Denis McDonough is a visiting senior fellow in Carnegie’s Technology and International Affairs Program. Previously, he served as White House chief of staff for President Obama’s second term, managing the four thousand member White House staff, as well as cabinet secretaries and agency leaders. He provided strategic advice to the president on the most significant domestic policy, national security, and management issues facing the federal government and enforced plans and accountability for performance and goals, maintaining the Obama administration’s reputation for effective, ethical operation. He planned and coordinated efforts to recruit and retain key talent—including an unprecedented expansion of technology experts, engineers, and content generators within the White House and across the federal government.
Prior to his role as chief of staff, McDonough served as White House deputy national security adviser from September 2010 to February 2013. In this position, he chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, leading a multiagency team to address complex national security challenges, including crisis management as well as policy decisions related to the Iran nuclear negotiations, strategic arms reductions talks with Russia, the United States re-balance to Asia, the Afghanistan surge, and the Iraq drawdown. Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, McDonough served as senior foreign policy adviser for Obama for America.
Prior to his eight-year stint in the White House, McDonough served in senior leadership and policymaking positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, as a professional staff member on the International Relations Committee, and in the U.S. Senate for the Senate majority leader and for Senator Ken Salazar (CO).
McDonough received his B.A., summa cum laude, from St. John’s University in Minnesota and his M.S. from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He lives in Maryland with his wife and three children.