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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Rave Reviews About Karen Hughes
I wanted to send you a quick note about Karen Hughes's event on Wednesday. She was so lovely and we enjoyed having her here. She was candid, engaging and did a great job weaving the values and motto of BC in her talk. Her stories about her former boss, George W. certainly gave one more insight about the person he is, and it was evident that he is someone that she admires and holds in high regard. Her personal and professional narrative was fascinating to hear, and the feedback we have received so far from faculty, students, and others in the audience has been overwhelmingly positive.

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Karen Hughes
  • National Cotton Council
  • International Dairy Foods Association
  • Boston College
  • THA
  • Boston College
  • Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS)
  • The University of Texas at Tyler
  • Jackson Walker
  • Wisconsin Women in Government
  • Union League Club of Chicago
Karen Hughes - When Life Strikes the White House Conference - Get Sharable Link
Karen Hughes - When Life Strikes the White House Conference
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Principles of Crisis Communication
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Karen Hughes - Dedman College Distinguished Graduate Award
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Karen Hughes - Texas Tech University Commencement Speech (Starts at 2:00)
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Explore Karen Hughes's Talks
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Where in the World are we?

The political landscape at home and America’s role in the world – Karen discusses America’s position in the world and America’s political situation in the aftermath of the 2016 election. ...

The political landscape at home and America’s role in the world – Karen discusses America’s position in the world and America’s political situation in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

Crisis Communication: Saying the Right Thing When It Matters Most

From 9/11 to the first US hospital to diagnose a patient with Ebola, Karen shares insights gained from a career dealing with some of the biggest crises to face our country. ...

From 9/11 to the first US hospital to diagnose a patient with Ebola, Karen shares insights gained from a career dealing with some of the biggest crises to face our country.

For Women Audiences

Karen provides personal insights on leadership and women’s empowerment garnered from her experiences in Texas, Washington and around the world ...

Karen provides personal insights on leadership and women’s empowerment garnered from her experiences in Texas, Washington and around the world

The CEO's of Leadership

Karen weaves stories from her time at the White House and over the course of her career to provide insight on leadership principles relevant for any audience. ...

Karen weaves stories from her time at the White House and over the course of her career to provide insight on leadership principles relevant for any audience.

The 5 C's of Successful Communication

Karen shares her expertise on the five most crucial elements of communications, cultivated from her time as a reporter to her time in the White House to her current job as a counselor for corporate and political leaders, to help any audience member communicate more effectively. ...

Karen shares her expertise on the five most crucial elements of communications, cultivated from her time as a reporter to her time in the White House to her current job as a counselor for corporate and political leaders, to help any audience member communicate more effectively.

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<p><strong>Hughes speaks at high-profile Global Financial Leadership Conference </strong></p>

Hughes speaks at high-profile Global Financial Leadership Conference

Addressing hundreds of senior executives from the world’s leading financial institutions, former Counselor to George W. Bush Karen Hughes spoke at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group’s esteemed strategic forum: the Global Financial Leadership Conference. Touching on everything from emerging geopolitical tends, to critical economic issues and the future of the financial marketplace, Hughes drew upon her unique insights serving in both the public and private sectors. Lauded for her expertise as a communications strategist, Karen Hughes, who currently serves as the Worldwide Vice Chair for Burson-Marstellar, participated in a crucial panel discussion: “The People Have Spoken: What to Expect In the Next 100 Days.” Known for seeking out today’s top and most innovative minds on the cutting edge of global developments, the Global Financial Leadership Conference sets the conversation among the financial industry elite.   

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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.