Kelly O'Donnell

NBC News White House Correspondent
  • Award-winning reporting covering four administrations and seven presidential cycles
  • Honored with the 2019 Radio Television Correspondents Association Career Achievement Award and has won an Emmy and a National Headliner Award for outstanding campaign coverage
  • Compelling and hard-hitting analysis of congressional culture, electoral politics, and the Washington political scene as a whole

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Kelly O’Donnell is a veteran political correspondent, currently working as a White House correspondent for NBC News. She contributes to all NBC News platforms and properties, including NBC Nightly News, TODAY, MSNBC, and NBC News Now, and appears as a panelist on programs including Meet the Press and PBS’ Washington Week. From the Rose Garden to Baghdad, the Olympic Games to Capitol Hill, the scope of her assignments is uncommon and her reporting has taken her to all 50 states and to 58 countries.

An expert in presidential politics, O’Donnell has covered four administrations for George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden. She previously led NBC’s coverage on Capitol Hill where she reported on extended battles over health care, the rise of the Tea Party movement, government shutdowns, Supreme Court nominations, and the speakerships of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and Paul Ryan. 

Experienced on the campaign trail, O’Donnell has covered seven presidential cycles for both parties, including the 2016 primary field and the general election campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Additionally, she covered the GOP field in 2012, traveled worldwide with Republican candidate John McCain in 2008, followed the Democratic field tracking John Kerry in 2004, reported on the contested 2000 election and Florida recount, and traveled with Sen. Bob Dole during his White House run. Among her many notable interviews, O’Donnell has spoken with President Clinton, President George H. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and First Ladies Laura Bush and Rosalyn Carter.

Traveling thousands of miles around the country’s battlegrounds has given O’Donnell unusual insight and context about the political landscape.  Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, O’Donnell speaks with insight and ease about life spent in the trenches and in the political “war room.” Not only is she in the public eye, she is the public’s eye.

O’Donnell has covered a wide variety of major events including the September 11th attacks from Ground Zero and the Flight 93 Pennsylvania crash site, the Shuttle Columbia disaster, the CIA Leak trial, the Columbine school shooting, John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane crash, the Oklahoma City bombing and trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and the OJ Simpson saga. During the Iraq war, she was embedded with the Third Infantry Division during operations in Fallujah in 2003 and reported exclusively from the skies above Iraq on a classified combat mission during the air assault on Baghdad. Internationally, she has covered the passing of Pope John Paul II from his native Poland and Britain’s Royal family including Queen Elizabeth’s 50th Jubilee. She also took her feature writing skills to four Olympic Games: Atlantic ’96, Sydney ’00, Salt Lake City ’02 and Athens ’04. 

An award-winning reporter, O’Donnell was honored in 2019 with the Radio Television Correspondents Association Career Achievement Award. Among many honors, her work on the 2008 US presidential election earned her an Emmy and National Headliner Award. She also received the 2009 New Hampshire Primary Award for her political reporting. Inducted into the Ohio Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2004, O’Donnell has received two first place awards from the Los Angeles Press Club for her feature reporting, has twice been part of the NBC Nightly News team honored with an Edward R. Murrow Award, and has been honored with more than a dozen Emmy nominations. In 2021, she was elected president of the White House Correspondents’ Association for 2023-2024.

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Politics Today. A veteran of political journalism, Kelly O’Donnell addresses the state of politics today, forging a bond between current events and her audience. With a presentation as up-to-date as the news, she offers a compelling, hard-hitting analysis of congressional culture, electoral politics, beltway dysfunction, and the Washington political scene as a whole. She looks at both the White House and the Capitol, explaining what we can expect from politics during the current presidential administration.

The American Presidency. If the most difficult position in the world is being the American President, then not far behind is the role of covering the president’s every move. Kelly O’Donnell began following the trail of the president in 1996, when she covered the Dole campaign. Since then, she has reported on candidates on both sides of the political coin racing to the White House. Her experiences on the road with candidates and elected presidents, including posing questions that cut to the heart of policies and the interests of the American people, have earned her the respect of her peers, as well as the commander in chief. In her presentation, O’Donnell talks with openness and grace about what lies ahead for the current administration well as about her own experiences as a journalist writing about the leader of the free world.

Meeting the Press: Connecting Both Sides of the TV Screen. The role of a reporter is no longer to simply tell the stories of the day, but to ensure viewers can fully understand and relate to them. Kelly O’Donnell speaks about forging a bond between events and viewers. Her occupation has taken her into the depths of war-torn countries and into our living rooms. She discusses how her job has enabled her to cut away the degrees of separation between ever living person in the world. Her task is not simply covering events both historic and tragic, but making them relatable to the television audience. She explains how this is the news media’s ultimate responsibility and gift.

A Woman Roving through a Male-Dominated Field. The glass ceiling has officially shattered in popular news media, and Kelly O’Donnell has contributed to the push. She skyrocketed to great success, having served as a top reporter for NBC News and winning shelves of awards for her accomplishments. But the life of a journalist has been decidedly paved by men until very recently. O’Donnell illustrates her own journey, and the significance of climbing the ranks—from decorated local reporter to NBC Nightly News and Today correspondent—to become a key member of the press corps who interviews the president and covers the most influential events before a world audience.

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