Tom O’Donnell Begins Today as Human Rights Campaign Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs

by Charles Joughin

WASHINGTON –Thomas P. O’Donnell begins today as Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization. O’Donnell joins HRC after previous service as a senior official in the White House, the U.S. Senate, the Obama and Clinton Presidential Transition Teams, several Presidential campaigns and nominating Conventions, and as a law firm public policy partner.

“Tom brings to HRC decades of invaluable political and public policy experience that will serve the organization well as we double down in our fight for LGBT equality at all levels of government,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “At this critical moment in our nation’s history, Tom will build on the tremendous successes we’ve achieved thus far and will work to ensure future generations of LGBT Americans live in a country with federal workplace protections, nationwide marriage equality, an LGBT-inclusive military, and so much more.”

O’Donnell will lead HRC's federal, state and local legislative, legal and field teams and oversee the management of HRC’s political action committees. 

“Our work for LGBT equality is far from over,” said O’Donnell. “The sobering truth is that LGBT youth make up 40% of the nation’s homeless population, and great deficits remain in workplace equality, family recognition, hate crimes protections, judicial and executive branch appointments and LGBT health.  I know that many of these challenges are especially acute for people who are transgender. The unique challenges confronting the diverse members of our community must remain an unwavering organizational focus.  I’m committed to making sure we are doing everything in our power to better the lives of all LGBT people, in every corner of this great country.” 

During his tenure as a United States Senate chief of staff, O’Donnell managed both national and state offices and served as liaison to the White House and Executive Branch, other Congressional offices, and other policy and opinion leaders on behalf of his office.  He directed legislative, media, and outreach strategies on high-profile public policy matters, including Presidential nominations, LGBT rights, immigration reform and international trade and taxation. 

“Tom will bring strong strategic and tactical creativity and energy to HRC’s policy and political advocacy,” said United States Senator Kay Hagan.

O’Donnell also served as Special Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff of the White House National Economic Council (NEC) and Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).  The NEC coordinates economic policymaking across a Presidential Administration; the CEA is the President’s in-house, Cabinet-level economic advisory council. 

“Tom is a singular talent.  He excels in using the levers of politics to advance policy,” said Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Cabinet member and former CEA Chair and NEC Director to President Clinton and member of President Obama’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council.  “He is extraordinarily mission-oriented and people-focused.  He will be a tremendous asset for HRC and the LGBT community.”

Between his government service, Tom worked as a public policy law firm partner and in senior management positions at several national party Presidential conventions, including as Managing Director of the 2000 convention in Los Angeles.   He was also a member of the Obama and Clinton Presidential Transition Teams.   He began his national political career on the policy staff of the Governor Clinton for President Campaign in Little Rock. 

Mr. O’Donnell graduated from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.  He lives in Washington, D.C. with his partner, Carl L. Davis, Jr., founder of the non-profit consultancy Think Social Change. 

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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