LSU Manship School to Host Rear Admiral John Kirby & Gordon Johndroe for National Security and Foreign Affairs Communication Summit

March 21, 2019

Baton Rouge, LA – LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication will host CNN military and diplomatic analyst Rear Admiral John Kirby USN (ret) and Vice President of Government Operations Communications at The Boeing Company Gordon Johndroe for “Classified Communications: Messaging for National Security and Foreign Affairs” on April 8. The summit is hosted by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, Cornerstone Government Affairs and Taylor Porter at LSU’s Manship School and will focus on how mass communication professionals cover and disperse military, foreign affairs and national security information. The event will investigate the methods the military and national security organizations use to keep the public informed in peacetime, conflict and war.

This summit is the Reilly Center’s second annual Academy of Applied Politics Speaker Series, a premiere program featuring renowned communication and political thought leaders. Last year’s event, From the President to the Press Briefing: Exploring the Role of the Presidential Press Secretary, hosted former presidential press secretaries Ari Fleischer, press secretary for President George W. Bush, and Mike McCurry, who served under President Clinton.

“The interaction of nations is always complex and often opaque. Our current landscape in recent decades is no different,” Jenée Slocum, Ph.D., director of the Reilly Center, said. “Hearing from two top experts who possess a vast breadth of public affairs experience in international relations, military communications and defense industry communications will provide clarity around issues of national security and foreign affairs. This aligns with the Reilly Center mission to provide diverse insights for our communities on important matters affecting our world.”

Prior to joining CNN, Kirby served in the United States Navy for 29 years, retiring as Rear Admiral in 2015. In 2011, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appointed Kirby as deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations. Two years later, after serving as the U.S. Navy's chief of information, Kirby was chosen as Pentagon press secretary and became the first uniformed officer to hold the position. Following his military career, Kirby returned to government service as the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. Soon after, President Obama appointed him as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Public Affairs, a title he held until the end of the Obama administration.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be part of this important discussion about achieving the right balance between transparency and security in government communications. That’s no easy balance to achieve, even in less troubled times. But it is probably more critical — and more under threat — today than ever before. I thank LSU and the Manship school for this unique opportunity,” Kirby said.

Before joining The Boeing Company, Johndroe served as White House deputy press secretary and as spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) from October 2006 to January 2009. There, he prepared the president and the national security advisor for media interviews and briefings. Johndroe also briefed the White House press corps and coordinated regularly with cabinet secretaries, U.S. embassies and military commands, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency. He also served as press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, assistant White House press secretary, press secretary to First Lady Laura Bush, and director of strategic communications and planning at the U.S. State Department. Johndroe also worked on George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential and 1998 gubernatorial campaigns.

“Talking about national security issues is always complicated. I look forward to discussing how the government gets information to the public, our allies and our adversaries, without giving away our secrets,” said Johndroe.

Classified Communications: Messaging for National Security  and Foreign Affairs is slated for Monday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Manship School Journalism Building’s Holliday Forum, located at 144 Field House Drive on LSU’s campus. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Reserve your seat today at

Free parking is open to the public in the Union Square Garage. See the Reilly Center website for driving and walking directions.

Not able to attend this event in person? Stream it live online here:

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LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the top schools of mass communication and journalism in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law; and four graduate degree programs: Ph.D. in media and public affairs, master of mass communication, dual MMC/law degree and a graduate certificate in strategic communication. Its public relations, digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition, including the  2018 national Bateman Case Study Competition of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is partnership-driven, action-oriented, and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School’s national and state leadership in media and politics.

Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc. is a full-service, bipartisan public affairs firm with 80+ professionals and offices in Washington, DC, Annapolis, MD, Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Baton Rouge, LA, Chicago, IL, Des Moines, IA, Houston, TX, Jackson, MS, and Springfield, IL.  Cornerstone represents a diverse group of clients from myriad industries and sectors, and maintains expertise in a wide range of issue areas, including agriculture, cyber security, defense, education, energy, health, homeland security, international affairs, tax policy, telecommunications, and transportation and infrastructure.  For more information, please visit Cornerstone’s website at

Founded in 1912, Taylor Porter is Louisiana’s Law Firm® with more than 100 years of a strong tradition of a commitment to excellence and to a high level of quality, client service reflected in our long-standing relationships with many local, regional, and national clients across a variety of industries and diverse practice areas. Taylor Porter is the exclusive Louisiana law firm member for MSI Global Alliance, enabling the Firm to source reliable, local expertise wherever in the world clients are involved in doing business. Taylor Porter provides community service to more than 100 nonprofit organizations and leadership agencies across the state of Louisiana, embraced the role of “corporate citizen.” Taylor Porter is the proud recipient of the 2018 Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana Torch Award in Ethics.