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Public Affairs Council President Doug Pinkham to Retire at End of 2024

By January 22, 2024March 12th, 2024Uncategorized

Public Affairs Council President Doug Pinkham to Retire at End of 2024

Washington, D.C. (Jan 22, 2024) – The Public Affairs Council (the Council) announced today that President and CEO Douglas G. Pinkham, who has led the organization for the past 27 years, will retire at the end of 2024.

Pinkham, who is only the third person to lead the Council since it was formed in 1954 as the Effective Citizens Organization, was hired in 1997 to expand Council services, increase the organization’s membership and raise the profile of the public affairs profession in the U.S. and around the world. During his tenure, Pinkham has grown the Council to the organization it is today — the foremost public affairs membership organization in the world.

Among Pinkham’s earliest accomplishments with the Council was the publication of Creating a Digital Democracy: The Impact of the Internet on Public Policy Making in 1999. This report, which scooped major media outlets with news about the birth of digital advocacy, was the first of many Council studies that analyzed the impact of information technologies, new business practices and innovative advocacy strategies. More recent studies have focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected government affairs, business responses to the 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and corporate involvement in social issues.

The Council’s executive education programs grew significantly under Pinkham’s leadership. In 1997 the Council hosted about 30 conferences and workshops each year, with about 1,000 people attending those programs. Annual participation has risen 650% since that time and nearly 100 conferences, workshops and webinars now provide a complete professional development curriculum for public affairs professionals. These programs serve members and nonmembers domestically and internationally.

Before Pinkham became president, the Council was primarily known for its high-quality training programs and expertise in political action committee management and government affairs. In partnership with the Council board of directors and staff, he expanded the organization’s offerings by hiring professionals with expertise in grassroots and digital advocacy, policy communications, corporate responsibility, issues management, and global public affairs. He also attracted well-known experts and authors to serve as faculty members for the annual Public Affairs Institute, the Council’s esteemed leadership development program for senior public affairs executives. As a result, annual participation in the Institute has increased by nearly 40% during his tenure.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my career at the Public Affairs Council,” said Pinkham. “I’ve often said our members and staff are people I’d want to know even if it wasn’t part of my job. They are smart, clever and generous with their time, and they know we are doing important work. I’m proud of our efforts to help members navigate emerging issues and find ways to be successful while serving the public interest.”

The Council’s commitment to thought leadership has boosted its standing as an authority on the priorities and actions of business, government and the public. In 2011, Pinkham and his team developed the landmark Public Affairs Pulse Survey, an annual poll measuring public opinion on issues intersecting business, government and society. Because he has taken the lead in crafting and analyzing Pulse Survey results, Pinkham has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Fox Business, Axios, Politico, Bloomberg Television, and other top-tier media outlets.

Pinkham successfully led the association through some of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. in the modern era including the September 11th terrorist attacks, the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the COVID-19 pandemic. In each case, the Council provided its members with valuable guidance and information to help them respond effectively.

Under Pinkham’s tenure, the Council also opened an office in Brussels, Belgium, to serve public affairs professionals throughout Europe and to manage international programming in other regions. As president of the Foundation for Public Affairs — an affiliate of the Council — Pinkham led the effort to focus the organization’s mission on workforce development in the profession.

“Doug has been an effective and thoughtful leader of the Council for nearly three decades, and his efforts have greatly strengthened the role of the public affairs function,” said Public Affairs Council Chair Roi L. Ewell. “He has also built a strong team of professionals, which is why I’m confident this organization will become even more valuable to its members in the future.”

Prior to joining the Public Affairs Council, Pinkham served as vice president of communications for the American Gas Association. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he graduated with honors from the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Pinkham served for many years as a trustee of the Institute for Public Relations, as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, and as a judge for the Points of Light Foundation’s annual awards for corporate volunteerism. He is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, the Public Relations Society of America and the American Society of Association Executives.

The Public Affairs Council plans to provide additional information regarding the search process for its next President in the coming months.

About the Public Affairs Council

Both nonpartisan and nonpolitical, the Public Affairs Council is the leading global association for public affairs professionals. The Council’s mission is to advance the field of public affairs and to provide its 750 member companies, nonprofits and universities with the executive education and expertise they need while maintaining the highest ethical standards. Learn more at

Contact: Laura Horsley, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
202.787.5963 | [email protected]


Laura Horsley
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
202.787.5963 | [email protected]

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