Why Fred Cuny

Fred Cuny was, at the time of his disappearance and death in Chechnya in 1995, perhaps the most influential thinker, analyst, innovator, and practitioner in humanitarian response. A significant number of the approaches to emergency and humanitarian management now in practice can be traced to his work.

Fred Cuny remains influential since his ideas and concepts are the foundations for much of the way we approach assistance during and after emergencies. He was first and foremost a practitioner, but also wrote dozens of books and articles, led several significant research projects, and devised and supported many, many education initiatives. He designed creative relief operations in more than 60 countries that almost always challenged the conventional wisdom on how to bring humanitarian assistance and how to change social and economic equations that led to the problem to begin with. Many leaders of governments and international organizations asked for his help.  

Fred Cuny could be charming, overbearing, charismatic, sensitive, infuriating, and diplomatic – all before lunchtime. He moved his ideas and his teams into action quickly and was seen as a guy that could get things done.   He made close and loyal friends and followers but developed many detractors. He didn’t suffer fools. His unmitigated confidence in himself and his insistence that his ideas were synonymous with the right answer often ruffled a lot of feathers. But almost everyone who heard him talk about his analysis of a humanitarian problem, a new idea, an approach, a design for assistance, or a needed policy change were impressed with his command of the facts and figures and his ability to innovate and bring a clear and convincing plan to the fore in the midst of the chaos of a complex emergency.  

The Cuny Center

When Fred Cuny founded the consulting company Intertect in 1969, he and a few colleagues also founded a non-profit, The Intertect Institute, to perform complementary research and resource collection. Re-named “The Cuny Center for the Study of Societies in Crisis” after this death, and supported by his friends and colleagues, it continued to function until 2020.  The Center was active in supporting innovative research, and helped to curate the large collection of reference materials assembled by Intertect and to place it at Texas A&M University as The  Frederick C. Cuny/INTERTECT Collection.  This website is the Center’s final tribute and homage to Fred.  

Who we are

This site was created by Fred’s friends and colleagues on the Board of Trustees of the Cuny Center, with contributions from many other friends who worked with Fred during his career, as well as those who have come to admire his work since.

The goal of the website to both honor Fred Cuny, and to be a resource for that to which he devoted his life –  improving the practice of emergency response and humanitarian assistance.