Former Obama administration appointee named vice president for communications and public affairs at Princeton University

Brent Colburn

Brent Colburn, who worked at various federal agencies during the Obama administration and was the national communications director of the 2012 Obama for America campaign, has been chosen to succeed Robert Durkee as Princeton University’s vice president for communications and public affairs.

Colburn is currently the vice president for communications at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic organization that was founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician and educator Priscilla Chan. Colburn serves as its primary communications strategist, manager and spokesperson for the organization He has held that position since March of 2016.

He was the assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense from February of 2014 to July of 2015, and was the chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from March of 2013 to February of 2014. Previously he was the national communications director of the 2012 Obama for America campaign.  He was the assistant secretary for public affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from April of 2011 to March of 2012, and served as the director of external affairs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency from April of 2009 to March of 2011.

Colburn earned a bachelor’s degree in government and a master’s degree in public policy from the College of William & Mary, and served as a fellow in residence at the Harvard University Institute of Politics in 2015.

“I am delighted that Brent Colburn is joining Princeton’s administration,” Princeton University President Christopher  Eisgruber said in a written statement about the appointment. “He combines first-rate experience in government and communications with a deep commitment to the mission of this University. Brent’s talent, energy, and values are impressive, and I believe that he will be a spectacular colleague for all of us at Princeton.”

As Princeton University’s vice president for communications and public affairs, he will oversee the presentation of the objectives and activities of Princeton University to the public and serve as a spokesperson for the school. He will oversee the offices of communications, public affairs, government affairs , and community and regional affairs.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the leadership team at Princeton,” Colburn said.  “I’m looking forward to working with the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the entire Princeton family in support of President Eisgruber’s vision for the University. Princeton’s history of academic excellence combined with its commitment to developing a culture of service to others couldn’t be more relevant or critical than it is today, and I hope that my experiences and talents will make a positive contribution to its important work.”

Colburn will begin his new post on Feb. 1. Durkee will remain in his position as vice president and secretary.