Alumni Spotlight: Ilene Zeldin

Columbus native Ilene Zeldin (journalism, ’78) has served as a communications manager or speechwriter to three cabinet secretaries, two U.S. senators including President-elect Joe Biden, the CEO of a Fortune 10 company, top leaders of the nation’s largest professional union and senior Army leaders.  

illene zeldinZeldin recently left the Pentagon as a defense contractor, where she handled strategic communications for the U.S. Army Logistics Branch, prepared speeches and articles, managed social media platforms and assisted in the production of videos and documentaries.

Zeldin started her career as an intern at Battelle Memorial Institute while completing her degree at Ohio State. She worked full time at Batelle for five years post-graduation, rising to manager of media relations. 

“When I began my career, they told me don’t put my first name on my work -- just to go by my initials…so they wouldn’t know if I were a man or a woman,” Zeldin recalled. 

She sent a letter to Chrysler, landing her next job as a junior writer for CEO Lee Iacocca.  

Zeldin later prepared speeches and worked in public affairs for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Clinton administration.  She then went on to work directly for two senators, Ernest F. Hollings and Joseph Biden Jr., as communications director and chief writer prior to her position at the Pentagon.

 After traveling to over 20 countries, handling government communications and preparing numerous speeches, Zeldin said she hopes she can inspire others, just as those before her did. And, like her brother and father, Zeldin said her blood runs scarlet and gray. 

“I have always been a Buckeye and always will be a Buckeye,” Zeldin said.  “Being a part of the Ohio State family has been just a wonderful experience.” 

Article by student Gracie Krashoc.