John P. Donnelly is a public relations executive who held senior executive positions in industry, government and the non-profit sector.
He was recruited by the White House in 1971 to head NASA’s media relations and education programs during the Apollo period. During his five-year tenure as the agency’s chief spokesman he received several awards for exceptional service during the Apollo and Skylab missions.
In 1975 he received the Outstanding Leadership Medal, one of the space agency’s highest awards, for his role as chief negotiator of the public affairs agreement with the Soviet Union for the Apollo/Soyuz mission. He later headed the delegation of astronauts and cosmonauts on their goodwill tours of the Soviet Union and the United States.
Before joining NASA as Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs he was a corporate vice president for public relations and advertising with Fortune 500 companies in Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Later in his career, while he was serving as Vice President of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Donnelly was one of the founders and organizers of Research!America, a national advocacy organization dedicated to more funding for medical research. He was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the organization along with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Senator Lowell Weicker and other prominent figures from the fields of academia, medicine and philanthropy. At the request of the chairman and president he later joined the organization as vice president for public affairs. In this position he helped gain recognition for the fledging organization and personally recruited many of its initial members.
He is a longtime member and a former Governor of the National Press Club.
Born and raised in New York City, he graduated from Long Island University after duty in the Navy from 1949 to 1953, where he served on a destroyer and earned seven battle stars for action in Korea.