April 07, 2020

NYT: McEnany Named New White House Press Secretary; Farah Also Joining Comms Team

Kayleigh McEnanyThe New York Times' Maggie Haberman reports, "Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, is rejoining the staff of Melania Trump, the first lady, and Kayleigh McEnany, a campaign spokeswoman will replace her — the latest shake-up in a communications office that has been seen almost constant turnover under President Trump. Ms. McEnany has been a vocal defender of Mr. Trump on television, the main role the president has long believed the press secretary should play, according to current and former advisers. Her hiring is the first major personnel move by the incoming White House chief of staff, former Representative Mark Meadows of South Carolina. It was first reported by CNN. Ms. Grisham, who never held a press briefing in her nine-month tenure as the president’s spokeswoman, will become Mrs. Trump’s chief of staff, replacing Lindsay Reynolds, who resigned, according a statement from the first lady’s office. 

Also joining the White House press staff will be Alyssa Farah, a top spokeswoman at the Defense Department who once worked for Vice President Mike Pence, according to people briefed on the moves. Ms. Farah is close with Mr. Meadows, whose longtime congressional aide, Ben Williamson, will also join the communications team as an adviser. It is unclear whether Ms. McEnany will revive the traditional role of a White House press secretary — answering questions from reporters in a daily briefing. Mr. Meadows wants her to focus on defending the president on television, according to people familiar with the move. Ms. McEnany, 31 and a graduate of Harvard Law School, was a frequent surrogate for the president, touting Mr. Trump’s policies on network television before she formally joined Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign. Mr. Meadows has clashed with Ms. Grisham, a Trump loyalist who was one of the few remaining advisers who worked on the president’s 2016 campaign, targeting her as someone he wanted to replace, according to administration officials." (New York Times)

Politico: Stephanie Grisham out as White House press secretary

Stephanie GrishamPolitico's Meredith McGraw reports that, "White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham will leave her position as President Donald Trump's chief spokeswoman, two sources familiar with the move said Tuesday. She is expected to return to the White House's East Wing, where she worked before becoming press secretary, and work for first lady Melania Trump. Grisham, who stepped into the job less than a year ago, did not host a press briefing at any point during her tenure and maintained a considerably lower profile than her predecessors in the job, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders." (Politico)

March 26, 2017


Liz AllenStrategic communications and government affairs firm The Glover Park Group (GPG) announced that Liz Allen has joined the firm as a Senior Vice President. Allen will work in the Strategic Communications practice, providing strategic and media counsel for the firm’s clients.

Allen comes to GPG with a decade of experience in government and politics, most recently serving as Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama. At the White House, Allen drove strategic communications planning for President Obama’s key policy initiatives and public appearances.

Allen served in several senior roles over eight years as part of the Obama Administration including Director of Message Planning in the White House communications office, Director of Public Affairs for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and Vice President Joe Biden’s Deputy Director of Communications.

Allen, a native of Buffalo, New York, graduated from the State University of New York College at Geneseo Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Allen began her career in Washington, DC, working at the State Department on human trafficking and border security issues in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Allen also worked for the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee and the Obama-Biden Presidential Campaign. (PF tipster)

December 23, 2016

RNC's Spicer Named White House Press Secretary

The most coveted job in communications, White House Press Secretary, has been earned by well-known and well-liked flack Sean Spicer (@seanspicer), who has served as RNC chief strategist and communications director over the past two presidential cycles.

Sean Spicer PEOTUSThe announcement was made Thursday by the Trump-Pence transition team in a brief news release.

In addition to Spicer, the following senior White House communications roles were announced:

Jason Miller, Director of Communications

Hope Hicks, Director of Strategic Communications

Dan Scavino, Director of Social Media

All four individuals will share “Assistant to the President” titles.

“Sean, Hope, Jason and Dan have been key members of my team during the campaign and transition. I am excited they will be leading the team that will communicate my agenda that will Make America Great Again,” President-elect Donald Trump said in the release.

Spicer’s road to White House Press Secretary includes several grueling years at the RNC, but his career did not begin there.

Spicer backgroundSpicer served as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Media from 2006-2009.

Before that he worked on Capitol Hill, as Communications Director for the House Republican Conference from 2005-2006, as Communications Director for the House Budget Committee from 2002-2005, and as Director of Incumbent Retention for the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC).

He holds a Master’s in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and a Bachelor’s in Government from Connecticut College.

In 1999, Spicer joined the Navy Reserves, where he holds the rank of Commander.

He is a native of Barrington, RI. (The Hill / PF reporting)

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”)


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    Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, D.C. and Austin,TX-based Republican strategist and communications consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. In his career he has managed a winning Congressional campaign and worked in the U.S. Senate, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at a leading international PR firm, on a presidential campaign in Iowa and in White House presidential advance. Follow him on Twitter - @MattMackowiak

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    Laura Gross is currently president of Scott Circle Communications. She has served as deputy director of communications at the DNC, was Gov. Howard Dean's Communications Director and she worked in the press office at USAID during the Clinton administration. Her experience also includes time in the PR department of National Public Radio and she was part of Vice President Gore's advance team when he was in The White House.
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    Blain K. Rethmeier is currently the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the American Insurance Association (AIA). Rethmeier joined AIA from the White House where he served as Special Assistant to the President for Communications and directed communications for the National Economic Council and Homeland Security Council. Prior to joining the White House, Rethmeier served as Press Secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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