Jon Donenberg

Policy Director, Elizabeth Warren 2020

Fast Facts

Jon Donenberg

Elizabeth Warren’s policy wonk

Industry: Political consulting
Key previous position: Chief Counsel to Elizabeth Warren
Education: U of Illinois; Yale Law 
Notable fact: Published in The Yale Law Journal

NJ50 Profile

Conventional wisdom says that presidential campaigns work like this: You introduce the candidate and the big, general themes they will run on; then, as the primary goes on, more-detailed policy proposals are carefully released to reinforce the candidate’s vision. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren threw that playbook out the window. She has risen in the polls after releasing policy after policy on all sorts of topics, ranging from cracking down on corruption in Puerto Rico to tackling the housing crisis to breaking up big tech to forgiving student debt. 

Behind all of this is Jon Donenberg, the policy director for her campaign. He’s paid just as much as the rest of Warren’s senior staff, which is unusual for a presidential campaign—and a reflection of his importance. Unlike many top aides to candidates, he does not appear on television to defend his boss, nor does he garner rosy magazine profiles. In one news story about the Warren policy team, Donenberg was quoted as saying that Warren was the driving force behind all of her policies and most of their work entailed keeping up with their boss. But the fact of the matter is that Donenberg’s policy team is driving the debate in the battle to take on President Trump, and their ideas could shape the values of the Democratic Party for years. 

The Fulbright scholar previously served as Warren’s chief counsel and policy director in the Senate. He served as chief counsel to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and he also worked with the Senate Judiciary Committee. He zeroed in on health policy in a stint with former Rep. Henry Waxman. His master’s degree from the University of Cambridge is in technology policy, and his first job in politics was a law clerkship for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. 

Which is to say that Donenberg is no stranger to crafting policy. It’s just that this time around, with Republicans licking their chops at the prospect of running against Warren’s progressivism, the stakes have never been higher.
Matt Holt