Alan D. Solomont, A70, A08P, former U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra and a lifelong social and political activist, serves as the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts.
Prior to his posting to Madrid, Solomont chaired the bipartisan board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees such domestic service programs as AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, VISTA and Senior Corps. He was first appointed to the board by President Clinton in 2000, reappointed by President George W. Bush in 2007 and elected chair in 2009.
Like President Obama, who nominated him for the ambassadorship in the summer of 2009, Solomont as a young man worked as a community organizer, in the city of Lowell, Mass. He traces his interest in the problems of America’s cities to his mentor at Tufts, Antonia Chayes, the former dean of Jackson College, who taught urban studies in the political science department and served with her husband, Abram Chayes, in the Kennedy administration. To this day, Solomont said, she has been “an enormous influence on my intellectual growth.”
Throughout his career, Solomont has embraced the ability of political activism and public service to benefit society.
After graduating from Tufts with a B.A. in political science and urban studies, Solomont made his first trip to Spain on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for postgraduate study and travel abroad.
He returned to his native Massachusetts to work as a community organizer in Lowell. His mother was a nurse at Boston City Hospital, and he earned a B.S. in nursing from the University of Lowell (now the University of Massachusetts Lowell) in 1977.
Solomont spent much of his professional career in the health- and elder-care arenas. He built a network of elder-care facilities in New England as chair of Solomont Bailis Ventures. He invested in early-stage health-care companies and cofounded HouseWorks, a home-care company that helps seniors remain independent. He was also the founder and managing director of Angel Healthcare Investors.
A longtime leader in the Democratic Party, Solomont got his first exposure to national politics as an undergraduate in 1968, when he worked as a page during the tumultuous Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Later, he served as the party’s national finance chair from 1997 to 1998, and he was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency. He played key roles in the presidential campaigns of John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Michael Dukakis.
Through the years, Solomont has remained deeply involved in Tufts. As a Tisch College senior fellow and visiting instructor, he taught an undergraduate political science seminar on the American presidency, a course known for the political luminaries and leaders he brought to campus.
A trustee emeritus of the university, Solomont was the founding chair of the Tisch College board of advisors. To mark the 10th anniversary of the college in 2011, his friends and colleagues endowed the Alan D. Solomont Lecture in recognition of his leadership as an active citizen. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, gave the inaugural lecture, and Solomont himself was selected to deliver the second lecture this past April.
Solomont has served on the boards of a number of other nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including the Boston Medical Center, Boston Private Bank & Trust Co., Angel Healthcare Investors, the New Israel Fund, Israel Policy Forum, the University of Lowell, the University of Massachusetts, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation and the WGBH Educational Foundation. He has chaired the boards of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and Hebrew Senior Life, a nonprofit elder-care provider in Boston.
Tisch College was established in 2000 as the University College of Citizenship and Public Service, with seed funding from Pamela Omidyar, J89, and Pierre Omidyar, A88, the founder of eBay. The enterprise broke new ground by embracing public service and active citizenship as university-wide values not tied to any one school or discipline. In 2006, Jonathan M. Tisch, A76, a university trustee, donated $40 million to endow the college that now bears his name.