Secretary of Veterans Affairs – confirmation needed

Denis McDonough

by Deedra Abboud in Political
January 7, 2021 0 comments

President-elect Joe Biden nominated Denis McDonough to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

If confirmed, McDonough would be the second non-veteran to hold this position.

The position: Advises on federal government services for veterans, including health care and financial and educational benefits.

Denis Richard McDonough was born on December 2, 1969, in Stillwater, Minnesota and has 10 siblings, two of whom are Priests.

He was raised in a devout Irish Catholic family, his grandparents having emigrated from Galway; his mother’s parents were O’Mahonys from Cork.

He is also close to Irish Ambassador Michael Collins.

McDonough’s wife, Karin, is of Swedish and Norwegian origin. The McDonoughs have three children, Adeline, Liam, and Teddy. Two were baptized Catholic, one an Anglican. The family attends both Catholic Mass and a Congregationalist church.

His time in Ireland has been limited to 10 days in 1991, when he was a student in Spain, and one week in 2000 when he and his wife lived in Germany.

McDonough graduated from Saint John’s University with a B.A. summa cum laude in history and Spanish in 1992, where he also played safety on the Johnnies football team for Hall of Fame coach John Gagliardi.

After graduation, McDonough traveled extensively throughout Latin America and taught high school in Belize.

He graduated from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with an MSFS degree in 1996.

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.

McDonough served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Obama from 2007 to 2008.

After President Obama’s election, McDonough joined the administration as the National Security Council’s head of strategic communication.

He also served as National Security Council Chief of Staff and later Deputy 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.

In 2013, Obama appointed McDonough as his Chief of Staff.

In 2017, McDonough joined the Markle Foundation, an organization focused on boosting employment opportunities and expanding job training for Americans. Markle has a public-private initiative called Skillful, which helps workers gain new skills through certificate programs, online training, community college, and college courses. Skillful partnerships include LinkedIn, the state of Colorado, Arizona State University, and others.

McDonough is a professor of the practice at Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and also a visiting senior fellow in Carnegie’s Technology and International Affairs Program.

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