Ambassador John Rakolta, Jr.
John Rakolta, Jr. is currently the Chairman of Walbridge, a privately held construction company founded in Detroit in 1916. The company is one of the largest contractors in the United States, according to Engineering News-Record. He is the former US Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Commissioner General of Expo Dubai 2020 having served from 2019 – 2021. He played a major role in the signing of the Israel – U.A.E – U.S.A. Abraham Peace Accords for which he was awarded the National Security Medal by President Trump.
Walbridge provides general contracting, construction management, engineering, and design-build services for a wide range of customers including all the automotive OEMs.
The firm is consistently ranked as the top U.S. builder of automotive and manufacturing facilities and has achieved considerable market diversity led by the expansion into the hyperscale data center market. In 2018, the company began supporting the all-electric automobile market by building 8 new Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) facilities simultaneously.
John joined Walbridge in 1971, shortly after graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering from Marquette University. He also completed the Smaller Company Management Program, now called OPM, at the Harvard Business School in 1981. His first job was at age 12, working at the company yard painting safety barricades yellow under the watchful eye of his grandfather.
In addition to directing and nurturing the growth of one of America’s largest privately held construction companies, John has been honored for his public service commitment including:
- Zayed II Medal – United Arab Emirates, 2021
- United States National Security Medal, 2020
- Michiganian of the Year, 2019
- Urban Land Institute Michigan Lifetime Achievement Award, 2017
- New Detroit’s Leadership in Race Relations Award, 2015
- Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, 2005
- Romania National Order of Merit, 2000
A third-generation Romanian American, John has served as Romania’s Honorary Consul General to the United States from 1996 to 2019.