President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Denis McDonough to serve as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He serves as a professor of the practice of public policy in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.
McDonough joined the Notre Dame faculty in August 2017. He teaches courses on public policy analysis and formulation, writing for policy and government and nongovernmental organization management. McDonough also contributes policy expertise to the Keough School’s Global Policy Initiative. He will remain on the university faculty on academic leave.
McDonough also served as chief of staff to President Barack Obama from February 2013 to January 2017. Prior to that, he served from September 2010 to February 2013 as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser. He chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, leading a multiagency team that addressed complex national security challenges, including crisis management as well as policy decisions related to the Iran nuclear negotiations, strategic arms reductions talks with Russia, the United States re-balance to Asia, the Afghanistan surge and the Iraq drawdown. McDonough was among the small group joining Obama in the White House Situation Room on May 1, 2011, when Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
McDonough previously served in senior leadership and policymaking positions with the House International Relations Committee and Senate Majority Leader Ken Salazar of Colorado. He currently serves as senior principal at the Markle Foundation.
McDonough graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University in Minnesota with bachelor’s degrees in history and Spanish. He also holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.