CLIFFORD SOBEL, Vice Chair
Ambassador Sobel’s career has been noteworthy for its diversity in both the public and private sectors. He has served as Ambassador to the Netherlands and to Brazil, spanning both the Bush and Obama Administrations. In the private sector he has been an entrepreneur/manager, as well as President and Chairman of a technology company which was listed on the NASDAQ. He has served on NYSE Boards and not-for-profit boards.
Today he is managing partner of Valor Capital Group, a growth equity and venture capital investment firm focused on United States and Brazil cross border opportunities. He is also a partner in Related Brazil, a mixed-use developer in Brazil.
Presently he serves on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB), the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board (FAPB), and the Advisory Board for SOUTHCOM, the military command for Central and South America.
Ambassador Sobel serves on the boards of the Council of the Americas, Council of American Ambassadors, Christie’s Advisory Board for the Americas, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and co-chairs the Big Barn Dialogues Conference at Yellowstone, Montana, which focuses on the evolving relations between China and the United States.
Sobel served as US Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil from 2006 to 2009. As Ambassador, he promoted partnership between the United States and Brazil by reaching out to the federal, state, and municipal governments, the legislature, as well as the business and NGO communities. New bilateral initiatives included the Memorandum of Understanding on Biofuels, the CEO Forum (co-chaired by the Brazilian president’s office and the United States), new aviation agreements, and the re-establishment of senior bilateral military talks.
With the US corporate sector, Sobel started Mais Unidos, a corporate social responsibility initiative which brings together over 100 U.S. companies, and a new law enforcement program called Projecto Pontes, which established cooperation between U.S. government law enforcement agencies and federal and local law enforcement officials in Brazil.
Ambassador Sobel has received awards recognizing his contributions to bilateral relations from Brazil’s Ministry of Defense, as well as the state governments of Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, and Sergipe. In May 2009, the Brazil-American Chamber recognized Sobel and the CEO of Petrobras with its Man of the Year Award.
Sobel also served as Ambassador to the Netherlands from 2001 to 2005. During that time, he worked with the Netherlands on the first joint European-American conference on 21st century innovation and negotiated a cooperative HIV/AIDS program in Africa. After the 9-11 attacks, the US Embassy prioritized trade and travel security. The Netherlands was the first country to sign the Container Security Initiative with the United States and to implement new travel security programs at its ports and airports.
In 2004 the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sectors in the Netherlands named Ambassador Sobel personality of the year by for his contribution to the high-tech community. In January 2012, the American Chamber in the Netherlands recognized him for his accomplishments in Trans-Atlantic relations.
Ambassador Sobel’s career has included significant business, community, and philanthropic service. After serving in the Netherlands, Ambassador Sobel was on the Board of Directors of AEGON Insurance (NYSE AEG) and Alpinvest, one of the largest global private equity funds. He has also served on the Board of Diamond Offshore Drilling (NYSE – DO). He has served on the Millennium Promise Board of Directors, a not-for-profit organization supporting the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals in Africa. He has served on Advisory Boards to the American Military Commander of Europe, NATO, and Africa, as well as SOUTHCOM. Sobel has also served on the Advisory Board for The Fletcher School and The Advisory Board for The Belfer Center for Sciences and International Affairs at Harvard. He served on the Advisory Board to Fundação Dom Cabral Brazil (FDC), a leading school for Executive Education in Brazil.
Sobel also served on the Board of the Wenzhou-Kean University based in Zhejiang Province, China. Prior to becoming a US ambassador, he was chairman of Net2Phone (NASDAQ NTOP), a pioneer internet company that went public in 1999 and was acquired by AT&T in 2000; chairman and president of SJJ Investment Corporation and CMS Realty Company, where he was responsible for investment decisions in a wide variety of areas. He was president of the Sobel Family Foundation, which contributes to numerous charities, including those supporting children in need. He was a founder and board member of Norcrown Bank in Roseland, New Jersey.
By presidential appointment, Clifford Sobel served on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, as well as the Naval Post Graduate School Board in Monterey California. He has served on the boards of public policy think tanks, including the Lexington Institute and Business Executives for National Security (BENS), and also chaired the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution.
Ambassador Sobel attended the University of Vermont and graduated with honors from New York University’s Stern Business School. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Kean University, New Jersey, in recognition of his contributions to public service.
Ambassador Sobel and his wife, Barbara, have three children (Scott, Jon, and Julie) and ten grandchildren. His hobbies include skiing, biking, golf, tennis, and art.