President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced on Sunday 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.
They include Elizabeth E. Alexander, communications director for the First Lady; Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director; Ashley Etienne, communications director for the Vice President; Karine Jean Pierre, principal deputy press secretary; Jen Psaki, White House press secretary; Pili Tobar, deputy White House communications director; and Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson for the Vice President.
According to the Biden-Harris Transition, “these diverse, experienced, and talented women demonstrate President-elect Biden’s continued commitment to building an administration that looks like America.”
“Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House,” Biden said. “I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women. These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”
Harris echoed the president-elect’s sentiments, adding how important effective communications would be as the Biden-Harris administration seeks to guide the country’s fight against COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic.
“Our country is facing unprecedented challenges — from the coronavirus pandemic to the economic crisis, to the climate crisis, and a long-overdue reckoning over racial injustice,” Harris said. “To overcome these challenges, we need to communicate clearly, honestly, and transparently with the American people, and this experienced, talented, and barrier-shattering team will help us do that. These communications professionals express our commitment to building a White House that reflects the very best of our nation.”
Alexander served as a senior advisor on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Alexander spent the first years of the Obama-Biden administration as the press secretary to Vice President Biden, a role which followed her time as then-Sen. Biden’s communications director on Capitol Hill.
She has worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Washington, DC and Alexandria, Virginia, where she also served as a counselor to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Previously, Alexander worked as press secretary for the United Nations Foundation, press secretary to Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, communications director for Congressman Adam Schiff, and deputy press secretary for Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Bedingfield served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for the Biden-Harris Campaign. She served as Communications Director for Vice President Biden and as Associate Communications Director, Deputy Director of Media Affairs, and the Director of Response in the Obama-Biden White House.
Etienne served as a senior advisor on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Before that, Etienne served as communications director and senior advisor to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the first woman and person of color to hold the position. Etienne was special assistant to the President and director of communications for the Cabinet in the Obama-Biden administration and also led communications on President Obama’s signature “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.
Jean-Pierre was senior advisor to President-Elect Joe Biden and chief of staff to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on the Biden-Harris campaign. Prior to her role on the campaign, she served as chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org and an NBC and MSNBC political analyst. Jean-Pierre served as regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Obama-Biden administration and as deputy battleground states director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Jen Psaki currently oversees the confirmations team for the Biden-Harris Transition. During the Obama-Biden administration, Psaki held several senior roles, including White House communications director, state department spokesperson under then-Secretary of State John Kerry, deputy White House communications director, and deputy White House press secretary during the financial crisis. She is a veteran of three presidential campaigns having served as traveling press secretary during the Obama-Biden campaign in 2008, as traveling press secretary and senior advisor in 2012, and as deputy press secretary for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004.
Tobar served as the communications director for coalitions on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Before joining the campaign, Tobar served as the deputy director for America’s Voice, where she advocated on behalf of immigrants. She has also served as the Hispanic media director for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, national director of Hispanic media and Western regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, communications director for Congressman Ruben Gallego, and Communications Director for the Latino Victory Project.
Sanders served as a Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris Campaign. In 2016, Sanders became the youngest presidential press secretary while working on U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s then-presidential campaign. Before joining the Biden-Harris Campaign, Sanders was a CNN political commentator and served as principal of the 360 Group LLC, where she provided strategic communications guidance to organizations, businesses, individuals, campaigns, and candidates.
Sanders is the former chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders committee and former member of the federal advisory committee on Juvenile Justice, where she worked to raise the profile of young voice s in the fight for juvenile justice reform and bring millennial perspectives to policy conversations.