Nominated by President Obama on December 2, 2009 to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Douglas Wilson was confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate on February 11, 2010. As the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Mr. Wilson serves as the principal staff advisor and assistant to the United States Secretary of Defense and United States Deputy Secretary of Defense for public information, internal information, community relations, information training, media analysis and communication strategy in support of DoD activities, leading a worldwide public affairs community of several thousand military and civilian personnel.
Mr. Wilson -- a native of Tucson, Arizona and a graduate of Stanford University (Phi Beta Kappa) and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy -- previously served as Executive Vice President of the Howard Gilman Foundation, overseeing the development and implementation of the Foundation’s domestic and international policy programs at White Oak. He has convened and led global cross-disciplinary meetings on issues including energy security, health and macroeconomics, women as leaders of change and media and policy; a series of bilateral meetings of U.S. thought leaders with counterparts from India, Russia, South Asia, Europe and Muslim-majority nations; and policy strategy sessions on domestic issues ranging from public diplomacy to foreign assistance to military families. Mr. Wilson is the immediate past President of The Leaders Project, the global successor generation leadership initiative which he co-founded in 2001 with former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. He is also a co-founder of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative.
From 1997-1999, Mr. Wilson served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. He spent a year as National Political Director of the Democratic Leadership Council before returning to the Pentagon in the summer of 2000 to become Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, coordinating communications and long-range public affairs strategy on issues including defense reform, base closures, NATO expansion, and military quality of life. He was twice presented the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Pentagon's top civilian honor. From 1993-97, Mr. Wilson served as Director of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs and as Senior Advisor to the Director for the U.S. Information Agency, where he coordinated negotiations to consolidate international broadcasting.
Mr. Wilson began his career as a Foreign Service Information Officer, serving at U.S. diplomatic posts in Naples, Rome, and London – the latter as press and information officer during the period of the Iran hostage crisis. He later served as foreign policy advisor to former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, and as head of the international relations office of the City of Phoenix.
Mr. Wilson was the founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at Harvard University. He has served on the Boards of Directors of Third Way, HDI, U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, The Howard Gilman Foundation and the National Security Network.