Donna Brazile & Karen Hughes

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Donna Brazile

  • Veteran Democratic Political Strategist
  • Founder of Brazile and Associates, LLC
  • Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee

Donna Brazile is one of the best known, most influential African-American women in modern American political life. She was named one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C.,” by Washingtonian Magazine and one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in America” by Essence Magazine. Ms. Brazile is a frequent political commentator and the Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee.

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Karen Hughes headshot

Karen Hughes

EXCLUSIVE
  • Counselor to President George W. Bush (2001-2002)
  • Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (2005-2007)
  • Worldwide Vice Chair, Burson-Marsteller
  • One of the World’s Foremost Communication Strategists

Karen Hughes serves as Burson-Marsteller’s Worldwide Vice Chair.  She is one of the world's foremost communication strategists, specializing in strategic messaging and communications, crisis communications and executive positioning with clients ranging from global corporations to Fortune 500 CEOs.

For her work in U.S. government, she has been described as "the most powerful woman ever to serve in the White House" (Dallas Morning News) and "the most powerful public diplomacy czar in decades" (The Boston Globe). As Under Secretary of State, she traveled to more than 50 countries, meeting world leaders and reaching out to international audiences.

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Biography

Donna Brazile's Biography

Veteran Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile is the former Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). For over 40 years Brazile, former Vice-Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation, has been an active member of the Democratic Party.

She first got involved in politics at the age of nine when she worked to elect a City Council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood; the candidate won, the swing set was installed, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Ms. Brazile worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she became the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign.

In addition to her work as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, Ms. Brazile is the author of the best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics and is on leave with ABC News. She is especially pleased to have made three cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife, and two cameo appearances on Netflix’s series House of Cards. She most recently appeared on BET's Being Mary Jane. Ask her and she’ll tell you that acting, after all, is the key to success in politics.

Ms. Brazile has worked passionately in the rebuilding and recovery efforts in her beloved hometown of New Orleans. Additionally, she loves working with young people, encouraging them to vote, to run for office, and to work within the system to strengthen it. Since 2000, Ms. Brazile has lectured at over 200 colleges and universities across the country on such topics as “Inspiring Civility in American Politics,” “Race Relations in the Age of Obama,” “Why Diversity Matters,” and “Women in American Politics.”

In 2014, Brazile was appointed by Barack Obama to serve on to the board of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. In addition, she serves on the Boards of National Democratic Institute, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, the BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund, Inc., and Co-Chair for Democrats for Public Education. Recently, she was appointed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to serve on the Tricentennial Commission.

In August 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Ms. Brazile as one of its 20 “remarkable visionaries” for the magazine’s first-ever O Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. In 2016, Ms. Brazile was awarded Wonk of the Year from the Kennedy Political Union at American University.

Ms. Brazile is the proud recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Louisiana State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Grambling State University, Spelman College, LeMoyne Owen College, Northeastern Illinois University, Medgar Evers College, Morehouse Medical College, Bethune Cookman University, Thomas Jefferson School of Nursing and Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically Black, Catholic institution of higher education in the United States.

Ms. Brazile is founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC.

Karen Hughes's Biography

Karen Hughes is one of the world's foremost communication strategists, specializing in strategic messaging and communications, crisis communications and executive positioning with clients ranging from global corporations to Fortune 500 CEOs.

Since joining Burson-Marsteller in 2008, she has provided strategic communications counsel to many high profile clients. Karen helped develop the strategy to differentiate Ford in the aftermath of the auto bailout; she advised a global healthcare company as it managed recalls of some of its most iconic consumer products; she guided a major Texas retailer as it managed a complex data breach; she was the senior strategist on the team advising the first U.S. hospital to diagnose a patient with Ebola; and she helped Blue Bell Ice Cream manage the largest voluntary total recall of 2015 after listeria was found in several of its products. She has led numerous communications workshops and media trainings, and works directly with several CEOs and senior executives on their messaging and communications strategies.

Karen has more than 35 years of public policy, communications and political experience, from helping lead winning presidential campaigns to serving at the highest levels of government. Karen served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2005-2007, reaching out on behalf of the United States to audiences across the world. Karen dramatically reshaped the State Department’s communications efforts, rebuilt an agency demoralized by years of budget cuts, launched a new focus on America’s “diplomacy of deeds” and made public diplomacy central in the development of foreign policy.

From 2001 to 2002, Karen served as Counselor to the President, a title reflective of her role as strategic advisor to President George W. Bush. Told by the President that he wanted her “in the room whenever a major decision is made,” Karen worked on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues, and led the White House Offices of Communications, Press Secretary, Media Affairs and Speechwriting. When she left the White House, the New York Times said: “The rule of thumb in any White House is that nobody is indispensable except the president. But Karen Hughes has come as close to that description as any recent presidential aide.” The Associated Press called her “perhaps the most influential woman ever to serve an American president.”

Karen was President Bush’s Communications Director and one of the “Iron Triangle” of three people who led his winning presidential campaign in 2000 and served as a senior communications strategist on his 2004 re-election campaign. She was instrumental in developing and shaping his image as a “compassionate conservative.” She served as Director of Communications in the Texas Governor's office (1995-1999) and directed communications during Governor Bush's successful gubernatorial campaigns in 1994 and 1998.

Karen was Executive Director of the Texas Republican Party from 1992 until 1994, and served as a consultant and frequent spokesman for the Party throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. She was the Director of Media Relations for Halcyon Associates, a Dallas-based public relations firm, from 1987 until 1990. She has worked on numerous political, issue and bond campaigns in Dallas and was Texas press coordinator for the Reagan-Bush '84 campaign.  

Karen began her career as a journalist, working as a television reporter for KXAS-TV (NBC affiliate) in Dallas-Fort Worth from 1977 until 1984. She is the author of Ten Minutes from Normal, a book about working for President Bush and her decision to leave the White House to return with her family to Texas in 2002. Karen was selected to serve as a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics for the Spring 2013 semester where she led a study group on communications.

She serves on the Board of Directors for the National Football Foundation and Manos de Cristo, a non-profit that provides dental, educational and emergency basic needs services to low income residents in Austin. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, an organization created to foster ties between the women of America and Afghanistan. Karen also serves on the Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council at the Bush Institute in Dallas and on the 2016 ONE Campaign Advisory Board.  

Karen is a Phi Beta Kappa and received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Journalism from Southern Methodist University. She received the Distinguished Alumni award from SMU in 2003. She is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and a long-time Sunday School teacher. She is married to attorney Jerry Hughes and has two children, Leigh and Robert.