Conscience & Courage in Public Life - The 12th Annual Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture

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Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Denis McDonough '92, was the White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. Prior to his 2013 selection to the highest non-elected position in the White House, McDonough served as Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor, Chief of Staff to the National Security Council, and head of the National Security Council's Strategic Communication division.

During his eight years in the White House, McDonough managed thousands of White House employees and Cabinet Secretaries, provided strategic advice to the President on the most pressing range of domestic and international issues facing the federal government, and coordinated efforts to recruit and retain key talent to the federal government.

Before his work in the Obama Administration, McDonough served in leadership and policy positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, National Security Council, and U.S. Senate.

In 2017, McDonough joined the Markle Foundation as senior principal, aiming to “transform America’s outdated labor market to reflect the needs of the digital economy,” according to the organization. He is also a senior visiting fellow at the Carnegie’s Technology and International Affairs Program and an executive fellow of the Global Policy Initiative at Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs.

McDonough graduated summa cum laude from St. John's University in 1992 with a B.A. in History and Spanish, where he played football for Hall of Fame coach John Gagliardi. He then graduated from Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with a Master of Science in Foreign Service in 1996.

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