Denis McDonough

Denis McDonough
Denis R. McDonough
Deputy National Security Advisor
Assumed office
October 22, 2010
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Thomas E. Donilon
Personal details
Born December 2, 1969 (1969-12-02) (age 41)
Stillwater, Minnesota
Alma mater Saint John's University
Georgetown University

Denis R. McDonough (born December 2, 1969) is a foreign policy advisor in the Obama Administration. He currently serves as Deputy National Security Advisor.


Early life and education

McDonough was born on December 2, 1969, in Stillwater, Minnesota.[1] He was one of eleven children of William and Kathleen McDonough.[2] 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.[3][4] McDonough was a member of teams that won two conference titles in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.[3] McDonough graduated from Saint John's University summa cum laude with a history degree in 1992.[3]

After graduation, McDonough traveled extensively throughout Latin America and taught high school in Belize.[3] He then attended Georgetown University and graduated with a master's degree in 1996.[3]


From 1996 to 1999, McDonough worked as an aide to the House International Relations Committee,[5] where he focused on Latin America.[1] McDonough then served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Tom Daschle.[3] After Daschle's re-election defeat in 2004, McDonough became legislative director for newly elected Senator Ken Salazar.[3] McDonough later served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.[1]

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.[3][6] McDonough continued to serve as a senior foreign policy advisor to Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.[1][7] After Obama's election, he joined the administration as the National Security Council's head of Strategic Communication.[5] He also served as National Security Council Chief of Staff.[8]

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

On October 22, 2010, President 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.[9] 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.


  1. ^ a b c d Michael Cooper (November 23, 2008). "The New Team". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  2. ^ George Thole (April 17, 2008). "Thole: Remember sacrifices of those who serve". Stillwater Gazette. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Thayer Evans (September 18, 2009). "No Whistles, No Tackling and No End in Sight for St. John's Coach". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Garance Franke-Ruta (October 22, 2010). "Denis McDonough: Five things worth knowing". WhoRunsGov. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  6. ^ Monica Langley (September 22, 2007). "From the Campaign to the Battlefront". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Obama's People". The New York Times Magazine. January 18, 2009. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  8. ^ Helene Cooper (July 9, 2010). "The Saturday Profile: The Adviser at the Heart of National Security". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ Peter Baker (October 22, 2010). "Obama Making National Security Appointment". The Caucus Blog. The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 

External links

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