Thomas Donohue at New Economic Leaders Forum
- More than tripled the size of the U.S. Chamber’s lobbying team
- Saved American businesses billions of dollars by bolstering the Chamber’s Litigation Center
- According to the The Washington Post, “nobody has mastered the new Washington game better”
- Brought two decades of Chamber experience to an inside look at leadership, business, and the economy
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Thomas J. Donohue is the former president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing three million companies, associations, state and local chambers, and American Chambers of Commerce abroad.
Since assuming the position in 1997, Donohue rejuvenated the business organization, significantly increased membership and revenues, strengthened relations with state and local chambers, and expanded the Chamber’s clout in Washington, D.C., as well its international activities around the world.
Donohue more than tripled the size of the Chamber’s lobbying team and added dozens of nationally recognized policy experts to the staff. The Chamber’s newly expanded political program has supported, funded, and helped elect pro-business candidates in close congressional races.
These and other Donohue initiatives led the Chamber to significant legislative achievements such as major tax cuts, a trade agreement with China, and increased funding for transportation —as well as the defeat of anti-business measures such as new ergonomics regulations and business tax increases.
Under Donohue’s leadership, a new Institute for Legal Reform was created to challenge class action trial lawyers, reform the legal system, and elect fair judges. A more insistent National Chamber Litigation Center, the Chamber’s law firm, won more than 70 cases in two years alone, saving American business well over $100 billion a year.
According to Industry Week magazine, the Chamber under Donohue was “more aggressive, energetic, and lively than at any time in its history.” The Washington Post wrote, “Nobody has mastered the new Washington game better than Tom Donohue…”
Declaring that “business should stop apologizing” for providing Americans with 130 million jobs, retirement benefits for 90 million, and health care for 177 million, Donohue and the Chamber rallied companies of all sizes around the massive challenges that shaped America’s future. These challenges included advancing free trade, modernizing our transportation infrastructure, bolstering our country’s leadership in technology, increasing the supply of available and well-educated workers, as well as advocating legal, tax, and entitlement reform.
Prior to his post at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Donohue served for 13 years as the president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the national organization of the trucking industry. He was the driving force in making ATA one of the most powerful and effective lobbies in Washington, D.C.
Before heading ATA, Donohue was a group vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for eight years. Prior to that, he was deputy assistant postmaster general in Washington, D.C.; regional assistant postmaster general in San Francisco and New York City; and vice president of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Donohue also serves on numerous boards of directors, including Union Pacific Corporation, Qwest, XM Satellite Radio, Sunrise Assisted Living Corporation, and Marymount University. In addition, he is a member of the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and the President’s Council on the 21st Century Workforce.
Donohue is also president of the Center for International Private Enterprise, a program of the National Endowment for Democracy, which is dedicated to the development of market-oriented institutions around the world.
Born in New York City in 1938, Donohue earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and a master’s degree in business administration from Adelphi University. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Adelphi, St. John’s, and Marymount Universities. Tom Donohue and his wife, Liz, live in Potomac, Maryland. They have three sons.
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Former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; President and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI)