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
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Melanne Verveer
Chief of Staff to the Second Lady of the United States
In office
January 20, 2009 – August 26, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by ???
Succeeded by Sheila Nix
Personal details
Born 1961 (age 55–56)
Spouse(s) Tom Donilon
Children 2
Alma mater Boston 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