Justin DeJong is a public relations professional specializing in media relations, crisis communications and public affairs. He currently works as a leading communications strategist in President Barack Obama's Administration, specializing in advancing the President's initiatives to improve the health and nutrition of the American people.
Since joining the United States Department of Agriculture in 2009, he has served as Deputy Press Secretary, Press Secretary, Deputy Director of Communications and his current role as Director of Public Affairs where he oversees media relations for the third largest federal department. Most notably, DeJong led USDA communications for First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative and to both pass and implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which improved school meals for the first time in a generation. He also led the marketing and media strategy to unveil MyPlate - the federal nutrition graphic that replaced the food pyramid - as well as the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
In his tenure with USDA, DeJong's crisis communications management guided federal response to BSE (mad cow disease), H1N1 (swine flu), H7N9 (avian influenza) and other challenges where he worked to assuage domestic and international audiences about the health or safety of the food supply. His communications expertise also helped secure congressional passage of the Claims Settlement Act which resolved claims of discrimination by Black farmers against the department and contract renegotiations with the crop insurance industry that achieved $6 billion in savings.
Previously, DeJong served as Illinois Director of Communications for the 2008 Obama campaign and as Director of Communications at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. He's also served as a spokesperson for several state agencies in Illinois government including the Departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Central Management Services, as well as the Governor's Office of Management and Budget. His other experience includes working at Chicago-based Peoples Energy, Jasculca-Terman and Associates, and Mayor Richard M. Daley's Press Office.
DeJong earned his B.A. in public relations from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.