Providence native Tom Donilon leaving as Obama national security adviser

Jun 5, 2013

Providence native Tom Donilon, a graduate of LaSalle Academy, is resigning as President Obama’s national security adviser. He is slated to be replaced by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, White House officials have announced.

Rice, 48, an outspoken diplomat and Obama political ally, was the president’s first choice for secretary of state. She lost a shot at the job after harsh criticism from Republicans over her account of the deadly attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

The position of national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation, so the president came choose whomever he wants.

Donilon, 58, is a veteran Washington, D.C. Democratic political operative with both domestic and foreign policy resumes. He hails from a political family in Providence. Donilon’s brothers, Mike Donilon, and Terry Donilon, have both held political posts. Mike Donilon has been a top adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden and has worked on many Democratic campaigns over the years. He had top roles in the presidential campaigns of former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry’s 2004 campaign. He was also part of the well-known political consulting firm of Shrum, Devine and Donilon; the other principals were Bob Shrum and Tad Devine, another Providence native and LaSalle grad who has also worked on many Democratic campaigns and handled Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s media in 2010.

Terry Donilon is a onetime press secretary for Gov. Bruce Sundlun who currently is spokesman for Sean O’Malley, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston.

Tom Donilon is known as a smart inside bureaucratic player in Washington. He served as national security adviser during a tumultuous time in U.S. foreign affairs and is credited with managing the risky operation that killed Osama bin Laden in a commando raid and overseeing relations with China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Pakistan.

In a brief interview, Devine said Tom Donilon has no immediate job plans and is likely to take a long summer vacation and spend time with family and friends.