Melanie R. Newman, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Specializing in crisis communication and management, Melanie R. Newman has more than ten years of experience crafting messages and developing communication strategies for political principals.
From her work in the Orleans Parish DA's office, to coordinating daily crisis messaging and communications in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to her current role leading public affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Newman has been on the front lines of crisis management and rapid response operations throughout her career.
As Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Newman now serves as a principal adviser to the Secretary and directs the Department’s public affairs programs and activities.
Newman was the National Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee during the 2012 election cycle, serving as a key spokesman for the Obama campaign in national and regional press. In addition to her role as chief spokesperson, she also directed the rapid response unit for the committee.
Newman first came to Washington as a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation intern in 2001, working for former Rep. William Jefferson, and returned as his staff assistant after she graduated college. She later served as Public Information Director for the New Orleans District Attorney, where she began her focus on daily crisis management.
In 2004, Newman returned to Washington as Communications Director for Jefferson. There, she further developed her crisis communications skills while dealing with dual crises: the response to Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, and the public bribery scandal Jefferson faced that same month.
Newman moved to the House Judiciary Committee in 2007, where she served as Communications Director and led all message development and print media relations efforts during the U.S. Attorney scandal, the related contempt of Congress charges against Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, and other high profile committee activities.
In 2008, Newman was the Southern Regional Communications Director for the Obama campaign, responsible for managing communications for three battleground states that she helped turn blue – Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. Following a brief stint as a spokesperson on the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Newman spent the first two and half years of the Obama Administration as Press Secretary at HUD.
In 2011 and 2012, Newman was recognized as one of the “Root 100”, theRoot.com’s annual list of influential African-Americans. She was also honored as one of Florida A&M University’s “40 under 40” Young Alumni in 2011. The New Orleans, LA native received her Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Florida A&M University and her Master’s degree in Public Communication from American University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc .