Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Denis McDonough

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Denis Richard McDonough was born in December 1969 in Stillwater, Minnesota. He earned an undergraduate degree in history and Spanish from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and later earned an M.S.F.S. degree at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. 

He worked as an aide for the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, focusing on Latin America which he had traveled through extensively. He then served as a senior policy advisor to a member of the Senate, later becoming legislative director for another senator. 

He served as a senior foreign policy advisor to President Barack Obama and later joined the National Security Council as head of strategic communication. He also served as National Security Council chief of staff. 

Returning to private life he joined a nonprofit foundation and was later a professor at Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and a visiting senior fellow in Georgetown’s Technology and International Affairs Program. 

He was nominated by President Joe Biden to be the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in in February 2021. 

McDonough is married to Karin Hillstrom and they have three children. 

In the News…

Secretary Denis McDonough is advocating for the increased return to in-person work in the National Capital Region Department of Veterans Affairs. As the department seeks to expand suicide prevention services and increase its care for veterans who experienced toxic exposure, the secretary said that the VA has a “sacred obligation“ to fulfill.

Secretary McDonough stated, “Studies show that in-person discussions are better at facilitating creative thinking than video conferencing or other methods of remote communication. Workers who do not regularly see colleagues stay more static and siloed, making it harder for employees to obtain and share new information, including from connections that may develop across and in between meetings. In-person work also provides a stronger foundation for sharing institutional knowledge and keeping our networks diverse and growing.“

The VA secretary continued, “The transition back to the office is not an overnight process, and we will continue to work with these employees every step of the way to ensure that they have the tools and environments they need to continue their critical work to deliver for the American people. And, as always, we will do this with one goal in mind: delivering results for Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors.“

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Secretary McDonough? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Denis McDonough, Secretary 
Department of Veterans Affairs 
810 Vermont Ave NW 
Washington, DC 20006 


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