Jen O'Malley Dillon
Photo: Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Jen O'Malley Dillon

Biography
(1976–)
Jen O'Malley Dillon became the first woman to manage a winning Democratic presidential campaign in 2020, before her appointment as President Joe Biden's deputy chief of staff.

Who Is Jen O'Malley Dillon?

Jen O'Malley Dillon embarked on political fieldwork after graduating from Tufts University in 1998, her proficiency leading to the chance to manage Florida Democrat Jim Davis' 2006 gubernatorial bid. Along with fulfilling key roles in Barack Obama's two presidential campaigns, she served as an executive for the Democratic National Committee and co-founded a prominent political consulting firm. After taking charge of Joe Biden's operation in March 2020, O'Malley Dillon became the first woman to manage a winning Democratic presidential campaign and went on to accept the role as Biden's deputy chief of staff.

Early Life and Education

Jennifer Brigid O'Malley Dillon was born on September 28, 1976, in Boston, Massachusetts, the second of Kevin and Kathleen O'Malley's four children.

Along with grasping the importance of a sound education – Kevin was a school superintendent and principal and Kathleen, a teacher – O'Malley Dillon was bitten by the family's passion for politics. Her dad was president of their neighborhood association in Jamaica Plain, prompting visits from longtime Boston Mayor Kevin White, while a cousin, Matt O'Malley, went on to become a city councilman.

Beyond the political discussions, O'Malley Dillon found an outlet for her competitive juices by playing three sports at Franklin High School. Moving on to Tufts University, she became a political science major and co-captain of the softball team, before graduating in 1998.

Early Campaign Work

After briefly volunteering for President Bill Clinton's reelection bid in 1996, O'Malley Dillon threw herself into campaign work by answering phones for Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger's 1998 gubernatorial run.

She became a volunteer coordinator for Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, her organizational skills leading to additional responsibilities through the contested recount. In 2002, she served as field director for South Dakota's Tim Johnson, who eked out a narrow U.S. Senate win, and Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, who won her runoff race for the Senate.

After heading Iowa field operations for John Edwards' 2004 presidential bid, O'Malley Dillon became deputy manager for South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle's reelection campaign later that year. In November 2005, at age 29, she was named campaign manager for Jim Davis' gubernatorial hopes in Florida.

Obama Aide

After beginning the 2008 presidential cycle with the Edwards team, O'Malley Dillon became director of the battleground states operation for Obama's campaign and then President-elect Obama’s associate director of personnel.

As deputy manager of Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, O'Malley Dillon oversaw political outreach and voter education and was credited with implementing a modernized system of data analytics across the national field organization.

Biden Campaign Manager and Deputy Chief of Staff

A heavily recruited Democratic strategist, O'Malley Dillon entered the 2020 presidential cycle as Beto O'Rourke's campaign manager, though their pairing wasn't enough to stave off poor polling numbers and the former Texas congressman's departure from the field in autumn 2019.

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She was then subsequently announced as Biden's campaign manager on March 12, 2020, right before the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of the campaign's Philadelphia headquarters. Working from the attic of her Maryland home, O'Malley Dillon zeroed in on virtual fundraising to shore up the candidate's lagging finances, recruited a crop of younger surrogates to work alongside Biden's longtime aides and preached a focus on reclaiming the "blue wall" states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that had swung Donald Trump's way in 2016.

Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the winners over President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on November 7, 2020, making O'Malley Dillon the first woman to manage a winning Democratic presidential campaign and the second overall after Kellyanne Conway in 2016.

On November 17, after her role in seven presidential elections, O'Malley Dillon took on her first West Wing staff position with her appointment as the president's deputy chief of staff.

DNC Executive

Named executive director of the Democratic National Committee in early 2009, O'Malley Dillon was at the helm when the party endured a disastrous showing in the 2010 midterm elections, prompting her to reformulate a strategy for grassroots organization and social networking before leaving the position in spring 2011.

O'Malley Dillon returned to the DNC in 2017 to chair its Unity Reform Commission and was set to lead a nonprofit entity tasked with fostering a widescale data exchange across the party in early 2019, before joining the O'Rourke campaign.

Precision Strategies

In 2013, O'Malley Dillon teamed with fellow former Obama staffers Stephanie Cutter and Teddy Goff to found the consulting and marketing agency Precision Strategies. Her early efforts for the company included consulting work for the Liberal Party of Canada, which saw its leader, Justin Trudeau, elected prime minister in 2015.

Precision has also served high-profile corporate clients such as General Electric, Bank of America and the National Football League.

Personal Life

O'Malley Dillon met her husband, Patrick Dillon, while both were working on Edwards' presidential campaign in 2003. They found time to get engaged while she was running Davis' 2006 campaign and he was heading Chet Culver's concurrent Iowa gubernatorial bid, before they were married on June 30, 2007.

O'Malley Dillon gave birth to twin daughters, Katie and Mary, in November 2012, one week after Obama's reelection victory. A son, Kevin, arrived in spring 2018.

Retaining her longtime love for athletics, O'Malley Dillon told Time for its "40 Under 40" series in 2010 that she would likely be a coach had she not pursued a career in politics. She is also said to be a devotee of Jane Austen novels and the owner of an expansive shoe collection.

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