The new White House comms team: A backgrounder

Fast facts about the women who will run communications for the Biden administration.

The new White House comms team: A backgrounder

Kate Bedingfield, communications director

  • Bedingfield put herself in prime position for the administration’s top communications job when she joined the Biden campaign as deputy campaign manager and communications director.

  • It didn’t hurt that she was Biden’s communications director when he was vice president.

  • Before working with Biden, she was VP of corporate communications at the Motion Picture Association of America, a role she assumed in May 2013.

  • Her first White House stint was as associate communications director, deputy director of media affairs and director of response for the Obama administration.

  • She was communications director for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) 2008 Senate run and was spokeswoman for the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John Edwards (D-NC). 

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary

  • The Biden administration will be Psaki’s third time in the White House. She was communications director under President Barack Obama in 2015 and had been deputy communications director and deputy press secretary during Obama’s first term. She is also overseeing transition comms.

  • Psaki has also served as an adviser for strategic advisory firm WestExec Advisors and VP of comms and strategy for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

  • From 2013 to 2015, she was a State Department spokesperson and a principal adviser to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

  • She worked on both Obama presidential campaigns and Kerry’s presidential bid in 2004. In 2011, She joined Global Strategy Group in Washington, DC, as SVP and MD before returning to politics.

Karine Jean-Pierre, principal deputy press secretary 

  • Jean-Pierre was senior adviser to Biden and chief of staff to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during the campaign. 

  • She worked as a regional political director in the Obama White House’s office of political affairs and was the White House liaison for the office of the secretary of the Department of Labor.

  • Jean-Pierre, a French-born Haitian-American, recalled her journey from a Haitian community in New York to the White House in the book "Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work and the Promise of America."

  • She has also served as senior adviser and national spokesperson for MoveOn and a faculty member at Columbia University.

  • Her campaign experience includes working on both of Obama’s campaigns, the 2016 presidential campaign of former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Edwards’ 2008 presidential bid.

Symone Sanders, senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Kamala Harris

  • Prior to joining the Biden campaign, Sanders was principal of strategic communications consultancy 360 Group. She was also named to PRWeek’s 2020 Power List and tackled a vegan protester who stormed the stage during a Biden campaign rally.

  • At only 25, the Omaha, Nebraska, native was named national press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during his 2016 presidential bid. After Bernie Sanders’ bid failed, Symone Sanders worked as a CNN political commentator.

  • She’s also served as communications officer for Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

Pili Tobar, deputy White House communications director 

  • Tobar was director of coalition comms for Biden’s winning bid. Prior to that, she spent almost four years working for the immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice, most recently as a deputy director.

  • She also worked for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as Hispanic media director and for the Democratic National Committee as national director of Hispanic Media and Western regional press secretary.

  • Earlier comms positions include communications director for Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and communications director for the Latino Victory Project. 

Elizabeth Alexander, communications director for first lady Jill Biden

  • Alexander served as a senior adviser to the campaign, drawing on her experience as Biden’s press secretary in the Obama administration and as Biden’s communications director and press secretary when he was a senator.

  • She was a former federal prosecutor and an MD for FTI Consulting.

  • Alexander’s CV also includes stints as press secretary for Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, communications director for U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and deputy press secretary for Schumer. 

  • She has served as press secretary and primary spokesperson for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after the 2008 presidential election and press secretary for the U.N. Foundation.

Ashley Etienne, communications director for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

  • One of Etienne’s earliest political roles was as spokesperson in Virginia for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

  • The national spotlight is old hat for Etienne as she transitioned between roles in the White House and Capitol Hill. Prior to the Biden campaign, she was communications director and senior adviser to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and before that special assistant to Obama and White House cabinet communications director. She was also director of communications for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

  • Her private sector experience includes a stint as a senior communications associate for Boston PR and communications firm Dewey Square Group and as spokesperson for the Corporation for National and Community Service. Etienne also served as a spokesperson for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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