Three outstanding Black women are among seven women who will serve in the upper ranks of President-elect Joe Biden’s communications team, becoming the first White House team in history to have an all-female staff who will speak on behalf of the incoming commander-in-chief.
The three African American women on Biden’s communications team are Symone Sanders, Karine Jean-Pierre and Ashley Etienne.
Sanders, 30, from Omaha, Nebraska, previously served as a senior advisor for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. In 2016, she became the youngest press secretary for a presidential candidate while working on U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ then-presidential bid. Sanders is the former chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee and a former member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice. Sanders also spent time as principal for 360 Group LLC, where she provided strategic communications to businesses, campaigns, and candidates.
Jean-Pierre, 43, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, served as Kamala Harris’ chief of staff during the Biden-Harris campaign. She will now serve as Biden’s principal deputy press secretary. She has previously worked on presidential campaigns for John Edwards, Martin O’Malley and Barack Obama. Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique to Haitian immigrants and grew up in New York City. She shares a daughter, Soleil, with her partner, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux.
Ashley Etienne, 42, is the former communications director and senior advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She was the first Black woman to serve as communications director for a Congressional House Speaker. Etienne was also a former special assistant to Barack Obama. Etienne, who served as senior adviser for strategic planning and Harris’ senior campaign advisor for Biden’s presidential campaign, will now serve as her communications director.
“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.
Vice President-elect Harris, the first woman in U.S. history elected to the position, in a statement commended the women on their “commitment to building a White House that reflects the very best of our nation.”
“Our country is facing unprecedented challenges–from the coronavirus pandemic to the economic crisis, to the climate crisis, and a long-overdue reckoning over racial injustice,” said Harris in a statement.
“To overcome these challenges, we need to communicate clearly, honestly, and transparently with the American people, and this experienced, talented, and barrier-shattering team will help us do that,” Harris continued.
In another historic appointment, Biden tapped another Black woman, Princeton University labor economist Cecilia Rouse as chair of the three-member Council of Economic Advisers, with economists Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey serving as the other members.
Rouse will be the first woman of color to chair the council, which will play a key role in advising the president on the economy, which has been struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden earlier named economist Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary.
Rouse served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011. Prior to serving in the Obama Administration, Rouse served in the National Economic Council under President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 1999. She has two daughters. Her husband is Ford Morrison, son of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.
Rouse holds three degrees from Harvard University.
She is the Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education.
Rouse is the founding director of the Princeton University Education Research Section, is a member of the National Academy of Education and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her primary research interests are in labor economics with a focus on the economics of education.
Rouse has served as an editor of the Journal of Labor Economics and as a senior editor of The Future of Children. She is a member of the board of directors of MDRC, and a director of the T. Rowe Price Equity Mutual Funds and an Advisory Board Member of the T. Rowe Price Fixed Income Mutual Funds.
President-elect Biden also recently named Nigerian-born attorney Adewale Adeyemo, as the Deputy Treasury Secretary who will work under Janet Yellen, the first female Treasury Secretary in U.S. history.