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Donald M. Stinson  

Author, Downstairs at the White House (The real-life story of a Teenager, an Oval Office, and a Ringside Seat to Watergate)

Don Stinson is the author of the best-selling memoir, Downstairs at the White House. At the age of 17, he landed a job in the White House during Watergate, the biggest political scandal in American history. A truly insignificant member of the Nixon White House staff, he frequently loitered outside of the Oval Office to watch it unfold.

He was also a kid who did the same kind of harebrained things most teenagers do. Only steps away from the Oval Office, he fought with a foreign head of state for space in a restroom. He had Bob Hope and Charlton Heston as his ""wingmen"" one night. He devised a shortcut that tripped countless alarms and summoned an agitated band of Secret Service agents. He spilled ice water on Frank Sinatra. And that was just the small stuff.

Now a writer, speaker, and negotiation strategist, Stinson spent 29 years in the newspaper industry, including a decade as senior vice president/marketing of the Newspaper Division of Gannett Co., Inc. (best known for its flagship, USA TODAY), responsible for overseeing the advertising and circulation sales, marketing, and research operations of 100 U.S. daily newspapers. In 2005, he received the Newspaper Association of America's Lifetime Sales and Marketing Leadership Award.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he worked with newspapers in Russia, Slovakia, and Poland to establish a free and independent press. His accomplishments included being held hostage in a smelting plant, sleeping in an insane asylum guarded by sheep herders, and fighting a goat defending a lavatory door on Russian airline Aeroflot. (The goat won.)

Stinson is an honorary member of the Union of Russian Journalists, a Fellow of the Strategic Planning Society (United Kingdom), a member of the President’s Society of the Nixon Library Foundation, the President's Council of the Gerald Ford Foundation, and the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. He holds a B.A. from American University and credentials from M.I.T., Harvard Business School, and the Project on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Speech Topics


Entertainment, Politics, Personal Growth (Attitude), American History

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