Marrianne McMullen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs
Marrianne McMullen is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs. Prior to joining ACF, McMullen worked with the District of Columbia Public Schools, where she served as Chief of Staff for the Office of Family and Public Engagement.
Prior to DCPS, McMullen spent 10 years working in labor union communications, with the last two years spent as senior aide to then SEIU President Andy Stern. Nationally, she anchored SEIU’s work in environmental issues and public school reform. McMullen authored the first-ever green negotiating guide for union locals, detailing contract provisions that would benefit both union members and the environment, and served as SEIU’s delegate to United Nations climate talks in Poland in 2008. On the school reform front, McMullen formed a coalition of school reform and union activists to launch a pro-union charter management organization, Union Park High Schools, which opened its first school in Chicago in 2009. With foundation and key education reform leaders, she helped develop a national template for an alternative school union contract that would allow broader latitude for school innovation while still protecting hard-won teacher rights and benefits.
In Illinois McMullen served as public affairs director for both SEIU and the AFSCME. There she led communications for several key campaigns, including the successful Hospital Report Card Act, for which then-State Senator Barack Obama was the key sponsor and spokesperson. She also led communications for the home-based child care worker organizing campaign, for the statewide nursing home worker contract campaign, and for the $1 an hour raise campaign for people who work with people with developmental disabilities.
McMullen’s journalism career included work as an editor at Sojourner’s magazine, a reporter at the Palladium-Item in Richmond, Indiana, and as editor of The Dayton Voice, an alternative newsweekly in Dayton, Ohio that she co-published for seven years with her husband, Jeff Epton. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University and a master’s in communication from the University of Dayton.
Marrianne, originally from Pittsburgh, became a licensed foster parent at the age of 25 and fostered children for 12 years. Marrianne has two grown stepchildren, Nate Epton and Julie Epton, one son at home, Brendan Epton, and six grown foster children.