Sullivan to Become DoD’s Public Affairs Chief, Carter Says

Maura C. Sullivan, the current assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will be named the new assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in a DoD news release issued today.

Sullivan will be taking over the position from Brent Colburn, who will be stepping down in July, the release said.

Former Marine Corps Captain, Iraq War Veteran

Sullivan, a former Marine Corps captain and an Iraq War veteran, will be joining the defense department after having served as the principal public affairs advisor to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, the release said.

A graduate of Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School, Sullivan has held a number of senior positions in both the public and private sector, including serving as one of President Obama's appointees to the American Battle Monuments Commission, according to the release.

"I am thrilled to have Maura Sullivan joining the Department of Defense as the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs," Carter said in the release. "Her life of service and leadership, both in an out of uniform, make her uniquely qualified to run the Pentagon's public affairs team during this crucial time for the nation and the department.”

The secretary added, “Her understanding of both operational and management issues will be crucial as we seek to tackle the full range of challenges facing the department today, from securing a lasting defeat of ISIL to establishing the military's Force of the Future.”

Sullivan is “a true talent, and the experience she has gained from the battlefield to the boardroom will make her an invaluable member of my team,” Carter stated in the release.

Praise for Colburn’s Leadership, Commitment

"I also want to thank Brent for his leadership and commitment during his years of service to the Obama administration, and in particular during this time of transition within the department,” Carter said in the release. “His efforts as ATSD have helped to modernize the department's vast public affairs apparatus, and his steady counsel and communications insight have proven vital as we have tackled hotspots in every corner of the world."

Colburn, who served in key leadership posts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before joining DoD in February 2014, will be taking some time off before pursuing an opportunity outside of government in the fall, according to the release.

The assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs serves as the principal advisor to the secretary of defense and deputy secretary of defense for communication strategy, media relations, public information, and community relations in support of DoD activities and U.S. service members and civilian employees of the department around the world, the release said.