Ambassador to Norway: Who is Barry White?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Barry B. White, sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Norway on October 21, 2009, is another of President Barack Obama’s top fundraisers to receive a diplomatic post. A longtime attorney and business fixture in Boston, White has been involved in Massachusetts and national campaigns for Democratic presidential candidates, including those for Paul Tsongas and Bill Clinton.

White, 66, was educated at Harvard, receiving his undergraduate degree (1964), magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and his JD (1967) from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude. He was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
He briefly tried his hand at government work, serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Public Health Service from 1967-1969 in the legislative liaison office of the Surgeon General. But he found himself more interested in private law practice, and joined the firm of Foley, Hoag LLP.
Still there forty years later, White had become a senior partner at the firm. Before his appointment as ambassador to Norway, he spent the last 13 years serving as chairman and managing partner (in effect the CEO) of Foley, Hoag. His legal work has focused on technology business ventures, with extensive experience advising middle market corporations on merger and acquisition transactions and on issuing, refinancing and restructuring private and publicly held corporate debt.
Additionally, White served from 1994-1995 as chair of Lex Mundi, the world’s largest international association of independent law firms, and he co-founded the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation to provide free legal advice to social entrepreneurs around the world.
In Boston business circles, he has served as secretary and general counsel, as well as a member of the executive committee, for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and as a director of the Massachusetts Alliance for International Business.
White has been involved in Democratic politics in Massachusetts for many years. In 1992, he was chairman of the Paul Tsongas for President campaign, and later the New England Lawyers’ Committee for Clinton/Gore. The following year he was co-chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Platform Committee, and in 1996, he co-chaired the New England Lawyers’ Committee for Clinton/Gore. In addition, he has served on the finance committees of many Democratic senators and congressmen.
White was an early supporter of Barack Obama. In June 2007 he began organizing Massachusetts lawyers for ObamaAccording to, White bundled between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Along with his wife, Eleanor, he has contributed more than $100,000 since 1989 to candidates, of which 98% has gone towards Democrats.
White’s other activities include involvement in the American Bar Association (Business Section and International Section), Edgewater Technology, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, the Boston Municipal Research Bureau (director), the Northeastern University School of Social Science, Public Policy and Urban Affairs, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (president, 1993-1995), and Boston University’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Also, he served as counsel to the Massachusetts Special Commission on Business Tax Policy, and as counsel to a Special Commission on the Decennial Census.
White and his wife have three sons.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Barry B. White (Foley Hoag Profile)


Liv Goldstein 14 years ago
I was watching the interview on TV2, and jumped in my chair when the reporter asked if you were going to celebrate Christmas the Norwegian way. I admire your answer. (I guess there is a reason you are a diplomat...) It is also fun to observe (like in the comment above)that Norwegians think that snow and skiing etc is something that every American find exotic and foreign. My husband is from Worcester, so I do know it is not the case. My husband and I are sorry we were not able to make it to the Thanksgiving Shabbat dinner, as we were enjoying a vacation on Tenerife! Have a wonderful Hanukkah!
Bjørge 14 years ago
Welcome to Norway, hope you enjoy your time here on the top of the world. My tip to all newcomers is to take up cross county skiing, if you learn to enjoy it, you will understand Norwegians. It's about freedom, space, nature and hard work, everything we hold dear.

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