Ambassador to Iceland: Who Is Robert Barber?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

When big campaign donors are rewarded with plum ambassadorships—a practice engaged in by presidents of both parties—they are usually sent either to a tropical paradise like the Bahamas or a wealthy ally like Belgium. Not so Robert C. Barber, an attorney who raised more than $2.9 million for President Obama’s election campaigns. He was nominated October 30 to be the next ambassador to the North Atlantic island nation of Iceland. If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Luis Arreaga, a career Foreign Service Officer who took the post in 2010 and became known in Reykjavík as a “fun” ambassador for, among other things, participating in a “zombie walk” in 2013.


Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1950 and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Robert C. Barber graduated Phillips Academy in 1968. He earned an A.B. at Harvard College in 1972, a J.D. at Boston University School of Law in 1977, and a Master’s in City and Regional Planning at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 1977. During law school, Barber worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Boston and Brooklyn from 1974 to 1977.


After law school, Barber was an assistant district attorney for New York County from 1977 to 1981. In 1981, Barber joined the Boston law firm of Looney & Grossman LLP, where he has worked ever since, becoming a partner in 1985 and serving as managing partner from 2001 to 2003. His law practice focuses on start-up companies and commercial litigation.


Barber has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Social Law Library since 1998. He is a trustee of Phillips Brooks House Association and a director of Abbot Academy Association.


A Democrat, Barber donated $68,289 to Democrats from 2008 to 2012, $7,794 to Obama’s two campaigns, and $2,085 to Obama’s inaugurals. In 2008, he bundled contributions totaling between $100,000 and $200,000, while in 2012 his bundling exceeded $500,000. He has been involved in political campaigns at all levels, and has served as a Democratic ward committeeman in his hometown of Cambridge, Mass. Barber served on the Obama for America National Finance Committee, including the New England Steering Committee from 2007 to 2008 and as chair thereof from 2009 to 2012.   

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography (Looney and Grossman)

Obama Nominee for Ambassador to Iceland is a Cambridge Attorney (by State House News Service, Boston Globe)


ray Stecker 7 years ago
Rob, I hope all is well. I spent some time at Andover today with Jim Ventre. I am trying to find some files related to the exit of CMB. We haven't seen any of them sent over to Day Pitney or to me. We are being asked as a reference and do not want to speak out of turn. Can you help? All the best, Ray
Einar Ulfsson 7 years ago
Mr. Barber has taken the time to learn some Icelandic, an impressive effort and more than many of previous Iceland Ambassador's have done. It appears that he will take on the Ambassadorship with zeal and energy. May he be successful, and advance the relationship between the 2 of original 12 Nato Allies.
Jane Brownstein 7 years ago
Oh Marti.....I suppose every ambassador prior to those Obama selected was an expert in foreign relations? At least he is educated! Nothing like giving a man a chance to serve and give back. Nah, let's just assume he has nothing to bring to the table....
Marti Carr 7 years ago
Interesting the kind of cushy position you can buy for 2 million or more. Sir, you are a joke! Leadership is no longer about Statesmanship any more. Our leaders, like you, are social climbers. God Bless America! May you have many fine dinners on the American Taxpayers. The money is endless and will make you an even richer man with no soul. Enjoy!

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