Matthew Barzun

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Matthew Barzun
Matthew Winthrop Barzun.jpg
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
December 4, 2013 – January 18, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byLouis Susman
Succeeded byWoody Johnson
United States Ambassador to Sweden
In office
August 21, 2009 – May 28, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byMichael M. Wood
Succeeded byMark Brzezinski
Personal details
Matthew Winthrop Barzun

(1970-10-23) October 23, 1970 (age 51)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1999)
EducationHarvard University (AB) Edit this at Wikidata

Matthew Winthrop Barzun (born October 23, 1970) is an American businessman, diplomat and political fundraiser who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom.[1] He is a business executive who is known for his work with CNET Networks and for his fundraising work on Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.[2][3] He served as United States Ambassador to Sweden from 2009 to 2011. He was selected by President Barack Obama as National Finance Chair for the president's 2012 re-election campaign.[4] He is author of The Power of Giving Away Power from Optimism Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Barzun was born in New York City. He grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts and attended St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire. He received his Bachelor of Arts in history and literature magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1993. In his testimony to the Senate during his confirmation vetting, Barzun noted that he had served as a summer intern to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in 1989. He holds honorary degrees from University of Warwick[6] and De Montfort University[7] and an honorary fellowship from University College London.[8]


After graduating from Harvard College, he began working with CNET Networks.[9][10][11]

2008 Obama campaign[edit]

In The Audacity to Win, author and political strategist David Plouffe describes Matthew Barzun's grassroots campaign idea as "citizen fundraisers" that drove Obama's connection with supporters.[12]


The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Senator John Kerry, approved Barzun's nomination as Ambassador to Sweden during the week of August 3, 2009, and the nomination was confirmed on August 7. Barzun was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden on August 12, 2009, and presented his credentials to King Carl XVI Gustaf on August 21, 2009.[13] Barzun prioritized outreach and personal engagement, launching the U.S. Embassy Road Show that brings embassy personnel, resources, and exhibits out of Stockholm to smaller cities and towns.[14] In partnership with the Swedish government, he also created the Swedish American Green Alliance where Swedes and Americans share news and ideas toward a clean energy future.[15]

President Obama nominated Barzun to be the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 2013.[16][17] The Senate confirmed him by unanimous consent on August 1, 2013. He presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth II on November 27, 2013.[18] Barzun set up the Young Leaders UK (YLUK) programme whilst in office, which allowed him to communicate and speak with young people from across the United Kingdom. YLUK met with President Obama during his visit to the UK in 2016.[19] Barzun was selected by the U.S. Department of State as the winner of the 2016 Sue M. Cobb Award for Exemplary Diplomatic Service for "his passion and commitment during his tenure in London by promoting American values and ideals, and his dedication to developing the next generation of career Foreign Service Officers."[20]

In January 2017, Barzun announced that he was to leave as Ambassador before Donald Trump took office. Barzun left the UK on 18 January 2017, moving back to Kentucky. The then Deputy Chief of Mission, Lewis Lukens, then succeeded Barzun as Chargé d'affaires pending the appointment of a new ambassador.[1][21] Upon his return to the United States, he received the Marshall Medal from the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission created by the British Parliament for his dedication to strengthening U.S. and British relations.[22] And he serves on the board of the National Constitution Center.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Matthew Barzun is a descendant of Lucretia Mott,[24] a proponent of women's rights, John Winthrop, founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the city of Boston, and A. Lawrence Lowell, former president of Harvard University.[25] His grandfather was the renowned French-born American cultural historian and former Columbia University professor, Jacques Barzun. He is the second of four children. His younger sister is film producer Lucy Barzun Donnelly, Emmy and Golden Globe winner for her work producing Grey Gardens for HBO.

His younger brother, Charles Barzun, is a tenured professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law. His eldest sister, Mariana Barzun, is director of parent giving and assistant campaign director at Vassar College.

Barzun is married to Brooke Brown Barzun, heiress of the Brown-Forman Corporation distilling empire, which includes the brands Jack Daniel's and Woodford Reserve. They live in Louisville, Kentucky, Brooke's hometown, and have three children.[25]

In 2018, Barzun acquired Louisville Magazine[26] and is the magazine's publisher.[27]


  1. ^ a b "Biography of Ambassador Matthew W. Barzun". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 23 November 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  2. ^ Gerth, Joseph "Innovator aided march to presidency" Louisville Courier-Journal December 28, 2008
  3. ^ "How Obama did it". TIME. 2008-06-05. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  4. ^ Johnson, Glen (2011-04-29). "Mass. native to oversee Obama's fund-raising effort - Political Intelligence - A national political and campaign blog from The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  5. ^ "The Power of Giving Away Power by Matthew Barzun: 9780525541042 | Books".
  6. ^ "Creator of some of the world's smallest works of art, Malaysian born author, and former US Ambassador to UK among those to be awarded honorary degrees by the University of Warwick".
  7. ^ "Winter graduations get underway in style at DMU".
  8. ^ "Honor where honor is due". 25 July 2018.
  9. ^ Bewig, Matt (27 October 2013). "Ambassador to the United Kingdom: Who Is Matthew Barzun?". AllGov. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Ambassador Matthew Barzun '88 is Form of 2017 Baccalaureate speaker". St Paul's School. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Matthew W. Barzun". US Department of State.
  12. ^ Plouffe, David (2009). The Audacity to Win. New York: Viking Adult. ISBN 978-0-670-02133-8.
  13. ^ [1] Archived August 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Carlbom, Mats. "En pannkaksvändare på Sverigeturné". Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  15. ^ Swedish American Green Alliance blog
  16. ^ "Matthew Barzun, Obama Fundraiser, Tapped As Ambassador To Britain". Huffington Post. July 9, 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate". 10 July 2013 – via National Archives.
  18. ^ "Biography of Ambassador Matthew W. Barzun". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2016-06-22.
  19. ^ "Young Leaders UK (YLUK)". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom. 2015-06-16. Retrieved 2016-06-22.
  20. ^ Hahn, Michael (January 2017). "Extraordinary performances hailed and honored" (PDF). State Magazine.
  21. ^ Sands, Sarah (18 January 2016). "US Ambassador Matthew Barzun: I'd love Michelle Obama to be the next President". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  22. ^ "Former US ambassador, Louisville resident honored at Harvard". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  23. ^ "Matthew W. Barzun - National Constitution Center".
  24. ^ "Dagens Nyheter chat with public as newly appointed Ambassador to Sweden". 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  25. ^ a b "New U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun Arrives". 23 August 2013. Archived from the original on 19 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  26. ^ "Former U.S. Ambassador and CNET Exec Buys Louisville Magazine". Folio. 2018-08-28. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  27. ^ "(It's Not) About Us".

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Sweden
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by