Ambassador to Denmark: Who Is Rufus Gifford?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

President Barack Obama has nominated one of his top fundraisers to serve as the next ambassador to Denmark. Rufus Gifford, who most recently served as finance chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, raised millions for Obama’s two presidential runs, especially among the gay community, where he and his former partner were dubbed “Obama's Gay Gold Mine” in 2008. If confirmed by the Senate, Gifford would succeed Laurie Fulton, who served in Copenhagen from 2009 to 2012.


Born circa 1974 in the Boston area, Gifford grew up in a wealthy home, son of banker Chad Gifford, who ran some of Boston’s biggest financial institutions, including the Bank of Boston. After graduating St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1992, Gifford earned a double major in American Civilization and Theater at Brown University in 1996, where he was a classmate of Alexandra Kerry, daughter of another St. Paul’s alumnus, John Kerry, who at the time was the junior Senator from Massachusetts.


Moving west to work in the movie industry, from 1998 to 2004 Gifford was creative executive for Davis Entertainment, an independent film company in Los Angeles. Although some of his films were commercially successful, many were panned by critics. His credits include Dr. Doolittle 2 with Eddie Murphy, First Daughter with Katie Holmes, and Life or Something Like It with Angelina Jolie.


Growing discontented with his work, in 2003 Gifford got in touch with classmate Alexandra Kerry and did some “low level” finance work for John Kerry during the 2004 presidential primaries. After Kerry won the nomination, Gifford quit Hollywood and went to work for Kerry as deputy finance director for the western region, where he supervised the raising of more than $30 million.


Gifford worked as a political consultant in California from 2004 to 2008, signing on to work for Barack Obama in 2007. Since that time, he has held a series of job titles focused on fundraising. Together with his romantic partner of the time, Jeremy Barnard, Gifford raised almost $80 million from California for the Obama’s presidential campaign, the largest amount from any state.


From 2008 to 2009, he was the California finance director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, from 2009 to 2011 Gifford was finance director for the Democratic National Committee, and he was finance director for Obama for America from 2011 to 2012.


Gifford is a federal club member of the Human Rights Campaign and a partner in conservation for the World Wildlife Fund. 

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Banker’s Son Mines Gold for Obama (by Donovan Slack, Boston Globe)

Rufus Gifford: The Man Behind Obama's Historic Fundraising Machine (by Jennifer Bendery, Huffington Post)

Obama fundraising director said to be headed to Denmark (by Al Kamen, Washington Post)


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