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Denis McDonough
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Denis McDonough

White House chief of staff and national security leader Denis McDonough shares an insider’s perspective on current political events, the future of innovation, and the day’s most pressing national and global security issues.

White House Chief of Staff (2013-2017); Deputy National Security Advisor (2010-2013)

Expertise In:

  • American Politics
  • Crisis Management
  • Innovation
  • U.S. National Security
  • Cybersecurity

Audience & Industry

  • Associations
  • Corporations
  • The Professional Services Industry
  • The Finance Industry
  • Senior Management Groups

White House chief of staff and national security leader Denis McDonough shares an insider’s perspective on current political events, the future of innovation, and the day’s most pressing national and global security issues.

As chief of staff for President Barack Obama, Denis McDonough led the White House for the President’s entire second term and played a definitive role in shaping U.S. national security policy. Among President Obama’s closest advisors, McDonough first joined then-Senator Obama’s campaign as senior foreign policy advisor in 2007. During the administration’s first term, McDonough served as principal deputy national security advisor. Upon McDonough’s appointment to chief of staff in 2013, President Obama said, “Were it not for him, we wouldn’t be as effective a White House,” additionally noting that he relied on McDonough’s intellect, judgment, and indispensable advice throughout their time working together. McDonough provides exceptional insight into the legislative process on Capitol Hill, domestic politics, and the use of executive authority.

McDonough is currently an Executive Fellow at the University of Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs, teaching a global policy seminar for students focused on refugees and migration. Additionally, he 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. 

Drawing from his role as a Senior Advisor at the Markle Foundation, McDonough offers insight into how the labor market must transform so that all Americans have the opportunity to thrive in the digital economy. 

From current terrorism and cybersecurity threats, to the future of education and skills training, McDonough understands the global factors that impact modern organizations and helps audiences identify the risks and opportunities that lie ahead.

Featured Videos

Denis McDonough's Speech Topics

American Politics: A Look at Today’s Headlines

With astute insight to executive authority and the political process in Washington, Denis McDonough explains the realities about what is possible—and not possible—for the Trump Administration and Congress to achieve. From infrastructure and taxes to health care and immigration, McDonough addresses the most important issues at stake for America.

Innovation, Automation, and Education in the Digital Economy

How will increased automation impact the labor market in the United States and around the world? How can the public and private sectors work together to encourage innovation while safeguarding the interests of American workers? How should we think about educating our children and retraining our employees to ensure that they are competitive in the global marketplace? Denis McDonough confronted these questions during his tenure at the White House and continues to explore them in his work with the Markle Foundation. McDonough frames the issues that will be at the forefront of the national and global conversation over the next several years, and offers ideas for ensuring that growth fueled by innovation is positive, inclusive and sustainable.

Crisis Management in a Complex Environment

With rapidly advancing technology and an ever-growing use of social media by both allies and enemies, the tools used by the government are far from what they used to be. With experience confronting issues including HealthCare.gov, hacks of government infrastructure, and diffusion of the American media landscape, Denis McDonough led the implementation of a more robust presence of technology in the government. Based on his experience leading one of the world’s most complex and heavily scrutinized organizations, McDonough provides insight for businesses on internal and external crisis communications, how to immediately respond to issues from global events to public perceptions, and leading teams and organizations through change while under extreme pressure.

The Geopolitical Landscape, National Security, and an Era of Cyber Warfare

In this timely discussion, Denis McDonough offers keen insight and analysis of the current geopolitical landscape, with special attention on national security and the threats raised by the increasing role of cyber warfare. Addressing how Russia, China, and other global hot spots fit into a shifting foreign policy landscape, McDonough explores America’s role as the world enters a new era in diplomacy, and the implications for businesses operating around the globe.

The Future of Education

During his tenure at the White House and in his role with the Markle Foundation, Denis McDonough has led efforts around one of the key issues of our time: the future of education. McDonough provides key insight into preparing students for a disruptive and innovative workforce, expanding resources for STEM programs, and ensuring America’s competitiveness in an increasingly connected world.

Works by Denis McDonough