Anita Dunn

Former Chief Communications Officer for Obama for America
Anita Dunn
  • Ushered in a new era of strategic communication that changed the rules of traditional campaign messaging
  • Successfully navigated the ever-changing media frontier to reach new voters during the historic 2008 election
  • Uniquely qualified to discuss everything from new media trends to executive decision making

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Beginning with her time as an unpaid intern answering phones at the White House and culminating at Obama for America headquarters on the night of November 4th, 2008, Anita Dunn rose to the very pinnacle of strategic communications. As the brain-trust behind the most disciplined, coherent, and creative presidential campaign ever, she implemented a strategy that broke the traditional rules of campaign-messaging, shattered fund-raising records, and helped turn America in a new direction. She then served as White House communications director during the first year of President Barack Obama’s term, giving her unique insight to interpret and comment on the decisions being made at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A pioneer of the new media frontier and exclusively represented by Leading Authorities, Inc. speakers bureau, Anita Dunn has witnessed—and helped create—American history. She delivers powerful, funny, and intriguing presentations that can inspire people, instruct leaders on how to craft more effective messages, and provide insights into what’s happening in Washington right now.

Strategic Communication for the 21st Century. During the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, Dunn and Obama for America reinvented the wheel for communicating to the American people. With a host of new media, the internet, and social networking options, Dunn’s team had to adapt and react to the new realities in the world of information. By recognizing the realities of the news cycle and understanding which storylines actually motivated voters, Dunn and the Obama campaign were able to respond to obstacles, manage their message, and stay above the fray of bad news by communicating across a broader spectrum of media.

Setting the New Bar for Campaigns. A partner at SKDKnickerbocker, one of the leading strategic communications firms in Washington, DC, Dunn has advised a wide range of national political leaders. In 1999, she served as communications director and chief strategist on the presidential campaign of Senator Bill Bradley, for whom she once served as chief of staff and political director. From 2001–2002, she served as senior political advisor to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle as well as consultant to the Senate Democratic Caucus. In 2004, she developed strategy and produced the media campaign for Senator Evan Bayh, who won re-election with the highest percentage of support in recent history. Dunn advised the entire Democratic leadership on political communications issues when she served as the communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for both the 1988 and 1990 election cycles. In the House of Representatives, Dunn has advised Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and served as chief strategist and media consultant to several senior Democratic members facing challenging re-election battles, including Congressmen John Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, and Alan Mollohan.

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Political Outlook: Why Everything You Read in the Newspapers Isn’t Necessarily Right. A veteran of the Obama White House, Anita Dunn is the rare speaker who can give direct insight on the decisions and policies being made at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She understands the decision-making process that lies behind them and the public relations strategies that are required to make them work. Dunn is uniquely qualified to explain the players, the plays, and the play that individual policies will get in the press and speaks with authority and candor about the current political climate. A DC native, she has been around politics all her life. From her first job answering phones for President Carter’s chief of staff, she has since worked for a multitude of Democratic politicians on the Hill, on the campaign trail, and in the White House.

What Everyone Needs to Know About Branding and Strategic Communication in the Modern Media Era. In the last 10 years, the way the public absorbs information has undergone a revolutionary shift. With newspapers dying and the network evening news programs fading in influence, the internet and cable have become the dominant media shaping opinions. Anita Dunn’s experience crafting a multi-platform presidential campaign makes her perhaps the most successful chief communications officer in the history of new media. As White House communications director, she continued to craft a consistent, coherent, and resonant message for a public that is constantly changing the way it forms its opinions. Dunn discusses the overall strategies and individual tactics that work and explains how utilizing the power of new media can be a game-changing asset for organizations everywhere.

Executive Management from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What makes a good executive? The question has been pondered by business writers and leaders for decades. As a senior advisor during his successful election bid, Dunn witnessed President Barack Obama manage the largest, 50-state campaign ever waged in American politics, and as the White House communications director, she saw his first year in office, as well. Dunn breaks down the overall strategy of the president’s leadership style and drills down to the specific tactics he uses to elicit a wide range of viewpoints and tap into the potential of the people around him. As one of President Obama’s closest confidantes on the campaign and someone who has worked with dozens of candidates, Dunn explains the traits and leadership principles that catapulted Barack Obama from a state senator to President of the United States in only 4 years.

Anita Dunn can also address climate change, immigration reform, and financial regulation.

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