Thomas Oppel served the entire term as Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Oppel oversaw the development, execution and communication of the Secretaries priorities, including rebuilding the fleet and an ambitious, culture-changing focus on energy.
When President Obama asked Secretary Mabus to develop a long term recovery plan for the Gulf Coast following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Mr. Oppel managed that effort as well, producing within three months a set of recommendations largely adopted in the bipartisan RESTORE Act just two years later.
Oppel brought to his Navy position more than 30 years of experience in management and communications and politics, including serving as Senior Advisor to Mabus during his term as Governor of Mississippi and as Communications Director in his two gubernatorial campaigns.
Before founding his own communications firm in 2003, Oppel was a partner in a Washington-based 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, 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. Before entering the political arena, 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.
A graduate of Seton Hall University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English Literature, a minor in psychology and a teaching certificate in secondary education, Oppel also completed all course work at Dartmouth College toward a Masters in Liberal Studies.