Georgetown Alumnus Ron Klain’s Appointment By Biden Reflects Commitment to Public Service

Ron Klain Headshot

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President-elect Joe Biden’s recent appointment of veteran political strategist Ron Klain (C’83) has prompted members of the university community to recall the Georgetown alumnus’ commitment to public service and his impact as an adjunct professor.

A Lifelong Career of Service

Klain, who graduated from Georgetown College with a B.A. in government, earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School before beginning his career on Capitol Hill.

He has served as senior White House aide to both Presidents Bill Clinton (SFS’68) and Barack Obama and as chief of staff for two vice presidents. The alumnus has also been an adviser to several presidential campaigns. 

“Ron personifies the best of Georgetown,” says Anthony Arend, director of the Department of Government, “a brilliant person of integrity who is committed to the values that make Georgetown a special place.”

Klain joins a long line of Georgetown alumni who have served as chiefs of staff during the last two presidencies. Jack Lew (L’83), who held the position from 2012 to 2013, and Denis McDonough (G’96) who served from 2013 to 2012 both worked during the Obama Administration. John Kelly (C’84) was the chief of staff during the Trump Administration from 2017-2019 as well as Mick Mulvaney (SFS’89) who served from 2019 to 2020.

Arend says that Klain’s experience as the White House Ebola response coordinator during the Obama administration and with drafting legislation to fix the economic downturn in 2009 make him uniquely qualified to help the new administration manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having previously served as Biden’s chief of staff when he was vice president, Ron knows how the executive branch works and knows how to get things done,” Arend says. “As the former Ebola Czar, Ron is the perfect person to have at the White House in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Access to ‘Unparalleled Knowledge’

Aside from teaching, Klain has visited small groups of undergraduates to talk about the significance of presidential elections and career paths, delivered a seminar and discussion on the White House Ebola response and has participated in numerous panel discussions ranging from ethics and leadership to COVID-19.

Blair Wax (C’13, G’19), who took Klain’s presidential debates class as an undergraduate, says he moved across the country to attend Georgetown to be in the center of national and global politics.

“What made my experience especially powerful was the ability to learn directly from proven leaders and their own tangible and unique experiences,” says the Georgetown alumnus. “My class was full of stories from a person who has directly served previous presidents in preparing for their own debates.”

Wax was excited to hear the news of Klain’s recent appointment.

“It was another moment where I was proud to be a Hoya and to have had access to that type of unparalleled knowledge throughout my academic career,” he adds.

An Inspired Commitment

Aaron Bennett (C’19), who majored in political economy, interviewed Klain for the GU Politics podcast Fly on the Wall, last year.

“He shared with us his experiences with Supreme Court nominations and how the process works behind-the-scenes,” says Bennett, who now works as a press and digital assistant in the U.S. Senate. “Not only was Ron kind and generous with his time, he provided an intimate knowledge of how government works, predicated on decades of experience at its highest levels.”

Klain served on the advisory board for the Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics) at the McCourt School of Public Policy from 2015 to 2018.

Mo Elleithee, the institute’s founding executive director, says Klain was one of the first people he called for advice when he launched the initiative.

“No one bleeds Hoya blue like Ron Klain – his commitment to the university is inspiring,” says Elleithee. “Klain embodies the Georgetown spirit that we are all men and women for others, and he never passes up an opportunity to engage with students to help them find their own path to public service.”

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