Tara Sonenshine, a National Security Council communications advisor during the Clinton administration, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to the State Department’s top PR post targeting the international public.
The White House said Obama intends to nominate Sonenshine as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, to replace former Discovery Communications chief Judith McHale, who stepped down in July.
Sonenshine is currently executive VP of the United States Institute of Peace, the non-partisan federal institution best known for convening the Iraq Study Group in 2006.
A former producer and reporter for ABC News, she held several posts during the Clinton administration, including special assistant to the president and deputy director of communications for the NSC.
McHale took up the global PR post at the State Dept. in April 2009 with a goal of helping repair the U.S. image abroad following the launch of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the global financial crisis in 2008. She traveled extensively touting State Department exchange and education programs and expressing, among other beliefs, the need for the U.S. to "listen more and lecture less" and follow a more strategic public affairs approach.
"This is not a propaganda contest – it is a relationship race," McHale told the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C., in June 2009. "And we have got to get back in the game."
She stepped down in 2006 as president and CEO of Discovery after 20 years there.
Karen Hughes, now with Burson-Marsteller, former ad exec Charlotte Beers, and diplomat Margaret Tutwiler held the public diplomacy post during the Bush administration.