Melissa Schwartz

Senior Affiliate Instructor

Melissa Schwartz has over two decades of strategic and crisis communications experience in government, the private sector, and at nonprofit organizations. She has substantial expertise in media training, and has prepared C-suite executives, political candidates and elected officials, Executive Branch leaders, and individuals embarking on major media tours. In addition, she has regularly facilitated workshops to share best practices for staffing and preparing spokespeople.

She currently serves as Communications Director at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she directs public affairs for 11 bureaus with more than 400 communications officers nationwide.

Melissa was most recently the Director of the First Lady’s office for the Presidential Inaugural Committee and Senior Advisor to Dr. Biden on the Biden-Harris campaign. She served as Chief Operating Officer at The Bromwich Group for almost nine years, where her portfolio of clients included private companies; local, federal and internationalgovernmental entities; nonprofit organizations; and individuals at risk of grave reputational harm. Projects included coordinating strategy for large coalition efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, raise awareness of the rape kit backlog and gender-based violence, conserve public lands and our ocean, and facilitate a just transition for coal communities. She also managed the firm’s crisis communications practice, where she represented former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and served on the team supporting the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as part of the confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

She was tapped by the Obama administration to manage communications for the federal agency responsible for the regulation and oversight of offshore drilling in U.S. federal waters following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She is also a former senior spokesperson at the U.S. Departments of Justice and the Interior, and for U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski.

Melissa is an Adjunct Professor who teaches for the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership graduate program and Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Arts in Communication program. She has previously provided instruction at the University of California, Washington Center. She has published chapters in PR News Guidebooks
focused on PR Measurement, Crisis Management, Media Training, and Corporate Social Responsibility. She earned her M.A. in Political Communications from Johns Hopkins University and graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in American Studies and a minor in Dramatic Arts.