2013, he served as the president of the United Nations Foundation, and currently sits on the Foundation's board.
Wirth is a graduate of Graland Country Day School (1954) in Denver, and Phillips Exeter Academy. He received his B.A. and graduate degree from Harvard University and was awarded a PhD from Stanford University in 1973. He served as a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers.
Wirth served as a vice president of Great Western Cities Company, part of Great Western United, in 1970-1971. The CEO of GWU was William M. White Jr., age 31, in 1971, when Wirth described White and Wirth reading Future Shock and passing copies to the "older generation" of company directors.
Wirth began his political career as a White House Fellow under President Lyndon Johnson and was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Education in the Nixon Administration. In 1970, Wirth returned to Colorado and ran successfully for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974, unseating incumbent Republican Donald G. Brotzman by a 52% to 48% margin. He represented Boulder and the Denver suburbs in Congress from 1975–1987. As a first term Congressman, Wirth organized the "Freshman Revolt" in 1975 unseating a handful of "old bull" committee chairmen, and encouraging others to be more inclusive. Wirth had a number of difficult reelections during his 12 years in Congress, and raised large sums of money to get reelected. With colleagues Norman Mineta, Leon Panetta and Dick Gephardt, he was part of "The Gang of Four" on the House Budget Committee challenging the budget process with bipartisan budget ideas, and developing a high technology and alternative budget in 1982. As Chair of the Telecommunications Subcommittee, he was the lead legislator in bringing competition to the video and telephone industries. Wirth also authored the Indian Peaks Wilderness Act of 1978.
In 1986, Wirth ran for the U.S. Senate and on his party's nomination unopposed to replace Sen. Gary Hart. The general election was more difficult than expected, and he defeated fellow U.S. Representative Ken Kramer by a narrow margin. In the Senate, he focused on environmental issues, particularly global climate change and population stabilization. In 1988, he organized the historic Hansen hearings on climate change. Wirth in an interview to PBS, claimed he intentionally scheduled it on the historically hottest day of the summer and that he had the windows to the hearing room opened the night before so the air conditioning would not be working. However, in 2015 the Washington Post debunked the story, and Wirth retracted it: While I’ve heard that version of events in the past, and repeated it myself, I’ve since learned it didn’t happen. So let’s put those stories to rest.... With his close friend, the late Senator John Heinz (R-PA), he authored "Project 88", outlining the groundbreaking "Cap and Trade" idea which became law in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. He authored the far-reaching Colorado Wilderness Bill which became law in 1993, and with Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) he authored major legislation focused on population stabilization. Wirth also organized the Senate Task Force on the Expansion of Major League Baseball, which became a major factor in the awarding of a new expansion franchise to Denver. He chose not to run for re-election in 1992, citing in a front page cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine (August 9, 1992), frustration with the ever-increasing role of money in politics to the exclusion of focus on public policy.
Following two decades of elected politics, Wirth was national Co-chair of the Clinton-Gore campaign, and served in the U.S. Department of State as the first Undersecretary for Global Affairs from 1993 to 1997. He led U.S. foreign policy in the areas of refugees, population, environment, science, human rights and narcotics. He chaired the United States Delegation at the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development, and was the lead U.S. negotiator for the Kyoto Climate Conference until he resigned from the Administration in late 1997 to accept Ted Turner's invitation to be President of the newly created United Nations Foundation. As President of the UN Foundation (UNF) from 1998 to 2013, Wirth organized and led the formulation of the Foundation's mission and program priorities, which include the environment, women and population, children's health, and peace, security and human rights. The Foundation also engages in extensive public advocacy, fundraising, and institutional strengthening efforts on behalf of the United Nations. By mobilizing these diverse resources, the UN Foundation works with many public and private partners and manages a variety of campaigns to help solve major problems facing the UN and the world community.
The University of Colorado at Denver has an endowed Tim Wirth Chair in Environmental and Community Development Policy. The current holder of the chair is the man Wirth replaced in the Senate, Gary Hart.
Wirth is married to Wren Winslow Wirth, the president of the Winslow Foundation. They have two children, Chris and Kelsey Wirth. Their daughter, Kelsey Wirth, is the co-founder of the orthodontic production company Align Technology. Their son, Chris Wirth, is the founder of Liberty Puzzles, the largest American laser-cut jigsaw puzzle company, based in Boulder, Colorado. His nephew, Peter Wirth, was elected to the New Mexico Legislature in 2004. His brother, the late John Wirth, was the Gildred Professor of Latin American Studies at Stanford University.
While I’ve heard that version of events in the past, and repeated it myself, I’ve since learned it didn’t happen. So let’s put those stories to rest...