GE hires Obama crisis handler and economics specialist Jen Friedman

Friedman had a role in the Obama administration's response following the breakdown of Healthcare.gov and the controversy around the IRS' so-called "targeting" of certain tax-exempt organizations.

Jen Friedman
Jen Friedman

NEW YORK: GE has hired Obama White House alum Jen Friedman as senior director of corporate reputation.

Based in New York City, Friedman will report to CCO Deirdre Latour, who has been in the top comms role since April 2015. Friedman starts in her role March 1.

"I’m thrilled to be joining such an iconic American company at an incredibly interesting time," she said via email. "From being pioneers in the digital industrial space, to investing in innovation around the world, to creating initiatives such as the women in STEM #BalancetheEquation initiative, and Ecomagination — to tackle environmental challenges as part of their business model — GE is delivering results that everyone can take pride in. I am honored to join the talented group of individuals who make up the GE team."

Her responsibilities at the conglomerate will include working with relevant media outlets, as well as promoting and protecting its reputation.

"This is a new role created to help us think through the dynamic political environment we are operating in all over the world and how that impacts a company’s reputation," Latour explained via email. "Jen’s broad experience in a fast-paced environment and her extensive media relations skills make her a fantastic addition to our team."

Friedman was added to the White House comms team as deputy press secretary shortly after Jay Carney stepped down and Josh Earnest was promoted to press secretary in mid-2014.

During her tenure in the Obama administration, Friedman also "managed the administration’s economic comms portfolio," a statement said. She was also responsible for message development and policy introductions for the White House and Cabinet agencies on economic issues both domestic and global. Prior to that, Friedman was senior strategic comms adviser for the National Economic Council, according to her LinkedIn page.

Friedman also served as senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services following the "failed launch of Healthcare.gov," when heavy traffic wreaked havoc on the website, according to a statement from GE. Her immediate focus was on launching Healthcare.gov, but she also helped out on comms, as well as legislative and legal issues.

When controversy swirled around the Treasury Department and the IRS regarding its so-called "targeting of Tea Party" tax-exempt organizations, Friedman helped manage the agency’s response amid the political firestorm, a statement said.

She officially stepped down from her role at the White House in December 2016.

At the time of Friedman’s exit, Earnest thanked her for her work during a White House briefing. "[Friedman] took on assignments at each of those agencies that they couldn’t find anybody else to do because they didn’t have confidence in anybody else’s ability to handle it. In each case, and in each situation, she performed even better than people assumed that she would."

Friedman also served as senior comms adviser on the Obama reelection campaign, led the public affairs function at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and was deputy assistant secretary for strategic comms at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, her LinkedIn page states.

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