The Biden-Harris Administration Makes History By Appointing An All-Female Communications Team

by Vanessa Wolosz

Following the news of Joe Biden’s election as the next President of the United States, his choice of cabinet appointees has developed much interest in the realm of political discourse. In an unprecedented move, Biden has already appointed the first Latino man as Chief of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. What’s more, Biden also chose Avril Haines and Janet Yellen as the first women ever to hold their positions: Director of National Intelligence and Treasury Secretary respectively. These appointments have not necessarily been met without contention, but Biden has continued to break bounds by designating women to roles previously primarily occupied by men. In fact, the Biden-Harris team recently announced that an all-women team will lead the US communications team, all of whom are uniquely qualified for their individual roles.

Among them, Kate Bedingfield will step in as the White House Communications Director. Before this appointment, she served as the Director of Communications, as well as Campaign Deputy Campaign Manager for the Biden-Harris campaign. She also has experience working under the Obama administration as an Associate Communications Director, Deputy Director of Media Affairs, and the Director of Response.

Pili Tobar, meanwhile, will serve as Deputy White House Communications Director. Prior to acting as the Communications Director for coalitions for Biden’s campaign, she was a Press Secretary for Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader. Notably, Tobar was also the Deputy Director of America’s Voice, an advocacy group for immigration policy reform in the United States.

Pili Tobar at the 2016 Democratic National Convention 14642Pili Tobar at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, (via Wikimedia Commons).

For the position of White House Press Secretary, Jennifer Psaki has been named. Previously, she has worked as the State Department Spokesperson from 2013 to 2015, and as White House Communications Director from 2015 through 2017, under President Obama. She first joined the communications team as the Deputy White House Communications Director, and served as a Senior Adviser and Traveling Press Secretary throughout both of Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Psaki’s Deputy White House Secretary has also been named, Karine Jean-Pierre. During the Biden-Harris campaign, Jean Pierre served as a Senior Advisor, and then as Kamala Harris’s Chief of Staff. Significantly, this appointment made her the first Black person, and the first lesbian, to hold this position for a vice-presidential nominee. Moreover, Jean-Pierre was also on President Obama’s campaign staff as Deputy Battleground States Director regarding his 2012 re-election. Under his administration, Jean-Pierre was Obama’s Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs.

1595px Karine Jean Pierre at BookExpo 05336 6c402Karine Jean Pierre at BookExpo 2019 for her book, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America (via Wikimedia Commons).

As Vice President, Kamala Harris will require her own Senior Adviser and Chief Spokesperson, a job given to Symone D. Sanders. Sanders was a Senior Adviser to the Biden-Harris campaign. In 2016, she served Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign as his Press Secretary. As such, she became the youngest presidential Press Secretary on record. Over the course of her career, Sanders has been outspoken about juvenile justice reform. She is the former chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee, as well as a former member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice.

Harris’s Communications Director will be Ashley Etienne. Previously, Etienne was also a Senior Advisor for the Biden-Harris campaign. Additionally, Etienne worked under Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, serving as her Communications Director and Senior Advisor. She was the first woman and person of color to hold such a position. Moreover, Etienne was a prominent figure in President Obama’s administration, working as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Cabinet.

Rounding out leadership for Biden’s communications team is Elizabeth E. Alexander as the Communications Director for the First Lady. She was also a Senior Advisor for the Biden-Harris campaign. During the beginning of the Obama administration, she served as Vice President Biden’s Press Secretary. When Biden was serving as Delaware’s senator, she had been his Communications Director. Further, Alexander was the Press Secretary for the United Nations Foundation. She was also a counselor to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and worked as a prosecutor in both Virginia and Washington, D.C.

While all of these women have numerous years of experience related to the roles they’ve undertaken, they are not immune to criticism. As they take over White House communications on January 20th of next year, all eyes will be on them. Fingers crossed, it’ll truly be a team for the history books.

Header image of Jennifer Psaki as Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State in 2015, at the U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, via Wikimedia Commons.

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