Catherine M. Russell

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Cathy Russell
Catherine M Russell 2015.jpg
United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues
In office
August 26, 2013 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byMelanne Verveer
Chief of Staff to the Second Lady of the United States
In office
January 20, 2009 – August 26, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded by???
Succeeded bySheila Nix
Personal details
Born1961 (age 56–57)
Spouse(s)Tom Donilon
Alma materBoston College
George Washington University

Catherine M. Russell (born 1961) was the United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues from May 8, 2013, until January 20, 2017.[1]


Russell began her career on Capitol Hill, as Counsel and then Senior Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). She then served as Staff Director to the Senate Judiciary Committee under Chairman Joseph Biden (D-De).[2][3]

Russell served as Associate Deputy Attorney General to Janet Reno. She worked as senior adviser to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she specialized in international women’s issues.

Russell is a longtime adviser to Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Russell was tapped to serve as chief of staff to then-second lady-elect Jill Biden. She then served as Chief of Staff to the spouse of Vice President of the United States from January 2009.[2]


Russell graduated from Boston College and received her J.D. from The George Washington University.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Russell is married to Tom Donilon, who is the former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama.[2][5] Her brother-in-law is Mike Donilon, a lawyer and political consultant who serves as Counselor to Vice President Joe Biden.


  1. ^ Catherine M. Russell - U.S. Department of State biography
  2. ^ a b c Who Runs Government. "Catherine Russell: Why She Matters" Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., "".
  3. ^ The George Washington University. "Building the New Administration:White House Staff--Biographies as provided by the Transition*", "George Washington University".
  4. ^ "Catherine Russell." The Washington Post, July 26, 2012.
  5. ^ Vogel, Kenneth P."15 Obama administration power couples", "Politico", June 15, 2009.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Melanne Verveer
United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues
Succeeded by