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WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden named his White House senior communication staff Sunday, choosing a team of women led by Jen Psaki, a veteran of President Barack Obama’s administration, as his press secretary.
Psaki, who wore many hats under Obama, including White House communication director, has overseen the confirmation team for Biden’s transition.
Turning to two top campaign aides, Biden tapped Kate Bedingfield as White House communications director, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris chose Symone Sanders as senior adviser and chief spokesperson. Bedingfield worked as deputy campaign manager and communications director for the Biden-Harris campaign. Sanders was a senior adviser to the campaign.
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Other hires are: Elizabeth Alexander, communications director for first lady Jill Biden; Ashley Etienne, communications director for Harris; Karine Jean-Pierre, principal deputy press secretary; and Pili Tobar, deputy White House communications director.
Biden continues to build his Cabinet and White House staff, led by Ron Klain, though President Donald Trump refuses to concede the election.
“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. “I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women. These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”
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As press secretary, Psaki will become the public face of the Biden administration, a role that Kayleigh McEnany holds in Trump’s administration.
“I grew up through the hard fought battles of winning back the House, winning presidential campaigns and fighting for the Obama-Biden agenda with @KBeds and looking forward to the journey ahead,” Psaki said Sunday in a tweet.
We can’t wait to share what we are thinking as we get closer to inauguration, but @K_JeanPierre and I spoke just this am about taking the next few weeks to think outside of the box about how to ensure we are making the Biden-Harris agenda more accessible from the podium.
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) November 29, 2020
Psaki was communications director for Obama during his final two years in office. She was earlier a spokeswoman for the State Department, handling daily briefings with the international media.
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As communications director in 2015 and 2016, Psaki reorganized the White House approach to media with more attention for nontraditional and online outlets. She served as traveling press secretary for Obama during his reelection campaign.
From 2013 to 2015, Psaki served as the primary spokeswoman for the State Department, traveling 600,000 miles to more than 50 countries with Secretary of State John Kerry.
She was deputy White House communications director during Obama’s first term, coordinating and implementing the public response of the government to the financial crisis. She worked with Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and senior Cabinet officials throughout the administration.
She has also worked on many national and state political campaigns. She was communications director for Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., and Midwest and Northwest regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Bedingfield said she is “unspeakably proud to have the opportunity to serve as White House communications director.”
“Working for (Biden) as VP and on this campaign gave me insight into what kind of capable, compassionate, clear-eyed president he will be,” she said in tweet.
Sanders, who will be chief spokesperson for Harris, said she is “ready to serve.”
“Also AN ALL LADY SQUAD?!” Sanders said in a tweet. “We each take our service seriously and are elated to get to work for the people and build back better! Lets go ladies!”
Also AN ALL LADY SQUAD?! I am excited to serve alongside @AshleyEtienne09, my battle buddy @KBeds, @jrpsaki, @pilitobar87 and @EAlexander332. We each take our service seriously and are elated to get to work for the people and build back better! Lets go ladies! ??
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) November 29, 2020
Etienne, the new communications director for the vice president, previously served as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s communications director. Pelosi said in a statement that Harris has “chosen a seasoned communicator.”
“Her experience working on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue and the immense respect she commands among both members and staff will make her a powerful force in the Biden-Harris Administration,” Pelosi said.
More on the appointments:
Communications director for the first lady
Alexander was a senior adviser on the Biden-Harris campaign. She spent the first years of the Obama-Biden administration as press secretary to Vice President Biden after serving as Biden’s communications director on Capitol Hill when he was a senator.
White House communications director
Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden when he was vice president and associate communications director, deputy director of media affairs and the director of response in the Obama-Biden White House. Before joining the Biden White House, Bedingfield was communications director to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., on her successful 2008 Senate campaign, along with other roles on Democratic campaigns.
Communications director for the vice president
Etienne was a senior adviser on the Biden-Harris campaign. She was the first woman and person of color to hold the position of communications director to the House speaker. Etienne was special assistant to the president and director of communications for the Cabinet in the Obama-Biden administration and led communications on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
Principal deputy press secretary
Jean-Pierre was a senior adviser to Biden and chief of staff to Harris on the Biden-Harris campaign. She was chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org and a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC. Jean-Pierre was regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Obama-Biden administration and as deputy battleground states director for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
Senior adviser and chief spokesperson for the vice president
Sanders was a senior adviser on the Biden-Harris campaign. Four years ago, she worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign as press secretary, the youngest person ever in that role for a presidential campaign. Before joining the Biden-Harris campaign, Sanders was a CNN political commentator and principal of the 360 Group, where she provided strategic communication guidance. Sanders is the former chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee and former member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice.
Deputy White House communications director
Tobar served as communications director for coalitions on the Biden-Harris campaign. She was deputy director for America’s Voice, where she advocated on behalf of immigrants. She was the Hispanic media director for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, national director of Hispanic media and western regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, communications director for U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and communications director for the Latino Victory Project.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @Joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden names all-women White House communication team led by Jen Psaki as press secretary