Donald M. Blinken
U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, 1994-1997
Donald Donald Blinken was sworn in as Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary by Vice President Al Gore on March 29, 1994. He concluded his service on November 20, 1997.
A native New Yorker, Ambassador Blinken’s career has blended leadership in investment banking, education, and arts patronage. He co-founded the investment banking/venture capital firm of E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Co. in 1966, and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York, the nation’s largest institution of higher education, from 1978 to 1990. He served as Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary from March 1994 to November 1997.
Ambassador Blinken graduated Magna Cum Laude in Economics from Harvard in 1948 after serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After ten years in the retail business, including two in the U.K. with Marks & Spencer, he helped found E. M. Warburg, Pincus, which became a major global venture capital firm. He continued to be associated with Warburg Pincus as a Managing Director until taking up government service.
In 1976, Governor Hugh L. Carey appointed him to the Board of the State University of New York and subsequently named him Chairman. He was reappointed to that office by Governor Mario M. Cuomo. The State University of New York serves 400,000 students on 64 campuses throughout New York. It awarded Ambassador Blinken an honorary degree in 1993.
Ambassador Blinken was named President of the Mark Rothko Foundation in 1976. The foundation distributed its legacy of paintings to 34 museums in the United States and abroad, including a major gift to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Blinken also served as President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 1970 to 1976, and was appointed a member of the Special Presidential Nomination Panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals by President Carter in 1979. He was a founding Trustee of the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, on whose board he served from 1986 to 1991.
Prior to serving as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Mr. Blinken was a member of the Executive Committee of the New York Public Library, a Board member and former Chairman of the Contemporary Publication Committee, and overseer of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, and a member of the Trustees’ Council of the National Gallery of Art.
In 1998 he was named Chancellor of the International Council of Central European University and subsequently was named to its Board of Trustees.
He also serves on the Advisory Board of Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and he is co-Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Institute for the Study of Europe at SIPA. He is an Honorary Trustee of the New York Philharmonic Society. He served as Secretary-General of The World Federation of United Nations Associations from 2000 to 2004. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Advisory Board of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and the Executive Board of the Project on Ethnic Relations.
Ambassador Blinken was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Award for Distinguished Public Service, as well as being the first U.S. Ambassador to receive the Republic of Hungary’s highest civilian honor. He is the author of a book on American Trade Policy and numerous articles on education and international affairs. Ambassador Blinken’s wife, Vera, serves on the Executive Committee of the International Rescue Committee and his son, Antony, was Senior National Security Advisor for Europe to former President Clinton, Foreign Relations Staff Director for Senator Joseph Biden, and is currently the National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden.
- In the book Vera and the Ambassador: Escape and Return (SUNY Press, 2009), Ambassador and Vera Blinken offer an insight into their extraordinary lives.