Office of External Affairs Contacts

The Office of External Affairs (OEA) is the central point of contact for Rural Development (RD) on press and congressional relations. OEA has two divisions to best serve its internal and external customers.

Marie Wheat

Ron Campbell
Senior Advisor

Cheryl Gamboney
Senior Advisor

Elizabeth Dann
Senior Advisor

USDA Rural Development

Office of External Affairs
1400 Independence Avenue, SW.
Washington, D.C. 20250-0705

Press Inquiries: 
(202) 690-0498 or (202) 690-1384

Congressional Inquiries: 
(202) 720-9928

Public Affairs Branch

The Public Affairs Branch is the primary point of contact for all press inquiries and leads the way for strategic communication with the media for the Rural Development mission area. The branch manages strategy development for, and the execution of, all national-level earned-media campaigns and develops comprehensive analysis for each campaign’s reach and impact.


Jacqueline Susmann
Branch Chief

Field Operations and Multimedia Branch

The Field Operations and Multimedia Branch manages the public-facing marketing materials that represent USDA Rural Development to our customers and communities. These include the brochures and fact sheets, banners and displays, as well as the photos and videos that showcase the projects and programs that improve the quality of life in rural America. This branch also represents the Office of External Affairs with the 47 state offices, and ensures their Public Information Officers have the training and resources they need to serve the internal and external customers of USDA Rural Development. 


James Pendleton
Branch Chief

Internal Communications Branch

The internal communications branch reviews and disseminates internal communication to RD audiences. RD conference and event planning functions are also housed here. The review of all internal communications includes providing plain language recommendations and ensuring 508 compliancy. The internal communications team supports the RD employee intranet portal by posting agency announcements and providing human interest stories about RD employees and programs.  


Shani Burley-Moore
Branch Chief

New Media Branch

The New Media Branch is responsible for the overall management and dissemination of public information through the USDA Rural Development (RD) public facing website at, RD social media platforms and other digital services such as GovDelivery email services. The New Media branch creates content and develops and implements strategies for web and social media campaigns. In managing the public website, the New Media Branch optimizes the content management system, ensuring that the site design and the user experience is dynamic and accessible while also exploring new digital tools to further enhance RD’s overall digital communications capability. Additionally, the New Media branch supports the national and state offices with digital outreach.


Karen Priestly
Branch Chief