Michael M. Wood to speak at Commencement 6-13-09
Jun 2, 2009
Michael M. Wood to speak at commencement and receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER & HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
Michael M. Wood
Former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden
Chair, Redwood Investments, LLC
Michael M. Wood is a son of Flint. He served the United States honorably from 2006 to 2009 as the Ambassador to Sweden, for which “Newsweek” magazine called him “the most famous and perhaps most influential U.S. ambassador to Sweden in history … and so successful that it has inspired other U.S. embassies, particularly in Scandinavia, to work harder on promoting alternative energy solutions.”
Ambassador Wood grew up in Michigan and attended Flint’s Whittier Middle School. He graduated from Phillips Academy, an Ivy League high school on the East Coast and then enrolled at Yale University. At Yale, he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, where he became friends and fraternity brothers with future President George W. Bush. He graduated from Yale in 1969.
In 1976, Mr. Wood helped found Hanley Wood, LLC, the leading media company in the housing and construction industry, and one of the 10 largest business-to-business media companies in the U.S. Mr. Wood received the Top Executive of the Year Award from “Media Business” magazine June 16, 2005. On Aug. 1, 2005, Wood and his partners sold Hanley Wood to JPMorgan Partners. In October 2005, he formed Redwood Investments, LLC, an investment company in Washington, D.C., specializing in media, real estate and alternative energy.
Mr. Wood’s capacity for national service was recognized early. In 1984, he organized a housing industry round table with U.S. President Ronald Reagan called "Building the American Dream." In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed him to the U.S. delegation attending the inauguration of President Lucio Gutierrez Borbua in Quito, Ecuador.
President Bush then asked him to be the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. He was sworn in on June 5, 2006. As ambassador, he focused his top priority on alternative energy technology. He traveled to all 21 län (counties) in Sweden looking for alternative energy companies that could benefit from cooperation with American venture capital and research institutions.
Kettering University, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and his old hometown of Flint were among those at the top of his list. Working with Swedish agencies and Swedish Biogas International (SBI), the international partners agreed to collaborate with Linköping University in Sweden to launch a waste-to-energy bio-methane center at Flint’s wastewater treatment facility.
The new international partnership was celebrated in a royal way on Sept. 26, 2008, when Ambassador Wood was among the dignitaries who escorted His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, to visit Kettering University. A festive event celebrated the new international partnership with speeches by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Swedish Ambassador to the United States Jonas Hafstrom and others. (See “Crowning Event” story on the back page of this program.)
Upon his return to Sweden, Ambassador Wood was recognized for his contributions by being presented the ESBRI Award (Entrepreneurship and Small Business Research Institute) by Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson Oct. 22, 2008. The award honored his dedication and leadership in fostering entrepreneurship for Sweden.
Ambassador Wood resigned on Jan. 20, 2009, when President Bush left office. He has returned to private life and to his work as chair of Redwood Investments.
On Feb. 6, 2009, in a ceremony at the House of Sweden in Washington, Wood was presented the William Wachtmeister Award for advancing Swedish-American relations.
On May 4, 2009, the King of Sweden bestowed on him the insignia of Commander Grand Cross, Order of the Polar Star, a medal given by Sweden’s Royal Family to people of foreign birth who make significant contributions to Sweden.
He and his wife, Judy, now live in Washington, D.C. They have two grown children and four grandchildren.