Vice President of Policy
Thomas Oppel has more than three decades of experience in management, communications, policy and political campaigns.
From 2009 to 2017, he served as Chief of Staff to the 75th Secretary of the United States Navy, Ray Mabus, responsible for overseeing the development, execution and communication of the Secretary’s policies, goals and objectives throughout the Navy and Marine Corps, the Pentagon, the federal government, Congress and the public. When President Obama asked Secretary Mabus to develop a long term recovery plan for the Gulf Coast following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Mr. Oppel served as chief of staff for that effort as well, with the results of the report culminating in bipartisan passage of the RESTORE Act.
Before founding his own communications and strategic advisory firm in 2003, Mr. Oppel was a partner in a Washington-based political media consulting firm that helped elect more than a dozen Democratic U.S. Senators and more than two dozen other candidates to congressional, state, county and municipal offices. Among their many victories were Senators Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Max Cleland of Georgia, Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.
Prior to joining that firm, Mr. Oppel was an independent consultant providing management and communications strategy for dozens of campaigns and causes. He also served as press secretary for Mike Espy’s successful campaign to become the first African-American elected to Congress from Mississippi in 100 years. After serving as Mabus’ press secretary during his successful 1987 campaign for governor, Mr. Oppel served as communications director and political advisor for Governor Mabus. Before becoming a political operative, Mr. Oppel covered politics for nearly a decade for several newspapers in New England and the South and for United Press International. He began his career as a public school teacher.
After leaving Navy, Mr. Oppel relaunched his own strategy and communications firm, O2 Strategies, and co-founded Mabus Group, a strategic advisory firm focused on resiliency.
A graduate of Seton Hall University, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, a minor in psychology and a teaching certificate in secondary education. He has completed the course work at Dartmouth College toward a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. He is a member of the National Writers Union and has been a member of the National Defense Industrial Association, the Academy of Political Science and the American Political Science Association. In January 2017, he was awarded the Department of the Navy Distinquished Civilian Service Award, the highest award the Navy can award to a civilian employee.