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René C. Bardorf

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach


René Carbone Bardorf was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Community and Public Outreach in November 2011. She is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on matters related to strategic outreach; corporate and stakeholder engagement; community relations; national sports league partnerships; entertainment and documentaries; social responsibility and outreach policy.

Ms. Bardorf focuses on advancing the Department of Defense’s public affairs mission: connecting Americans with their military; showcasing its myriad programs and capabilities; as well as driving key messages, enduring events and the national dialogue in support of the all-volunteer force. Through proactive relationship cultivation, collective impact, policy advancement, and cross-sector industry engagement-- René remains at the forefront of shaping and enhancing the conversation.

During her time at the Department of Defense, Ms. Bardorf has built an unprecedented level of collaboration and transparency between the entire Department, non-profit organizations and the general public. In this pivotal role, she works to create a deeper understanding of DoD priorities; military operations, actions and initiatives amongst the public to ensure accurate information resonates from the grassroots communities, to executive board rooms, to the Congressional floor.

Prior to joining the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Ms. Bardorf served as the founding Executive Director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF). There she evolved a small family fund focused on traumatic brain injuries into an independent, national non-profit positioned at the center of strategic challenges related to the reintegration of America's heroes. She led a team in shaping a venture-philanthropy model for grant-making that found and funded the most effective programs to address the wide spectrum of injuries service members, veterans, and their families face. The far-reaching messaging that Ms. Bardorf created significantly shifted focus to non-partisan support for the military by harnessing the good will of the American public to take action and "Stand Up for Heroes”.

In 2011, Ms. Bardorf served as the senior civilian advisor for injured support to the United States Marine Corps. In that integral role, she advised senior leaders within the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs on policy issues related to wounded Service members and their families. And as a co-founder of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, she was instrumental in raising more than $10 million to provide emergency financial assistance for injured Service members and their families.

Working both in and outside of government, Ms. Bardorf is recognized as a subject matter expert on issues of utmost concern to national security to include: the military budget, benefits, and entitlements; retention; family readiness; resiliency; and injured support. She has served on prestigious working groups and panels both at the national and local level and has advised numerous organizations on how to influence, maintain and shape the all-volunteer force. Global security and an unwavering support of Service members and their families during all phases of their service, from recruitment to a successful reintegration back into civilian life, remains her top priorities.