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Denis McDonough

Denis McDonough
White House Chief of Staff
Assumed office
January 25, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Jack Lew
Deputy National Security Advisor
In office
October 22, 2010 – January 25, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Thomas Donilon
Succeeded by Tony Blinken
Personal details
Born Denis Richard McDonough
(1969-12-02) December 2, 1969
Stillwater, Minnesota, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater St. John's University, Minnesota
Georgetown University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Denis Richard McDonough (born December 2, 1969) is the 27th and current White House Chief of Staff, succeeding Jack Lew at the start of President Obama's second term.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Early career 2
  • Obama administration 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life

McDonough was born on December 2, 1969, in Stillwater, Minnesota.[2] He was one of eleven children of William and Kathleen McDonough.[3] McDonough attended Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he played safety on the Johnnies football team for Hall of Fame coach John Gagliardi.[4][5] McDonough was a member of teams that won two conference titles in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.[4] McDonough graduated from Saint John's University with a B.A. summa cum laude in history and Spanish in 1992.[4] He was raised in a devout Catholic family.[6]

After graduation, McDonough traveled extensively throughout MSFS degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1996.[4]

Early career

From 1996 to 1999, McDonough worked as an aide to the House Foreign Affairs Committee,[7] where he focused on Latin America.[2] McDonough then served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Tom Daschle.[4] After Daschle's re-election defeat in 2004, McDonough became legislative director for newly elected Senator Ken Salazar.[4] McDonough later served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in 2004.[2]

In 2007, Senator Barack Obama's chief foreign policy advisor, Navy reservist Mark Lippert, was called into active duty and recruited McDonough to serve as his replacement during Lippert's deployment to Iraq.[4][8] McDonough continued to serve as a senior foreign policy advisor to Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.[2][9]

Obama administration

After President Obama's election, he joined the administration as the National Security Council's head of Strategic Communication.[7] He also served as National Security Council Chief of Staff.[10]

McDonough, seated, third from right in blue shirt, in the Situation Room during the Bin Laden raid.

On October 22, 2010, President Barack Obama announced that McDonough would be replacing Thomas E. Donilon as Deputy National Security Advisor, who was leaving his position to succeed General James L. Jones as National Security Advisor.[11] McDonough was seen in photos of the White House Situation Room taken during the monitoring of the SEAL operation in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

On January 25, 2013, Obama appointed Denis McDonough as his Chief of Staff. In February 2013 McDonough urged lawmakers to quickly confirm Chuck Hagel and John O. Brennan to their posts in Obama’s national security team, expressing “grave concern” about the delays.

As Chief of Staff, the former Congressional staffer has made greater outreach to Republican Senators a major priority, with several Republicans referring to his tenure as Chief of Staff as a breath of fresh air.[12]


  1. ^ The Washington Post (2013). Denis McDonough to be Obama’s new chief of staff. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Michael Cooper (November 23, 2008). "The New Team".  
  3. ^ George Thole (April 17, 2008). "Thole: Remember sacrifices of those who serve". Stillwater Gazette. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Arthur Eisele (Winter 2009). "At Home in the West Wing: An Interview with Denis McDonough '92". Saint John's Magazine. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  5. ^ Thayer Evans (September 18, 2009). "No Whistles, No Tackling and No End in Sight for St. John's Coach".  
  6. ^ "Who is Denis McDonough?". Our Daily Thread. 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  7. ^ a b Garance Franke-Ruta (October 22, 2010). "Denis McDonough: Five things worth knowing". WhoRunsGov.  
  8. ^ Monica Langley (September 22, 2007). "From the Campaign to the Battlefront".  
  9. ^ "Obama's People".  
  10. ^ Helene Cooper (July 9, 2010). "The Saturday Profile: The Adviser at the Heart of National Security".  
  11. ^ Peter Baker (October 22, 2010). "Obama Making National Security Appointment". The Caucus Blog. The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  12. ^ Michael Cass, (August 22, 2013) "Sen. Bob Corker explains why he missed the President's speech" The Tennessean, Retrieved August 23, 2013

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Donilon
Deputy National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Tony Blinken
Preceded by
Jack Lew
White House Chief of Staff
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jeh Johnson
as Secretary of Homeland Security
Order of Precedence of the United States
as White House Chief of Staff
Succeeded by
Shaun Donovan
as Director of the Office of Management and Budget
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