Martin J. Silverstein (born 1954) is a American attorney and diplomat. He served as the United States Ambassador to Uruguay under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.
Martin J. Silverstein served as a senior member of the Transition Team for President-elect Donald Trump. He has practiced law for nearly four decades beginning his legal career in Philadelphia. Since leaving his post as United States Ambassador to Uruguay in 2005, he has been working as an attorney in New York, New Jersey and Texas as senior counsel with an international law firm, practicing Global and Corporate & Securities law. President George W. Bush nominated Silverstein as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay just prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001. A Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, Silverstein also sits as a Judge Pro Tempore in the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.
While serving as United States Ambassador to Uruguay from 2001 to 2005, Silverstein facilitated a $1.5 billion U.S. Treasury bridge loan to salvage Uruguay's banking system, pending receipt of an IMF loan. He also engineered the reopening of U.S. markets to banned Uruguayan commodities and fostered the signing of an Open Skies Agreement and the first Bilateral Investment Treaty of the Bush Administration. These actions prompted the President of Uruguay to publicly credit President Bush and Silverstein personally, with saving his government and preventing economic collapse.
Silverstein was widely recognized as a successful and effective leader of his diplomatic post. With "careful attention to the physical security of the chancery, nurturing of the staff and precise management of mission resources", US Embassy Montevideo was voted #1 in the Western Hemisphere and #5 in the world as the Diplomatic Mission managed with the highest level of ‘customer satisfaction’ in an annually mandated (6 FAM) global survey of 19,000 ICASS customers and State Department employees.
A staunch advocate for all members of his Embassy community, Silverstein was publicly recognized by Post Management in the American Foreign Service Association Journal for fighting discrimination against the LGBTQ community by successfully advocating MOH (member of household) equal status recognition for a gay US Foreign Service Officer and her partner directly to the Foreign Minister and Uruguayan President’s office.
Silverstein served as a Delegation Member to the MERCOSUR 4 plus 1 Council on Trade and Investment negotiations, a Delegation Member of the U.S.-Uruguay Joint Commission on Trade and Investment, and a member of the U.S. Presidential Delegation to the Uruguayan presidential inauguration.
Silverstein joined the President of the United States in Jerusalem, Israel as a member of the United States Honorary Delegation celebrating the founding of the State of Israel and participated as a delegate on the Ukraine Presidential Election IRI Observation Mission.
Education and Legal Career
Silverstein was born in New York City in 1954. He received an LL.M. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2008, a J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law (senior member of Law Review) in 1979, and a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers College in 1976.
He is a member of the bars of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Tax Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He is also a member of the Texas Bar College, a recognition society of the best trained attorneys in Texas.
Silverstein is the current appointee of United States Senator Pat Toomey to the Federal Judicial Nomination Advisory Panel (E.D. Pa.). He previously served United States Senators Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter in the same role on the then titled ‘Federal Judicial Nominating Commission’.
Reflecting the confidential opinion of members of the Bar and Judiciary, Silverstein maintains the highest possible AV Preeminent rating for legal skills, integrity and professional excellence under the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating System and Client Review Rating System.Martindale.com
Awards and Recognition
The United States government and Secretary of State Colin Powell decorated Ambassador Silverstein with the Superior Honor Award Medal, an uncommon recognition for a non-career ambassador. The U.S. government also awarded Silverstein the Foreign Affairs Award for public Service, presented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for "performance with exceptional dedication and distinction."
The President and Legislature of Uruguay decorated Silverstein with the Medalla de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay, rank of Gran Oficial. Silverstein remains the only American citizen in history to receive Uruguay's highest honor.
Silverstein was awarded the Citizens Commendation for Bravery by the Philadelphia Police Commissioner for his courageous assistance to the Philadelphia Police Department in the apprehension and detention of two criminals.
He has received the Legion of Honor from the Chapel of Four Chaplains, the Certificate of Merit for Service to Veterans from the United States Congress and twice received the Maimonides Award from Magen David Adom.
In 2016, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas and the President of the Texas State Bar recognized Silverstein for his outstanding delivery of legal services to low-income Texans and admitted him to the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas.
Silverstein's bipartisan appeal resulted in successive Governors of two different political parties (Tom Corbett-R and Tom Wolf-D) commissioning him to serve sequential terms as a Trustee of the (Pennsylvania) Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS). Twice confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Senate, he is currently in his second full term at PSERS where he chairs the Elections Committee and serves on the Investment Finance and Corporate Governance Committees. The fifteen Trustees are an independent administrative board of the Commonwealth with exclusive investment power and management control of the $54 billion public pension fund.
At the University of Pennsylvania, in addition to being a University Trustee, Silverstein also serves on the Board of Overseers at the School of Nursing Science, the Board of Governors of the University Club at Penn and as a Penn Alumni Interviewer. He also sits on the Board of Visitors at Temple University Beasley School of Law. In Uruguay, Silverstein served as Chairman emeritus of the Fulbright Scholar Program.
Silverstein volunteered as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer with the Corporation for National & Community Service serving Habitat for Humanity in North Philadelphia.
He served as a (Class II, weapons certified) Reserve Police Officer in Elizabeth, New Jersey for 12 years and also served as a Constable and Special Deputy Sheriff.
He is a member of the Council of American Ambassadors and a long-time supporter of the Northwest Women's Shelter in Washington, D.C.
He speaks Spanish and Hebrew. He is married and has six children.