He began his working career as a reporter, and then as a six-times-a-week columnist for The New York Times, where he started as a copyboy in the News Department.
Until 1980, Mr. Spielvogel was vice chairman, and a member of the executive committee and the Board of Directors of the Interpublic Group, with which he was associated for twenty years, one of the world's largest communications marketing companies. Before joining Interpublic's parent company in 1972, he was chairman of the executive committee and executive vice president and general manager of McCann-Erickson, Inc., Interpublic's largest subsidiary.
In 1980, Mr. Spielvogel became Founder/Chairman and CEO of Backer & Spielvogel, which became Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide, Inc., one of the world's largest marketing and advertising communications companies. This worldwide corporation had 178 companies in 55 countries, and employed 8,500 persons—1,000 Americans and 7,500 nationals of the countries in which business was being conducted.
From October 1994 until April 1997, Mr. Spielvogel was chairman and chief executive officer of the United Auto Group, Inc., then the nation's largest publicly owned auto dealership group, with sales approximating $4 billion dollars.
In 1995, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and approved by the U.S. Senate, to the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is responsible for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Voice of Asia, Radio Marti, Worldnet, and the other non-military "Voices" of the United States Government.
In 1997, he was named Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Financial Times, the leading global and financial newspaper. He is also chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Intermedia Advertising Group, Inc., a research and technology company.
In 1998, he was appointed a Fellow at The Center for Business and Government, at The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is a member of the Columbia University Institute for the Study of Europe, and a Board Member of the Weissman Institute of International Studies at Baruch College.
He has been elected to the board of many publicly owned companies. He is on the Board of Directors of Interactive Data, Inc. and Apollo Investment, Inc. He has previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of CBS Market Watch, Inc.; Interpublic; Josephson International; CMA; Foamex, Inc.; the United Auto Group; Culligan Water Technologies; Alliant Foodservice, Inc., Barney’s New York, Hasbro, Inc., and The Franklin Corporation.
Mr. Spielvogel has had a lifelong involvement in numerous civic and cultural organizations: a member of the Board of Trustees, and former Chairman of the Business Committee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; a member of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; a former member, for 20 years, of the Board of Trustees of Mt. Sinai Hospital; a former member (for 22 years) of the Board of Trustees of the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, Inc.; a former member (for 18 years) of the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society, where he is Trustee Emeriti and current co-Chair of the Business Council of the Asia Society.
He served on the Board of Trustees of Eureka Communities, which worked to rebuild depressed inner-city neighborhoods across the nation, "one leader at a time" for ten years. Active for forty years in the New York State Democratic Party, he also was Chairman of its Board of Trustees. In 1999, Mr. Spielvogel received the Humanitarian award from H.E.L.P, which provides transitional housing for the homeless.
He has been a member of the International Advisory Board for the Business Council for the United Nations; the Board of the International Tennis Hall of Fame; the Municipal Art Society; the Board of Bennington College; the Board of the New York State Council for the Humanities; and the Board of the International Media Fund.
He was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and served in the U.S. Army from 1953 - 55.
In 2008, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the State University of N.Y. (SUNY), the largest state university system in the U.S., comprising 64 college campuses, with approximately 450,000 students.
Born in New York City, Mr. Spielvogel received a B.B.A. degree from Baruch College of the City University of New York. A past President of the board of trustees of the Baruch College Fund; he was the recipient of an honorary LL.D. degree from Baruch College in 1987. He was the recipient in June 1990 of the Baruch College Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Career Accomplishment. In September 1992, Baruch College inaugurated an annual lecture series in Mr. Spielvogel's honor entitled, "The Carl Spielvogel Lecture Series on Global Marketing Communications." In 1998, he was elected to the City College Communications Hall of Fame.
Five years ago, in an attempt to interest honor students of Baruch College in pursuing careers in the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Spielvogel funded a program which was named to honor the service of City College graduate, former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. The program is entitled “The Colin Powell Fellows,” and two summer interns have been selected each year to serve at the U.S. Department of State.
Mr. Spielvogel lives in New York City, with his wife Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, the author of 19 books on art, architecture and public policy.
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