Amb. John Rakolta Jr.

Chairman, Walbridge

One gets a good idea of a person’s character by the adjectives others use to describe him. In the case of Ambassador John Rakolta Jr., words like maverick, visionary, well-respected and transformative repeatedly come into play among employees and customers alike. 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 at Harvard Business School in 1981.

As the 7th CEO and current chairman of Walbridge, John continues to apply the fundamental principles of integrity and leadership his father passed on to him. His contagious resolve to be kind, thoughtful, and always learning sets a culture of positivity throughout the company. There is an intensity and assertiveness about him that has earned him the reputation of getting “hard things done”.

John puts a premium on family. He and his wife Terry have four children: Eileen, Lauren, Paige, and John Rakolta III. John and Terry are avid readers, travelers, and enthusiastic champions of humanitarian causes.

Notably, they continue to contribute a great deal of their time and resources toward improving race relations and children’s education in Michigan. John was named Michiganian of the Year by The Detroit News for his advocacy work in the Detroit Public School System. He also served as Chairman of New Detroit for 8 years.

John has had an impressive impact on national and world politics. He has worked in an advisory capacity for multiple presidential candidates. And in May 2018, John was nominated and appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. He was an instrumental player in the Abraham Accords which was the first peace agreement between an Arab State, the UAE, and Israel in almost 25 years. He also served as Commissioner General of the USA Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020. Ambassador Rakolta proudly served in those capacities until January 19, 2021.

More recently, Ambassador Rakolta has been selected by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, to serve as Chairperson of her signature commission, Growing Michigan Together, which will produce a strategic vision for the state of Michigan to 2050.

Please help me in welcoming Ambassador Rakolta.