Charles Manatt 2008
Charles T. Manatt
BS '58, Rural Sociology
Ambassador Charles T. Manatt (’58 rural sociology) has committed his life to serving his country and promoting the causes of justice, philanthropy, and education.
An attorney who earned his J.D. from George Washington University in 1962, Manatt is the founder of the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. The firm started out specializing in legal services for the banking community but today has grown to offer international legal and consulting services for a variety of industries in 10 locations, including California; New York; Washington, D.C.; Mexico; and Brazil.
Manatt founded First Los Angeles Bank and served as its chairman from 1973-1989. He entered politics at 15 and was chair of the California Democratic Party before being elected chair of the Democratic National Committee in 1981. In 1992, he was co-chair of the successful Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, and in 1999 President Clinton appointed Manatt as the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
Manatt’s distinguished career in law, business, and politics is not only highlighted by professional achievements. He has given widely of his time and talents to organizations such as the National Legal Center for Public Interest’s Board of Directors, the Mayo Clinic Foundation Board of Directors, and both of his alma maters: George Washington University and Iowa State. He recently served as chairman of George Washington’s Board of Trustees. An Emeritus Governor of the ISU Foundation, he is a national vice-chair of Iowa State’s Campaign Destiny and is now an executive committee member for Campaign Iowa State: With Pride and Purpose.
Along with his wife, Kathleen (’58 home economics), longtime friend and business partner Thomas Phelps (’59 government), and Phelps’ wife, Elizabeth, Manatt established the Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science at Iowa State in 2002. Manatt delivered the lecture in 2002, and since that time it has been delivered by such prominent figures as Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez (PhD ’80 economics), Sweden’s Ambassador to the United States Jan Eliasson, U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, and Fed-Ex founder and CEO Fred Smith. The lecture is annually one of the university’s most prominent academic events and has brought honor and distinction to Iowa State.
Manatt received the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Service Award in 2004 and the ISU Alumni Association’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 1971. He is a member of the Order of the Knoll President’s Circle, W.M.Beardshear Society, and Campanile Society, and a life member of the ISU Alumni Association.
The Manatts live in Washington, D.C., and are also active in farming in Audubon and Cass Counties. They have three children: Michelle, Timothy, and Dan.