Life and career
Duberstein was born to a Jewish family, in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Poly Prep Country Day School and Franklin and Marshall College (A.B. 1965) and American University (M.A. 1966). He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Franklin and Marshall in 1989. While in college he was a member of Zeta Beta Tau. He is married to Jacqueline Duberstein and has four children.
During President Reagan's two terms in office, he served as White House Chief of Staff (1988–1989), as well as both the Assistant and the Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs (1981–83). Duberstein is said to be the first Jewish-American appointed as White House Chief of Staff (although Hamilton Jordan's maternal grandmother was Jewish).
Prior to joining the Administration, he was Vice President and Director of Business-Government Relations of the Committee for Economic Development. He returned to the private sector between his various White House assignments as Vice President of Timmons & Company Inc, one of Washington's top lobbying firms. Some of the firm's clients include the American Petroleum Institute, Anheuser-Busch, Chrysler, Teva Pharmaceuticals, the American Council of Life Insurers, the American Medical Association, and VISA.
His earlier government service included Deputy Under Secretary of Labor during the Ford Administration and Director of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. General Services Administration. He began his public service on Capitol Hill as an assistant to Senator Jacob K. Javits.
Among the Board of Directors on which Mr. Duberstein serves are: The Boeing Company, ConocoPhillips, the Fleming Companies, Inc., and The St. Paul Companies, Inc. He also is on the Board of Governors for the American Stock Exchange and NASD, and has served on the Board of Directors of Fannie Mae. He serves on the advisory board for Washington, DC based non-profit America Abroad Media.
Duberstein is a trustee of Franklin & Marshall College and Johns Hopkins University and serves as well on a wide range of commissions, task forces, and cultural, educational and volunteer boards, including: Vice Chairman of the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Harvard University's Kennedy School Harvard's Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee, the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency medicine, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Ford's Theater and The American Council for Capital Formation.
Prior to 1987, Duberstein served on the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. He was succeeded in that position by Betty Heitman, the co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee from 1983 to 1987.
In January 1989, Duberstein was awarded the President's Citizens Medal by President Reagan.  He is chairman of the Ethics Committee for the U.S. Olympic Committee and served as vice chairman of the independent Special Bid Oversight Reform Commission for the U.S. Olympics Committee. He also appeared on Bloomberg alongside John Podesta.
Duberstein has been a "political adviser" to former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, according to syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who says Duberstein was a source for David Corn's and Michael Isikoff's book about the Valerie Plame affair in which Armitage was found to be the one who leaked Plame's CIA status to Novak.
In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria aired November 2, 2008, Duberstein announced his support of Democratic candidate Barack Obama for president. This came after he was rebuffed by Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee, for the position of director of his presidential transition, according to ABC News.
Duberstein was also a consultant on the West Wing episodes '2162 Votes' and 'Separation of Powers.'
Duberstein has been hired by Russian authorities, via Goldman Sachs (an international investment banking firm), to lobby against the Magnitsky Bill (as known as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act), a bill in the U.S. Congress "to impose sanctions on persons responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, and for other gross violations of human rights in the Russian Federation".
In 2013, Duberstein was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case. His position succeeded, as the court would go on to effectively legalize same-sex marriage in California.