Real-world communications strategy for real-world crises

In times of crisis, your name, your brand, and most importantly, your reputation are all on the line. You need the trusted expertise of those who have lived it before to help navigate the rough waters ahead.

 

BIOGRAPHY

Samuel Schumach is a communications professional with extensive experience developing and implementing strategic communications plans during major crises from his service on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in President Obama's administration. Working with legal and legislative affairs teams, Sam developed tactical messaging while working under active litigation, and has prepared and accompanied officials for congressional oversight hearings, briefings, and testimony. He has substantial experience advising senior executives, U.S. Senate leadership, federal agency directors, cabinet secretaries, and senior White House officials. Sam has produced earned media in local and national news outlets as an Obama Administration official, as the Nevada Press Secretary for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and as a Political Partner in the Truman National Security Project. 

Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Sam is also bilingual—speaking fluent Spanish—and is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He served numerous combat tours in the Middle East in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as a flying crew chief on C-130 aircraft during his active duty service. As an Air Force Reservist, Sam served as a crew chief on the F-15 Eagle. He is also an avid aviator and a licensed private pilot. 

Sam has a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a master’s degree in Global Security Studies from The Johns Hopkins University.

 

Professional Experience

US government building

Crisis Communications

After being notified about the breach on his first day at the Office of Personnel Management, within a matter of days, Sam and his team managed and coordinated the federal government's public response to the largest government data breach in history. Working with legal counsel and experts across government, Sam developed coordinated responses and proactive messaging to prepare Cabinet Secretaries, Senior Administration Officials, and members of the Intelligence Community to testify before Congress, and speak to the media on-record, all while balancing national security concerns and government transparency that the public expects and deserves.

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Political Communications

Sam is also an experienced political communicator, having served as then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada Press Secretary on Capitol Hill during periods of great challenge in the Senate—including the government shutdown of 2013 and the Senate’s passage of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. Having occupied various roles for Senator Reid and the Obama Administration, Sam developed strategy to effectively communicate how the Legislative and Executive branches of government work for the American people.

 

In the press

Storage of Records of Background Checks Shifted After Last Year’s Security Breach

 The New York Times

“This is primarily about recognizing the evolving threats and national security importance of the background investigation systems and data,” said Samuel J. Schumach, the personnel agency’s press secretary. He said that Defense Department investigations accounted for more than 70 percent of the background checks, so it made sense for its experts to take over the storage system."

“Utilizing what D.O.D. can provide — a large and trained cybersecurity work force to protect against and respond to cyberintrusions, and a strong focus on national security — is the right step to take,” Mr. Schumach said.

Since the revelations last year of the data theft, the personnel agency has rushed to bolster the security of its information. Mr. Schumach said it had moved to put in place “real-time monitoring” of its computer systems, installed controls to bar unknown devices from logging on to its network, and enforced “two-factor authentication” for gaining access to the network — a basic measure that had been lacking on many government systems.

Image by Philipp Katzenberger

Feds anger grows over data breach, amid fears that the number affected could rise

The Washington Post

OPM responded vigorously, with statements and reports on the agency’s efforts to protect its cyber treasures. A public affairs office that once seemed sleepy and averse to putting even benign information on the record, jumped to life with written statements attributable to Samuel Schumach, the press secretary. He placed the best light possible on Archuleta’s testimony after her congressional appearances.

“One of her first priorities was the development of a comprehensive IT Strategic Plan, which immediately identified security vulnerabilities in the agency’s aging legacy systems, and embarked our agency in an aggressive modernization and security overhaul of our network and its systems,” said his Thursday statement.

Politician

Statement by OPM Press Secretary Sam Schumach on Background Investigations Incident

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

As part of the government’s ongoing work to notify individuals affected by the theft of background investigation records, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense have been analyzing impacted data to verify its quality and completeness.  During that process, OPM and DoD identified archived records containing additional fingerprint data not previously analyzed.  Of the 21.5 million individuals whose Social Security Numbers and other sensitive information were impacted by the breach, the subset of individuals whose fingerprints have been stolen has increased from a total of approximately 1.1 million to approximately 5.6 million.  This does not increase the overall estimate of 21.5 million individuals impacted by the incident.  An interagency team will continue to analyze and refine the data as it prepares to mail notification letters to impacted individuals.
 
Federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited.  However, this probability could change over time as technology evolves.  Therefore, an interagency working group with expertise in this area – including the FBI, DHS, DOD, and other members of the Intelligence Community – will review the potential ways adversaries could misuse fingerprint data now and in the future.  This group will also seek to develop potential ways to prevent such misuse.  If, in the future, new means are developed to misuse the fingerprint data, the government will provide additional information to individuals whose fingerprints may have been stolen in this breach.

Image by Joshua Sukoff

Paris pact retreat will affect military

Las Vegas Sun

Thursday afternoon in the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump announced his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Unanimously adopted by nearly 200 countries in 2015, the Paris Agreement was a historic step forward in the fight against climate change. Every signatory from nations both big and small, developing and developed, volunteered to do their fair share to reduce the harmful effects of climate change by cutting their carbon emissions. To hold each other accountable, they also agreed to reconvene every five years to raise their standards and publicly disclose progress.

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Contact

Washington, D.C., USA

 

Samuel Schumach - Strategic Communications and Government Relations Professional

Washington, D.C., USA

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