Colburn has brought his communications expertise to two Obama presidential campaigns, two Obama inaugural committees, and two agency positions in the Obama administration—assistant secretary for public affairs at the Homeland Security Department and director of external affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The chief-of-staff role is a new one for Colburn, 37, but he says there's a lot of overlap between managing a communications team and being a primary aide. "Hopefully, as a pair of fresh eyes, I can help Secretary Donovan and the team here assess kind of where we've come in four years and any changes we need to make to move forward," Colburn says. One perennial problem for agencies, he notes, is coping with an increasingly fast-paced media environment. Colburn "caught the campaign bug," he says, when fresh out of grad school he worked on the advance team for Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. Among other jobs in politics, Colburn has worked for Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and on Howard Dean's 2004 presidential bid. The son of an Army officer, Colburn moved often during his childhood. His family eventually settled in Northern Virginia, and he considers the area home. Colburn is a graduate of the College of William & Mary, where he received both his bachelor's degree and a master's in public policy. During college, he ran track and cross-country.