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Howard H. Leach

60th United States Ambassador to France
In office
July 16, 2001 – April 16, 2005
Preceded by Felix Rohatyn
Succeeded by Craig Roberts Stapleton

Born June 19, 1930 (1930-06-19) (age 79)
Salinas, California
Nationality American
Political party Republican

Howard H. Leach was United States Ambassador to France from 2001 to 2005. Born in Salinas, California, on June 19, 1930, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Yale University in 1952. Ambassador Leach studied at Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1953 and at Stanford Advanced Management College in 1968.

A businessman and private investor, Howard Leach began a long entrepreneurial career as co-founder and president of various food-processing corporations from 1958 to 1971 in his hometown of Salinas, California. From 1995 to 2000 he was president and often major shareholder of numerous businesses: Tejon Ranch Company, Royal Packing Company, Merit Packing Co., Larson Cooling Co., Cypress Farms Inc., Charles G. Watts Inc., and Union Ice Company in California; Sterling Inc. in Wisconsin; Kestrel Dental Corp. in Illinois; and Sybron Corporation in New York. Ambassador Leach was an early limited partner in Forstmann Little and Co. in New York.

Until entering his post as U.S. Ambassador to France, Mr. Leach was the president of several commercial and financial companies: Foley Timber and Land Company in Florida; Leach Capital and Leach McMicking & Co. in California; and Hunter Fan Co. in Tennessee. Ambassador Leach was directly involved in managing a number of public interest associations, such as the National Legal Research Center for the Public Interest in Washington and the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco. Member and former chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of California, he was also vice president of the San Francisco Opera Association.

As Ambassador, Mr. Leach was rated highly by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State. A 2005 report by the OIG stated that he demonstrated "a solid knowledge of issues across the spectrum of both policy and management priorities at the embassy".[1]



Howard Leach's appointment as an ambassador has sometimes been criticized. Some common criticisms were that he had no real credentials other than being a contributor to George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign with his donation of almost $400,000. He also was said to only be studying French at the time of his appointment, not being at a fluent level in the language.[2]


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Preceded by
Felix Rohatyn
U.S. Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Craig Roberts Stapleton


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