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Three Black women have made history as part of President-elect Joe Biden’s communication team, comprised of all women — seven in total. Ashley Etienne, Karine Jean-Pierre, and Symone Sanders will help lead communications for the Biden and Kamala Harris administration. This is the first time that all of the top aides acting as the White House’s voice will all be women. This move goes in line with Biden’s promise that those working for the administration would mirror the people who make up this country.
“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 in a statement. “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better,” he added.
Ashley Etienne, 42, Communications Director for the Vice President
Photo Credit: Sam Houston State University
Etienne previously served as a Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris Campaign. The “the queen of the war rooms” served as Communications Director and Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the first woman and Black person to hold the position. She also worked under President Barack Obama as the Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Cabinet in the Obama-Biden administration. Etienne is president of her consulting firm, Etienne & Associates, and has also provided strategic counsel to clients while at Dewey Square Group. She hails from Texas and is a graduate of Sam Houston State University and Johns Hopkins University.
Karine Jean-Pierre, 43, Principal Deputy Press Secretary
Photo Credit: The Institute Of Politics – University of Chicago
Jean-Pierre made history this past August when she was named the first Black woman and out lesbian to serve as chief of staff to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. She was also Senior Advisor to Biden during the campaign. Previously, Jean-Pierre served as Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn.org and an NBC and MSNBC Political Analyst. During the Obama-Biden administration, she worked as the Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs and as Deputy Battleground States Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. While working at the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, she worked to get major corporations to have more ethical business practices. The Queens-native was born in Martinique and is a graduate of Columbia University.
Symone Sanders, 30, Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President
Photo Credit: Politico
Sanders served as a Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign. The former CNN political commentator made history in 2016 as the youngest presidential press secretary when she signed onto U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s then-presidential campaign. She served as principal of the 360 Group LLC, where she provided strategic communications guidance to organizations, businesses, individuals, movements, and candidates. Sanders worked on juvenile justice reform and bringing younger voices to the policy conversation as a former chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee and former member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice. A native Nebraskan, she currently resides in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Creighton University.
Harris addressed the appointments in a statement saying, “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. 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.”
Ready to serve accurately describes how I feel. Thank you Madam Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris for entrusting me with this charge. It has been the honor of my life to work for @JoeBiden & I am elated to have the opportunity to continue to that work in the PEOPLE’S HOUSE.
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) November 29, 2020advertisement
Anita Dunn, a top Biden campaign aide, told The Washington Post that they decided to announce the women on the communications team as a group to show how closely they will be working together.
“They are a very cohesive group, with great strengths and diverse viewpoints,” Dunn said. “And a very strong team.”
At a time when the political perspective is overwhelmingly male, this group of women will change the way journalists cover the administration. “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 said.
Biden has also appointed Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton University labor economist, as chair of the three-member Council of Economic Advisers. She will work alongside economists Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, serving as the other members. She will be the first Black woman to chair the council, which will help advise the president on the economy.
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