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IEM Leadership

Rafael Lemaitre

Chief Communications Officer

For over 17 years Rafael Lemaitre has been crafting and implementing public relations and crisis communications initiatives for the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and major political campaigns on both national and international scopes.

Since 1998, he has served three Presidential Administrations as a White House spokesman and media strategist for a wide array of issues including national security, disaster response, economic development, public health, border security, and immigration reform. Rafael has advised Cabinet-level presidential advisors, senior White House and Administration staff, and celebrities on media outreach activities executed across the United States and internationally.

After serving as a career communicator in public service for almost a decade for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in 2009, Rafael was appointed by the Obama Administration to serve as Senior Advisor for Media and Communications for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Department of Homeland Security. At CBP, Rafael promoted efforts to expand travel, trade, and border security initiatives for the nation’s largest law enforcement agency. At CBP, he also supported teams managing the U.S. response to the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and the Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253.

In 2010, Rafael returned to the White House to serve as Associate Director for Public Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. During his time at the White House, he directed the Administration’s efforts to promote major initiatives to expand public health and safety programs designed to reduce drug use and its consequences.

In 2014, Rafael was appointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as Director of Public Affairs. As the agency’s top spokesperson, Rafael oversaw all aspects of the agency’s social and traditional media outreach, including innovative disaster response technologies working to improve the ability of Americans to prepare, respond, recover, and mitigate all hazards. He communicated FEMA’s work to support individual assistance, public assistance, and hazard mitigation programs, and directed all public affairs efforts for the federal government in response to Hurricane Matthew, and the 2016 flooding disasters in Louisiana and South Carolina. Rafael also oversaw development of FEMA’s crisis communications response to the Ebola outbreak, the Flint contaminated water crisis, and the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the southwest border.

Throughout his career, Rafael has worked to merge communications, culture, and technology to deliver integrated communications campaigns. At FEMA, Rafael pioneered the use of content contribution on emerging social platforms for the federal agency, including SnapChat and Facebook Live.

Rafael speaks Spanish and maintains strong relationships with influential reporters, thought leaders, editors and producers at major print, broadcast, radio, television, and web-based outlets. He has facilitated feature stories, profiles, and news items in support of Administration initiatives in USA Today, The Washington Post, The New York Times, national and international wire services and outlets, regional and local media across the United States, and online news outlets.

Rafael holds a Bachelor’s Degree from James Madison University where he double-majored in Political Science as well as Media Arts and Design. He also holds a Master’s degree in Communications, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University where he conducted research on the impact of social media technologies on contemporary American politics. In 2006, Rafael also completed the Architecture Career Discovery program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

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