Karl Zinsmeister

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Karl Zinsmeister
Director of the Domestic Policy Council
In office
June 2006 – January 19, 2009
President George W. Bush
Deputy Jess G. Sharp
Preceded by Claude Allen
Succeeded by Melody Barnes
Personal details
Alma mater Yale University
Website www.karlzinsmeister.com

Karl Zinsmeister is an American journalist and public policy researcher. From 2006 to 2009, he served in the White House as President George W. Bush's chief domestic policy adviser, and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. He is currently a vice president at The Philanthropy Roundtable.[1]

Early career[edit]

Zinsmeister is a graduate of Yale University where he studied history and was a member of Manuscript Society. He also spent time as a special student at Trinity College, Dublin, in Ireland. He won college rowing championships in both the U.S. and Ireland.[2]

His first job in Washington was as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat. He was later named DeWitt Wallace Fellow, and eventually appointed to the J.B. Fuqua Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, where over three decades he researched a range of topics extending from social welfare and demographics to economics and cultural trends.[3]

Zinsmeister's writing has been published in periodicals ranging from The Atlantic Monthly to Reader's Digest and the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal. He has been an adviser to many research and policy groups,[4] and has testified before Congress and Presidential commissions on topics like family policy, daycare, farm subsidies, and the Iraq war. He has made many appearances on television and radio.[5]

He has written and edited many books, the latest one on charter schools (with a spinoff in the Wall Street Journal[6]), two of Iraq War reporting, other works on education, economics, and population trends, a storytelling cookbook, and a non-fiction comic book.[7]

The American Enterprise[edit]

For a dozen years before becoming the White House Domestic Policy Adviser (1994 to 2006), Zinsmeister was editor-in-chief of The American Enterprise, a national magazine covering politics, business, and culture.[8]

Zinsmeister was an embedded journalist during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and then served three additional months-long embeddings with combat units during the insurgency stage of the war. He shot a documentary film about soldiers in Iraq, called "WARRIORS", which was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and nationally broadcast by PBS.[9]

He wrote three books of Iraq reporting. Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq, published in August 2003, was the first Iraq War book published by an embedded journalist. Dawn Over Baghdad: How the U.S. Military is Using Bullets and Ballots to Remake Iraq was one of the first portrayals of the insurgency phase of the Iraq War. Combat Zone: True Tales of G.I.s in Iraq was a rare non-fiction graphic novel from Marvel Comics.[7]

White House employment[edit]

During his years in the West Wing, as director of the Domestic Policy Council, Zinsmeister was involved in policy making on topics like the 2008 mortgage and student-loan credit crises, immigration reform, housing, biotechnology and stem cell policies, airport congestion, education reform, transportation issues, health policy, faith-based schooling, an 8,000-job layoff in Ohio, poverty, crime, family policy, civil rights, and veterans affairs.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

Some published work produced by the White House Domestic Policy Council under Zinsmeister:

—Dole/Shalala Commission report on improving care for wounded warriors[19]

—White House report on disadvantaged children served by faith-based urban schools[20]

—White House report on progress in stem-cell science[21]

—Immigration reform bill of 2007[22]

Post-White House career[edit]

After leaving the White House, from 2009 to 2010, Zinsmeister became an executive with L. & J. G. Stickley, an Arts and Crafts furniture manufacturing firm founded by Gustav Stickley. In 2011, he wrote a White House memoir. A storytelling cookbook, regional culture guide, and celebration of localism that he co-created with two of his three children, called Finger Lakes Feast, was published in 2012 and widely reviewed.[23] Zinsmeister returned to Washington to serve as vice president for publications at The Philanthropy Roundtable, an association of donors, where he has produced many books, magazines, and Web postings.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Zinsmeister is married and has three children.[2] He currently lives on a houseboat in Washington, D.C.[25]


  1. ^ Philanthropy Roundtable. "Karl Zinsmeister". Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b KarlZinsmeister.com (November 2013). "Karl Zinsmeister". KarlZinsmeister.com. p. 1. 
  3. ^ AEI (December 1, 1997). "Fuqua Chair Established at AEI". American Enterprise Institute. p. 1. 
  4. ^ Michael Novak (2006). "Describes here his role in welfare reform". FirstThings.com. p. 1. 
  5. ^ C-SPAN (1987–2004). "C-SPAN biographical history". C-SPAN.org. p. 1. 
  6. ^ Karl Zinsmeister (March 29, 2014). "The Charter School Performance Breakout". Wall Street Journal. p. A11. 
  7. ^ a b Amazon. "Author Page". Amazon.com. p. 1. 
  8. ^ Michael A. Fletcher (May 25, 2006). "Editor at Conservative Magazine To Be Top Policy Adviser to Bush". Washington Post. p. A04. 
  9. ^ PBS (2007). "America at a Crossroads". PBS. p. 1. 
  10. ^ Spencer Hsu (May 23, 2007). "Chertoff Emerges as Linchpin". Washington Post. p. A19. 
  11. ^ Pete Winn (August 2006). "Key Bush Appointee Departs, Another Arrives". Citizen Magazine. p. 5. 
  12. ^ Sheryl Gay Stolberg (June 20, 2007). "Bush Will Pair Veto With New Cell Initiative". New York Times. p. A19. 
  13. ^ Michael Fletcher (October 1, 2007). "White House Aide Channels a Democrat on Fixing Nation's Social Ills". Washington Post. p. A17. 
  14. ^ WH (April 24, 2008). "White House Summit on Inner-City Children". Whitehouse.gov. p. 1. 
  15. ^ Marc Pitzke (July 31, 2008). "DHL Deal With UPS Turns Political". Business Week. p. 1. 
  16. ^ Mike Allen (July 30, 2008). "Bush signs housing bill in private". Politico. 
  17. ^ Chaz Muth (October 26, 2008). "White House report aims to keep inner-city Catholic schools open". Catholic News Service. p. 1. 
  18. ^ Karl Zinsmeister (October 24, 2008). "Progress in Education: How the White House Sees It". New York Times. p. A18. 
  19. ^ President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (July 2007). "Serve, Support, Simplify". The White House. p. 1. 
  20. ^ White House Domestic Policy Council (September 2008). "Preserving a Critical National Asset". U.S. Department of Education. p. 1. 
  21. ^ White House Domestic Policy Council (January 2007). "Advancing Stem Cell Science Without Destroying Human Life". The White House. p. 1. 
  22. ^ Library of Congress (May 9, 2007). "Summary, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007". govtrack.us. p. 1. 
  23. ^ FingerLakesFeast.com (2012). "FingerLakesFeast". FLF. p. 1. 
  24. ^ staff page (current). "Home page". The Philanthropy Roundtable. p. 1.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  25. ^ Harvey (current). "Bookbio". McBooks Press. p. fly.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]