Former Obama aide Johanna Maska is joining L.A. Times as marketing VP

L.A. Times hires ex-Obama aide as marketing VP; she will focus on expanding paper's reach, especially online

Johanna Maska, who served in various high-level roles at the White House under President Obama, is joining the Los Angeles Times as vice president of marketing and communications.

Maska, 33, said she would focus on expanding the paper's reach, especially online.

"Johanna is uniquely skilled to help us bring the stories in the L.A. Times and the story of the L.A. Times to the world," said Austin Beutner, publisher and chief executive of The Times.

Maska spent eight years working for Obama, starting on the campaign trail in 2007. She helped plan some of the president's signature public moments, including his victory speech at the 2008 Iowa caucus and his inauguration in 2009.

At The Times, Maska said she would help gain a wider audience for Times journalism using new tools. Maska said working for the Obama administration — which popularized the use of social media in political campaigns — helped her understand how technology has changed the way people communicate.

"It's really connecting news consumers with newsmakers. Promoting the excellent work of reporters who are investigating the facts and really bringing to light things that wouldn't be otherwise," she said.

Maska most recently served as the White House director of press advance, which coordinates the president's public events outside the White House. She planned the logistics for Obama's 2012 speech from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, in which he discussed withdrawing U.S. troops in Afghanistan and winding down the war after signing an agreement with then-President Hamid Karzai.

"Over the last eight years, Johanna has traveled around the globe with the President, his team and the White House press corps executing events that have helped this President to deliver a compelling message to the American people," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

"She thrives when the pressure and the stakes are high, and it's why she'll have so much to offer as she confronts a new set of challenges with her new team."

Before joining the Obama campaign, Maska worked as a program coordinator at Iowa's Department of Cultural Affairs. Before that, she was assistant to the press secretary for then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Maska said she's coming to Los Angeles to help The Times "thrive." Like the rest of the newspaper industry, The Times is trying to grow its digital audience as more readers turn from print.

"In the coming year, the L.A. Times will launch new efforts to use its reporting to engage in conversations with the public," Maska said. "It will form new partnerships with other exciting organizations to transcend newsprint, while continuing the role it has always played as a watchdog for California and the world. I want to be a part of that transformation."

An Illinois native, Maska graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas in 2004. She is married to Henry C. Jackson, a reporter for the Associated Press.

Twitter: @ByShanLi

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2:45 p.m.: This post was updated to include a statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.