Donald A. Baer

Worldwide Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Don Baer is Worldwide Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Burson-Marsteller, a WPP, Inc. company that is one of the world’s largest strategic communications businesses. It has 73 offices and 85 affiliates in 110 countries. Don took on the role in 2012, when he also became Chair of Burson-Marsteller’s sister research firm Penn Schoen Berland. Don has been a member of Burson-Marsteller’s global senior management team since 2008 and has led major client engagements in every sector and part of the world, especially for top technology, communications and media companies. In 2011, he became Co-founder/Chair of Palisades Media Ventures, a public affairs and news media content development company co-owned with WPP.

Don’s career has spanned leading roles as a media and communications executive for important business, government and non-profit organizations, and he has played a significant role in American politics and policy for the last two decades. He has had extensive strategic, creative and operational experience at top-tier public- and private-sector organizations including the White House and major global companies.

In 2014, Don led Burson-Marsteller to launch the influential Corporate Perception Indicator in partnership with CNBC. The Corporate Perception Indicator is a worldwide survey providing the world’s most comprehensive study about attitudes towards corporations and CEOs, with 27,000 respondents among the general public and C-Suite leaders in 26 global markets.

From 1998 to 2007, Don helped lead global media company Discovery Communications. As Senior Executive Vice President for Strategy and Development and an executive committee member, reporting to the CEO, he led a range of corporate functions, including worldwide communications and marketing; business development, new ventures and acquisitions; new media strategy and operations, and corporate-level research and public policy. He drove significant growth in Discovery’s online offerings, including acquisitions of digital businesses and the launch of its first mobile video services, and oversaw the Discovery/New York Times Company joint venture in the Discovery Times Channel. As a producer, he supervised Discovery’s public affairs content, including the 2004 Emmy Award-winning series Decisions That Shook the World and a documentary series with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. Don created the American Film Institute/Discovery Channel documentary festival Silverdocs.

From 1994-98, Don was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, serving as Assistant to the President and White House Director of Strategic Planning and Communications and, before that, as Chief Speechwriter/Director of Speechwriting and Research. Don was widely recognized for his key role in the Clinton Presidency, including the historic 1996 re-election, and for managing an integrated message strategy across all domestic and foreign policy as well as political activities. He led the development of many major Presidential initiatives and helped direct every State of the Union from 1995 to 2000.

From 1985-93, Don was a journalist. For seven years, at U.S. News & World Report, he covered politics and the White House and, as an assistant managing editor, oversaw national and international coverage. He also worked at The American Lawyer, has written for publications including The New York Times and POLITICO, was a CBS News on-air analyst and has appeared on many TV news shows. Since 2000, he has been a writer of the annual Kennedy Center Honors TV production, winning two Writers Guild of America awards. In the 1980s, Don was a media lawyer at New York’s Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. He worked on major pro bono matters including a death penalty case that the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decided. For that work, he was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

In the for-profit sector, Don serves on the Board of Directors of Meredith Corporation and digital start-up Fora.tv. In the non-profit sector, he is Chair of the Board of Directors of PBS, the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service, and on the Boards of The Urban Institute and The News Literacy Project. Don is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Reuters Editorial Advisory Board. In 2013, he was inducted into the North Carolina Halls of Fame in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations.

Don received a B.A. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Phi Beta Kappa), a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a J.D. from The University of Virginia School of Law. He and his wife, Nancy Bard, have two sons and live in Washington, D.C.