Karine Jean-Pierre made history in the White House briefing room last year as the second-ever Black woman to lead a formal press briefing, and the first to do so in 30 years.
Now Ms Jean-Pierre will further make history by taking on the role of White House press secretary, President Joe Biden announced on 5 May. She previously served as the White House principal deputy press secretary under Jen Psaki, was formerly chief of staff for Vice President Kamala Harris during the 2020 campaign, and has led several briefings and press “gaggles” on Air Force One.
Ms Jean-Pierre will take on the new role on 13 May.
Born in Martinique to Haitian parents, Ms Jean-Pierre has also has made history as the first out gay Black woman across several roles, including as a chief of staff for a vice presidential candidate. She joined a history-making White House communications team that is made up of all women.
Before joining Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, Ms Jean-Pierre organised with John Edwards’ campaign in 2004 and Barack Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. She also served as the regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs during Mr Obama’s first term in office.
During 2016 campaigns, she worked as a senior adviser and national spokesperson for MoveOn, formally MoveOn.org, a progressive advocacy group that rallied around then-candidate Bernie Sanders and mobilised protests against Donald Trump.
She was considered the most likely successor to Ms Psaki, who herself won the role of chief White House press secretary over Symone Sanders, the Biden campaign’s top spokeswoman who would go on to work for Vice President Kamala Harris and later depart the administration. Ms Jean-Pierre and Ms Psaki were both sidelined by Covid earlier this year, leading White House communications director Kate Bedingfield to step into the role temporarily.
“As a Black gay immigrant who comes from a working-class family, I know that America hasn’t always worked for everyone,” she told Out Magazine in 2020. “And I know that America still doesn’t work for everyone. The truth of the matter is we have a long way to go. But that’s what I’m working toward: mobilising people around this shared vision of what an America that works for everyone could look like – and then making it happen.”
Writing on Twitter, Ms Psaki, who is expected to accept a position with MSNBC hosting a show on NBC’s Peacock streaming service, called her soon-to-be successor a “remarkable woman” with “decades of experience from her early years working in government and politics in [New York City], to her years as an outspoken advocate, to serving as a long-time advisor to [Mr Biden] back when he was the VP”.
“She is passionate. She is smart and she has a moral core that makes her not just a great colleague, but an amazing Mom and human. Plus, she has a great sense of humour,” she added.
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