|United States Ambassador to Singapore|
April 29, 2010 – September 4, 2013
|Preceded by||Patricia Herbold|
|Succeeded by||Kirk Wagar|
|Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 42nd district
January 2003 – April 2010
|Preceded by||Mike Polak|
|Succeeded by||Jason Carter|
May 24, 1964 |
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Georgia
Georgia State University
David I. Adelman (born May 24, 1964) is an American lawyer, diplomat, and legislator. He was the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore from 2010 to 2013. Currently, he is a partner in the global law firm Reed Smith LLP working out of the firm's New York office and regularly traveling to the firm's offices in Asia.
Throughout his legal career, Adelman has served in a variety of roles across the public and private sector. He was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Georgia after which he joined the law firm of Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan LLP, and became a partner specializing in energy and infrastructure investment law.
In 2002, Adelman was elected to the Georgia State Senate. In the Senate, Adelman served as Minority Whip and as Chairman of the Senate Urban Affairs Committee. During his eight years as a State Senator, Adelman introduced bills to improve government ethics, increase investments in renewable energy, expand stem-cell research, fight domestic violence, and streamline Georgia's corporate code. He served in the Senate until 2010 when he was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.
In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Adelman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. He was unanimously confirmed in 2010 and held the post until 2013. As Ambassador, Adelman was recognized for his effectiveness in promoting trade and investment, both from U.S. companies to the region and Asian companies to the United States. He led eight U.S. trade missions to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Vietnam. His 2012 trade mission to Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar, was the first by an American business delegation. He resigned from service as Ambassador to Singapore in 2013 and was named Managing Director by Goldman Sachs based in Hong Kong.
In 2013, Adelman was appointed by the Singapore government to the Monetary Authority of Singapore's Capital Markets Committee and by the Hong Kong government to the Executive Board of the Treasury Markets Association. Adelman was also a member of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Adelman's official papers from his diplomatic and legislative service are part of the collection at the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia. In 2016, in recognition of his public service the State of Georgia dedicated a bridge as the Ambassador David Adelman Bridge on State Highway 42 over the Peachtree Creek.
Early Life, Education, and Teaching
David Adelman was born in New York City on May 24, 1964. He attended The Lovett School in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his ABJ from the University of Georgia in 1986, a JD from Emory University in 1989 and an MPA from Georgia State University in 1995. He was recognized with a Henry Grady Fellowship by the University of Georgia. Adelman taught in the Honors Program in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. He is a Part-Time Professor at the New York University in the Program in International Relations where he teaches graduate level courses on the Asia-Pacific region. Georgia State University honored Adelman with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Adelman was the commencement speaker at the University of Georgia in 2010. He served as a member of the Board of Visitors of Emory University. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. Adelman is a member of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies' Dean's Council. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the South East Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies a Washington, DC based think tank.
After graduating from Emory University School of Law in 1989, Adelman served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Georgia. In 1993, Adelman joined the law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. His practice focused on commercial transactions, as well as complex litigation involving renewable energy, and communications and technology companies. He became one of the youngest people to ever be made an equity partner at the firm, which, in 2010, paid each equity partner on average in excess of $1 million.
Adelman was appointed by the Georgia Supreme Court to the Commission on Children, Marriage and Family. He served on numerous State Bar of Georgia Committees and was leader in the effort to provide pro bono services to disabled veterans through the national Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. He represented indigent veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
In 2000, Adelman was appointed to serve as a Trustee of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority where he oversaw Georgia's largest hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital, and Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital. Adelman was part of a small team of attorneys led by Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe who represented Vice President Al Gore before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court in the litigation arising from the 2000 presidential election.
Georgia State Senate
After the 2004 court ordered redistricting of Georgia's legislative districts, Adelman was re-elected to the newly configured 42nd District and was chosen by his colleagues to be minority whip. He authored the Family Violence Shelter Protection Act of 2004. He was a champion of promoting transparency in government and public-private partnerships authoring numerous open meetings and open records legislation. He was recognized as a moderate dealmaker who supported business interests as well as progressive causes. Each year he authored and passed legislation which streamlined Georgia's corporate code.
Following the 2006 election, Adelman became chairman of the Senate Urban Affairs Committee and was the only Democrat to chair a committee in the heavily Republican Georgia legislature. In 2006, Adelman was praised by First Amendment advocates when on the final day of the legislative session he passed a law which required public disclosure of college and university police reports and statistics.
In 2009, in response to the Darfur genocide, Adelman authored a bi-partisan bill that sanctioned investments in business with ties to the Sudanese government. The bill prohibited Georgia government entities from entering into contracts with companies maintaining Sudanese business ties. The Georgia General Assembly overwhelmingly supported the bill, and on April 29, 2009, Governor Sonny Perdue signed the bill into law.
As a senator, Adelman was recognized by the Partnership Against Domestic Violence with its Hearts of Hope Award and by the Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence with its Champions for Change Award for his accomplishments combating domestic violence. Adelman's leadership on climate change issues was recognized when he was invited by the government of the United Kingdom to serve as an American delegate to a climate change program in London. He also led a trade mission of business leaders to Israel seeking high tech investment. Adelman was selected as Legislator of the Year in 2007 by the Georgia Bio Life Sciences Partnership for his leadership on stem cell research. He received awards from the Georgia Chapter of the National Federation for the Blind, the League of Conservation Voters, Young Democrats of Georgia, Georgia Equality and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
Involvement in the 2008 Presidential Election
Adelman's endorsement was highly sought after in the early days of the 2008 presidential campaign. He was known as a moderate voice who could build support across political constituencies. He became a supporter of then Senator Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency. Adelman also had longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton which continued into his time as U.S. Ambassador. Adelman and his wife Caroline campaigned for Obama in multiple state primaries. Adelman became Obama's Campaign Chairman in Georgia and Caroline Adelman would later serve as the official spokesperson for Obama's Georgia general election campaign, a role she had also filled for President Bill Clinton's Georgia campaign.
Ambassador to Singapore
In 2009, Adelman was nominated to serve as the United States Ambassador to Singapore by President Obama. He was unanimously confirmed on March 19, 2010. As ambassador, Adelman was praised for strengthening cultural and commercial ties between Singapore (and its neighbors in Southeast Asia) and the United States. During his tenure, he led eight regional trade missions including missions to Burma (Myanmar), India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Also during his tenure, U.S. direct foreign investment in Singapore totaled $116 billion, an all-time high.
In 2011, under his leadership the U.S. Embassy in Singapore received the global award for promoting the President’s National Export Initiative. As Ambassador Adelman successfully worked to make Singapore a party to the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions and the countries signed the U.S.- Singapore Preventing and Combating Serious Crime Agreement. Additionally, the two countries entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on education issues. During Adelman's tenure as U.S. Ambassador, the number of Singapore students studying in American universities reached an all-time high and more American researchers, students and artists worked in Singapore than at any other time in history.
A longtime champion of President Obama's National Export Initiative, Ambassador Adelman aggressively promoted American exports to Asia, leading missions to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam made up of America's leading businesses. Ambassador Adelman oversaw a 20% increase in U.S. direct foreign investment in Singapore reaching more than $116 billion in cumulative investment in 2011.
In 2011 he was recognized in the Wall Street Journal for his "heroic lobbying" in support of the APEC Business Travel Card, which would give American business travelers expedited visa processing rights at foreign embassies and access to immigration processing at international airports.
In 2012, he led the first American business mission in history to Naypyidaw, the capital city of Myanmar. Later that year he was recognized with the Gold Standard Award for Diplomatic Engagement for his work promoting American exports.
In August 2012, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State specifically recognized his leadership of the embassy in Singapore, citing American policy makers calling his regional approach to trade promotion "extremely innovative". The Inspector General praised Adelman for his efforts to promote investment from Asia into the United States and the establishment of the U.S. - Singapore Strategic Partnership Dialogue. The report notes that "[a]gency heads with regional perspectives told inspectors they considered the Ambassador one of the most effective and dynamic embassy executives in the field."  The report further stated that "American staff gave the Ambassador very good marks in leadership and management capabilities, reporting that vision, coordination and problem solving are his greatest strengths." The report also describes Adelman's outreach to the local business community and institutions as "thoughtfully designed and well executed".
Adelman's managerial techniques were also singled out, noting that even employees who spend much of their time outside Singapore demonstrated a firm grasp of the objectives and expectations of the ambassador and embassy's team. In 2013, Adelman was awarded the U.S. State Department Superior Honor award for his diplomatic leadership.
As Ambassador, Adelman successfully negotiated the terms under which Singapore agreed for the first time to allow forward deployment to Changi Naval Base of US Navy ships. The USS Freedom LCS-1 arrived in Singapore on April 18, 2013. For this achievement, Adelman received the United States Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest award granted by the US Navy to non-military personnel.
In 2013, Ambassador Adelman resigned his position and returned to private practice. Currently, he is a partner at Reed Smith LLP, working out of the firm's New York office and regularly traveling to the firm's offices in Asia.
Speeches, Publications and Media Appearances
Adelman is a prominent author and speaker on US and Asia trade relations. He is represented by Sage Worldwide. In 2015, he authored Getting the Asia Trade Message Right, an article in the Wall Street Journal advocating for the Transpacific Partnership Trade Agreement. Adelman discussed his opinion of text of the TPP in a November 2015 Washington Post article. He co-authored an editorial arguing the TPP improves US security which was published in Politico in 2015. Adelman was interviewed by the International Business Times and the South China Morning Post in 2016 regarding the impact of the election of Donald Trump.
Adelman has also written on the intersection of foreign investments and the nationalization of Indonesian oil. In an editorial he authored in Forbes in 2010 he advocated for streamlined travel access to Southeast Asian countries for American business travelers as a means to increase U.S. exports in emerging markets. Adelman argued for full funding of the US Navy Littoral Combat Ship program in an editorial published in Politico in 2016. He was quoted in the Washington Post in 2016 regarding the prospects for approval of the Transpacific Partnership agreement in the lame duck session of Congress. In 2016 he authored an editorial published in the Huffington Post arguing the next US president must exercise discipline and restraint to promote US-China cooperation and stability in the Pacific.
Adelman is a frequent television commentator on business issues in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2013 he appeared on Bloomberg to discuss American investment in South East Asia. In 2015 he appeared on CNN to discuss diplomatic relations between China and Taiwan. Adelman analyzed the 2016 ASEAN summit in the US in his interview on CNN in February 2016. He was interviewed regarding the 2016 State of the Union address by CNBC in January 2016. Also in 2016 he appeared on CNBC program Street Signs discussing the impact of commodity prices on Asian economies and US politics. Adelman appeared on CNBC Squawk Box to discuss political risk to business in Asia during the 2016 US presidential campaign. He has appeared on MSNBC, NBC, BBC, and Chinese and Indonesian television. Adelman was interviewed during his time as US Ambassador by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Family and Personal Life
He is married to Caroline Adelman, Director of Media Relations at Columbia University, and together they are raising three children, Oscar, Leah, and Avery. In 1993, Adelman proposed to his wife in the Rose Garden of the White House.
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Media related to David Adelman at Wikimedia Commons