Karine Jean-Pierre Becomes First Black and Openly Gay Press Secretary

Matt Gonzales By Matt Gonzales May 10, 2022
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Karine Jean-Pierre Becomes First Black and Openly Gay Press Secretary

​President Joe Biden has named Karine Jean-Pierre as the new assistant to the president and White House press secretary. She will succeed incumbent press secretary Jen Psaki, who will depart on May 13.

Jean-Pierre will be the first Black and openly gay woman 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," Biden said in a statement.

Jean-Pierre thanked the Biden administration for the "honor and privilege" of her next role and committed to representing the country the best she can.

"This is a historic moment, and it is not lost on me," Jean-Pierre said in a press conference. "I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities. … I stand on their shoulders, and I have been throughout my career."

Jean-Pierre's Experience

Jean-Pierre was born on Martinique, a French island, and raised in New York City. She graduated from the New York Institute of Technology and received a master's degree from Columbia University.

She is currently the principal deputy press secretary and the deputy assistant to the president. She has served in senior communication and political roles in the Biden administration, in the Biden campaign and to then-Vice President Biden for the Obama administration. Jean-Pierre joined the Columbia University faculty in 2014, where she is a lecturer in international and public affairs.

Octavia Goredema, a career coach who authored Prep, Push, Pivot: Essential Career Strategies for Underrepresented Women (Wiley, 2022), said Jean-Pierre's appointment represents a significant achievement in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).

"As a career coach who helps underrepresented professionals advance their careers, I know what an uphill battle it often is just to be seen, heard, supported, recognized and respected," Goredema said. "It's always incredible to witness barriers being broken, and Karine Jean-Pierre's tenure as White House press secretary begins at such a pivotal time."

Brian K. Bond, executive director of LGBTQ organization PFLAG, is a friend and former colleague of Jean-Pierre's. He said Jean-Pierre's historic appointment demonstrates the Biden administration's allyship.

"Not only is she among the smartest, hardest-working, sincere and kind individuals in public service, she both symbolizes and embodies the multiple identities and life experiences that this White House speaks through and to as the official spokesperson representing our president," Bond said.

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White House Making History

The Biden administration has heavily focused on DE&I.

In January 2021, the White House released "Executive Order 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government." The order directs federal agencies to evaluate whether their policies produce racially inequitable results and aims to ensure underserved communities are properly supported.

In June 2021, Biden released "Executive Order 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce." This executive order seeks to create a governmentwide initiative to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

Biden also released two presidential memorandums concerning DE&I: "Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States" and "Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Persons Around the World."

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