Black lesbian political powerhouse Karine Jean-Pierre will be one of seven women in top communications positions for the Biden White House.
“For the first time in history, these communications roles will be filled entirely by women,” the Biden/Harris transition team said when announcing the seven members of the future Biden administration.
President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris today announced new members of the White House staff who will serve in senior communications roles.
For the first time in history, these communications roles will be filled entirely by women.https://t.co/SjWAWJg941
— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) November 29, 2020
Jean-Pierre served as Kamala Harris’s campaign chief of staff this past year, making her the first Black person to serve as chief of staff to a vice-presidential candidate and one of the highest-ranking LGBTQ people in the Biden/Harris campaign.
Now she will serve as the principal deputy press secretary for the White House.
“I’m so proud that our communications team for the Biden-Harris administration is a roster filled w/ rockstar women,” Jean-Pierre tweeted. “All will bring dignity, professionalism and expertise to their respective roles!”
I’m so proud that our communications team for the Biden-Harris administration is a roster filled w/ rockstar women: @jrpsaki, @KBeds, @SymoneDSanders, @AshleyEtienne09 @EAlexander, @pilitobar87 All will bring dignity, professionalism and expertise to their respective roles!
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) November 30, 2020
Hiring only women for the communications team is meant to ensure that the media listens to women when reporting on the White House, according to Biden campaign aide Anita Dunn.
“The odds are very high that if it’s a story about the Biden administration, any aspect of it, at least one quote in the story will be from a woman,” Dunn told the Washington Post.
Jean-Pierre will not be the first out deputy White House press secretary. Judd Deere, who is gay, held the same title during the Trump administration.
Originally from the French West Indies island of Martinique, Jean-Pierre was raised in New York City and attended graduate school at Columbia University.
She started her career in politics working for the John Edwards campaign in 2004 and later worked for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns as well as Martin O’Malley’s 2016 presidential campaign.
During Obama’s first term, she worked in the White House Office of Political Affairs, a position said was important to her as a lesbian.
“What’s been wonderful is that I was not the only; I was one of many,” she told The Advocate in 2011. “President Obama didn’t hire LGBT staffers, he hired experienced individuals who happen to be LGBT.”
“Serving and working for President Obama where you can be openly gay has been an amazing honor. It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that prioritizes LGBT issues.”
Outside of her work with political campaigns and the government, she was the national spokesperson for the progressive organization MoveOn in 2016, a commentator for NBC News and MSNBC, and a lecturer at Columbia University.
People who have followed the 2020 Democratic primary closely may remember Jean-Pierre from a viral video of a white, male animal rights activist taking Harris’s microphone away from her during a 2019 MoveOn forum.
Jean-Pierre leapt to her feet up to grab the mic back.
Update: The Washington Blade notes that Pili Tobar, who will be the deputy White House communications director, is also a lesbian and previously worked as the Biden/Harris campaign’s communications director for coalitions. She has previously worked as the Hispanic media director for Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and the national director of Hispanic Media and Western regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.