Daniel Pfeiffer

Dan Pfeiffer
Senior Advisor to the President
In office
January 25, 2013  March 6, 2015
President Barack Obama
Preceded by David Plouffe
Succeeded by Shailagh Murray
White House Director of Communications
In office
November 30, 2009  January 25, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Anita Dunn
Succeeded by Jennifer Palmieri
Personal details
Born Howard Daniel Pfeiffer
(1975-12-24) December 24, 1975
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sarah Feinberg (2006–2011; divorced)
Howli Pfeiffer (2016–present)
Alma mater Georgetown University

Howard Daniel "Dan" Pfeiffer[1] (born December 24, 1975) is a former Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama for Strategy and Communications.[2]

Pfeiffer was a long-time aide to Obama, serving in various press and communications roles throughout his 2008 campaign for the Presidency, on his presidential transition team, and in the Obama White House. He co-hosts the Keepin' it 1600 podcast with Jon Favreau.

Early life and career

Pfeiffer was born in Wilmington, Delaware,[3] the son of Vivian Lear (née Strange), a learning specialist, and Gary Malick Pfeiffer, a financial officer for DuPont.[4][5][6]

He graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University. He began his career in politics working as a spokesman for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) initiative of the Clinton Administration. In 2000 he joined the communications department of Al Gore's 2000 campaign for the Presidency.

After the 2000 presidential election, he went to work for the Democratic Governors Association, and later worked for Senators Tim Johnson, Tom Daschle, and Evan Bayh.[7] He served briefly as communications director for Evan Bayh's presidential exploratory committee.

Obama Campaign

In 2007, Pfeiffer was recruited to join the Obama presidential campaign by Pete Rouse – who had previously hired him in the office of Senator Tom Daschle when Rouse was serving as Daschle's Chief of Staff. His first position was as Senator Obama's travelling press secretary. He was later promoted to communications director.

Obama White House

After the 2008 presidential election, Pfeiffer ran the communications office for the Obama-Biden Transition team and was then appointed Deputy White House Communications Director after the inauguration of Barack Obama. Less than a year later, after the departure of Anita Dunn, Pfeiffer was named White House Communications Director. He remained in the role for the entire first term of the Obama presidency.[8]

At the start of President Obama's second term, Pfeiffer was promoted to Senior Advisor for Strategy and Communications, taking over most of the portfolio previously managed in the White House by David Axelrod and David Plouffe. He left the White House in March 2015.

Personal life

On July 16, 2006, Pfeiffer married Sarah Elizabeth Feinberg, a senior advisor and spokeswoman for Obama's former Chief of Staff, and current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.[4] In 2011, Pfeiffer and Feinberg separated, and later divorced.[9]

In 2016, Pfeiffer married Howli Ledbetter, former director of message planning in the White House.[10][11]

Public criticism

Pfeiffer garnered generally bad press after a November 2013 response, seen by many (including partisans opposed to the legislation), as wonkish and unsympathetic, to a California woman with advanced gall bladder cancer who published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal[12] describing the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also called "ACA" or Obamacare) on her treatment. Edie Littlefield Sundby wrote that she would "be forced to choose between the state government health exchange - which means certain doctors won't be covered - or try to cover up to 50% of the medical expenses on her own since her insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, will not participate in California's insurance exchange".[13]

Pfeiffer then replied via Twitter, backed up by the progressive activist group Think Progress, that the blame actually lay "at the feet of Sundby's insurance company for dropping the ball", not ACA regulations. More than 2500 comments appeared within just a few days.[14][15][16]

Pfeiffer left the White House a little over a year later, in early 2015.


  1. "Biography: Howard Daniel Pfeiffer". LegiStorm. Retrieved January 27, 2014. (subscription required)
  2. "Pfeiffer takes over for Dunn". Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  3. Rutenberg, Jim. "Times Topics, People". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  4. 1 2 "Sarah Feinberg, H. Daniel Pfeiffer". The New York Times. 2006-07-16. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  5. "Who's who in Finance and Industry". google.ca. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  6. "On-line Obituary For Elaine Matthews Strange". memorialobituaries.com. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  7. Hulse, Carl (2006-05-31). "A Build-a-Protest Approach to Immigration". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  8. "Dan Pfeiffer: The Next White House Communications Boss". Time. 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  9. Dan Pfeiffer and Sarah Feinberg separate", Washington Post; accessed November 18, 2016.
  10. "Former White House aide Dan Pfeiffer engaged to another Obama alum, Howli Ledbetter". The Washington Post. May 18, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  11. "Howli Pfeiffer profile". Wearerally.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  12. Sundby, Edie Littlefield (2013-11-03). "A Stage-4 Gallblader Cancer Survivor Says: I Am One of ObamaCare's Losers". Wsj.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  13. "Obama advisor draws fire for jab at Edie Littlefield Sundby's insurer UnitedHealthcare", nydailynews.com, November 5, 2013; accessed November 18, 2016.
  14. "Jason Goldman on Twitter: "The Real Reason That The Cancer Patient Writing In Today's Wall Street Journal Lost Her Insurance"". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  15. "Good News! Obamacare Will Not Kill Cancer Patient Who Wrote The Wall Street Journal Op-Ed". Mediaite.com. 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  16. Martosko, David. "Bullyboy White House aide sparks outrage by 'smearing' terminal cancer patient who dared speak out against Obamacare". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
Political offices
Preceded by
Anita Dunn
White House Director of Communications
Succeeded by
Jennifer Palmieri
Preceded by
David Plouffe
Senior Advisor to the President
Succeeded by
Shailagh Murray
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