G&A Podcast – Episode 6
5.31.18 – What are effective public affairs strategies and tactics for our military and our diplomats? A conversation with former senior spokespersons Rear Admiral John Kirby and Ambassador Michael Hammer.
Acronyms from this Episode: PAO – Public Affairs Officer
Rear Admiral John Kirby: Rear Admiral John Kirby, USN (ret), is a CNN military and diplomatic analyst and most recently served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Kirby appears regularly on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and across all of CNN’s programming providing analysis on issues related to the U.S. military, defense, foreign affairs and diplomacy.
Prior to joining CNN, Kirby had a 29-year career with the United States Navy, joining after college and eventually retiring as Rear Admiral in 2015. In 2011, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appointed Kirby to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations. Two years later, after serving as the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information, Kirby was chosen as Pentagon Press Secretary and became the first uniformed officer to hold the position. Following his military career, Kirby returned to government to serve as the Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. Soon after, he was appointed by then-President Obama to take on the role of Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Public Affairs, a title he held until the end of the Obama administration. Kirby is from St. Petersburg, Florida, and holds a B.A. in History from the University of South Florida, as well as an M.S. in International Relations from Troy State University and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
Ambassador Michael A. Hammer: Ambassador Michael (Mike) A. Hammer became NDU’s Acting Senior Vice President on 27 Oct 2017. He previously served as the Deputy Commandant of NDU’s Eisenhower School and is additionally dual-hatted as the Vice Chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs. AMB Hammer is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service class of Minister-Counselor. He most recently served as U.S. Ambassador to Chile from 2014-2016. He began his diplomatic career in 1988. Prior to his appointment in Chile, AMB Hammer served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs from March 2012 to August 2013. He also served as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.
Before joining the Bureau of Public Affairs, AMB Hammer served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director for Press and Communications, and National Security Council Spokesman from January 2009 to January 2011. He previously served at the National Security Council as Deputy Spokesman from 1999 to 2000 and as the Director of Andean Affairs from 2000 to 2001. AMB Hammer’s overseas postings include Bolivia, Norway, Iceland and Denmark. His other State Department assignments include the Operations Center and serving as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. AMB Hammer has received several awards, including a the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Department’s Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy and several Superior Honor awards.
AMB Hammer earned a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He also earned Master’s degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and from the National War College at the National Defense University. AMB Hammer grew up in Latin America, living in Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. He is fluent in Spanish and speaks French and Icelandic. AMB Hammer and his wife Margret Bjorgulfsdottir have three children.