Denis McDonough (2021- )

Denis McDonough (2021- )

Denis Richard McDonough was born on December 2, 1969, in Stillwater, Minnesota, to a large family of eleven children. He was raised in Stillwater and attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, graduating in 1992. He graduated with a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1996. 

McDonough then worked in a number of senior policy-making positions in the US House of Representatives, as professional staff member on the International Relations Committee, and in the US Senate, for the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and for Senator Ken Salazar.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, McDonough served as the senior foreign policy advisor for Barack Obama. After Obama won the election, McDonough began his career in the White House. His first position was chief of staff for the National Security Council. From 2010 to 2013, McDonough served as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security advisor. In those roles, McDonough provided advice to the president on national security challenges and crisis management in international affairs. 

From 2013 to 2017, McDonough served as White House chief of staff for President Obama. As chief of staff, McDonough managed the 4,000-member White House staff in addition to cabinet secretaries and the heads of various federal agencies. 

After leaving the White House, he served as a senior principal at the Markle Foundation, where he chaired the Rework America Task Force, a national initiative to modernize the labor market. McDonough also taught as an executive fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs teaching a global policy seminar. 

In December 2020, after winning the presidential election, Joe Biden announced that he would appoint McDonough as the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The US Senate confirmed his appointment by a vote of 87 to 7 on February 8, 2021, and McDonough was sworn in the next day. As the 11th secretary of the VA, he pledged to ensure that the VA would meet the needs of veterans and their families.