Renowned political and communications strategists Jim Messina and Karen Hughes offer a balanced, illuminating take on today's political landscape, the top issues of the day, and what it means for our future.
Known as “the fixer” in the White House, Jim Messina was tasked with shepherding some of President Obama’s most important legislative priorities, including healthcare reform, through Congress. When Messina became the manager of the Obama 2012 campaign, he was entrusted with the most important priority of all--reelecting a president-- forever impacting how elections are run and won.
One of the world's foremost communication strategists and a trusted counselor to George W. Bush, 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).
Together, Messina and Hughes offer eye-opening lessons for organizations across industries, translating political uncertainty into actionable business lessons.
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Renowned Democratic strategist and international consultant Jim Messina is widely regarded as one of the world’s most successful political advisors. Messina is the mastermind behind former-President Obama and then-Vice President Biden’s 2012 re-election campaign, which Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt called “the best-run campaign ever.” The “Campaign Strategist of the Year” merged technology and politics and established the modern presidential campaign. While serving as the Obama-Biden administration’s Deputy Chief of Staff, he earned the nickname “The Fixer,” building bipartisan support for the historic Affordable Care Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the landmark repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” For over two decades, Messina served as Chief of Staff for various Senate and House offices, developing strong relationship on both sides of the aisle. Messina has gone on to elect over a dozen Presidents and Prime Ministers on five continents including: the UK’s Theresa May and David Cameron, Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto, Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, Italy’s Matteo Renzi and Spain’s President Mariano Rajoy, who he helped secure a surprising re-election win. Messina has upended the way that cutting-edge organizations think about strategy, and he delivers tangible takeaways with substance and some much-needed humor.
Messina is an in-demand voice at the crucial intersection of politics, business, and technology. He is a fixture on news outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, Bloomberg, BBC, and more, and serves on the boards of Blockchain.com, Fortera, Vectra.ai, LanzaTech, the United States Soccer Foundation, and the Montana Land Reliance. At the helm of The Messina Group as CEO, Messina provides strategic consulting to top businesses around the world, including Uber, Airbnb, Google, Delta Air Lines, Hutchison Whampoa, and over 300 others. Among the most sought-after legislative D.C. insiders, Messina provides illuminating, actionable insights on our political and business landscape.
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).
CEO, THE MESSINA GROUP
Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and President Barack Obama’s 2012 Campaign Manager
Jim Messina is arguably one of the world’s most successful political advisors. The mastermind behind former-President Obama and then-Vice President Biden’s 2012 re-election campaign, Jim Messina seized the reins on what Bloomberg Businessweek dubbed “the highest-wattage crash course in executive management ever undertaken”—and succeeded, earning the President another term in the White House. With the guidance of technology’s foremost leaders, Jim abandoned every step of a traditional presidential campaign and merged technology and politics in a way that was both unpredictable and unprecedented.
Jim’s strategies established the modern presidential campaign—Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt called it “the best-run campaign ever.” The American Association of Political Consultants later crowned him the Campaign Strategist of the Year (2013).
Messina is among the most sought after legislative DC insiders, having worked in the Obama-Biden administration as Deputy Chief of Staff where he worked closely with both former-President Obama and President-elect Joe Biden on the passage of the historic Affordable Care Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , which has been credited with saving the U.S. economy, and the landmark repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Jim earned the nickname “The Fixer” as he worked closely with President Obama and Vice President Biden and Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to pass the Affordable Care Act. For over twenty years, Jim served as Chief of Staff for various Senate and House offices on Capitol Hill where he worked to pass key legislation such as multiple tax cut bills, the Medicare prescription drug bill, and several trade agreements.
Since then he has gone on to elect over a dozen Presidents and Prime Ministers on five continents including: the UK’s Theresa May and David Cameron, Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto, Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, Italy’s Matteo Renzi and in 2016 helped Spain’s President Mariano Rajoy win a surprising re-election margin.
In 2013, Messina launched The Messina Group. In this role, Messina provides strategic consulting to businesses around the world. The firm has been involved in winning public policy campaigns on five continents. Clients include Uber, Airbnb, Google, Delta Air Lines, Hutchison Whampoa, and over 300 others.
Previously, Jim served as Deputy Chief of Staff in President Barack Obama’s White House, where he was integral to the passage of the historic health care bill, the economic stimulus act credited with saving the US economy, and the landmark repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
Messina continues to advise and guide Democratic candidates and organizations at all levels, as well as providing insight on news outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg, BBC and others.
Jim serves on the boards of Organizing for Action (OFA), Virgin HyperloopOne, Google’s Advanced Technology Panel, Vectra.ai, Pillpack, Patient Safety Movement Foundation, LanzaTech, Hyp3r, the United States Soccer Foundation, Fortera, the Montana Land Reliance, and Blockchain.com.
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.