Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa: Who Is Mark Gilbert?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

President Barack Obama nominated Mark David Gilbert to be ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa on October 30, 2013. Because Gilbert’s nomination was not taken up before the end of the year, Obama had to renominate him on January 6, 2014. Gilbert’s nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and it now awaits approval by the full Senate. A major campaign bundler, he raised $1.2 million for Obama’s various campaigns.

 

Gilbert was on Obama’s team long before he was on Obama’s campaign and diplomatic teams. Gilbert played seven games in 1985 for the Chicago White Sox, whose most famous fan is the president.

 

Gilbert was born in Atlanta on August 22, 1956. While he was growing up, his father and grandfather owned a furniture store in P{ompano Beach, Florida. Gilbert was raised in a baseball family. His father had played in the White Sox organization and his grandfather had been offered a tryout by baseball legend Connie Mack. Gilbert played baseball and basketball for Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale and went to Florida State University, where he earned a degree in finance.

 

He was drafted in the 14th round in 1978 by the Chicago Cubs. He was later sent to the Cincinnati Reds organization and after the 1984 season, Gilbert signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox. Sent to triple-A Buffalo, he was called up to the big club in late July to replace a player who’d gone on the disabled list. Gilbert played in seven games in one week, hitting a respectable .273 with three runs batted in. But he injured his knee and was sent back to Buffalo and never played in the majors again.

 

In 1986, Gilbert started putting his finance degree to use, taking a job as an investment banker with Drexel Burnham Lambert. He moved to Goldman Sachs in 1989 as a vice president in their equities division, concentrating on bringing in wealthy clients. In 1996, Gilbert was lured to Lehman Bros. to perform the same type of work. He moved to Barclays after it acquired the assets of Lehman in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown.

 

Gilbert has been a long-time supporter of Democratic candidates. He was on the Democratic finance committee during the campaign of the man who would now become his boss, John Kerry. Gilbert was an early supporter of Obama, joining his national finance committee in 2007, and serving again in 2011-2012. After the 2008 election, Gilbert served as deputy national finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2013.

 

Gilbert and his wife Nancy have two daughters: Dani, who worked for Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Elizabeth.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

New US Ambassador’s Appointment Delayed (by Kurt Bayer, New Zealand Herald)

Former Baseball Player On Deck To Become US Ambassador (by Ben Walker, Associated Press)

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