(1967 – )
Patrick Gaspard is the Vice President of the Open Society Foundations. Prior to this role, he was a key figure in U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration and held a number of prominent roles during the president’s two terms in office.
Gaspard was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo in 1967 to Haitian parents who had heeded the call of Patrice Lumumba for francophone academics of African descent to settle in newly independent African states. Gaspard grew up in New York City and had a long career in electoral and campaign politics in the city.
After leaving Columbia University to join Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, Gaspard worked on David Dinkins’ successful bid to become the first African American mayor of New York City. A constant in New York political organizing thereafter, Gaspard also served as Deputy Political Director for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2003, before returning to labor organizing where he eventually rose to Vice President and Political Director of Service Employees International Union. In 2008, Gaspard joined Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, serving as National Political Director. Following the inauguration of President Obama, Gaspard transitioned to direct the White House Office of Political Affairs from 2009 to 2011. Thereafter, he served as Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee from 2011 to 2013, overseeing the party committee’s efforts to re-elect President Obama. Gaspard was subsequently appointed U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, and served in this capacity from 2013 to 2016.