White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre arrives for a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
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Biden names Karine Jean-Pierre as White House press secretary

President Joe Biden on Thursday named Karine Jean-Pierre as the new White House press secretary, succeeding Jen Psaki. Jean-Pierre will be the first Black woman and the first openly gay person to hold the position. 

“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,” the president said in a statement. “Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.”

Biden also announced that Anita Dunn would return to the administration as a senior adviser and assistant to the president. Psaki’s last day will be May 13.

Jean-Pierre was born in Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. as a child, growing up in Queens, New York. She has served as deputy press secretary since the start of the administration and has filled in for Psaki behind the White House podium and briefed reporters traveling with the president. 

Prior to joining the White House, Jean-Pierre served as chief of staff for vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris during the 2020 campaign and was the national spokeswoman for MoveOn.orgduring the 2016 election. She previously worked on both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. 

“It’s a very emotional day, that’s probably the best way that I can explain it, a very emotional day and I just appreciate this time and this moment and I hope that I make people proud,” Jean-Pierre said during the White House briefing.

In formally announcing Jean-Pierre’s new role, Psaki, fighting back tears from the briefing room podium, said having a Black woman who was also LQBTQ+ in the high-profile position “will give a voice to so many.”

“I’m just so grateful to have had Karine by my side for this over the last 15 months, and I just can’t wait to see her shine at the podium,” Psaki said, as she held Jean-Pierre’s hand. “Congratulations, and I can’t wait to see you bring your own style and brilliance to this job. I love you.”

When asked what her message was to young people who aspire to be in her position, Jean-Pierre said it was to “follow your passion, follow what you believe in and just, you know, keep that focus, because that matters. I think if you are passionate about what you want to be, where you want to go and you work very hard, it will happen.”

Several media outlets reported in April that Psaki was planning to leave the White House to take an on-air role at MSNBC. Psaki served in the role for just over one year and three months.

By Shannon Pettypiece

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