Ambassador to the Dominican Republic: Who Is James “Wally” Brewster Jr.?
President Barack Obama’s recent nominations of several openly gay men to serve as ambassadors have been welcomed by the proposed host nations with a combination of praise and indifference, but little or no anger or hostility. That is because the host nations—including Australia, Denmark and Spain—are economically advanced countries where popular movements for gender and sexual equality have made great strides in recent decades.
The president’s nomination of James “Wally” Brewster to be the next ambassador to the Dominican Republic, however, has been greeted with an ugly example of homophobic hostility—with the nation’s highest ranking Catholic official as the ringleader. During a press conference last week, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, who is currently archbishop of Santo Domingo, referred to Brewster as a “maricón”—a derogatory terms that is usually translated in the U.S. as “faggot.”
Meanwhile, Monseñor Pablo Cedano, who is an auxiliary bishop of Santo Domingo, issued a veiled threat against the nominee. “I hope he does not arrive in the country because I know if he comes he is going to suffer and will have to leave,” Cedano said. Terming it “a lack of respect” that Obama “sent…a person of this kind as an ambassador,” he incongruously added, “[W]e don’t despise the person.”
Responding to what sounded like threats and attempting to defuse the situation, embassy spokesman Daniel Foote said that Brewster was nominated because of his ideas about democracy and that when he arrives, “Brewster arrives as an ambassador, he’s not coming here as an activist for the gay community.”
Brewster was one of Obama’s top “bundlers” during the 2012 campaign, raising more than $500,000 from other contributors for the Obama/Biden ticket. If confirmed by the Senate, Brewster would succeed Raúl Yzaguirre, who left the post in May due to health problems.
Born circa 1960, Brewster earned an A.A. in Marketing at Tyler Junior College in Texas in 1980 and a B.A. in Business Administration at Texas A&M University in 1983.
Brewster began his career with management and marketing positions in the Dallas, Texas, area at the Jim Collins Company and Carla Francis, Inc., eventually landing at The Rouse Company, where he was group marketing manager from January 1995 to January 1996, managing the marketing strategy for three area shopping malls.
Brewster spent the bulk of his career at Chicago-based General Growth Properties (GGP), a real estate investment trust where he was regional vice president of marketing for the southwest region from January 1996 to January 1999, vice president for corporate communications from January 1999 to January 2001, and executive officer and senior vice president from January 1999 to June 2010. During that final stint, General Growth bought Brewster’s former employer, The Rouse Company, in 2004. It was the largest retail real estate merger in American history, and GGP grew to be the nation’s second-largest shopping mall operator.
Since June 2010, Brewster has been managing partner at his own company, SB&K Global, a strategy consulting firm specializing in consumer dynamics, global retail strategy, marketplace positioning and brand expansion.
A lifelong Democrat, Brewster served Obama for America as national LGBT co-chair and national co-chair of the Obama Leadership Circle from April 2010 to November 2012, engaging mainly in fundraising to re-elect President Obama.
Brewster is not married, although he does have a long-term partner, Bob Satawake, with whom he lives in Chicago.
To Learn More:
Obama Announces Two More Gay Ambassadorial Nominees (by Trudy Ring, The Advocate)
Gay Nominee for US Ambassador Criticized, Praised in Dominican Republic (by Ezra Fieser, Miami Herald)
Gay Ambassador Nominee Sparks Controversy In The Dominican Republic (by J. Lester Feder, Buzzfeed)
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