United States Trade Representative: Who Is Michael Froman?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Wall Street revolving door to government is spinning like a top in the Obama administration. The most recent titan of high finance to join the federal government is Michael Froman, whom President Barack Obama nominated on May 2, 2013, to be the next U.S. Trade Representative, a position located in the White House that functions as the President’s lead negotiator on all international trade matters. If confirmed by the Senate, Froman would succeed Ron Kirk, the former Dallas mayor who resigned as trade representative in February after serving the whole of Obama's first term.


Born August 20, 1962, in San Rafael, California, the son of Abe Froman, who ran a furniture store, Michael Froman graduated from Tamalpais School for Boys, now the Branson School, in 1981. He earned an A.B. in Public and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University in 1985, a doctorate in International Relations at Oxford University in 1988, and a J.D. at Harvard Law School in 1991, where he was a classmate of Barack Obama and served with Obama on the staff of the Harvard Law Review. At Oxford, Froman's dissertation was entitled “The Development of the Idea of Detente in American Political Discourse, 1952-1985.”


After graduating law school, Froman served as liaison for the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative legal assistance program in Albania. He was also a member of the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.


After the election of Bill Clinton to the presidency in November 1992, Froman immediately joined his administration, serving as director for International Economic Affairs on the newly-created National Economic Council and the National Security Council from January 1993 to December 1995.


Froman then went to work for Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, serving as deputy assistant secretary for Eurasia and the Middle East from January to December 1996, focusing on economic policy toward Russia and Central/Eastern Europe, as well as the economic aspects of the Dayton Accords, and as Treasury chief of staff between January 1997 and July 1999.


As the Clinton years wound down, Froman followed Rubin to Wall Street, joining Citigroup (2012 revenues: $70.17 billion), as chief of staff in the Office of the Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of the Internet Operating Group from December 1999 to January 2001. He held other positions as Citi as well, including president and CEO of CitiInsurance, head of Emerging Markets Strategy, and COO and managing director of Citigroup Infrastructure Investors at Citigroup Alternative Investments.


Although Froman lost touch with Obama after Harvard, he advised Obama on policy during Obama's 2004 Senate campaign and introduced him to Robert Rubin, eventually serving on the 12-member advisory board of the Obama campaign’s transition team. Froman also functioned as a prodigious fundraiser for Obama, especially among younger Wall Street Democrats, bundling at least $200,000 in contributions. Froman and his wife have donated a total of $56,560 to Democratic candidates, parties and outside spending groups since they started donating in 2000, including $7,700 to Obama.


After the 2008 election, Froman returned to the White House, serving as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, a position held jointly, as during the Clinton years, at the National Security Council and the National Economic Council.


Froman is married to Nancy Goodman, the founder and Executive Director of Kids v Cancer, which she started after the death of the couple's son, Jacob, at age ten from medulloblastoma, a rare form of pediatric brain cancer. They have one son, Benjamin, and one daughter, Sarah. 

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Biography (Wikipedia)

Marin Native Froman Tapped by Obama to be U.S. Trade Representative (Marin Independent Journal)

Michael Froman and the Revolving Door (by Felix Salmon, Reuters)


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