- Co-Chair, Academic Affairs Committee
Jenny Backus joined World Learning Inc.'s Board of Trustees in 2016. She is the owner and president of Backus Consulting LLC, a strategic communications firm specializing in strategy development, campaign and project management, and intergovernmental consulting for corporations, media outlets, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and political campaigns and committees. A nationally recognized spokesperson and expert on strategic communications and partnerships, Backus has worked for Fortune 500 companies, national trade associations, and NGOs and in the political arena serving in leadership positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and on presidential campaigns, including managing more than 40 presidential primary debates and forums and events for the national media in the 2004 and 2008 presidential cycles. Most recently Backus served for three years as a senior policy advisor and head of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement for Google, where she developed Google’s state-by-state public affairs teams and strategic plans, managed all Google’s U.S. NGO and third-party relations and oversaw a multimillion dollar public affairs and policy budget. Prior to that, her company, Backus Consulting, was one of Google’s top U.S. consultants from 2013 -2015, managing key coalitions and campaigns. Backus also served in the first two years of the Obama Administration as the acting assistant secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA) and the principal deputy assistant secretary for Strategy & Planning at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), working closely with then-Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the White House. She managed communications activities for HHS and all their operating and staff divisions and, during her tenure, grew HHS ASPA from a $6 million to a $20 million department; she also expanded web and new media capabilities and supervised and managed more than $250 million worth of communication contracts across HHS. During her time as ASPA, Jenny managed communications and marketing efforts around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including the creation of a new consumer website, healthcare.gov, and a multimillion dollar communications contract for online and new media advertising around key benefits of the new law. She served as the lead U.S. government communications official for the H1N1 Pandemic, managing the creation of Flu.gov with Google’s Flu Vaccination locator and under her leadership helped make possible the first-ever U.S. Government YouTube contest on flu prevention. In addition to running her own consulting business, Backus also serves on several boards, including as chair of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and as nominations chair for the DC Public Library Foundation Board. A graduate of Brattleboro Union High School and Brown University, Backus lives in Washington, DC, with her husband Ed Pagano and son Jack.