Rufus Gifford

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Rufus Gifford
Rufus Gifford.jpg
62nd United States Ambassador to Denmark
In office
September 13, 2013 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byLaurie Fulton
Succeeded byCarla Sands
Personal details
John Rufus Gifford

(1974-08-05) August 5, 1974 (age 45)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Stephen DeVincent (m. 2015)
FatherCharles K. Gifford
ResidenceConcord, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationBrown University (BA)
AwardsDNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png

John Rufus Gifford (born August 5, 1974) is a former United States Ambassador, reality television star, and a former candidate for U.S. Congress in Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district. He was the Finance Director for Barack Obama's presidential re-election campaign in 2012.[1] Once in office, Obama nominated him to be the United States Ambassador to Denmark. He served as Ambassador to Denmark from 2013 to 2017.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Gifford grew up in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.[3] He graduated from St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire in 1992 and he received his B.A. from Brown University in Rhode Island.[1]

After college, Gifford moved to Hollywood and served as an assistant to producer John Davis. During his time there, he became the associate producer for Daddy Day Care, Life or Something Like It, and Dr. Dolittle 2, and appeared as an actor in the films Garfield: The Movie and The Hiding Place.[4]

Political career[edit]

Gifford started in Democratic politics by working on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, and subsequently started his own consulting business and advised numerous Democratic officials and advocated for progressive causes across the country.

He first met then-Senator Barack Obama in January 2007, at a party hosted by Senator Ted Kennedy. Prior to the meeting, Gifford had been offered a job on Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, but he declined and instead accepted the same job for Obama's campaign.[5]

After Obama took office, he served as Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C. before moving to Chicago as a senior staff member of President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. As National Finance Director for the re-election campaign, he was ultimately responsible for the record-setting billion-dollar budget.[6]

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark (2013-2017)[edit]

On August 1, 2013, Gifford's nomination from President Obama to be the next United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark was confirmed by the United States Senate.[7] He was sworn into the role on August 15, 2013, and presented his credentials to the Queen of Denmark on September 13, 2013.[1]

In his capacity as the Ambassador, he helped modernize the transatlantic relationship through youth engagement and institution-building, among other bilateral and global issues. He outlined a diplomatic strategy that prioritized non-traditional audiences and people-to-people relationships. As part of a never-before-seen public diplomacy strategy,[8] he was the subject of the documentary series I am the Ambassador. The documentary TV series about his life as an ambassador ran for two seasons,[9] winning the Big Character award at the 2015 TV-Prisen award-show.[10][11][12]

As Ambassador, he traveled to Greenland for bilateral meetings on climate change, promoted counter-extremism initiatives and Danish–American trade, and worked to maintain Danish military support in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2016, he accompanied U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and several American mayors on a bike ride around Copenhagen to showcase its success as a "cyclist-friendly city."[13]

Gifford was an integral part of bringing the American art form of Long Form Improvisation to Denmark. In September 2016, he was in the[14] opening show at the first improv theatre in Denmark, Improv Comedy Copenhagen, and said, "No matter what you are doing, you always have to allow time to laugh, smile and have fun. And creating that balance is incredibly important." Gifford served as an honorary board member of the American-Danish Business Council.[15]

On January 16, 2017, Gifford was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for his "meritorious service to the Kingdom of Denmark."[16]

Congressional Campaign (2018)[edit]

On November 13, 2017, Gifford announced on Twitter that he was running for congress in Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives elections in Massachusetts, 2018.[17] Gifford was endorsed by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Sherrod Brown as well as Valerie Jarrett. Gifford received 12,796 votes votes in the 10-way primary election but was defeated by primary opponent Lori Trahan.[18][19]

Family and personal life[edit]

Gifford is gay, and commentators from GQ, Huffington Post, and L.A. Weekly referred to him as Barack Obama's informal "ambassador to the gay community."[20][21] He is a Federal Club Member of the Human Rights Campaign and a Partner in Conservation for the World Wildlife Fund.[22]

Gifford married his husband, Dr. Stephen DeVincent, a veterinarian, on October 10, 2015 in a ceremony at Copenhagen City Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark.[23] They live in Concord, Massachusetts.[3] In 2016, Gifford co-wrote a cookbook with his husband, called The Ambassador's Kitchen.[24]

Gifford is the son of Charles K. Gifford, a banker who is the chairman emeritus of Bank of America.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Ambassador Rufus Gifford". Embassy of the United States, Copenhagen. US State Department. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  2. ^ Revesz, Rachel (January 20, 2017). "Donald Trump has fired all foreign US ambassadors with nobody to replace them". The Independent. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bendery, Jennifer (November 10, 2011). "Rufus Gifford: The Man Behind Obama's Historic Fundraising Machine". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  7. ^ "PN561 — John Rufus Gifford — Department of State". U.S. Congress. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  8. ^ CNN, John D. Sutter,. "Denmark's reality TV star is the anti-Trump". CNN. Retrieved February 2, 2018.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  9. ^ "Jeg er Ambassadøren fra Amerika". Facebook. U.S. Embassy Denmark. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  10. ^ Ladingkær, Lars. "Winners of the 2015 TV-Prisen Awards" (in Danish). Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  11. ^ "TVPRISENS VINDERE 2015" (in Danish). Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Obitsø, Ole. "Her er vinderne af tv-priserne 2015" (in Danish). Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  13. ^ "On Diplomacy, Politics, and Hygge with Ambassador Rufus Gifford". THE FLETCHER FORUM OF WORLD AFFAIRS. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Dellisanti, Gabriele (September 19, 2016). "First Improv Comedy Theatre Opens in Copenhagen". The Copenhagen Post. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  15. ^ +1 (202) 297-7035;; Council, American-Danish Business;; 3200 Whitehaven Street NW Washington, D. C.; Directions, View Map & (July 1, 2014). "Ambassador Rufus Gifford Honorary Member of ADBC Board". American-Danish Business Council. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Schrøder Friis, Victor. "Rufus Gifford får Dannebrogsordenen: så bliver det ikke bedre" (in Danish). DR. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  17. ^ Percelay, Bruce A. (July 27, 2018). "A DIPLOMATIC APPROACH". Nantucket Magazine. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  18. ^ "Mass. primary results for congressional elections - The Boston Globe". Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  19. ^ "Massachusetts Primary Election Results: Third House District". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  20. ^ McDonald, Patrick Range (January 30, 2008). "Obama's Gay Gold Mine". LA Weekly. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  21. ^ Cogan, Marin (May 11, 2012). "The Most (And Least) Powerful People in Politics This Week". GQ. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  22. ^ "Ambassador Rufus Gifford and Dr. Stephen DeVincent's Wedding in Copenhagen". Vogue. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  23. ^ Brydum, Sunnivie (October 10, 2015). "U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Marries Dr. Stephen DeVincent". Advocate. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  24. ^ Eskesen, Annelise Hartmann (December 2, 2016). "Portrait of Rufus Gifford". (in Danish). Danmarks Radio. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  25. ^
  26. ^

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Laurie Fulton
United States Ambassador to Denmark
Succeeded by
Carla Sands