In addition to Washington assignments in the State Department, Pentagon, and on Capitol Hill, Ambassador Cavanaugh served at US diplomatic missions in Berlin, Moscow, Tbilisi, Rome and Bern. He was awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship in 1991, working with Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) on defense policy and nuclear weapons issues. In 1992, he was chargé d’affaires, leading the team that established the first American Embassy to the new Republic of Georgia. He later served as deputy chief of mission in Switzerland.
Under Presidents Clinton and Bush, Cavanaugh spearheaded or helped advance peace efforts involving Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Tajikistan and Turkey. In 2000, he was confirmed by the US Senate as Ambassador/Special Negotiator responsible for conflicts in Eurasia and US Co-Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. This work culminated in peace talks between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Key West, Florida in 2001. Cavanaugh was elected president of the State Department’s 44th Senior Seminar and later crisscrossed the globe as a team leader and management expert for the Office of the Inspector General. His final government assignment was foreign policy/political advisor to US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen (later chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).
As a civilian, Cavanaugh has engaged in special projects for the US Department of State Inspector General in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Brazil.