John Gans leads The Rockefeller Foundation’s executive communications and strategic engagement. He and his team work with President Rajiv Shah and other Foundation leaders to shape the institution’s messages internally and externally through speeches, articles, reports, and events. He manages relationships with leading outlets and institutions and plays a key role in communications with the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Gans has over 20 years of experience helping individuals and institutions tell their stories and achieve their objectives, whether in war, for the bottom line, at the ballot box, in Washington, or in the marketplace of ideas. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, Gans was a press liaison at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, where he helped brief the media on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The experience drove his interest in public service and global affairs, and his understanding of the forces and ideas shaping the 21st century.
Gans served at the Pentagon as chief speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. He was the principal adviser to the secretary on the planning, positioning, and preparation of remarks, managed a team of writers, and drafted dozens of speeches delivered around the world on defense policy in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Previously, Gans worked for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. For a decade, he served in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
In 2019, Gans published White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War (W.W. Norton’s Liveright). He has also written articles, reviews, and opinion pieces published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, Politico, Foreign Affairs, The International Herald Tribune, The Times of London Literary Supplement, The Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, and more.
Gans earned his PhD and MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University.