Justin Knighten is a public affairs and communications strategist, storyteller and advocate who works to advance social justice, inclusion and human rights. With a career based on cross sector experience and having served as a Mayoral, Gubernatorial and currently as a Presidential appointee, Justin is driven by complex challenges, leading teams and rethinking what’s possible to achieve results.
Justin is an appointee in the Biden-Harris Administration, and serves at the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director of the Office of External Affairs. Justin directs several teams designed to engage external partners and carry the narrative of the agency, some of which include communications, public affairs, intergovernmental affairs, and congressional affairs.
Previously, Justin held several positions across the Governor Gavin Newsom Administration, including Director of Strategic Communications and External Affairs at California Volunteers, Office of the Governor and Assistant Deputy Director at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Most notably, Justin served as Co-Chair of Gov. Newsom’s $50 Million Listos California campaign, a groundbreaking effort to boost disaster resilience among the state’s most hard to reach and socially vulnerable populations. With a novel approach based on traditional voter engagement style tactics and an accessible and culturally competent public education campaign that leveraged community organizing, behavioral change science and data-driven practices, Listos California changed the game in people-centered disaster preparedness and how to effectively invest public funding to foster government-community collaboration.
Prior to joining the Newsom Administration, Justin served as senior vice president of a boutique public affairs firm and as global public affairs and media director of the Harvey Milk Foundation.