For a brilliant program about the most debated political issues of the day, the upcoming election, and social issues playing out across the country, veteran Democratic strategist and former chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Donna Brazile, and senior counsel to President Bush, Karen Hughes make the perfect duo. Their in-person and virtual discussions are insightful and robust political programs and leave audiences energized, informed, and inspiring to engage with their civic responsibility like never before.
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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, the Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee, and most recently, she's taken a bold step to serve as a commentator on Fox News, a decision "rooted in the belief that you cannot make progress, let alone reach compromise, without first listening to, and understanding those who disagree with you on critical issues."
One of the world's foremost communication strategists, Karen Hughes specializes in strategic messaging, crisis communications and executive positioning with clients ranging from global corporations to Fortune 500 CEOs. The current Worldwide Vice Chair at esteemed communications agency Burson Cohn & Wolfe, Hughes also served as counselor to President George W. Bush and Under Secretary of the State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. For her work in Washington D.C., Hughes 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).
Veteran political strategist Donna Brazile is the former Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the author of The New York Times bestseller Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. She is also the author of the 2004 best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics. She is a co-author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics.
Ms. Brazile has devoted her life to working for progressive change, responsible governance, and the advancement of all people in a society that is fair and equitable. Brazile 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 playground was built, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Brazile has worked on every major presidential campaign since 1976 and in 2000 Ms. Brazile became the first African American woman to serve as the manager of a major party presidential campaign, running the campaign of former Vice President Al Gore.
Ms. Brazile loves working with young people, encouraging them to vote, to run for office, and to work within the system to strengthen it. She 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 2013, Ms. Brazile was appointed by President Obama to serve on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She is also the proud recipient of more than ten honorary doctorate degrees from major colleges and universities, including her alma mater Louisiana State University. In October 2017, Ms. Brazile was the recipient of the W.E.B Du Bois Medal, Harvard’s highest honor in African American studies. Brazile has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University since 2002 and spent the fall of 2017 serving as a Joan Shorenstein fellow in Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. 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 has worked passionately on behalf of her beloved hometown of New Orleans. In the aftermath of the two catastrophic hurricanes that devastated the Gulf region, Ms. Brazile was appointed by former Governor Kathleen Blanco to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board to work for the rebuilding of the state and to advocate for the Gulf recovery on the national stage. Ms. Brazile was also appointed by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to serve on the Tricentennial Commission.
Ms. Brazile was formerly a contributor to ABC News, CNN, and a syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal U’Click. Most recently she's joined Fox News as a commentator to, as she wrote in her announcement, "Listen more, talk less. Be civil to one another. Find common ground." She moonlights as an actress and is especially honored 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 is the founder and director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC.
Ambassador Karen Hughes
Worldwide Vice Chair, Burson Cohn & Wolfe
Karen Hughes is a leading communications strategist, specializing in strategic messaging, crisis communications and executive communications.
Since joining Burson Cohn & Wolfe in 2008, Karen 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 food safety 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 40 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 Counselor to the President for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002. In this role she acted as strategic advisor to the president on policy and communications and led the White House Offices of Communications, Media Affairs, Speechwriting and Press Secretary. Karen also served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs where she led the U.S. government’s efforts to communicate America’s values abroad.
She serves on the Board of Directors for Parsley Energy and the National Football Foundation. 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.
Karen is the best-selling 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. She 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.