Michael W. Sonnenfeldt
Michael W. Sonnenfeldt
Sonnenfeldt outside the TIGER 21 office
|Born||October 7, 1955|
Michael W. Sonnenfeldt (born October 7, 1955) is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political activist. Currently, he is the founder, owner and Chairman of TIGER 21, Chairman of Magnolia Purchasing Advisors, the Chairman of publicly traded Canadian solar company, Carmanah Technologies, Ltd, and a Board Member of Earthjustice. Sonnenfeldt is the President of the Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Foundation and on the Boards of several other philanthropic and political organizations.
Michael Sonnenfeldt attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1974 to 1978, where he received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Management. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Sonnenfeldt was awarded a degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in 1995.
After graduating from MIT, Sonnenfeldt began his career as an Associate at Goldman Sachs, from 1978-1979, in the Merger & Acquisitions Department and then transitioned to the Goldman Sachs Realty Corp.
In 1980, Sonnenfeldt conceived and initiated the then-largest commercial renovation in the country. With his partner, David Fromer, he transformed the 2.4 million square foot Harborside Terminal in Jersey City, New Jersey into The Harborside Financial Center. He and Fromer spearheaded the development team of over 100 professionals working on the project.
Sonnenfeldt and Fromer sold The Harborside Financial Center in 1986 for over $100 million to a major US pension fund in what is considered to be one of the most successful real estate deals in the history of the New York metropolitan area. The Harborside Financial Center continues to operate as one of the top-performing assets in the New Jersey marketplace. At the time, the complex was believed to be the most valuable single commercial real estate asset in the state of New Jersey.
After the sale, Sonnenfeldt founded Real Estate Resources Corp, which created online databases of Real Estate information prior to the widespread use of the internet. The business was closed in 1990. In 1991, he founded Emmes & Company, a private real estate investment group based in New York City, to invest in the portfolios of distressed real estate being sold by the Federal Government, from the inventories of the banks they had taken over in the savings and loan crises peaking at that time. When Sonnenfeldt sold his interest in the business in 1998, the company had grown to own and control more than 200 properties from New York to Florida, consisting of 20+ million square feet of real estate valued at over $1B.
In June 1998, after selling his interest in Emmes & Company, Sonnenfeldt founded MUUS & Company, a private investment company. Sonnenfeldt directs the company’s portfolio of financial, real estate and private equity investments.
In 1999, Sonnenfeldt founded TIGER 21 (The Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century), a network of peer-to-peer learning groups for high-net-worth investors, after recognizing that the skills that made him a successful entrepreneur did not necessarily translate into successfully managing his own portfolio of investments. Sonnenfeldt continues to operate the company as Chairman and is regularly used by news outlets as a resource to discuss investing and high-net-worth investor activity.
Sonnenfeldt is also the Chairman of SOL, Inc. (formerly Solar Outdoor Lighting, Inc), North America’s largest and oldest dedicated manufacturer of commercial and industrial grade solar-powered outdoor lighting systems. SOL’s systems are used to illuminate roadways, parking lots, jogging trails, billboards and transit shelters.
In 2013 Sonnenfeldt became non-executive Chairman of Carmanah Technologies (LTD), a publicly traded company in Canada (CMH) that manufactures solar LED lights and solar power systems. Sonnenfeldt is the company’s largest shareholder.
Sonnenfeldt is an active philanthropist and has been involved for over 25 years at senior levels in numerous non-profit organizations. He focuses on national security, Middle East peace, international peacekeeping, the US/UN relationship, the removal of land mines and communal development. In recent years the environment and the potentially devastating effects of climate change have been an increasing focus of his philanthropic activities.
As a past National President of American Associates Ben Gurion University (AABGU) from 1989-1991 and a National Board Member from 1991-2013, Sonnenfeldt is currently a member of the Board of Governors of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The University and its Board are committed to social and environmental responsibility and aspire to make BGU among the top research universities in the world, a leader in scientific innovation, applied sciences and interdisciplinary research.
Sonnenfeldt has been a supporter of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, an organization that works with healthcare professionals to ensure that compassion, respect and empathy are the core of health care, since 1993 and became a trustee in February 2002. He has served on various committees, including the Development, Investment and Nominating committees. The foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare, enhancing the doctor-patient relationship by combining cutting-edge medical science with communication, empathy and compassion.
From 1997-2009, Michael Sonnenfeldt was a member of the board of directors of Synergos, a global nonprofit organization that helps solve the complex problems of poverty and inequality by promoting and supporting collaborations among business, government, civil society, and marginalized communities. He is also a founding member of the Synergos Global Philanthropists Circle and a member since 2001.
In 1998, the Humpty Dumpty Institute was the established in order to extend and strengthen the work Sonnenfeldt had been engaged in during the previous decade. Sonnenfeldt was named founding co-chair (emeritus) and served on the Board of Directors from 1998 to 2006. The organization focuses on making UN peacekeeping more effective and bridging the gap between the UN and US Congress. The group also works to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) around the world.
In 2000, Sonnenfeldt and his wife launched the Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Foundation, through which he and his wife engage in philanthropic activities primarily focused on the environment, international security and peace, education and local communal activities. Sonnenfeldt serves as President of the foundation.
Since 2002 Sonnenfeldt has been a member of the International Board of Trustees of the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, a strategic think tank in Israel and one of the best in the world on Israel’s national security issues.
Since 2011 Sonnenfeldt has served as member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Investment Committee of Earthjustice, the nation’s largest public interest legal firm with over 100 lawyers dedicated to protecting the environment. In addition he has served on the Development & Marketing Committee since 2011 and is currently on the International Review Task Force.
Sonnenfeldt currently serves as a member of the Board and the Chairman of the Development Committee of Securing America’s Future Energy (“SAFE”), a non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to reducing America’s dependence on oil in order to strengthen the country’s national security and economy.
Sonnenfeldt served on the Board of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan from 1995-2009, served on the Security Committee during 2005 and was the former co-chair of the organization’s Capital Campaign from 1995-2005. This 14-year campaign, spearheaded by Sonnenfeldt and his wife as well as one other couple, provided the initial funds to build the new $100 million home for the JCC in Manhattan.
Sonnenfeldt was the former Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), which was then a preeminent non-governmental group which sought to strengthen the United Nations, and the United States’ role in it, through a combination of national public outreach, policy research and international dialogue. He conceived and led the Global Peacekeeping Inspection Team for nearly a decade, during which time his team visited and reported on UN Peacekeeping installations in over 25 sites around the globe. During Sonnenfeldt’s tenure, the UNA was the nation’s largest foreign policy organization, with over 30,000 members and 130 chapters nationwide.
Sonnenfeldt co-founded the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) in 1993 to support the Middle East peace process and promote Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state by advancing a diplomatic resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He served as Chairman from 1997 until 2001. He remains actively involved in helping to develop American policies and initiatives to restore stability and bring peace to the region.
Sonnenfeldt has served on the Board of Trustees of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a leading think tank focused exclusively on the Middle East, since 1998. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of U.S. interests in the region and to promote the policies that secure them. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, the Institute promotes an American engagement in the Middle East committed to strengthening alliances and promoting security, peace, prosperity, and democracy. Since its founding in 1985, The Washington Institute has been at the forefront of Washington’s “battle of ideas,” developing policy papers and consulting with the highest levels of power to inform decisions and improve the quality of U.S. Middle East policy.
Sonnenfeldt co-founder of No Labels which was created with the intention of consensus building between parties and finding solutions to the nation's pressing problems. He has served on the Executive Board since 2010.
In 2004, Sonnenfeldt was Co-Chair of the New York State Senator Joe Lieberman for President Campaign.
Sonnenfeldt was the former chairman of the Resources Committee of Business Executives for National Security (BENS) from 1987 - 2012, served on the Board of Directors from 1982 - 2000 and was a member of the Executive Committee board. Sonnenfeldt traveled extensively on behalf of BENS and worked directly with members of Congress to help shape policies supported by the organization.
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