Thanks for joining NSI, on Tuesday, March 15, from 12 – 1 PM ET, to celebrate the role of national security women in media!
NSI was excited to host Sarah Isgur, political commentator – including at The Dispatch and podcast host of Advisory Opinions – and former spokesperson for the Department of Justice, Lauren Claffey, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security and now President of Claffey Communications, and Heather Molino, who has over two decades of Capitol Hill and communications experience, as well as a decade in broadcast journalism. Moderating the event was Tal Kopan, Senior Political reporter and Washington correspondent for the SF Chronicle.
These four powerful women in media drew from their extensive and diverse backgrounds to share their stories on how they got to where they are and what lessons they have for those interested in joining the national security and media ranks.
This event was part of WINS Media Festival, which occurred March 14 – 19, 2022. Throughout the week, the festival hosted many events to celebrate and highlight the role of women in national security. Be sure to check out the website for more information!
Tal Kopan is currently the Washington Correspondent and Senior Political Reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle, Kopan covers Washington for a Bay Area audience. She has experience with everything from general assignment political reporting to intense beat coverage of policy, including with immigration and cybersecurity.
Heather Molino joined Cornerstone in 2015 after two decades of Capitol Hill and communications experience, where she developed significant expertise in cyber, defense, space, intelligence, and national security. Prior to joining Cornerstone, Heather was the minority staff director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) under Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD).
As staff director, Heather helped returned the House Intelligence Committee to the business of passing budget bills and other important legislation. Her achievements include helping pass into law five Intelligence Authorization Acts in four years, for Fiscal Year 2011 through 2015. Heather and her team helped create a coalition of business support to pass the most prominent cyber legislation in the House, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), as well as major intelligence reform legislation, the USA Freedom Act, all by strong bipartisan margins.
In her role, Heather was also responsible for advising Members of the Committee on policy, politics, and communications to ensure U.S. intelligence professionals have the resources, capabilities, and authorities needed to keep our country safe. Heather also organized and managed Democratic staff, handled the committee’s budget, oversaw press strategy, and ensured proper and efficient oversight of our nation’s intelligence agencies. Before joining the committee, Heather served as deputy chief of staff and director of communications in Congressman Ruppersberger’s personal office.
Prior to Capitol Hill, Heather worked in broadcast journalism for over 10 years. She was a TV reporter and anchor in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Washington State, and North Carolina. Heather holds a B.A. in Economics and Government from Cornell University. She is married to West Point graduate Michael Molino. The couple has three small children.
Sarah Isgur is currently a staff writer at The Dispatch, hosts the legal podcast Advisory Opinions, frequently appears as a legal analyst on cable news. Prior to joining The Dispatch, Sarah served in the Justice Department as the Director of the Office of Public Affairs and as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General. Prior to her time at Justice Department, Sarah served as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign and appeared on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC as the most visible surrogate for the campaign. Sarah also previously served as Legal Counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Deputy Communications Director for the Republican National Committee, political director for Texans for Ted Cruz, and National Operations Day Advisor for Romney for President. Sarah has also previously served as a research fellow at Baylor University and as a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. Sarah is a graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard Law School, where she was the President of the Harvard Federalist Society and served on the staff of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Following law school, Sarah clerked for Judge Edith H. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Lauren Claffey Tomlinson has become a trusted advisor for CEOs, Senators, Congressmen and high-level officials and executives for more than a decade, through her work in the United States Department of Homeland Security, Fortune 500 companies, and United States Congress.
Before founding Claffey Communications, Lauren worked at the United States Department of Homeland Security running strategic communications as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. She served and worked directly with three department secretaries and the administration’s senior policy, national security, and legal teams, communicating on international and domestic policy issues to key national and foreign media. She led the internal and external communication strategies to address major homeland security issues, including the federal government’s response to Hurricane Harvey and Maria in 2017, and countering violent extremism with major tech companies. In addition to overseeing the department’s employee, stakeholder and digital communications, Lauren prepared the secretaries for international ministerials, congressional testimonies, media interviews, and speeches.
Prior to her time at DHS, Lauren held a variety of communications roles in the private and public sectors. She was the Communications Director and Spokeswoman for U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. She led corporate communications for Southern Company, a Fortune 200 energy company, during a period of growth and several major mergers and acquisitions. And she spent time consulting at the public affairs firms Rational 360 and Hamilton Place Strategies, where she worked with government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, foundations and nonprofits to create messages, coalitions and communications campaigns that furthered their business and policy objectives.
Lauren continues to work with and advise local, state, and congressional campaigns on policy, social media, and earned media strategy. Since 2015 she has appeared regularly on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CNBC, Newsmax, CBS, and Hill TV as a strategist to provide timely political and communications commentary. She is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a visiting fellow at George Mason University’s National Security Institute.
An Augusta, Georgia native, Lauren graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and Georgetown University with a master’s degree in corporate communications and public relations. She currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Brock, and their daughter.