Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement



Washington, DC


Global Foreign Affairs



Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement is a left-of-center foreign policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. It is a joint project of the University of Pennsylvania, which houses the center, and the now-defunct Biden Foundation, which functioned as its fiscal sponsor.

The center calls for accelerating globalization and growing the United States’ involvement in world affairs. It also pushes for greater institutional control of media narratives, citing allegedly widespread “misinformation involving global issues,” and for more aggressive promotion of left-wing values around the world. President Joe Biden, then in his role as former Vice President, promoted the center when it launched in 2018 and has been closely involved in setting its agenda. 1 It is one of seven entities under the Penn Global brand. 2

In January 2023, the Penn Biden Center came under scrutiny after classified documents were found at the center, and reports emerged that foreign donors, particularly from China, had injected tens of millions of dollars into the University of Pennsylvania shortly after the center’s launch. 3

Parent Organization

The Biden Foundation was launched in 2017 by then-former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden to push for the left-of-center agenda that Biden had helped implement during his time in the Senate and the Obama administration. This included economic policies geared towards economic redistribution and advocacy for LGBT interests. Despite labeling itself as nonpartisan, the board of the foundation included a number of Democratic Party officials, some of whom went on to join the Biden 2020 presidential campaign, most notably Biden’s sister Valerie Biden Owens. The foundation also relied on financial backing from several major left-wing grantmaking organizations, such as the Gill Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The foundation shut down in 2019 when Biden launched his 2020 presidential campaign. 4



The Penn Biden Center framed liberal international developments and trends related to them, such as cross-border movements of peoples and disruptions in job markets due to automation, as inevitable. It also portrayed the United States’ leading role in advancing globalization as a net positive, claiming that the American-led international order “has helped channel forces of change in the direction of progress.” In addition to promoting what it calls “American internationalism,” the center recommended strategies for countering opposition from populations which have experienced negative consequences due to these trends. 5 The center condemned nations and leaders which attempt to adopt value systems and policy agendas opposed to American-led globalization and imposition of left-wing values. 6

One of the center’s key lines of effort within the United States was pushing for the expansion of refugee admissions. The center explicitly called for American government and civil society institutions to scale up their infrastructure and prepare for a “multifold” increase in arrivals, while also suggesting that “nearly 80 million people” around the world are in a refugee status. The center claimed that accepting large numbers of refugees would be a powerful foreign policy tool, and future Biden administration Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it “a national security imperative” during his tenure at the center. 7


The center’s programming includes grants, papers, and lectures, often involving members of the center partnering with significant outside organizations and individuals. 8 It has produced a relatively small number of public-facing papers, panels, and other work since its namesake Joe Biden was elected to the presidency in 2020. 9

The Center’s allegedly sparse staff and high-profile affiliations earned it criticism in the left-of-center magazine American Prospect. An article published in 2021 accused the center of acting as a “revolving door” and Washington, D.C. influence location for key Biden allies who later entered the Biden administration. 10


Antony Blinken was the managing director of the Penn Biden Center. Blinken is a long-time Democratic Party operative: he was a member of the National Security Council under the Clinton administration and a foreign policy speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, and later as the national security advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden. During the presidency of Donald Trump, Blinken helped found WestExec Advisors, a national security and foreign policy consulting firm which marketed itself on its partners’ close ties to the military, defense industry, and intelligence community. He also joined the newly founded private equity firm Pine Island Capital Partners, which employed a number of national security establishment insiders, most notably future Biden administration Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Following the 2020 presidential election, Biden nominated Blinken to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. 11

Michael Carpenter was the Center’s Managing Director. Nominated and approved as an ambassador in the Biden administration in 2021, he previously worked in advisory roles for the Department of Defense and for Biden in his role as Vice President. Prior to his political roles, he was a career staffer at the U.S. Department of State. 12


Discovery of Classified Materials

In 2023, classified documents from President Joe Biden’s time as Vice President were reported to have been discovered at the Penn Biden Center office. Other documents with classification markings were later uncovered at different locations, including at Biden’s personal home. 13

In January 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he had launched an investigation in light of the discovery of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center. 14 Later that month, the House of Representatives’ Oversight and Accountability Committee also opened an investigation into the center, requesting records of visitors who may have had access to the documents. 15 Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the former managing director of the center, denied having been aware of the documents. 16

After initial reports of the investigation surfaced, several observers drew attention to the possibility of foreign donor influence on the Biden Penn Center during the time when it was active and possessed the classified documents. The Washington Free Beacon pointed out that the University of Pennsylvania received $61 million from donors in China between 2017 and 2020, and the National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group, criticized the Penn Biden Center as “a dark-money, revolving-door nightmare.” 17 18 U.S. Representative James Comer (R-KY), the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, has raised concerns that Chinese donors were able to dictate the center’s agenda, and by extension that of the Biden White House, as numerous center staff went on to join the administration. 19 U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have also expressed concerns over the document leak. 20

The center has maintained that it does not accept any outside contributions, but it does receive funding from the university. 21 The university further released a statement backing the Penn Biden Center’s claim, claiming that no foreign entities had given money to the Center and that “one hundred percent of” the Center’s budget “comes from university funds.” The statement acknowledged $1,100 in unsolicited gifts from two American donors and said the university “is fully compliant with federal law regarding the reporting of foreign gifts and contracts.” 22

Biden Salary

President Joe Biden has claimed to have been a “full professor” at the University of Pennsylvania for four years, with other duties directly affiliated within the purview of the Biden Center. However, investigations by outside organizations determined that Biden was an honorary professor, teaching few classes while earning most of his nearly million-dollar income from public appearances on the campus. 23


  1. Lauren Hertzler. “Penn’s new home in Washington.” Penn Today. February 8, 2018. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  2. “About Penn Global,” Penn Global. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  3. Patrick Hauf. “Chinese donors funneled millions into university running Penn Biden Center during Biden presidency: report.” Fox News. January 18, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  4. Christina Wilkie. “Biden Foundation suspends operations, effective immediately.” CNBC. April 26, 2019. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  5. “Advancing the Dialogue on Internationalism.” Penn Biden Center. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  6. “Addressing Threats to the Liberal International Order.” Penn Biden Center. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  7. [1]“The Refugee Admissions Project.” Penn Biden Center. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  8. Penn Biden Center, “Advancing the dialogue on internationalism,” Penn Global. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  9. Penn Biden Center, “Addressing threats to the liberal international order,” Penn Global. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  10. Annabelle Williams, “The Penn Biden Center’s Revolving Door,” American Prospect. January 11, 2021. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  11. Laura Kelly, Alex Gangitano. “Blinken ‘surprised’ government documents were taken to Biden think tank.” The Hill. January 17, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  12. Ambassador Michael R. Carpenter, U.S. Mission to the OSCE, Accessed January 23, 2023.
  13. Melissa Quinn. “House Oversight chairman asks University of Pennsylvania for info on Biden think tank donors, visitor logs.” CBS News. January 18, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  14. Adriana Diaz et al. “U.S. attorney reviewing documents marked classified from Joe Biden’s vice presidency found at Biden think tank.” CBS News. January 10, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  15. [1]Melissa Quinn. “House Oversight chairman asks University of Pennsylvania for info on Biden think tank donors, visitor logs.” CBS News. January 18, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  16. Laura Kelly, Alex Gangitano. “Blinken ‘surprised’ government documents were taken to Biden think tank.” The Hill. January 17, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  17. Alana Goodman. “Since Biden Inauguration, Anonymous Chinese Donors Poured Millions Into University That Houses His Think Tank.” The Washington Free Beacon. January 18, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  18. Isabel Vincent. “Penn Biden Center where classified papers were found is a ‘dark-money nightmare.’” New York Post. January 11, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  19. [1]“Comer: Anonymous Chinese Donations to UPenn Potentially Influenced Biden Administration Policies.” Committee on Oversight and Accountability. January 18, 2023. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  20. [1]“Democratic Lawmakers Criticize Biden After Classified Documents Found.” Voice of America. January 23, 2023. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  21. [1]“Our Mission Statement.” Penn Biden Center. Accessed January 22, 2023.
  22. Molly Cohen, “Penn denies allegations of foreign influence at Biden Center after House inquiry to Magill,” The Daily Pennsylvanian, January 18, 2023. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  23. Nur Ibrahim, “Was Biden a ‘Full Professor’ at the University of Pennsylvania?” April 15, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  See an error? Let us know!

Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement

101 Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC