Earlier this evening, the White House announced that Karine Jean-Pierre will become the Biden administration’s new press secretary following Jen Psaki’s departure on May 13. Currently serving as the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, Jean-Pierre will be both the first Black woman and the first openly gay person to assume the role.
“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,” Joe Biden said in a statement released earlier today.
The decision comes in the wake of heavy speculation over the past few months that Psaki would be leaving her role, with insider sources telling news outlets that she was planning to join MSNBC as a political commentator. While her next steps still remain unconfirmed, Psaki made it clear that Jean-Pierre was a worthy successor in a statement posted to Twitter. “She is passionate,” she wrote. “She is smart and she has a moral core that makes her not just a great colleague, but an amazing mom and human. Plus, she has a great sense of humor.”
Psaki also noted the broader significance of Jean-Pierre’s appointment. “She will be the first Black woman and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to serve as the White House Press Secretary,” Psaki continued. “Representation matters and she will give a voice to many, but also make many dream big about what is truly possible. I can’t wait to see her shine as she brings her own style, brilliance, and grace to the podium.”
Born to Haitian parents in Martinique, and raised primarily in Queens, N.Y., Jean-Pierre is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology and received an MPA from Columbia University, where she solidified her ambitions to launch a career in politics. Her big break came during Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, where Jean-Pierre served as a regional political director, later assuming the same role in the administration’s first term. Throughout the 2020 Biden-Harris presidential campaign, Jean-Pierre became an undeniable rising star, first serving as a senior advisor to Biden and then becoming Harris’s chief of staff.
Still, despite her two decades of hard work and perseverance in politics, it was only within the past year—after Jean-Pierre took over press briefings for Psaki during periods of illness—that she fully stepped into the spotlight. For many within the Biden administration, it’s clear that Jean-Pierre taking over Psaki’s mantle is a natural progression. “It is an honor and a privilege to be behind this podium,” Jean-Pierre told reporters earlier today. “I am still processing it because, as Jen said at the top, this is a historic moment and it’s not lost on me. I understand how important it is for so many people out there. [There are] so many different communities that I stand on their shoulders.”