On Sunday, November 29, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris announced members of the White House Senior Communications Staff. Brief biographies for each individual are below.
Elizabeth E. Alexander, Communications Director for the First Lady
Before joining the Biden campaign as a Senior Advisor, Alexander was a Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting. She previously served as Press Secretary to then-Vice President Biden, which followed her time as Communications Director for then-Senator Biden. Alexander has served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. She previously served as Press Secretary for the United Nations Foundation, Press Secretary to DNC Chairman McAuliffe, Communications Director for Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), and as Deputy Press Secretary for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Kate Bedingfield, White House Communications Director
Bedingfield was the Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for the Biden campaign. She previously served as Communications Director for then-Vice President Biden in the White House. Before joining Biden’s staff, Bedingfield worked in the Obama-Biden White House as Associate Communications Director, Deputy Director of Media Affairs, and the Director of Response. Bedingfield was previously the Chief Spokeswoman and Vice President of Corporate Communications at the Motion Picture Association of America.
Ashley Etienne, Communications Director for the Vice President
Etienne was a Senior Advisor for the Biden Campaign. She previously served as Senior Advisor and Communications Director to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Etienne has served as Communications Director for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, as a campaign spokesperson for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and as Special Assistant to the President directing communications for his cabinet.
Karine Jean-Pierre, Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary
Jean-Pierre was a Senior Advisor to the Biden Campaign. She previously served as Senior Advisor and National Spokeswoman for MoveOn.org, Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs, and National Deputy Battleground States Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Jean-Pierre also served as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Martin O’Malley for President.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary
Before joining the Biden Transition Team, Psaki was a political commentator for CNN, a senior advisor for WestExec Advisors, and Vice President for Communications and Strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She was the Traveling Press Secretary for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, before joining the administration as White House Deputy Communications Director. She briefly left the White House to become Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Global Strategy Group, before returning to the administration as Spokesperson for the State Department and then White House Communications Director from 2015 through the end of the Obama-Biden administration.
Symone Sanders, Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President
Sanders was a Senior Advisor for the Biden Campaign. Sanders previously was the National Press Secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 primary campaign, the youngest press secretary for a presidential campaign on record. She was also a CNN political commentator, a Principal at the 360 Group, the Chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee, and a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice.
Pili Tobar, Deputy White House Communications Director
Tobar was the Communications Director for Coalitions for the Biden Campaign. Previously, Tobar was Managing Director then Deputy Director of America’s Voice. Tobar has served as the Hispanic Media Director for Senator Schumer, Communications Director for the Latino Victory Project, and Director of Hispanic Media for the DNC.
These positions do not require Senate confirmation. Press coverage has noted that the communications team, which will be one the most visible representations of the Biden administration, is entirely female with significant diversity representation.
As has been the case for most of the Transition’s staffing announcements, the incoming communications team also brings significant experience managing communications for the federal government. This familiarity is likely to help mitigate mixed signals or communications errors in the early days of the Administration.