Distinguished Fellow of Media and Public Affairs
Nominated by President Obama in November 2009 and confirmed by the US Senate in February 2010 as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Douglas Wilson served until March of 2012 (when he retired from government) as the Pentagonís senior spokesman and principal communications strategist. His portfolio included print, broadcast, Internet and social media; internal and public information; community relations; information training for the military; media analysis; and communication strategy on all major policy issues. In addition to the Secretary of Defense and the senior Pentagon civilian leadership, Mr. Wilson also worked closely with the National Security Council, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Service Chiefs and Secretaries and the Combatant Commanders, and led a worldwide public affairs community (the US governmentís largest) of several thousand military and civilian personnel.
Mr. Wilson has three times (1991, 2001 and 2012) been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Pentagonís top civilian honor.
During his tenure as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Mr. Wilson was responsible for the development and implementation of Pentagon communication strategies on issues including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, China, Egypt, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, India, Russia, NATO, the ďArab SpringĒ, the budget, DADT repeal, sexual assault prevention, weapons procurement, Wikileaks, NATO, export control reform, military commissions at Guantanamo, journalist safety on the battlefield, military families, wounded warriors, cyber security, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, nuclear posture review, missile defense, Arlington National Cemetery, Dover Mortuary and counterterrorism, including communications in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden.
He also conceived and implemented the first-ever White House state dinner for Servicemembers honoring men and women from all US states and territories and all Service branches who served on the battlefield in Iraq.
Mr. Wilson -- a native of Tucson, Arizona and a graduate of Stanford University (Phi Beta Kappa) and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy -- previously served as Executive Vice President of the Howard Gilman Foundation, overseeing the Foundationís domestic and international policy programs at White Oak. He is also the immediate past President of The Leaders Project, the decade-long global successor generation leadership initiative which he co-founded in 2001 with former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. He has convened and led global cross-disciplinary meetings on issues including energy security, health and macroeconomics, women as leaders of change, and media and policy; a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings of U.S. thought leaders with counterparts from India, Russia, South Asia, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Muslim majority nations; and policy strategy sessions on issues ranging from public diplomacy to foreign assistance to military families.
Mr. Wilson also conceived and organized the 2008 Cohen-Nunn Dialogues, a series of policy discussions on national issues led by former Secretary Cohen and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn.
From 1997-1999, Mr. Wilson served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. He spent a year as National Political Director of the Democratic Leadership Council before returning to the Pentagon in the summer of 2000 to become Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, coordinating communications and long-range public affairs strategy on issues including defense reform, base closures, NATO expansion, and military quality of life. From 1993-97, Mr. Wilson served as Director of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs and as Senior Advisor to the Director for the U.S. Information Agency, where he coordinated negotiations to consolidate international broadcasting and led Administration efforts to prevent USIA consolidation with the State Department.
Mr. Wilson began his career as a Foreign Service Information Officer, serving at U.S. diplomatic posts in Naples, Rome, and London Ė the latter as press and information officer during the period of the Iran hostage crisis. He later served as foreign policy advisor to former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, and as head of the international relations office of the City of Phoenix. Mr. Wilson conceived and directed the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign re-election strategy in his home state of Arizona, resulting in the first and only Democratic presidential win in that state since 1948.
Mr. Wilson was the founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at Harvard University and a co-founder of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative. He has also served as Vice President for Development for Business Executives for National Security (2001-2002) and has served on the Boards of Directors of Third Way, HDI, the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, The Howard Gilman Foundation and the National Security Network.
He recently joined the Board of Directors of Blue Star Families, and will be the National Security Fellow at the George Washington University School of Media and Communications for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Photo by Gretel Truong, Haddad Media