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Sonja Steptoe, previously the deputy director of public affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce, has been appointed by the Obama Administration as the Census Bureau's associate director for communications. Her term began May 27.
"Sonja brings an impressive background to her new post," said Census Bureau acting director Thomas Mesenbourg. "She is an award-winning author, journalist and public affairs leader in both the public and private sectors."
Before joining the federal government, Steptoe was director of global communications at O'Melveny & Myers LLP. She developed and guided the execution of internal and external communications strategies that helped the international law firm achieve its business development goals and enhance its brand image.
Prior to joining O'Melveny & Myers in 2007, Steptoe was senior correspondent, bureau chief and deputy news director for Time magazine, based in Los Angeles. She joined the magazine in 2002 and interviewed and profiled such newsmakers as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Rev. Billy Graham, Pastor Rick Warren, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger and filmmaker Tyler Perry, among others. She also co-wrote cover stories on education issues and lifestyle trends. Her essay on the racial, political and economic conditions in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina was part of the package of Time stories on the storm honored with two 2006 National Magazine Awards.
Steptoe also worked at People magazine, where she was a senior editor, handling human affairs and investigations. Steptoe was a staff writer and, later, a senior editor at Sports Illustrated from 1990 to 2001, overseeing the development of a variety of stories and profiles. Her sports journalism experience also includes broadcasting work. From 1995 to 2001, Steptoe was a correspondent on HBO's "RealSports with Bryant Gumbel" magazine show, where she investigated East Germany's systematic doping of Olympic athletes — a report for which she received an Emmy Award in 1999 from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Sports Journalism. Her broadcasting experience also includes a three-year stint as national correspondent for the CNNSI sports network.
Steptoe earned a law degree from Duke University after receiving degrees in economics and journalism from the University of Missouri.