In what is undoubtedly one of the toughest general counsel roles going at the moment, US Department of State legal adviser Jennifer Newstead is to join tech giant Facebook as general counsel, overseeing the company’s global legal functions. She succeeds Colin Stretch, who announced in July 2018 that he planned to leave. He will continue at Facebook through the summer to help with the transition.
“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “We are also truly grateful to Colin for his dedicated leadership and wise counsel over the past nine years. He has played a crucial role in some of our most important projects and has created a strong foundation for Jennifer to build upon.”
Newstead brings deep government and private sector experience to the role. At the DOS she worked on all domestic and international legal issues affecting the conduct of US foreign policy. She was confirmed by the Senate in December 2017 and before joining the State Department was a partner in the law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP, where she had a global practice representing clients in cross-border regulatory, enforcement and litigation matters.
“I’m excited to be joining Facebook at an important time and working with such a fantastic team,” Newstead said. “Facebook’s products play an important role in societies around the world. I am looking forward to working with the team and outside experts and regulators on a range of legal issues as we seek to uphold our responsibilities and shared values.”
Earlier in her career, Newstead served in other senior roles in government, including as general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget, as a principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, and an associate White House counsel. She previously served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and for Judge Silberman of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and as an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. She graduated from Yale Law School and received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University.
Facebook has come under fire for not protecting its users’ data following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and in December 2018 the attorney general for Washington, D.C., filed what is understood to be the first civil lawsuit against the San Francisco Bay-headquartered company.
The US media such as The Verge and The Hill have expressed concern that while serving in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, Newstead was credited with helping to craft and pass the Patriot Act, which gave the government broad surveillance and detention authorities in the wake of 9/11.
Facebook has also named John Pinette as vice president of global communications, succeeding Caryn Marooney, who in February announced her plans to leave. John brings over two decades of experience working in communications across global health, finance, innovation and technology – most recently as the VP of marketing and communications at Vulcan Inc, the philanthropic, technology and business organization established by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. He also led communications for Gates Ventures, the private office and innovation lab of Bill Gates for five years, served as head of Asia Pacific communications for Google, and held a number of product and corporate communications leadership positions at Microsoft.
“John’s deep understanding of the technology industry and his experience leading communications teams will be invaluable to helping us communicate the work we do at Facebook every day,” Sandberg said. “We are also thankful to Caryn for her exceptional contribution to Facebook over the past eight years. She has been an inspiring and thoughtful leader to our communications team and countless others at the company. Both she and Colin will be greatly missed.”