President-elect Joe Biden turned to two Obama administration veterans on Sunday to head up his White House’s communications strategy and serve as its public face.
Kate Bedingfield, who served as Biden’s communications director while he was vice president and on his presidential campaign, will be the White House communications director. And Jen Psaki, who served as White House communications director for the last two years of President Barack Obama’s administration, will be Biden’s White House press secretary.
Biden rounded out his White House communications staff with five other women — the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women, Biden’s transition noted in its announcement.
Pili Tobar, who worked on Biden’s campaign and previously worked as deputy director of the immigration reform advocacy group America’s Voice, will be the White House deputy communications director. Karine Jean-Pierre, who served as chief of staff to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during the campaign, will be the principal deputy press secretary. She previously worked for the advocacy group MoveOn.org.
Symone Sanders, who served as national press secretary on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign before signing on early to work for Biden’s campaign, will be a senior adviser and the chief spokesperson for Harris. Ashley Etienne, a former aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who went on to work for Biden’s campaign, will be Harris’ communications director.
And Elizabeth Alexander, who worked for Biden while he was in the Senate before serving as his press secretary while he was vice president, will be Jill Biden’s communications director. Alexander also worked on the Biden campaign.
Psaki is the third Biden administration hire who has ties to WextExec Advisors, a Washington consulting firm stacked with Obama administration alumni. Psaki worked as a senior adviser there after leaving the White House. Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, co-founded the firm, and Avril Haines, his nominee for director of national intelligence, is a former principal there.
Others on Biden’s communications team have also spent time working in Washington’s private sector.
Bedingfield worked as the top spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America (now known as the Motion Picture Association) before joining the Obama administration. And Alexander worked as a senior managing director at FTI Consulting, a Washington strategic communications and lobbying firm, before signing onto the Biden campaign. She led the firm’s gender inclusion and workplace equality communications efforts, according to the Biden transition.
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