Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Student meeting with Jennifer Backus and Brian Jones on Careers in Politics

Monday, November 6, 2017

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Kim Koo Library, 3rd Floor

This event is for students only.

Registration is required.  Please register here.

Come meet Jenny Backus and Brian Jones for pizza and a casual conversation about careers in politics.

Watson Career Series

Jenny Backus

Jenny Backus is the owner and president of Backus Consulting LLC, a strategic communications firm specializing in strategy development, campaign and project management and intergovernmental consulting for corporations, media outlets, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and political campaigns and committees.

A nationally recognized spokesperson and expert on strategic communications and partnerships, Backus has worked for Fortune 500 companies, national trade associations and NGOs and in the political arena serving in leadership positions in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and on Presidential campaigns, including managing more than 40 Presidential Primary Debates and Forums and events for the national media in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential cycles.

Most recently Backus served for three years as a senior policy advisor and head of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement for Google where she developed Google’s state by state public affairs teams and strategic plans, managed all Google’s U.S. NGO and third party relations and oversaw a multi-million dollar public affairs and policy budget. Backus also served in the first two years of the Obama Administration as the acting assistant secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA) and the principal deputy assistant secretary for Strategy & Planning at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) working closely with then Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the White House. 

In addition to running her own consulting business, Backus also serves on several boards, including as chair of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and as nominations chair for the DC Public Library Foundation Board. A graduate of Brattleboro Union High School and Brown University, Backus lives in Washington, DC, with her husband Ed Pagano and son Jack.

Brian Jones

A Partner at the Alexandria, VA-based Black Rock Group, Brian has a proven track record of creating and managing successful public affairs and public relations campaigns for some of the country’s most innovative companies, top-tier associations, influential coalitions and national political candidates. In addition, Brian has worked with a number of national and local non-profit organizations.

Over the past two decades, Brian has helped lead effective communications and advocacy efforts in a variety of industries including technology, transportation, energy, financial services, restaurant and retail. In the non-profit realm he has worked in support of marriage equality, early childhood education, eradicating child sex-trafficking and keeping kids safe online. Brian has also been active in the world of electoral politics. Serving in senior roles for the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Chris Christie, Brian was named one of the “top free-agent GOP operatives” by The Washington Post. Former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman noted that Brian has “fantastic judgment, the respect of the press, good management skills, creativity and a commitment to excellence.”

Brian currently serves on the board of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Brian earned his MA from the University of Washington in Seattle and BA from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He lives in Alexandria, VA, with his wife Emily and their two children.