President Joe Biden said he has chosen Karine Jean-Pierre to be White House press secretary, on Thursday. She is succeeding Jen Psaki and will become the first Black and openly gay person to serve as the public face of a U.S. administration.
Psaki, who leaves the job on May 13, had said early in the Biden administration that she planned to stay only about a year.
During Biden’s term, Jean-Pierre has served as deputy press secretary. She worked on his 2020 presidential campaign, in President Obama’s White House, and was chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org.
Biden has pledged to name cabinet members, top officials and judges who reflect the diversity of America, where white people make up less than 60% of the population but have traditionally held most top government jobs.
Thank you @POTUS and @FLOTUS for this opportunity. It is a true honor. I look forward to serving this Administration and the American people. I have big shoes to fill. @PressSec has been a great friend, mentor and excellent press secretary. pic.twitter.com/1knmbe2Nxq
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@KJP46) May 5, 2022
“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.
The press secretary is the highest profile public-facing staff job in the White House.
“This is a historic moment, and it’s not lost on me,” Jean-Pierre said in the White House press room. “It is an honor and a privilege to be behind this podium.”
Biden named Psaki after hectic relations with the media under former President Donald Trump.
“Jen Psaki has set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room,” Biden said and thanked her for “raising the bar, communicating directly and truthfully to the American people, and keeping her sense of humor while doing so.”
Psaki is known for a confident, no-nonsense and blunt delivery from the White House podium. Jean-Pierre, who was previously chief of staff for Democratic VP Kamala Harris in 2020, has maintained to stick closely to talking points during her appearances as Psaki’s deputy.
Biden offered Jean-Pierre the job opportunity during an Oval Office meeting on Thursday afternoon.
“She comes to this job with decades of experience, even though she looks very young,” Psaki said, adding her appointment will give a “voice to so many and allow and show what is truly possible when you work hard and dream big.”