Kiki McLean

Counsel, Porter Novelli
Austin College, Class of 1985
Kiki McLean Headshot

​​​“Learn how to think. Become literate and learn how to communicate what you think. Get a liberal arts education,” said my father as he counseled me through the panic of trying to choose a college. He believed the right college would be a place to learn, not to train. My liberal arts education did not train me for a job, it trained me for life.​

Inquiry is both the gift and the skill I took away from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Because my education gave me permission to know, question, and challenge, I am a life-long learner. It took away the fear of the unknown and gave me the chance to succeed regardless of the environment. That well-rounded learning experience taught me to look at all the possible solutions from every angle imaginable. It also helped me appreciate that solutions can be found in unexpected ways and from unanticipated relationships. 
The confidence to question and to explore is why a little girl from Texas can grow up and work for a President of the United States. From my college education, I learned how to defend a controversial point of view. It prepared me to land in a new city ready to meet new challenges rather than collapse in fear of potential obstacles. My choice of an independent, liberal arts college has made a difference in the kind of life I’ve had the opportunity to live, both personally and professionally. I guess I’ll just admit it: My dad was right.

Catherine “Kiki” McLean serves as counsel for the Washington, DC, office of Porter Novelli and the agency’s global public affairs efforts. She assumed this role after four years leading the Washington, DC, and global public affairs practices and serving as a member of Porter Novelli’s Executive Committee. One of the top public affairs strategists in the country, she appears frequently on national television as a commentator on politics and current events. 
A veteran of six presidential campaigns including the historic 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, McLean has more than 25 years of experience leading strategic communications initiatives. During the 2008 election season, she served as a senior advisor to the Hillary Clinton for President campaign and frequently appeared as an on-air surrogate for the Obama for America campaign.
In 2004, McLean helped develop the acclaimed vice presidential announcement strategy for the Kerry campaign. She served as the national press secretary and spokesperson to Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign in Washington, DC, and was the spokesperson for Joe Lieberman as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2000 general election. Under President Bill Clinton, she was appointed the communications director to the Denver Summit of the Eight, spokesperson for the 1997 Presidential Inaugural, and communication director for the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Throughout her career, McLean’s work has focused on the communications and politics of public policy. She was named communications director of the Democratic National Committee, after serving as member of the 1992 Clinton Gore Campaign communications team and press secretary and advisor to Tipper Gore.
As press secretary to the Democratic Leadership Council and its affiliated think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, McLean’s efforts were concentrated on the development of cutting edge policy and political initiatives. She served under the chairmanships of Senator John Breaux (D-LA) and then-Governor Bill Clinton. 
McLean founded the communications practice at Dewey Square Group and served as partner for a public affairs consulting firm for 15 years. 
Kiki is a native of San Antonio, Texas, and received her bachelor of liberal arts in communications from Austin College in Sherman, Texas (1994). She currently serves on several nonprofit and corporate boards of directors including Polaris Project, CLEARCorps USA, and Strategic Partnerships.