Catherine 'Kiki' McLean

Monday, July 27, 2009

Position: Partner, global head of public affairs and managing director, Washington office for Porter Novelli, a global public relations firm.

Career Highlights: Partner and principal, Dewey Square Group; senior adviser, Hillary Clinton for President; spokesperson, Gore-Lieberman campaign.

Age: 46

Education: BS, communications, Austin College.

Personal: Resides in the District with her husband, Joe; 7-year-old son, Woodfen; and 5-year-old daughter, Annie.

How did you get to where you are?

I was a really lucky girl from Texas. My first job out of college was working in the District for Pamela Harriman, the daughter-in-law of former British prime minister Winston Churchill. I answered phones, took messages and helped organize events and parties. I would see elected officials come and go from her house in Georgetown.

I wanted experience on a presidential campaign and became one of the first hired to the scheduling team for former Missouri representative Dick Gephardt's presidential campaign. I spent six weeks on the road in Iowa going through the caucuses.

I knew it was important to understand business, politics, clients and how they all intersect. So I went to the private sector, as a public relations consultant for Ogilvy & Mather Public Affairs, focusing on taxation, labor and international trade.

The Democratic Leadership Council asked me to take a three-month leave from work to help them organize a series of national issue forums. I was asked to stay and be the press secretary, so I never returned from my leave.

At the time, there was a governor named Bill Clinton who was the chairman of the DLC, and I handled national communications and media for him. When he ran for president, I was asked to be a part of the communications team for the vice presidential nominee. So the Clintons gave me to the Gores.

I ended up traveling as a communications director for the vice president's wife, Tipper Gore. Historically, women in that seat had never had their own campaign staff, but she did. When we won the campaign, the president asked me to be the communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

After the first two years of the president's administration, I decided it was time to take a break.

I joined three friends who had started the Dewey Square Group, which grew into a public relations company. We applied our political skills to the business world. In 15 years, I served in a lot of different capacities. I would step out at times, working on campaigns, as a communications director at the first Summit of the Group of 8 or as senior adviser to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

I was completely happy where I was, but Porter Novelli's blend of public relations, public affairs and social marketing attracted me.

--Vanessa Mizell

Please send nominations for New at the Top to

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company