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Who Is Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden’s Next Press Secretary?

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Topline

White House communications official Karine Jean-Pierre is set to make dual history next week when she becomes the first Black and openly LGBTQ person to serve as White House press secretary–here’s how she came to land one of the most public-facing jobs in government.

Key Facts

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced Jean-Pierre, 44, will take over as press secretary from Jen Psaki on May 13, with Psaki reportedly departing for a pundit role at MSNBC.

Jean-Pierre has served as Psaki’s principal deputy since Biden took office last year, and has occasionally stepped in for Psaki to take questions at White House press briefings.

On May 26, 2021, Jean-Pierre became the first openly LGBTQ person to hold a White House press briefing.

Before taking a job in the Biden Administration, Jean-Pierre worked on Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, one of several presidential campaigns she’s been a part of—she served as deputy campaign manager for Democrat Martin O’Malley’s 2016 bid and was a member of former President Barack Obama’s campaign team in 2012 and 2008.

Outside of campaigns and her time in the White House, Jean-Pierre has been a prominent Democratic activist, and has made regular appearances as a political analyst on MSNBC.

In 2014, Jean-Pierre became a faculty member at Columbia University, teaching in its School of International and Public Affairs, where she earned a Master of Public Affairs degree in 2003.

Crucial Quote

“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement.

Key Background

Jean-Pierre was born to Haitian parents in Fort-de-France, Martinique, before her family immigrated to New York City, where she was raised. She has cited her youth in a Haitian immigrant community as a major influence on her life, which she recounted in her 2019 book Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America. Jean-Pierre reportedly lives with her partner, CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. The two have one daughter.

Tangent

Reports surfaced early last month saying Psaki was leaving the White House for MSNBC. Psaki, who started as press secretary when Biden took office, indicated in earlier interviews that she did not plan to stick around for the long haul. She told Vogue in office she only planned to work as secretary for about a year, and said in a January interview with The Cut she’d like to spend more time with her two children.

Further Reading

Jen Psaki Plans To Leave White House For On-Air Gig At MSNBC, Reports Say (Forbes)

Karine Jean-Pierre: 1st Gay Person to Lead White House Press Briefing (Advocate)



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