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McDonough was formerly Senior Advisor to the Markle Foundation, working to create a skills-based labor market that enables all Americans to succeed in the digital economy, until early 2021 when he became United States Secretary of Veteran Affairs.
Previously, as Senior Principal at Markle, from 2017-2019, McDonough had been leading the Rework America Task Force, a coalition of diverse, cross-sector leaders from business, education, government and other organizations.
McDonough also serves as Senior Advisor for Technology and Global Policy for Macro Advisory Partners, a strategic advisory firm which helps to navigate the intersection of global markets, geopolitics and policy. In addition, he is Executive Fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, teaching a global policy seminar for graduate and undergraduate students.
From February 2013 to January 2017, McDonough served as White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama. In that role, McDonough managed the White House staff, as well as Cabinet Secretaries and agency leaders. He advised the President on domestic policy and national security challenges facing the country, management issues facing the federal government, and devised 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 and engineers within the White House and across the federal government.
Prior to his role as Chief of Staff, from September 2010 until February 2013, McDonough was Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor. He chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, leading a multiagency team to address complex national security challenges, including crisis management and national security policy making decisions. Throughout the 2008 Presidential campaign, McDonough served as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor for Obama for America.
Prior to his eight-year tenure in the White House, McDonough served in senior leadership and policy-making positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, as 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).
He is on the board of directors for Catalyte, a Baltimore-based company that uses AI and data science to build technology workforces for the world’s most progressive companies. He is a member of the National Democratic Institute board of directors and of the advisory council for the Tent Partnership for Refugees. He is also on the board of directors for the SAFE Project, a national nonprofit working to end the nation’s catastrophic addiction epidemic.
McDonough received his B.A., summa cum laude, from St. John’s University (MN) and his M.S. from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He lives in Maryland with his wife and three children.