Two of the most visible Black women who worked on Joe Biden‘s presidential campaign have been rewarded with key communications roles for both the president-elect and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The new positions for Symone Sanders and Karine Jean-Pierre, who were both senior advisers on Biden’s campaign, were announced Sunday amid reports of an all-female senior communications team for the White House’s incoming administration.
Jean-Pierre, who was Harris’ campaign chief of staff and advised Biden on strategy, communication and engaging with crucial communities such as Black people, women and progressives, will be the White House’s principal deputy press secretary. Prior to joining Biden’s campaign, Jean-Pierre was the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn, a liberal public policy advocacy group and political action committee.
Sanders, for her part, will be the chief spokeswoman for Harris. Before coming on board as an adviser for Biden’s campaign, Sanders was a political pundit whose national profile grew while serving as national press secretary for Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign.
The announcements came as Biden has been criticized for not appointing enough Black people to key roles in his administration. Biden famously pledged to pick a presidential cabinet that will “look like America.”
Some people might have thought Sanders was up for the role of Secretary of Defense after she rushed to protect Biden from protesters at a campaign rally back in March. Biden was giving his speech at a rally in Los Angeles after winning big during Super Tuesday when two people holding “let dairy die” signs rushed the stage. While security handled the first protester, Sanders took care of the second one and dragged the woman offstage.
Jean-Pierre also went viral during the campaign season, but for a completely different reason: Kamala Harris’ footwear. She tweeted footage of the California senator getting off jets at separate campaign stops during instances where Harris was wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers at one event and a pair of Timberland boots at another.
Biden was called out by South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn for having just one Black woman as part of his cabinet as of last week. (Biden nominated Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the ambassador to the United Nations, the second Black woman ever serving in that capacity.) Clyburn is the person largely credited with rallying his state’s Black voters to help Biden win the Democratic primary there and propel him to become the party’s nominee.
While Sunday’s announcement suggests that Biden heard Clyburn’s concerns loud and clear.
Aside from Sanders’ and Jean-Pierre’s roles, a slate of other women were also named to prominent communications positions for the White House.
Jennifer Psaki will be Biden’s White House press secretary, Kate Bedingfield will be the White House communications director and Pili Tobar will be the deputy White House communications director.
There was somewhat of a social media campaign for Sanders to be named White House press secretary in the days leading up to Sunday’s announcement.
It was also reported that Neera Tanden will be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the first woman of color to lead that federal agency.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.