Women belong in all the places decisions are being made, and the White House is no exception. Luckily, in President-Elect Joe Biden’s White House, that idea will soon become a reality.
Biden revealed the names of staffers who will make up the White House senior communications team Sunday night. For the first time in history, the staff will be composed entirely of women.
“These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better,” Biden said in a press release.
Some are veterans from the Obama-Biden administration. Others are members of Biden’s campaign team. Either way, faces both old and new will forever have their names in history.
Here’s a look at the positions on the senior White House communications staff and the women who will fill those roles:
White House Communications Director
The White House Communications Director helps develop the president’s agenda. Then, they push out the Oval Office’s message through a media campaign. Additionally, the Communications Director crafts speeches for the President.
Kate Bedingfield will be the next White House Communications Director under Biden. Bedingfield was previously Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for the Biden-Harris campaign. She also served as Biden’s Communications Director when he was Vice President. Other former positions Bedingfield has held include Associate Communications Director, Deputy Director of Media Affairs, and Director of Response.
Deputy White House Communications Director
The Deputy White House Communications Director assists the Communications Director with efforts to push out and develop a presidential media campaign and message.
Pili Tobar will step into this role come January. On the Biden-Harris campaign, Tobar was the Communications Director for Coalitions. She was also the Hispanic Media Director for Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. However, immediately before joining the campaign, Tobar was serving as the Deputy Director for America’s Voice.
Tobar is one of two lesbian women of color to be appointed to a senior communications staff position.
White House Press Secretary
The White House Press Secretary is essentially the spokesperson for the White House. The Press Secretary must have a deep knowledge of what’s going on in the world at all times, and know how those in the White House are responding to developments. That information is communicated to the press through routine briefings, which are hosted by the Press Secretary.
Jen Psaki, who has held many other senior staff positions, will be the new White House Press Secretary. She is currently a part of the Biden-Harris transition team and oversees the confirmations team. Under the Obama-Biden administration, Psaki’s roles included White House Communications Director, State Department Spokesperson, Deputy White House Communications Director and Deputy White House Press Secretary.
Psaki allegedly did not intend on joining the Biden-Harris administration. It’s only been within the past week that she was seriously being considered and open to the idea of the position. She also indicated, however, that she doesn’t intend to remain in the position indefinitely.
Principal Deputy Press Secretary
Karine Jean-Pierre, another alum from the Obama-Biden administration, will step into the role of Deputy Press Secretary. Jean-Pierre previously worked on both Obama campaigns, and as Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs. She’s also been a political analyst at NBC and MSNBC.
Jean-Pierre is the second of two lesbian women of color to be appointed to a senior communications staff position.
Communications Director for the Vice President
Ashley Etienne will assist Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris as her communications director. Etienne has prior experience in similar positions, formerly serving as Communications Director and Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. During that time, Etienne was the first woman of color to hold the position.
Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President
Symone Sanders will serve as Harris’ Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson. For any fans of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the name probably sounds familiar. Symone worked on the presidential campaign for Bernie as his press secretary, which made her the youngest presidential press secretary throughout campaign history. In the past, Symone was also a political commentator at CNN and a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice. While on that committee, Sanders helped elevate young voices speaking about juvenile justice reform in order to have their perspectives considered in policy.
Communications Director for the First Lady
Elizabeth E. Alexander will be the Communications Director for soon-to-be First Lady Jill Biden. Alexander is also a team Biden alumna, formerly serving as Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris Campaign. During the Obama-Biden administration, she was Biden’s Press Secretary. Her history with Biden goes back even further to his time in Congress, where she was the then-senator’s Communications Director. Alexander has a background in law and used to be a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Washington, DC and Alexandria, Virginia. She was also a counselor to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.