McDonough in 2015
|26th White House Chief of Staff|
January 20, 2013 - January 20, 2017
|United States Deputy National Security Advisor|
October 20, 2010 - January 20, 2013
|Thomas E. Donilon|
|Chief of Staff of the National Security Council|
October 20, 2009 - October 20, 2010
Denis Richard McDonough
December 2, 1969
Stillwater, Minnesota, U.S.
|Education||St. John's University, Minnesota (BA)|
Georgetown University (MS)
McDonough was born on December 2, 1969, in Stillwater, Minnesota. He is one of eleven children of Kathleen Marie (O'Mahony) and William Joseph McDonough. He was raised in a devout Irish Catholic family, his grandparents having immigrated from Connemara Gaeltacht.
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. McDonough was a member of teams that won two conference titles in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. McDonough graduated from Saint John's University with a B.A. summa cum laude in history and Spanish in 1992. After graduation, McDonough traveled extensively throughout Latin America and taught high school in Belize.
From 1996 to 1999, McDonough worked as an aide to the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he focused on Latin America. McDonough then served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Tom Daschle. After Daschle's re-election defeat in 2004, McDonough became legislative director for newly elected Senator Ken Salazar. McDonough later served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in 2004.
In 2007, Senator Barack Obama's chief foreign policy advisor Mark Lippert, a Navy reservist, was called into active duty. Lippert recruited McDonough to serve as his replacement during Lippert's deployment to Iraq. McDonough continued to serve as a senior foreign policy advisor to Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
On October 20, 2010, President Barack Obama announced that McDonough would be replacing Thomas E. Donilon as Deputy National Security Advisor, who had been promoted to succeed General James L. Jones as National Security Advisor. 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.
On January 20, 2013, at the beginning of his second term in office, Obama appointed McDonough as his Chief of Staff. In February 2013 McDonough urged lawmakers to quickly confirm Chuck Hagel and John O. Brennan to their posts in Obama's national security team, expressing "grave concern" about the delays.
As Chief of Staff, the former Congressional staffer made greater outreach to Republican Senators a major priority, with one Republican referring to his tenure as Chief of Staff as "a breath of fresh air".
In 2017, McDonough joined the Markle Foundation. The organization is putting a focus on boosting employment opportunities and expanding job training for Americans, it said. McDonough is coming to Markle as a senior principal, where he helps to broaden the partnership between the foundation and other organizations, including governments and public institutions, aiming to "transform America's outdated labor market to reflect the needs of the digital economy," according to the organization. Markle has a public-private initiative called Skillful, which helps workers gain new skills through certificate programs, online training, community college, and college courses. McDonough will work to build up Skillful's partnerships -- which already include LinkedIn, the state of Colorado, Arizona State University, and others -- and develop a strategy to grow the organization nationwide.