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White House Chief of Staff

Donough ’92 Legendary Work Ethic McDonough used to ride his bicycle to and from work in suburban Maryland, where he lives with his wife and their three children, but now, as chief of staff, he has a secret service detail that commutes with him. Otherwise, he has maintained his rigorous schedule, waking early, working out, arriving at the office by 7 a.m. and often staying until 9 p.m. He receives about 3,000 emails daily, and his phone seems to buzz constantly. His work ethic has become legendary not just in his current position, but in previous roles as deputy national security

Daschle and back to Georgetown where he made lists of extracurricular reading for himself while earning a master’s degree in international affairs. Sometimes the day doesn’t end at 9 p.m., and he works through the night. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he went so many nights without sleep that he had to check himself into the hospital. But he was soon back on the job. “Nobody outworks Denis McDonough,” President Obama said. You could see that budding though not yet fully developed work ethic when McDonough was a double major (history and Spanish) and starting safety on the football team at Saint John’s University. He overcame his athletic limitations by outworking others to become a three-year starter for John Gagliardi from 1988-91, play on two conferencechampionship teams, record 171 tackles and a dozen interceptions, and lead by example. “He became a great

McDonough’s intellect shone through on the gridiron—in the way he anticipated plays and the angles he took on tackles— and in the classroom: he graduated summa cum laude. adviser, senior adviser on foreign policy to the President, foreign policy adviser for Senate Democratic leader Tom

Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

By John Rosengren ’86


Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2013  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

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