The late Jim Kolbe

Position title
Chair Emeritus

Jim Kolbe most recently worked as a senior transatlantic fellow at GMF. He advised on trade matters as well as issues of effectiveness of U.S. assistance to foreign countries, on U.S.–EU relationships, and on migration and its relationship to development. From 2008-10, he co-chaired the Transatlantic Taskforce on Development with Gunilla Carlsson, the Swedish minister for international development cooperation. The Taskforce consisted of experts from both sides of the Atlantic from governments, NGOs, foundations, and corporations and made strategic recommendations on development for the U.S. administration as well as to European audiences. From 2011-12, he co-chaired another task force with the Swedish minister for trade. This task force developed a strategic plan for launching U.S.–EU trade negotiations, which are now known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks. 

In addition to his work with GMF, Kolbe was a member of the board of counselors of McLarty Associates and was president of JTKConsulting, which represented the interests of Arizona clients to the United States Congress. 

Kolbe was vice chairman of the board of directors of the International Republican Institute, and he was a member of the boards of directors for Freedom House, the Institute for Science and Global Policy, and the Project on Middle East Democracy. In Arizona, he sat on the boards of directors for the Community Food Bank and the Critical Path Institute. He was also co-chair of the Governor’s Transportation and Trade Task Force, and he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

For twenty-two years, Kolbe served in the United States House of Representatives, elected for eleven consecutive terms from 1985 to 2007. He represented the eight (previously designated as the fifth) congressional district, comprising the southeastern part of Arizona. Prior to coming to Congress, he served for six years in the Arizona State Senate. 

While in Congress, Kolbe served for six years on the House Budget Committee and for twenty years on the Appropriations Committee. In that capacity he was responsible for deciding the allocation of the budget and the terms for spending appropriated funds. He was chairman of the Treasury, Post Office, and Related Agencies Subcommittee for four years, and for his last six years in Congress, he chaired the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

Kolbe graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and from Stanford University with an MBA and concentration in economics.

Kolbe was commissioned in the United States Naval Reserve in 1965 and served for more than ten years before retiring as a lieutenant commander.

He has received numerous awards and tributes, but notable among them is the George Marshall Award for Distinguished Service from the United States Agency for International Development, the Order of the Aztec from the president of Mexico, and the lifetime achievement in trade award from the Washington International Trade Association.