New SMPA Distinguished Fellows

September 20, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           
September 18, 2013

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Nicole Carlotto
202-994-6466; nfcarlotto@gwu.edu
Samara Sit
202-994-5349; samara@gwu.edu

WASHINGTONMajor Garrett, CBS News’ chief White House correspondent, and Tara Sonenshine, former under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, will join the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) as its newest fellows for the 2013-2014 academic year. Both will provide key insights to students and faculty about their experiences working in their respective fields.

“We have selected two professionals with enormous distinction to add to our roster of unparalleled opportunities for our students to connect to and learn from the most accomplished and influential people in the field of media and communications,” said Frank Sesno, director of SMPA. “As the media landscape changes, our ability to explore current issues with experts on the front lines of the industry becomes increasingly important.”

The SMPA Distinguished Fellows program began its fourth year this fall, bringing exceptional professionals from the fields of media, political communication and public affairs to the students of SMPA. Past fellows include Joe Lockhart, Ed Henry, Sen. Bob Bennett, Bob Herbert, P.J. Crowley, Arun Chaudhary, Mara Liasson and Douglas Wilson. It is funded by the generosity of parents of SMPA students. 

Major Garrett was named CBS News’ chief White House correspondent in November 2012. As the chief White House correspondent, he reports for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms, including serving as a substitute anchor for “Face the Nation.” In this role Mr. Garrett has reported on the fiscal cliff negotiations, President Obama’s second inauguration and the president’s gun control proposals following the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn. Prior to joining CBS News as chief White House correspondent, Mr. Garrett covered the 2012 presidential election through a partnership with CBS News and the National Journal, where he was the chief White House correspondent. Before that, Mr. Garrett was at Fox News for eight years where he also served as the chief White House correspondent. He also worked for CNN as a White House correspondent during the administrations of President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

“I am honored to serve as a fellow with the School of Media and Public Affairs. Frank Sesno has built an innovative program that analyzes, explains and evaluates the media environment,” said Mr. Garrett. “To call it an ever-changing landscape is a cliché. Frank has never trafficked in those and his program doesn't either. I'm eager to help the School of Media and Public Affairs and those it serves understand more about the media and its future.”

Tara Sonenshine served as the State Department’s under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs from 2012 to 2013. In this role Ms. Sonenshine led America’s public diplomacy outreach and was responsible for communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs and U.S. government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Sonenshine was the executive vice president for the United States Institute of Peace where she was in charge of all programmatic activities, editorial supervision and strategic planning for the organization. Ms. Sonenshine previously worked in the White House, was a contributing editor at Newsweek and has held numerous positions with ABC News. She is the winner of 10 News Emmy Awards and other awards in journalism for programs on domestic and international issues.

“My career has always been at the intersection of media and international affairs, which makes this fellowship at GW perfect,” Ms. Sonenshine said. “I have a chance to take all of these experiences with government, and my experiences with media and non-profits, and bring it together in an academic environment.”

The School of Media and Public Affairs is dedicated to the rigorous study of journalism and political communication with a focus on understanding the impact media have on how societies inform and govern, connect and communicate. As media undergo transformational change, SMPA’s goal is to advance both theoretical insight and innovative practice. SMPA conducts ground-breaking research, offers inspiring teaching, encourages hands-on work in the field and in our production facilities and engages directly with thought-leaders in Washington, D.C., and around the world.