Public Affairs and Government Relations Staff
Michael J. Schoenfeld - Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations
Laura Brinn - Director of Global Communications
Denise W. Haviland - Director of Marketing & Strategic Communications
Donna Hubert - Executive Assistant
Michele M. Wittman - Executive Assistant
Office of News and Communications
Duke University Photography
Office of Federal Relations
Office of Government Relations
Michael J. Schoenfeld is Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations at Duke University. He oversees communications and advocacy for the university and medical center and serves as Duke’s chief spokesperson. He is also an adjunct lecturer in the Sanford School of Public Policy, where he teaches a course on media and politics.
As the chief communications strategist, he directs the university’s efforts to connect with local, regional, national and global audiences, and represents Duke before a wide range of constituencies. Under his leadership, Duke has energized its digital media presence, including a redesigned home page, new social media channels, and the launch of Duke on Demand, an online video hub for the university. He also enhanced Duke’s capabilities in global communications, marketing and strategic communications, and government relations to support the university’s priorities in these areas. Since he arrived in 2008, Duke has added several gold, silver and bronze awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Schoenfeld is also one of the co-founders of Futurity (www.futurity.org), a multimedia consortium of more than 50 leading research universities from the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
Schoenfeld came to Duke from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where he was vice chancellor for public affairs from 1997-2008. He created and led a comprehensive public affairs program that earned multiple honors, including multiple regional Emmy awards for television production. In addition, he led Vanderbilt’s legislative agenda at the local, state and federal levels on issues that included research funding, higher education policy and health care, and was widely credited with rebuilding Vanderbilt’s relationship with the Nashville community through leadership in education, economic development and the arts. He was twice named volunteer of the year by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and received the Otis Floyd Award for Distinguished Service to Education from the Tennessee College Public Relations Association.
Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Schoenfeld was senior vice president for policy and public affairs at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in Washington, D.C., where he was the chief spokesman and senior corporate officer for media relations, community relations, research and public policy. As the leader of CPB’s Internet and technology initiatives, he helped develop one of the first public telecommunications websites and negotiated a partnership with the MIT Media Lab.
Schoenfeld started his career and spent seven years in international broadcasting and public diplomacy at the Voice of America in Washington. He held several reporting and leadership positions, including news and sports anchor, Congressional liaison officer, and executive assistant and chief of staff to the director and helped coordinate VOA’s response to major world events including Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield and the collapse of the Soviet Union. He received a special commendation from the President’s Advisory Board for Broadcasting to Cuba for his work on the launch of TV Marti. Schoenfeld also served as the first director of program development at WorldNet, the United States Information Agency’s global satellite television network.
Schoenfeld is active in professional and civic leadership. He is a member of The Seminar, a group of senior public relations executives from leading corporations and nonprofit organizations. He currently serves on the CASE board of trustees, the Association of American Universities Public Affairs Committee, and chairs the Public Issues Committee of the Consortium on Financing of Higher Education (COFHE). He formerly served on the board of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).
Locally, Schoenfeld is chairman-elect of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the WUNC Public Radio Community Advisory Board, chairman of the Durham Cultural Advisory Board and president of the Durham County Public Library board of trustees. He is also a member of the board of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Museum of Durham History, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Midsouth), the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and the OpenNet Advisory Committee. In 2009, he was appointed by Governor Perdue to the North Carolina State Library Commission.
Schoenfeld graduated from Duke in 1984 and received a master’s degree in public policy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1986.
Laura Brinn joined the Public Affairs and Government Relations staff in 2010, and is responsible for the development and implementation of Duke's international communications and marketing strategy.
Laura previously served in media relations and marketing roles at The Fuqua School of Business and Duke University Health System. Before coming to Duke in 2001, she was an account executive at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in New York. Laura earned an MBA and a master's degree in liberal studies from Duke, and holds undergraduate degrees in communication and German.
Denise Haviland has over 20 years experience in communications for higher education, agencies, and corporations in Chicago, Seattle, and Cleveland. Prior to her position in the Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations, she worked with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. Denise is responsible for managing the Duke brand and provides strategic communications services for the Duke community. She has been at Duke for seven years. Denise holds a BS in Journalism.
Donna Hubert came to the Office of the Senior Vice President in December 2002. Previous experience includes 18 years with the following Duke departments: Office of the Executive Vice President, FAST Track Project, Facilities Planning and Management, and the Central Payroll Office. A graduate of East Carolina University, Donna’s responsibilities include acting as the Senior budget and personnel/Human Resource officer for the division of Public Affairs and Government Relations.
Michele Wittman provides the Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations with administrative and event management support; manages the day-to-day calendar and travel needs for the Vice President; manages daily operational and administrative activities for the Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations (PAGR); and serves as the main point of contact for the PAGR office. Previous experience includes 6 years with the Duke Nicholas School of The Environment as Development Program Coordinator & Office Manager, 2 years as outside event coordinator for the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and Duke Liver Center, and 2 years as banquet manager with the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. Michele is a graduate of Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.