WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Barack Obama has nominated two individuals to senior communications roles, including former Discovery Communications president Judith McHale as undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs and Philip Crowley to be the new assistant secretary of state for public affairs, the chief media advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
McHale would be Obama’s first public diplomacy chief, taking on a role that during the Bush administration was held by former advertising executive Charlotte Beers; veteran diplomat Margaret Tutweiler; longtime Bush communications aide Karen Hughes (now of Burson-Marsteller); and most recently financial columnist James Glassman of Dow 36,000 fame.
McHale has long been active in Democratic politics, co-chairing the Democratic platform committee at last year’s convention, but is best known for her tenure as president and chief executive officer of Discovery Communications, parent company of cable television's Discovery Channel. Since leaving Discovery in December 2006, she continued that commitment with private equity firm Global Environment Fund, which launched the GEF/Africa Growth Fund to supply capital to small and medium-sized businesses in emerging markets in Africa.
In announcing the nomination, the White House described Hale as a "a leading media and communications executive whose career has been devoted to building companies and non-profit organizations dedicated to reaching out to and connecting people around the world."
Crowley has been director of homeland security at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington and authored a homeland security strategy called Safe at Home. Under the administration of president Bill Clinton, Crowley was special assistant to the president for national security affairs. He served as senior director of public affairs for the National Security Council.