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Margaret Peterlin
File:File:M peterlinaa.jpg
Margaret Peterlin, 2007
Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of State

In office
February 12, 2017 – March 31, 2018[1]
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Jonathan Finer
Personal details
Born October 9, 1970(1970-10-09) (age 52)
Daleville, Alabama, U.S.
Alma mater College of the Holy Cross
University of Chicago
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1993–1997

Margaret Judith Ann Peterlin (born October 9, 1970) is an American lawyer, United States Navy veteran, and former Commerce Department and congressional aide. She was the Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of State, appointed to the position by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, from February 2017 until the end of March 2018.[2] Since July 6, 2018, she has served as the senior vice president of global external and public affairs for AT&T.[3]

Early life and education

Peterlin is a native of Daleville, Alabama.[4] She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the College of the Holy Cross in 1993, when she was commissioned into the Navy through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.[5][6] Peterlin graduated cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School in 2000.[5][7] She was the founder and first editor-in-chief of the Chicago Journal of International Law.[7][8]


Federal clerkship

After graduating from law school, Peterlin clerked for Judge Jerry Edwin Smith, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, from 2000 to 2001.[7][8]

United States Navy

Peterlin served as a Command Administrative Officer and a Communications Officer in the United States Navy [8][9] She was selected to serve as a White House Social Aide, and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal.[9]

Capitol Hill

In mid-2001, Peterlin joined the staff of House Majority Leader Dick Armey, working as his Counsel for Legal Policy and National Security Advisor, and later served as National Security Advisor for House Speaker Dennis Hastert.[5][7][8][10] She helped draft the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Afghanistan and the Patriot Act, as well as the legislation establishing the United States Department of Homeland Security.[7][8]

May 8, 2007

Commerce Department

Peterlin worked at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, serving as its Deputy Director, as well as the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.[5][7][10][11]

Private sector

After leaving government service, Peterlin worked as a technology strategy officer at Mars, and later served as Chief Executive Officer of Profectus Global Corp., a small advisory firm located in Arlington, Virginia.[9][10][12] Prior to joining the Department of State, Peterlin was Managing Director at XLP Capital, a Boston-based technology consulting firm, a role she began in November 2015.[5][7][9][10]

Peterlin (far left) at a working breakfast for Mexican Foreign Secretary Videgaray and Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland in Washington, May 31, 2017

State Department

Peterlin was initially chosen by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to help Rex Tillerson during the Senate confirmation process.[8][13] She developed a rapport with Tillerson, who invited her to serve as his Chief of Staff.[8] According to press accounts, Peterlin has been described as a "fierce gatekeeper." She has also helped to impose sharp restrictions on both the media's and State Department staffers' access to Tillerson.[8][14][15][16][17][18]

Peterlin left the State Department effective March 31, 2018, following the firing of Secretary Tillerson.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Toosi, Nahal (March 14, 2018). "Top Tillerson aides resign amid State Department shuffle". Politico. "Peterlin and Ciccone offered their resignations to Tillerson on Tuesday, a State Department official said, confirming an earlier report by CNN. "Secretary Tillerson accepted their resignations with regret and thanked them for their service," the official said. "Their resignations will be effective March 31 to help Secretary Tillerson with the transition."" 
  2. "Chief of Staff: Margaret Peterlin". U.S. Department of State. 
  4. "13th Annual Independent Inventors Conference - Speakers". United States Patent and Trademark Office. 2008. "A native of Daleville, Alabama, Ms. Peterlin holds a bachelor of arts from the College of the Holy Cross" 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Commerce Secretary Gutierrez Names Margaret J.A. Peterlin Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office". May 8, 2007. 
  6. "Margaret Peterlin '93 Joins State Department as Secretary Rex Tillerson's Chief of Staff | College of the Holy Cross" (in en). 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Ehrlich, Jame (February 13, 2017). "Law School Alum to Be Chief of Staff to Secretary Tillerson". 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Wadhams, Nick (May 31, 2017). "Tillerson's Enigmatic Chief of Staff Wields Power, Not the Spotlight". Bloomberg News. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Gvaramia, Salome (November 30, 2015). "MARGARET PETERLIN JOINS XLP CAPITAL AS MANAGING DIRECTOR". XLP Capital via Blogspot. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Arnsdorf, Isaac (December 2, 2015). "CAT's Oberhelman to chair BRT". Politico. "XLP Capital, a technology development, venture investment, and strategic advisory firm, hired Margaret Peterlin as a D.C.-based managing director. Peterlin was CEO of the Prefects Global, Mars Inc.'s technology strategic officer, deputy undersecretary of intellectual property and deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and counsel for legal policy and national security adviser for Speaker Dennis Hastert." 
  11. Toosi, Nahal (January 31, 2017). "Can Tillerson calm the chaos at State?". Politico. "One person who's been prominent during Tillerson's interactions with the State Department is Margaret Peterlin, a former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office official with extensive government and private-sector experience." 
  12. "Margaret Peterlin - | crunchbase". 
  13. Kosinski, Michelle; Koran, Laura (April 28, 2017). "White House says State Department responsible for vacancies". CNN. "Others still point to his chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin, a former naval officer and Trump campaign staffer who has worked for Republican lawmakers and the Commerce Department. The White House official said Peterlin is a big part of the staffing choices and process. The official specified that Peterlin is not a "White House" appointed person, but a "transition" person -- selected by Trump transition officials and then kept on by Tillerson." 
  14. Behind the State Dept. bottleneck Politico, June 4, 2017
  15. Toosi, Nahal. "Tillerson's disdain for tradition leads to diplomatic dust-ups". Politico. "Instead, Tillerson is surrounded by a small group of White House-approved aides who carefully curate access to him. Margaret Peterlin, Tillerson's chief of staff, is said by sources in the department to be a bottleneck, hindering people's ability to reach the secretary." 
  16. Ioffe, Julia (March 1, 2017). "The State of Trump's State Department". "One State Department employee told me that Peterlin has instructed staff that all communications with Tillerson have to go through her, and even scolded someone for answering a question Tillerson asked directly, in a meeting." 
  17. Labott, Elise (March 3, 2017). "Tillerson finds it's hard for a CEO to become a secretary". CNN. "Tillerson's chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin, has also kept a tight rein on all communications with the secretary." 
  18. Dawsey, Josh; Johnson, Eliana; Isenstadt, Alex (June 28, 2017). "Tillerson blows up at top White House aide". Politico. "Tillerson has also drawn criticism for isolating himself — with the help of Peterlin, his chief of staff — in his office on the State Department's seventh floor and for excluding many career diplomats from the policymaking process." 

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