Native Atlantan Jaclyn Rothenberg, 33, grew up in Dunwoody, attended The Epstein School, became a bat mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El, and went on to North Springs High School.
Now she has been selected to serve as director of public affairs at FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) under the Biden-Harris administration, where she is responsible for communicating on behalf of the agency. There, the mission is to help elevate the various readiness and resiliency programs and promote equity in the workforce.
“We want everyone to understand the role FEMA plays prior to, during and after a disaster, and how as an agency we are made up of some of the most hard-working people in government. I’ve only been on the job a few days, but I can promise Georgians that you are in the most capable hands with the leadership and workforce at this agency. Everyone I’ve met cares deeply about protecting people every day and especially in times of crises.”
Rothenberg spoke of the impact of climate change. “This cannot continue to be overlooked when it comes to emergency management, and therefore we’re even more committed under the administration’s leadership to drive the kind of system-based mitigation this nation needs to make our communities more resilient.”
No novice to the political arena, Rothenberg now lives in Washington, D.C., with her dog Clinton. After attending George Washington University, she decided on a career in politics. Her resume boasts integral roles on the staffs of Hillary Clinton and Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York.
Prior to joining the Biden-Harris administration, she served as the Georgia communications director for the Biden for President campaign and helped turn the state blue for the first time in 28 years. On the campaign, Rothenberg led the communications team through the general election and served as a war room lead for the Georgia recount.
She also held the role as trip director for principal travel for President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and President Barack Obama.
She joined the campaign after taking a leave of absence from her full-time role as the senior communications advisor to the First Lady of the City of New York in the de Blasio administration and press-related roles for City Hall. She was a vice president with SKDKnickerbocker in New York, where she advised clients on communications and digital strategies. Rothenberg served as a leader in Teneo strategy’s practice, developing digital and social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies, and worked as a member of Burson-Marsteller’s public affairs practice.
As a backdrop for FEMA, she recalled, “Working in New York City government, I saw my fair share of emergencies from snowstorms to public safety emergencies. I’ve learned from some of the best professionals in the industry and am eager to apply those practices to this role. Also note that public affairs is part of FEMA’s Office of External Affairs – together we’re a larger entity than most federal government agencies/units.”
Rothenberg’s maternal grandfather, a television producer, set the stage for high level politics. Gerald Rafshoon, now 87 and living in D.C., was the White House communications director under Jimmy Carter (1978-79). In doing so, he was the first professional advertising executive to join the White House staff. She reminisced, “Growing up, I heard countless stories from my grandfather’s time on the campaign trail and at the White House, from Camp David peace talks to campaign jingles and slogans to personal conversations he shared with President Carter. My whole family has helped guide my career into the field, and we all have a shared passion on both my mother’s and father’s side to promote democracy.” Parents are Janet Rafshoon and Alan Rothenberg.
The style of the FEMA exec was touted in a fashion magazine in January. She said, “A friend pitched me to Marie Claire earlier this year to discuss my fashion choices in which I highlighted my growing pantsuit collection.” The article had a collage of her colorful outfits and began: “The bold look is a signature of the former Biden 2020 Georgia Communications Director.”
On a more serious note, she concluded “Department of Homeland Security Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas is Jewish. I have not met him yet, but his story is incredibly inspiring, and I look forward to supporting him, the department, Administrator [Deanne] Criswell and FEMA in their missions. I don’t have a crystal ball for what the next five years will look like. What I know is that I’ll be working in politics and public service in some form. Sometimes I pinch myself because I truly love what I do and enjoy my profession.”
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Temple Emanu-El
- Epstein School
- Jaclyn Rothenberg
- North Springs High School
- FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
- Washington D.C.
- George Washington University
- Hillary Clinton
- Mayor Bill de Blasio
- President Joe Biden
- Jill Biden
- Vice President Kamala Harris
- Doug Emhoff
- President Barack Obama
- Gerald Rafshoon
- Jimmy Carter
- White House
- Camp David
- Janet Rafshoon
- Alan Rothenberg
- Marie Claire
- Georgia Communications Director
- Department of Homeland Security Secretary
- Alejandro Mayorkas
- Deanne Criswell