May 14, 2013

REMAINDERS: McDowell joins Blue Engine; Beirne & Vargas To WH; Gor to Rand 2016

Occasionally, we miss some important flack-related items.  Here are a few:

  • First reported in Politico’sPlaybook,” Amber McDowell has joined DC-based strategic communications firm Blue Engine Message & Media.  She was most recently Communications Director for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).  She also was Speechwriter and Press Secretary for Gov. Phil Bredesen (D-TN) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).  She worked on the Obama-Biden re-elect and at the 2012 DNC Convention in Charlotte.  (Politico’s “Playbook”)
  • Katherine Vargas is the new Director of Hispanic Media at the White House.  She was previously Communications Director for the National Immigration Forum, and also worked at the National Immigration Law Center and the International Rescue Committee.  She is a native of Colombia who immigrated to the U.S. in 1997.
  • Katie Beirne, the Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center has replaced Jennifer Palmieri as Deputy Communications Director at the White House.  According to Politico, she will be in charge of outreach to surrogates and message coordination with outside groups.  (Politico)
  • Sergio Gor has been named Spokesman for RAND PAC, the political action committee, and presidential campaign in waiting, of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).  Gor was formerly spokesman for Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) and on the campaign of Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA. (Politico)

May 25, 2012

Blue Engine Message & Media Continues Growth


Adam Abrams
, former regional communications director and spokesman at the White House has joined Blue Engine Message & Media. Adam's background in Democratic politics is vast - he has held a variety of communications roles throughout the party - including working on the Hill for Cong. Patrick Murphy and in the communications shop of the DCCC, under then-chairman Rahm Emanuel. (PF Tipster)

September 26, 2011

Obama White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki Departs for GSG

First reported by Politico’s Mike Allen, White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki is departing to become Senior Vice President / Managing Director at the well-known Democratic polling firm Global Strategy Group.  Her first day is Oct. 17 and her last day at the White House was Sept. 22. 

Jen Psaki (2) Psaki is one of the longest serving Obama communications aides, investing the last four years on both the campaign and in the White House.

According to Politico’s Allen, “Psaki, 32, started with the Obama campaign as Deputy Press Secretary in February 2007, then became Traveling Press Secretary in the Fall. She flew to 47 states (all but Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama) and five countries with the then-Senator.

Jen Psaki Psaki, a native of Greenwich, CT and a 2000 graduate of the College of William and Mary, according to the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, previously served at the “Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), as well as on the re-election bids of Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Here’s a July 2011 profile of Psaki in her hometown Greenwich magazine.

Allen reports that Psaki hopes to be an Obama surrogate in the 2012 cycle.  (Politico & the Washington Post)

June 07, 2011

Assistant White House Press Secretary Shapiro Moves to NSC

Nick Shapiro First reported in Politico’sPlaybook”, Nick Shapiro, a White House Assistant Press Secretary, has been named Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan.

Shapiro will provide direct support to Brennan on the development, interagency coordination and outreach on a range of strategic homeland security and counterterrorism initiatives.  (Politico’s “Playbook”)

May 01, 2011

White House Press Office Promotes Earnest, Hires DNI's Smith

First reported in Politico’sPlaybook”, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced late last week the promotion of Josh Earnest and the hiring of Jamie Smith.

Josh Earnest Earnest (pictured at right in center) has been promoted to a newly created position, Special Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary.  Carney said Earnest will assume responsibility for briefing reporters and traveling with President Obama when he is unable to do so, as well as helping oversee the press staff.

Jamie Smith Smith (pictured at left) joins the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary, where she will serve as an on-the-record spokesperson and manage the day-to-day operations of the press office.  Smith currently serves as Director of Public Affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).  She previously served as Communications Director for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Traveling Press Director for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign, Communications Director for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the Albright Group and Legislative Aide to Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).  Smith is a native of Buffalo Grove, IL and a graduate of Kenyon College.  (Politico’s “Playbook”)

April 22, 2011

White House Director of Press Advance Lillie Heads to NY, Replaced by Maska

Katie Lillie First reported in Politico’sPlaybook”, Katie Lillie (pictured at left) will depart the White House on April 27 after serving as Director of Press Advance for New York, where she will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

Lillie served on the Obama campaign and previously for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS).  She is a graduate of Kenyon College.

Johanna Maska Her replacement at the White House is senior press lead Johanna Maska (pictured at right), who joined the Obama team in Iowa in June 2007.  She has the distinction of having served as the press lead on both Iowa Caucus night and on Election Day in 2008, where she witnessed then-Sen. Obama voting.

Maska is a native of Galesburg, KS and a 2004 graduate of the University of Kansas.  Her hometown newspaper, the Galesburg Register-Mail, wrote about her when she first began working at the White House.  (Politico’s “Playbook”)


April 12, 2011

White House Communications Reorganization, New Hires Announced

White House From Politico’s Mike Allen, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer announced the following new hires, amid a reorganization of the White House communications shop:

Kate Bedingfield will transition to one of the three new Associate Communications Directors positions from the White House Regional Media operation.

Sandra Abrevaya will join Kate as an Associate Communications Director, from the U.S. Department of Education.

According to Pfeiffer, Bedingfield and Abrevaya will work in coordination with the press office, cabinet affairs and the policy and outreach teams to help manage communications aspects of Administration initiatives including policy rollouts, proactive planning and amplification around presidential announcements.

Pfeiffer also announced that they will begin transitioning the regional desks to the press office, reporting to Josh Earnest.

Bobby Whithorne also joined this week as Writer, with point responsibility for talking points, releases and other roll-out / event-related writing. Whithorne comes to the White House from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Public Affairs. 

Finally, Pfeiffer announced that the constituency desks will be reporting to Jen Psaki.  (Politico)

March 18, 2011

WaPo’s Murray Named Communications Director for Vice President Biden

Shailagh Murray First reported by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, veteran political reporter Shailagh Murray is leaving the Washington Post to serve as Communications Director for Vice President Joe Biden.

Murray has spent the past six years covering Congress and political campaigns for the Washington Post. Previously, Murray was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) from 1999 to 2005 covering politics and Congress and was also stationed as a correspondent in Brussels and Prague for the WSJ.

Murray replaces Jay Carney, the former Washington Bureau Chief for Time Magazine who was promoted to White House Press Secretary.

Murray is a New York native who grew up in Charlottesville and Richmond, VA.  She earned a Bachelor’s in Humanities from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University.  (Washington Post)

February 16, 2011

White House Deputy Press Secretary Burton, Press Aide Hogan Departing Friday

Bill Burton 2 In separate announcements, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton and press aide Katie Hogan both announced Wednesday that they will depart the White House Friday. 

Burton, who was considered for the position of White House Press Secretary to replace Robert Gibbs and would have been the first African-American White House Press Secretary, is leaving to launch a political and strategic consulting firm with White House colleague Sean Sweeney.  Sweeney and Burton served at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee together during the 2006 cycle as Political Director and Communications Director respectively.  Sweeney was an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  Burton joined then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2007 and was a national spokesman for his presidential campaign.  He had previously worked for former Rep. Richard Gephardt’s (D-MO) 2004 presidential campaign and for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and former Rep. Bill Luther (D-MN). 

Hogan has worked for Obama for four years and said she plans to take the next few months off before deciding her next professional move.  (PF tipster)


February 09, 2011

Axelrod Aide Lesser to Serve as Communications Aide for Goolsbee

Eric Lesser Per the Washington Post’s “Morning Fix” column, Eric Lesser, the wunderkind who began as a baggage boy on President Obama's 2008 campaign and rose rapidly through the ranks to serve as David Axelrod's Special Assistant in the White House, has landed a new gig as Director of Strategic Planning at the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).  In his new post, Lesser is aiding CEA head Austan Goolsbee with press outreach and broader communications strategy.  Lesser's new job comes in the wake of Axelrod's departure from the White House -- one of a series of moves aimed at beginning the planning for Obama's 2012 re-election effort.  The New York Times profiled Axelrod and Lesser in 2009.  (Washington Post’s “Morning Fix”)

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