Karine Jean-Pierre is a political campaign organizer, political commentator, author, university lecturer, and activist from the United States. She is the first White House Press Secretary who is “Black, gay, and immigrant.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, the eldest of three siblings, was born on August 13, 1977 in Fort-de-France, Martinique to Haitian parents. The family relocated to Queens Village, New York, in 1982, where Jean-Pierre was raised. Her mother worked as a home health aide, and her father drove a taxi despite having earned an engineering degree in Haiti. Because of their work schedules, Jean-Pierre was responsible for caring for her younger siblings.
Jean-Pierre graduated with a B.S. In 1997, he graduated from the New York Institute of Technology. She received her M.P.A. from Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs in 2003. Her involvement in student government at Columbia solidified her interest in politics. In 2004, she became the Deputy Chief of Staff for the New York City Council after finishing graduate school. She worked as the director of legislative and budget affairs for New York City Councilor James F. Gennaro that same year. Jean-Pierre worked as the State and Local Outreach Coordinator for Wal-Mart Watch from 2006 to 2007.
She worked as the Southeast Regional Political Director for John Edwards’ presidential campaign from 2007 to 2008. When his campaign ended, she became the Southern Regional Political Director for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. She served on the Presidential Inauguration Committee from December 2008 to January 2009, and from January 2009 to May 2009, she worked as the White House Liaison for the Secretary of Labor. In the Obama administration, she served as Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs from May 2009 to March 2011. She joined Obama for America as National Deputy Battleground States Director in March 2011, a position she held until June 2012.
Jean-Pierre joined the Bill Thompson New York City mayoral campaign as a Senior Advisor in May 2013. She began working as the Campaign Manager for Letitia James in her runoff election for New York City Public Advocate in September of that year. James received 82.9 percent of the vote in that election.
Jean-Pierre began working as a lecturer in international and public affairs at Columbia University in December 2013. After three years, she was promoted to Senior Advisor and National Spokesperson for Moveon.org. Jean-Pierre worked as the Campaign Manager for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Initiative from April 2014 to January 2015. She worked as the Deputy Campaign Manager for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s unsuccessful presidential campaign from May 2015 to February 2016.
Jean-Pierre served as a senior advisor to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in 2020. Following Biden’s election, she was appointed as the White House’s Principal Deputy Press Secretary. She is the second Black woman to hold the position (after Judy Smith in George W. Bush’s White House) and the first openly gay woman. When White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced her departure in May 2022, Karine Jean-Pierre was appointed to fill the position.
Moving Forward, Jean-autobiography, Pierre’s was published in 2019 and details her own mental health struggles as well as her unconventional path to politics. She was named one of The Advocate’s 2011 Forty Under 40 for her advocacy and activism.