Patrick Gaspard
United States Ambassador to South Africa
In office
October 16, 2013 – December 16, 2016
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byDonald Gips
Succeeded byLana Marks
White House Director of Political Affairs
In office
January 20, 2009 – February 1, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJonathan Felts
Succeeded byDavid Simas (2014)
Personal details
Born1967 (age 54–55)
Kinshasa, Congo-Kinshasa
Political partyDemocratic
EducationColumbia University (BA)

Patrick Hubert Gaspard[1] (born 1967) is an American politician and former diplomat who serves as president of Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank.

A noted Democratic Party leader and strategist,[2] Gaspard served as executive director of the Democratic National Committee from 2011 to 2013.[3] Gaspard served as United States Ambassador to South Africa from 2013 to 2016.[4] Prior to his appointment to lead CAP, Gaspard served as president of the Open Society Foundations from 2017 to 2020.

Early life

Patrick Hubert Gaspard was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, to parents from Haiti. His parents had moved to Congo at the behest of revolutionary leader Patrice Lumumba, who urged French-speaking professionals to move to the country.[5]

Gaspard moved with his parents to the United States when he was three years old, and he was raised in New York City.[6][7] Gaspard graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School[8] and attended Columbia University from 1994 to 1997.

Career

New York City politics

Gaspard's political career began in New York City, where he worked on Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign. In the 1989 New York City mayoral election, Gaspard worked on David Dinkins's successful campaign.[9]

Gaspard went on to serve as a special assistant in the Office of the Manhattan Borough President and as a special assistant in Dinkins' mayoral office. From 1998 to 1999, Gaspard was chief of staff to the New York City Council.[10] After leaving city hall, Gaspard became an aide and advisor to Lower East Side councilwoman Margarita Lopez.[11]

Gaspard was an advisor on Bill de Blasio's successful bid in the 2013 New York City mayoral election. Then-Public Advocate de Blasio personally thanked him in his primary victory speech, one of the few non-family members mentioned.[12] In September 2013, he brokered peace between de Blasio and his primary rival Bill Thompson following a contentious contest.[13]

National politics

From 2003 to 2004, he worked for Governor Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign as the National Deputy Field Director, and in 2004, was the National Field Director for America Coming Together.[14] Gaspard spent nine years as the executive vice president for politics and legislation for the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union,[15] the largest local union in America.[16][17]

Gaspard initially rejected the opportunity to work on Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2007 but later got the SEIU to endorse him. He officially joined the campaign as a political director in June 2008.[18]

Obama Administration and DNC

After Obama's election, he was named as Associate Personnel Director of President-elect Obama's transition team under Jim Messina.[19] He was the Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration from January 2009–11.[20][21]

Gaspard served as the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee from 2011–13, overseeing the party committee's efforts to re-elect President Obama.[21]

Ambassador Gaspard in 2014 with South Africa's Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mzwandile Masina.
Ambassador Gaspard in 2014 with South Africa's Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mzwandile Masina.

Ambassador to South Africa

It was leaked in March 2013 that President Obama was planning to nominate Gaspard to the post of United States Ambassador to South Africa.[22] His Senate confirmation hearing was held on July 24, 2013,[23] and he was sworn into the post on August 26, 2013.[24][25] He served in this position until 2016.

As Ambassador to South Africa, Gaspard worked to strengthen civil society and worked in partnership with the South African government to develop the country’s healthcare infrastructure and land ownership mitigation and to support innovations in local governance.[26] During his tenure, Gaspard worked to connect South African entrepreneurs to United States markets; develop clean, renewable, and efficient energy technologies; and to end wildlife trafficking.[27] Gaspard has been credited with helping the Obama Administration redesign PEPFAR to more efficiently work within South Africa's healthcare system.[28]

Post-Ambassadorship career

In September 2017, Gaspard replaced Chris Stone as president of the Open Society Foundations.[29] Gaspard served in this capacity until December 2020, when he was replaced by Mark Malloch Brown, a British Lord, Baron, and diplomat.[30]

Following the 2020 presidential election, media outlets reported that Gaspard was under consideration for the role of Secretary of Labor. However, this position was instead filled by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.[31] In the early stages of the 2021 New York City mayoral election, Gaspard reportedly advised Maya Wiley on her campaign.[32]

President and CEO of Center for American Progress

On June 30, 2021, liberal think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) announced that Gaspard would become its President and CEO, replacing Neera Tanden who left to become an advisor to Joe Biden.[33] Politico described Gaspard's new role as "powerful," due to the Biden administration's close ties to CAP.[34]

Personal life

Gaspard is married and has two children.[35] Gaspard is known for his love of poetry, and has cited poet and politician Aimé Césaire as a key inspiration of his. Gaspard is also an admirer of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Gaspard has reportedly taken part in acting and spoken word performances in his spare time.[36] Gaspard has received honorary doctorates from Columbia University and Bard College.[37]

Gaspard is a close friend of Bill de Blasio, the 109th Mayor of New York City. The pair met while working on David Dinkin's 1989 mayoral campaign,[38] and bonded over their shared progressive political views and familial ties to the Caribbean: Gaspard's parents are from Haiti and de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, is the daughter of immigrants from Barbados.[39]

Other activities

References

  1. ^ "Nominations of the 113th Congress - First Session" (PDF). [[United States Senate]. July 24, 2013. p. 3.
  2. ^ "Patrick Gaspard". The Washington Post Politics. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  3. ^ "Patrick Gaspard". Center for American Progress. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  4. ^ Spector, J. Brooks. "US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard, up close and pretty personal". Daily Maverick. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  5. ^ "PATRICK GASPARD". Embassy of Haiti. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  6. ^ Elliott, Stuart (January 18, 2009). "'Obama's People': A Who's Who". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  7. ^ "PATRICK GASPARD". Embassy of Haiti. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Buzz - April 13, 2018 - Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation". www.bthsalumni.org. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  9. ^ McLeod, Courtney (September 2006). "Rising Stars: 35 under 40; The next generation of political leaders in New York". City Hall News.
  10. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". whitehouse.gov. June 27, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2018 – via National Archives.
  11. ^ Pillifant, Reid. "Patrick Gaspard is Obama's 'likely' choice for ambassador to South Africa". Politico PRO. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  12. ^ Fermino, Jennifer (September 14, 2013). "Bill de Blasio campaign driven by political mix of former Clinton and Obama aides, U.S. ambassador to South Africa, and local talent". New York Daily News.
  13. ^ Powell, Nick (September 18, 2013). "Ambassador Bridged Divide Between de Blasio and Thompson". City & State. Archived from the original on September 18, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  14. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". whitehouse.gov. June 27, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2018 – via National Archives.
  15. ^ Stein, Sam (January 4, 2009). "Patrick Gaspard: Obama's Glue Man". HuffPost. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Sherman, Jake (June 28, 2010). "White House aide failed to disclose $40K payout". Politico. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  17. ^ McCallister, Jared (June 27, 2008). "Haitian American labor leader Patrick Gaspard in key job with Barack Obama". Daily News. Archived from the original on August 11, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  18. ^ Bacon Jr., Perry (March 4, 2013). "Patrick Gaspard, top Obama aide, headed to South Africa as ambassador - theGrio". theGrio. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  19. ^ "Obama Names Transition Team". U.S. News & World Report. November 5, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  20. ^ Elliott, Stuart (January 18, 2009). "'Obama's People': A Who's Who". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  21. ^ a b Smith, Ben (January 20, 2011). "Gaspard to DNC, Dillon to re-elect" Politico. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  22. ^ Bacon Jr., Perry (March 4, 2013). "Patrick Gaspard, top Obama aide, headed to South Africa as ambassador - theGrio". theGrio. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  23. ^ "Congressional Testimony of Patrick H. Gaspard Ambassador Designate to the Republic of South Africa Before the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate" (PDF). www.foreign.senate.gov. July 24, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  24. ^ VP Biden (Archived) [@VP44] (August 26, 2013). "Today at the @whitehouse, VP will ceremonially swear-in Patrick Gaspard as U.S. Amb. to South Africa. Stay tuned for a photo. @USEmbPretoria" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ "Haitian-American Patrick Gaspard was sworn as US Ambassador to South Africa". October 24, 2013. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  26. ^ Spector, J. Brooks (July 30, 2014). "US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard, up close and pretty personal". Daily Maverick. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  27. ^ "Patrick Gaspard to Step Down as Head of Open Society Foundations". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  28. ^ "Newsroom". Howard Newsroom. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  29. ^ "Patrick Gaspard to Step Down as Head of Open Society Foundations". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  30. ^ Financial Times (London), October 17, 2017 [1].
  31. ^ Nichols, Hans (December 4, 2020). "President of Soros foundation leaves amid speculation of potential Biden role". Axios. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  32. ^ Goldenberg, Sally. "Former de Blasio aide Alison Hirsh to join Maya Wiley's potential mayoral bid". Politico PRO. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  33. ^ Preiss, Allison (June 30, 2021). "RELEASE: Patrick Gaspard Named President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund". AmericanProgress.org. Retrieved November 30, 2020. Patrick Gaspard has been named president and CEO of the Center for American Progress and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action), the organizations announced today. Gaspard will be the third president and CEO of CAP since the organization was founded in 2003, succeeding Neera Tanden and John Podesta.
  34. ^ Stein, Sam; Korecki, Natasha (June 30, 2021). "The most influential think tank of the Biden era has a new leader". Politico. Retrieved July 27, 2021. His [Patrick Gaspard's] hiring ends a monthslong process to find a replacement for Neera Tanden, who left the post to become a senior adviser to President Joe Biden. And it immediately makes the 53-year-old Haitian-American one of the most powerful players in progressive politics outside of elected office.
  35. ^ Stein, Sam (January 4, 2009). "Patrick Gaspard: Obama's Glue Man". HuffPost. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  36. ^ "Patrick Gaspard Writes Poems, Collects Comics, Kills for Obama". Observer. June 23, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  37. ^ "Newsroom". Howard Newsroom. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  38. ^ Smith, Chris (October 25, 2013). "The 99% Mayor". New York. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  39. ^ Fermino, Jennifer (September 14, 2013). "Bill de Blasio campaign driven by political mix of former Clinton and Obama aides, U.S. ambassador to South Africa, and local talent". New York Daily News.
  40. ^ Board of Trustees Central European University (CEU).
  41. ^ Governance Paris Peace Forum.
Political offices Preceded byJohnathan Felts White House Director of Political Affairs 2009–2011 VacantTitle next held byDavid Simas2014 Diplomatic posts Preceded byDonald Gips United States Ambassador to South Africa 2013–2016 Succeeded byJessye LapennActing