Former Bush Aide Karen Hughes Joins Burson-Marsteller

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Burson-Marsteller announced a big hire today, naming former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and top aide to George W. Bush, Karen Hughes as Global Vice Chair.

Hughes adds to a team with significant beltway experience, including Don Baer, formerly the White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton, who joined the firm this past November.

Former top Clinton strategist and Burson CEO Mark Penn said in a statement, “I cannot think of anyone better suited to counsel our clients.”

[Image: Hughes at the 2007 PRSA International Conference.]

Full release after the jump.


Karen Hughes Joins Burson-Marsteller as Global Vice Chair

Former Presidential Aide Is Latest Addition to Firm’s Bipartisan Brain Trust

NEW YORK, July 9, 2008 – Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and communications firm, today announced that Karen Hughes will be joining the firm as Global Vice Chair. The former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs will join Burson-Marsteller immediately. Hughes will be based in Austin and report to Worldwide President and CEO Mark J. Penn. She will focus on providing clients with senior level communications strategy and counsel.

“Karen is one of the leading communications strategists working today,” said Penn. “She brings enormous strategic insights coupled with the ability to drive successful campaigns at the highest levels of the political, governmental and corporate arenas. I cannot think of anyone better suited to counsel our clients.”

Hughes served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy from August 2005 to December 2007. During that time, she led the U.S. State Department’s effort to communicate America’s values abroad. As Under Secretary, Hughes led several thousand public diplomacy professionals working in almost every country in the world, and oversaw three State Department bureaus: Educational and Cultural Affairs, Public Affairs and International Information Programs. Hughes has traveled to more than 50 nations in the past few years as part of her government service and personal humanitarian activities.

“I am proud to be joining such a dynamic and innovative strategic communications firm,” said Hughes. “I look forward to counseling the firm’s roster of world-class clients.”

Hughes also served as Counselor to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002. In that role she served as a strategic advisor to the president on policy and communications and she managed the White House Offices of Communications, Media Affairs, Speechwriting and Press Secretary. This appointment marks the second time a former presidential aide once charged with leading White House communications has joined Burson-Marsteller in less than a year. Don Baer, formerly the White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton, joined the firm in November 2007.

Hughes returned to her native Texas in 2002, but she continued serving as an informal advisor to the President. She also served as a consultant to the successful 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

From 1995 to 2000, Hughes served as the director of communications for Governor Bush in Texas. She is a past Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas and a former television news reporter for the NBC affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Hughes is a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of Southern Methodist University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in journalism. Hughes is the author of Ten Minutes from Normal, a memoir of her experiences working with President Bush.

Hughes will also serve as a member of the Burson-Marsteller’s newly formed client Strategy Team, which will be comprised of senior leaders from across the firm’s practices and lines of business. The B-M Strategy Team will be rolled out globally later this summer.

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About Burson-Marsteller
Burson-Marsteller (www.burson-marsteller.com), established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, advertising, and web-related services. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 68 offices and 43 affiliate offices, together operating in 66 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Brands, a subsidiary of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), one of the world’s leading communications services networks.