Gordon Sondland

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Gordon Sondland
Gordon Sondland official photo.jpg
United States Ambassador to the European Union
Assumed office
July 9, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byAnthony L. Gardner
Personal details
Gordon David Sondland

1957 (age 61–62)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Katherine J. Durant
ResidenceSeattle, Washington, U.S.

Gordon D. Sondland is the United States Ambassador to the European Union.[1] He is also the founder and chairman of Provenance Hotels and co-founder of the merchant bank Aspen Capital.


Provenance Hotels[edit]

Sondland’s company Provenance Hotels owns and manages hotels throughout the U.S. including the Hotel Max, and Hotel Theodore in Seattle, Washington; Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington; Hotel deLuxe, Hotel Lucia, Sentinel, Dossier, and Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon; The Hotel Preston in Nashville, Tennessee; and Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery in New Orleans, Louisiana.[2]

In 1998, Sondland purchased and redeveloped four hotels in Seattle, Portland and Denver including Seattle’s Alexis Hotel in partnership with Bill Kimpton. Sondland also is a principal in Seattle’s Paramount Hotel.[3] Through Provenance Hotels, Sondland is developing hotel projects throughout the US, including in Seattle, Hermosa Beach, CA and Los Angeles, CA. Provenance Hotels specializes in adaptations of old buildings such as with the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, WA, which used to be a conference Sheraton, but now includes glass art by 46 artists including Seattle's Dale Chihuly.[4] Provenance is also known for designing or remodeling each hotel around themes that contain elements that relate to a location’s history, art, culture, and local businesses.[5]

In 2013, Sondland and Provenance completed a renovation of Portland’s historic Governor Hotel, renaming it Sentinel.[6] In December 2015, Sondland and Provenance announced the establishment of the company's first real estate investment fund, Provenance Hotel Partners Fund I. The $525 million fund was created specifically for hotel real estate investment and, at the time of its announcement, was the fourth largest fund ever launched in the state of Oregon.[7]

In 2017, Provenance Hotels expanded its practice of revitalizing and rebranding hotels with locally-inspired art and design as a service to other hoteliers.[8]

United States Ambassador to the European Union[edit]

On March 12, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump selected Sondland to be the next United States Ambassador to the European Union.[9] On May 10, 2018, the White House announced that Sondland’s nomination had been sent to the U.S. Senate.[10] He was confirmed by the Senate on June 28, 2018.[1] On July 9, 2018, Sondland presented his credentials at the European Commission and to President of the European Council Donald Tusk.[11]

Sondland's nomination received bipartisan support during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 21, 2018.[12] Both Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) testified in support of Sondland.[13] Sen. Wyden suggested that Sondland’s "family history is both fascinating and instructive as to why he has the experience and understanding to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U.," noting how his parents fled Nazi Germany before coming to the United States.[12]

As Ambassador, Sondland has made strengthening US-EU trade relations a top priority.[14] He has supported using a strong US-EU economic partnership to counter what Sondland has called “economic aggression and unfair trade practices” from China.[15][16] In pursuit of this end, Sondland has promoted the idea of giving European governments access to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to allow them to better screen investors.[14]

Sondland has also pledged to work with the EU to address global security threats.[17] He has been the Trump Administration's lead in talks with EU member countries on the U.S.'s decertification and withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.[18][19] Sondland has repeatedly criticized EU member countries’ creation of a “special purpose vehicle” (SVP) to bypass reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran, calling the SPV a “paper tiger.”[18][20][21]

Sondland has also been a vocal opponent of the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would transport gas across the Baltic Sea to the EU.[22] He has argued that the pipeline would leave the EU dependent upon Russia for its energy needs and increase Russia’s leverage on key U.S. allies in NATO.[23]  

Sondland has also worked on data protection rules regarding U.S. compliance with the EU-US privacy shield.[24]   

Political involvement[edit]

Sondland was a member of the transition team for Governor Ted Kulongoski's administration and was appointed by Kulongoski to serve on the board of the Governor's Office of Film & Television.[25] He was appointed the commission’s chair in 2002 and has served in that capacity until 2015.[26] During his tenure on the film board, Sondland was instrumental in bringing the production of such television series as Leverage, The Librarians and Grimm to Oregon[27] and presided over the state securing the production of feature-length films such as Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, Thumbsucker starring Tilda Swinton and The Ring Two starring Naomi Watts. At the 2015 Oregon Film Annual Governor’s Awards, Sondland received the "Achievement in Film Service Award" for his role in growing Oregon’s film industry.[28]

Sondland also served as Oregon liaison to the White House. As an advisor to Kulongoski, Sondland suggested appointing Ted Wheeler as state treasurer, which Kulongoski did in 2010.[29] In 2007 President George W. Bush appointed Sondland as a member of the Commission on White House Fellows.[30] Sondland collaborates with President Bush and Jay Leno on an annual charitable auction of an autographed vehicle, with proceeds benefitting the Fisher House Foundation and the George W. Bush Foundation’s Military Service Initiative.[31] In 2012, Sondland was selected to serve as a member of Mitt Romney's presidential transition team.[32]

In April 2017, it was revealed that 4 companies registered to Sondland donated $1 million to the Donald Trump inaugural committee.[33][34][35]

As a result of his political involvement, Sondland and his businesses have been the subject of increased press coverage, especially among local media outlets. However, recent attempts to criticize his business practices in publications like Willamette Week and Eater Portland were later corrected.[36][37]


Sondland serves on the board of trustees at the Oregon Health & Science University foundation[25] and the board of visitors of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.[38] Sondland joined the board of trustees at the Portland Art Museum - one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S.[39] - in 1996 and was elected chair of the executive committee in 2009.[40] The Trustee Room, a Contemporary Gallery, and the Grand Staircase at the Portland Art Museum are also named after Sondland and his wife Katherine Durant.[41][42]

Sondland founded the Gordon Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation in 1999, which was established to "help families and boost communities".[43] The Foundation has given millions of dollars to various non-profits including $1,000,000 to the Portland Art Museum to endow permanent access for children under the age of eighteen.[44] The Foundation helped establish a Distinguished Chair in Spine for pediatric orthopedic spine research at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in 2012.[45]

In 2012, the Foundation used the proceeds from the auction of a 2009 Ford F-150 that was previously owned by former President George W. Bush for a donation to the Fisher House Foundation.[46] Sondland is also a National Finance Co-Chairman of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.[47]

Sondland and the Foundation partnered with the River Club in 2013 to provide breakfast for the foreseeable future for students of the Simonga Basic School in Zambia.[48] In 2014, the Foundation gave a $1,000,000 endowment to Oregon Health & Science University to establish the Sondland-Durant Distinguished Research Conference, a cancer research summit to begin in 2016.[49] In 2017, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Duke University was created with the support of the Foundation.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Sondland is married to Katherine Durant, who is the founder and managing partner of Atlas/RTG, a holding company with a portfolio of shopping centers throughout Oregon.[citation needed] Until 2016, Durant was the Chairperson of the Oregon Investment Council, the body that oversees the over $85 billion Public Employees Retirement System Fund.[51] They have two children.

In January 2018, Sondland and Durant were featured as the "January Power Couple" in Oregon Business.[52]


  1. ^ a b "PN1945 — Gordon D. Sondland — Department of State". Congress.Gov. June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  2. ^ "Provenance Hotels Collection: Owned and Managed". Provenance Hotels. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  3. ^ Nabbefeld, Joe. "Developers buy share of Warshal site". seattletimes.com. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  4. ^ "A temple of glass - Glass-bottomed boats". Money.cnn.com. February 29, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  5. ^ Samantha Shankman (August 21, 2014). "Provenance Hotels Integrates Local Products to Elevate Guest Experience". Skift. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Smith, Joe. "Governor hotel to get new name: The Sentinel". kgw.com. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  7. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/2015/12/provenance-to-buy-4-downtown-portland-hotels.html
  8. ^ Jon Bell (February 22, 2017). "How Provenance is adding hotels without buying them". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Sondland, Gordon (March 12, 2018). "U.S. Moves to Appoint New Ambassador to EU". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  10. ^ "Five Nominations and Two Withdrawals Sent to the Senate Today". The White House. May 10, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  11. ^ "U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland". U.S. Mission to the European Union. July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "EU Nominee Gordon Sondland Testifies Confirmation Hearing". C-SPAN. June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  13. ^ Brevetti, Rossella (June 21, 2018). "Trump Pick for EU Envoy Wants to Cool Trade Tensions". Bloomberg Law. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Taylor, Adam (October 4, 2018). "U.S. ambassador to Europe: Let's take on China together". Washington Post. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  15. ^ Emmott, Robin (September 7, 2018). "We must face China together, new U.S. envoy to Brussels tells EU". Reuters. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  16. ^ Rettman, Andrew (October 4, 2018). "EU and US should hold back China, Trump envoy says". EU Observer. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  17. ^ Banks, Martin (2018-09-25). "Top EU security chief emphasizes 'shared self-interest' in defense cooperation after Brexit". Defense News. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  18. ^ a b Bravo, Richard (November 5, 2018). "U.S. Lambasts Europe's 'Paper Tiger' Response to Iran Sanctions". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  19. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Donald Trump's man in Brussels extends a hand to the EU | DW | 25.09.2018". DW.COM. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  20. ^ Ghadakpour, Nima (October 17, 2018). "EU-US relations 'like an up-down marriage but intact' – US ambassador". Euronews. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  21. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "EU and Iran create 'special vehicle' for trade despite US sanctions | DW | 25.09.2018". DW.COM. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  22. ^ Radosavljevic, Zoran (October 4, 2018). "US, EU should 'clean the house' and deal with China – US ambassador". EURACTIV. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  23. ^ Macdonald, Alastair (November 13, 2018). "U.S. envoy warns sanctions still an option against Nord Stream 2". Reuters. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  24. ^ Stolton, Samuel; Radosavljevic, Zoran (October 3, 2018). "US 'fully compliant' with EU privacy shield, ambassador says". EURACTIV. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  25. ^ a b Law, Steve (December 16, 2010). "'Lottery row' a magnet for crime". Portland Tribune. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  26. ^ "Oregon Film: About". Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  27. ^ George, Milo (May 7, 2014). "The Surprising Success of Portland Film and TV". Backstage. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  28. ^ "The Oregon Film Annual Governor's Awards". The Confluence. January 7, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  29. ^ Kulongoski, Ted. "Letter to Gordon Sondland from Governor Ted Kulongowski dated 1/4/2011". Office of Governor Ted Kulongoski. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  30. ^ "White House Fellowships: Commission Members". The White House. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  31. ^ Marbley, Sanaz. "Ford F-150 Owned By President George W. Bush To Be Auctioned At Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale". barrett-jackson.com. Barrett-Jackson.
  32. ^ Liddell, Christopher; Kroese, Daniel; Campbell, Clark (2013). Romney Readiness Project. Amazon Digital Services LLC. pp. Kindle Edition, Location 2329.
  33. ^ "Portland Executive Covertly Donates $1 Million to Inauguration After Being Shamed Over Trump Support". The Intercept. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  34. ^ "250 donors shelled out $100k or more for Trump's inauguration, providing 91% of funds". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  35. ^ "Portland hotelier concealed $1 million donation to Trump inauguration". OregonLive.com. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  36. ^ "Records Show Contractor Payment Dispute on the Fancy, Failed Restaurant Omerta [Updated]". Willamette Week. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  37. ^ "Contractors Allege Missing Payments on Now-Closed Omerta Restaurant [Updated]". Eater Portland. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  38. ^ "Bulletin of Duke University | Sanford School of Public Policy" (PDF). August 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  39. ^ "Museum Facts". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  40. ^ "Kulongoski announces transition team". Bend Bugle. November 26, 2002. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  41. ^ "Gordon D. Sondland & Katherine J. Durant Trustee Room". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  42. ^ "Katherine Durant and Gordon Sondland Gallery". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  43. ^ "Home Page". Gordon Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  44. ^ Terry, Lynne (May 8, 2009). "$50,000 pledge may bring music back to Washington Park". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  45. ^ Devroy, Neil. "Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Establishes Distinguished Chair in Spine". www.tsrhc.org.
  46. ^ "Ford F-150 Owned By President George W. Bush To Be Auctioned At Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale". Barrett-Jackson. December 12, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  47. ^ "Gordon D. Sondland (Bio)". GordonDSondland.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  48. ^ "The River Club Delivers Water to Simonga Health Post in Zambia". Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  49. ^ Hayes, Elizabeth. "$1M gift will enable OHSU to bring together best minds for cancer conference". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  50. ^ "Partial List of Beneficiaries". Sondland Durant Foundation. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  51. ^ "Outgoing Oregon Investment Council Chair Submits Her List of Pension Fixes". The Oregonian. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  52. ^ "Power Couple: Gordon Sondland and Katy Durant". Oregon Business. Retrieved February 20, 2018.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Anthony L. Gardner
United States Ambassador to the European Union