Don Beyer bigraphy, stories - American diplomat

Don Beyer : biography

June 20, 1950 -

Donald Sternoff "Don" Beyer, Jr. (born June 20, 1950) is the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In addition, he owns automobile dealerships in Virginia, and has a long record involved in community, political and philanthropic work.

From 1990 to 1998 he served as the 36th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia as a Democrat during the gubernatorial administrations of Democrat Doug Wilder (1990–1994) and Republican George Allen (1994–1998).

Political career

Beyer was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1989, beating Republican state senator Edwina P. Dalton. He was re-elected in 1993, beating Republican Michael Farris 54-46 percent, as Republicans George Allen and James Gilmore were elected on the same ballot as Governor and Attorney General, respectively. Farris' close connection to conservative leaders such as Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority, Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, as well as his adherence to the Quiverfull movement stirred deep-seated feelings about religion and politics. Some argued that these concerns, inflamed by negative ads by Beyer, caused alienation of enough moderate voters to cause Farris to lose the election. Prominent Virginia Republicans such as U.S. Senator John Warner supported Beyer ahead of Farris.

During his tenure as Lieutenant Governor, Beyer served as president of the Virginia Senate. He chaired the Virginia Economic Recovery Commission, the Virginia Commission on Sexual Assault, the Virginia Commission on Disabilities, the Poverty Commission and was co-founder of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, an outgrowth of the Chamber of Commerce. He was active in promoting high-tech industries, and lead the fight to eliminate disincentives in the Virginia Tax Code to high-tech research and development.

He is also credited with writing the original welfare reform legislation in Virginia.

Beyer was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1997, losing in the general election to Republican James S. Gilmore III. He served as Finance Chairman for Mark Warner's Political Action Committee, "Forward Together" and as the National Treasurer for the 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

During 2007–08, he endorsed and campaigned extensively for President Barack Obama, for whom he also raised more than $500,000 in donations. He was appointed by the Democratic National Committee to serve at the 2008 DNC Convention on the Credentials Committee.

Following the 2008 election, President-elect Obama asked Beyer to head up the transition team at the Commerce Department.

Obama nominated Beyer for the post of United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein on June 12, 2009. In December 2010 Beyer attracted public attention when it was reported that he had warned the Swiss government against offering asylum to Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.

Community, family, personal

During nearly three decades of community activism, he has taken leadership roles on the boards of many business, philanthropic and public policy organizations, including the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the American Cancer Society. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Grand Award for Highway Safety from the National Safety Federation; the James C. Wheat, Jr. Award for Service to Virginians with Disabilities; and the Earl Williams Leadership in Technology Award.

He chaired the board of the Alexandria Community Trust, Alexandria's community foundation, and the board of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, the state's largest high school dropout prevention program. He is past president of the board of Youth for Tomorrow, Washington Redskins' coach Joe Gibbs' residential home for troubled adolescent boys and girls. He also served on the board of the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Beyer and his wife, Megan, along with his two younger children, Clara and Grace, currently live in Bern, Switzerland. In addition, he has two adult children, Don and Stephanie from a previous marriage, and a granddaughter, Ava Anne Kirby.

Business interests

Beyer and his younger brother, Michael, are the owners of nine Volvo, Land Rover, Kia, Volkswagen, and Subaru car dealerships in Northern Virginia. He is a past chair of the National Volvo Retailer Advisory Board.

In 2006, he served as chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

Beyer served as a member of the board of Demosphere International, Inc., a leading soccer registration software provider. He was also a board member of History Associates, which bills itself as "The Best Company in History." He has served on the Virginia Board of First Union National Bank, the board of Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, and the board of Lightly Expressed, a fiber optic lighting design and manufacturing firm.

Early life

Beyer was born in the Free Territory of Trieste, now Trieste, Italy, the son of U.S. Army officer Don Beyer and his wife, Nancy. The oldest of six children, he was raised in Washington, D.C. In 1968 he graduated from Gonzaga College High School, where he was salutatorian of his class; in 1972 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College, magna cum laude, in economics. Beyer was a presidential scholar in 1968, and was a National Merit Scholarship winner. He graduated from a winter Outward Bound course at Dartmouth College in January 1971, and attended Wellesley College that year as part of the "12 College Exchange" program.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine