Bert Brandenburg has almost three decades of experience at the intersection of strategy, communications, law, policy, politics, management and development. Bert’s senior positions in numerous sectors have strengthened his understanding of how things work on the inside, and how to build effective strategies to shape policies and reach different audiences. He has led national nonprofit organizations and boards of directors, managed public affairs for a major federal department, written speeches for a cabinet officer, and served as counsel on Capitol Hill. He has also worked on political campaigns, in a presidential transition, at a think tank, as an adjunct professor, as an international election observer, and at an artificial intelligence start-up.
Before joining Ward Circle, Bert was President of Appleseed, a network of 17 public-interest justice centers helping low-income people and working families. Bert rebuilt the national office, helped expand the network, and launched a highly-acclaimed “deportation manual” that will help millions of immigrant families protect their assets and children if they face deportation.
For more than a dozen years he led Justice at Stake, a national network built to lead the charge to keep courts impartial and independent, where he helped numerous states win reform victories, helped elevate the issue of fair courts on the national political map, tripled the organization’s budget, and recruited Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to be Honorary Chair.
Before that, Bert was Director of Public Affairs and chief spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he supervised media strategy and press relations for the Department, including the FBI, DEA, INS, and 93 U.S. Attorney’s offices. Attorney General Janet Reno gave him the Edmund J. Randolph Award (the Department’s highest honor) for “outstanding contributions to the accomplishments of the Department’s mission.”
In addition to writing and editing numerous reports and monographs, Bert has published more than three dozen columns and op-eds across the country, including in the Washington Post, USA Today, Politico, Slate, and in law reviews, academic and legal system journals. In 2007 he was a featured panelist on the PBS Fred Friendly seminar “Elections and Judicial Independence,” along with Justices O’Connor and Scalia.
Bert was born in Washington, DC and lives in Silver Spring, MD with his art historian wife and two busy boys, both of whom began their musical careers playing Bert’s childhood cornet. When he can he likes to read, write and see whatever’s playing at the AFI Silver Theater.
- Ward Circle Strategies, Senior Advisor
- National Institute on Money in State Politics, Current President of the Board of Directors
- Appleseed, President
- Justice at Stake, Executive Director
- U.S. Department of Justice, Director of Public Affairs
- National Performance Review, Team Leader
- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Chief Speechwriter
- Presidential Transition Team, Domestic Policy Advisor
- 1992 Clinton-Gore Campaign, Issues Director, Industrial States Region
- Congressman Edward Feighan, Counsel
- Progressive Policy Institute, Policy Analyst
3 Fun Facts
- The FBI’s security logs note that Bert was seen approaching Attorney General Janet Reno’s office in a red cloak and pitchfork.
- At a recital at the end of high school, he hiccupped his way through the French Horn transcription of Handel’s 3rd Sonata for Cello. His skin has been thicker ever since.
- He shares a birthday with Jane Addams, Rosie Perez and John Wall, but none of them ever won a college marching band scholarship.