LBJ Washington Center appoints inaugural director

Aimée Santillán

The LBJ School of Public Affairs announced this week Thomas O’Donnell as the inaugural director for the new LBJ Washington Center.

In the past, O’Donnell has worked in the White House, the U.S. Senate and the Human Rights Campaign.

“My goal is to create an outpost for UT at Washington D.C.,” O’Donnell said in a statement. 

Beninning in fall 2015, the LBJ School will provide an 18-month federal policy master’s degree curriculum, which will involve six months of graduate school coursework at the Washington Center and an opportunity to be involved in federal policy making.

“Our goal is to follow what President Lyndon B. Johnson once dreamed, which is to involve people from Texas and other parts of the country who want to contribute to public policy,” O’Donnell said.

In addition, O’Donnell said the Washington Center will provide this platform of student engagement in public policy by pursuing extended research, workshops and speaker series, among other activities.

“We want to produce more public leaders at a federal level,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell served as a U.S. Senate chief of staff, managing both national and state offices and as a liaison to the White House and executive branch.

“We are pleased to have such an experienced and proven professional lead our Washington Center and join us in empowering the next generation of leaders to take on national leadership roles,” said Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School, in a statement. “At this time of great change around the world and growing concern about the effectiveness of government, the LBJ Washington Center represents our call to action to advance a new generation of skilled and committed leaders. [O’Donnell] will be essential to the execution of that call to action.”

O’Donnell said the LBJ Washington Center will train future policy makers by playing an open role in the national policy discourse and debate.

“After 20 years in the federal public policy arena, I understand the need for aspiring young policy professionals to be equipped not only with solid theoretical thinking, but also with practical policy skills,” O’Donnell said.