Brent Colburn, a former senior communications and public affairs official at several cabinet-level federal agencies and currently the vice president for communications at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, has been named Princeton University’s vice president for communications and public affairs, effective Feb. 1. He succeeds Robert Durkee, who is stepping down from his position as the University’s vice president for public affairs while remaining in his position as vice president and secretary.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a philanthropic organization committed to unlocking human potential and promoting equal opportunity. It was founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician and educator Dr. Priscilla Chan. Colburn serves as its primary communications strategist, manager and spokesperson.
Colburn’s previous positions have included assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense; chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; national communications director of the 2012 Obama for America campaign; assistant secretary for public affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and director of external affairs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“I am delighted that Brent Colburn is joining Princeton’s administration," President Christopher L. Eisgruber said. "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.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the leadership team at Princeton,” said Colburn. “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 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.
As Princeton’s vice president for communications and public affairs, he will oversee the presentation of the objectives and activities of the University to all of its publics and serve as a spokesperson for the University. He will have responsibility for the offices of communications, public (primarily state) affairs, government affairs (located in Washington, D.C.), and community and regional affairs.