With the results of the election finally certified in his favor and the transition officially allowed to commence, President-elect Joe Biden has wasted no time at all in releasing a steady stream of Cabinet and other senior White House staff appointments. Among these, in line with his promise to construct an Executive Branch that reflects the diversity of the citizens it'll be serving, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced on Nov. 29 their press team appointees, all of whom are women.
"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. I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women," Biden said in a statement.
The seven appointees include communications directors for Harris, First Lady-to-be Dr. Jill Biden, and the White House as a whole, as well as two deputy directors and Harris' chief spokesperson. At the helm of this history-making team will be Jen Psaki, who, as press secretary, will serve as spokesperson for the entire Biden administration. Here's what you need to know about Psaki, including all the details on her (many) years of experience in senior White House communications roles.
Who is Jen Psaki?
Psaki has worked as a core member of multiple presidential and campaign press teams for nearly two decades. Within a few years of her graduation from the College of William & Mary in 2000, she joined John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign as deputy press secretary. After a short stint as a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, she returned to the world of presidential campaigns, joining the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign as traveling press secretary, a position she held again during their 2012 reelection campaign.
During Obama's first term, Psaki was named deputy press secretary, then promoted to deputy communications director. Following a brief break from politics in 2011, during which she worked as senior vice president and managing director at a Washington, D.C., PR firm, Psaki rejoined Obama's reelection campaign. During his second term, she served as the spokesperson for the State Department under Secretary John Kerry, before returning to the White House as communications director for the last two years of the Obama administration.
While Donald Trump was in office, Psaki became a political commentator on CNN and the vice president for communications and strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Upon Biden's election to the presidency, however, she left those posts to oversee the confirmations team for the Biden-Harris transition.
What will Psaki do as press secretary?
The White House press secretary is the media's go-to source for information and statements from the Executive Branch, for which the press secretary serves as the primary spokesperson. The post is currently held by Kayleigh McEnany and was first established in 1929, under President Herbert Hoover.
As the public face of the White House, Psaki will gather information from the president, vice president, and Cabinet, and coordinate with the rest of the administration's press team to hold daily press briefings, during which she'll provide Biden's daily schedule and outline the administration's official position on national and international happenings. The White House press secretary is also typically made available to the press throughout the day in other press conferences, event-specific briefings, and off-camera "press gaggles" to answer their questions about specific administration plans and policies.
What has Psaki said about her appointment?
Upon Biden's announcement that Psaki would be returning with him to the White House as press secretary, she tweeted, "Honored to work again for @JoeBiden, a man I worked on behalf of during the Obama-Biden Admin as he helped lead economic recovery, rebuilt our relationships with partners (turns out good practice) and injected empathy and humanity into nearly every meeting I sat in."
She also gave shout-outs to the other "talented, battle-tested" women joining her on the senior White House communications team, noting that they comprise the "most diverse team in history and also 6 Moms of young kids."
Finally, Psaki went on to hint at the form the Biden administration's communications strategy will take with her at the lead: "We can't wait to share what we are thinking as we get closer to inauguration, but [Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre] 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," she tweeted.