(BA, Political Science and History, ’97)
Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I had a number of terrific professors at Hofstra, but if I had to select one, it would be history Professor Carolyn Eisenberg. We disagree politically (dramatically), but despite our differences, she always encouraged open debate and discussion. In terms of fondest memories, those would mostly have to do with hanging out with my fraternity brothers, many of whom remain an important part of my life. It was also a special experience to be asked to come back to Hofstra to participate in the George W. Bush Presidential Conference in 2015, where I spoke at one of the plenary sessions.
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing learned in that position?
After graduation, I joined the administration of Governor George Pataki as a community liaison for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, headed by former Hofstra Trustee Bernadette Castro. I was also asked to run for supervisor of the Town of Clarkstown. Both the job and the campaign coming at the same time so quickly after graduation meant learning how to balance responsibilities. There was a learning curve with both – one about community relations and navigating a government agency – and the other about local public policy and political dynamics. Overall, it was a chance to learn how to handle people better, build stronger relationships, and manage time.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
While I was trained as a trial lawyer, after my role in state government and later my appointment as director of communications for the U.S. EPA, in President Bush’s administration, my career turned decidedly to public affairs. That was further cemented after I served as an advisor for communications to the coalition government in Baghdad, Iraq, working for the Defense Department. After leaving government, my crisis communications, media, and messaging experience had value in the private sector, which led to a senior-level role in a corporate public relations firm.
- What advice would you give Hofstra students?
It is vital that while you focus on your academic studies, you begin as soon as possible acquiring practical experience in a field of interest. What will set you apart from other candidates for jobs is a resume with relevant experience. Take time to enjoy college and have plenty of fun, but appreciate that your time at Hofstra is very limited. It goes fast. Use the time wisely and think ahead. Finally, choose a profession that will bring you personal fulfillment. We spend so much time working today. Do what you enjoy doing. Do what makes you feel productive. Do something rewarding. It’s more important than money.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
- How did the idea for Empire Solutions ignite?
I founded the company after I left government in 2005, and it has taken several different forms in terms of focus and service offerings. I pulled back from Empire once I was named managing director at Middleberg Communications, but following my departure from the firm, I restarted the company. I set out to create a strategic communications company that provided hands-on, senior-level service for businesses and nonprofits. I’ve seen the public relations industry from many angles. All too often, clients don’t get the best return on investment because of a very high-cost, traditional PR business model. With Empire, I created a model that today builds custom teams to suit the client needs so they receive better service, results, and greater return. Today, we’ve branched out to grassroots work, paid media, and a suite of management consulting services.
- How do you balance being the principal of Empire Solutions, columnist, SiriusXM Radio contributor, councilman, and deputy supervisor of the Town of Stony Point, New York, as well as an adjunct professor at Fordham University?
I’m a father of three young children. That perhaps requires more time, patience, and organization than anything! Time management is critical. It can be very surprising just how much you can accomplish – how you can move seamlessly between projects or responsibilities – with proper organization. Handling my official duties, my writing and media, teaching, the business, and family happens because I have an understanding wife and a great team to ensure I’m where I need to be, when I need to be there.
- As the author of Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq, can you explain what inspired you to write this book?
I was honored to serve alongside our men and women in uniform as a civilian advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, during my time in the Bush administration. The book discusses my personal experience of being thrust into the middle of the war and the daily block-and-tackle with the media over the progress of the mission. Iraq was a very complex undertaking, and all those military and civilians who served have been done a disservice by shallow and often biased reporting. I felt compelled to do my part to provide a more balanced, realistic look behind the scenes of the mission, its failures, challenges, courageous people, and real successes.
- How has your degree from Hofstra University helped you in your career?
Studies in political science and history help you begin the lifelong process of looking at the world from different perspectives and analyzing competing interests. I use those skills every day in advising a company, driving a public policy debate, writing an opinion column, or hosting a radio show. Hofstra provided that firm foundation.
Author, columnist, and senior-level strategist Tom Basile has been in the middle of the action on the biggest stories and hottest issues of the two last decades. His work in the worlds of politics, government, media, and business has made him a powerful voice in our national conversation and a sought-after lecturer and contributor in the media.
For more than 20 years, he has provided strategic and crisis communications counsel to companies, policy organizations, government agencies, nonprofits, and advocacy campaigns. Basile’s strategies and hands-on approach have garnered international attention for his clients in the world’s most influential media outlets.
The former host of Sunday in America on SiriusXM Radio, and an opinion contributor to Forbes from 2012 to 2018, his columns regularly appear on FoxNews.com and in an array of other publications. In 2011, he was featured as part of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year spread about citizen engagement around the world.
His critically acclaimed book Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq (Potomac, 2017) gives readers his personal account of the Iraq mission during the critical first year after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the daily battle to communicate about the war. The book earned a foreword by National Security Advisor and former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton.
Basile is also an adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he teaches earned media strategy. Basile sits on the Dean’s Advisory Board of Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs.
From 2009 to 2011, he served as executive director of the New York State Republican Party. In 2007, Basile was tapped to serve as managing director of Middleberg Communications, where he provided a range of counsel to companies in the consumer products, tech, environmental, and legal sectors as well as businesses wishing to communicate about environmental sustainability programs. In 2008, Basile represented the Office of the U.S. Chief of Protocol to the Vatican Delegation during the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to New York. In 2005, he served as a lead planner for the Department of State of the historic visit of former Presidents Bush and Clinton to the tsunami-ravaged areas of South Asia.
In March 2004, Basile returned from seven months in Baghdad, Iraq, where he served at the request of the White House as a senior press advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority. While in Iraq, he was a spokesperson and strategist for the coalition’s media operations. He was awarded the Joint Civilian Service Commendation from the Department of Defense for his work with the coalition.
Basile is also a former director of communications for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, where he managed the EPA administrator’s public liaison operation and developed stakeholder outreach initiatives for a variety of environmental issues. During the Bush presidency, he was often called upon by the White House to help plan significant meetings and events for President Bush, including the memorial service for the Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts in Houston, the president’s 2002 meeting with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, activities surrounding the 57th United Nations’ General Assembly and Bush’s visit to the Nazi concentration camps outside Krakow, Poland.
After serving as a consultant to the Republican National Committee during the 2004 presidential election, he was named press secretary to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. In this role, he supervised the media and public affairs operation for the 2005 presidential inauguration. He is one of a small group of Americans who has helped manage presidential inaugurations representing both the president and Congress.
In 1997, he was named to the National Italian-American Foundation’s 100 Stars list of prominent young Italian-Americans. In 2008, he was invested into the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Today he serves on the organization’s board for the Eastern United States. In 2010, Basile was named to The Capital newspaper’s 40 Under 40 list of New York political influencers.
Basile earned a Juris Doctor attending Fordham and Georgetown University Schools of Law and is a member of the New York Bar. He and his wife, Carrie, have three young children and a golden retriever named Brooke.