Renowned political organizer and commentator Karine Jean-Pierre, an out lesbian, will serve as chief of staff for newly-announced Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
Jean-Pierre, who turns 43 today, joined the Biden 2020 team in May as a senior advisor before adding the new role to head up the Harris staff this week. NBC reported on August 11 Jean-Pierre would step into the chief of staff role hours before Harris was announced as the running mate later that day. Jean-Pierre holds additional roles as a lecturer at Columbia University, senior advisor to MoveOn.org, and political analyst for NBC and MSNBC. She is also the author of the 2019 book Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America.
She was raised in Queens in New York City after emigrating with her Haitian parents from Martinique. Jean-Pierre is an experienced veteran of Democratic presidential campaigns, having served as campaign manager or political director for Martin O’Malley, John Edwards, and Barack Obama. Besides being a leader in both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, she served in the White House as the regional political director for the Office of Political Affairs.
In 2011 she told The Advocate: “Serving and working for President Obama where you can be openly gay has been an amazing honor. It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that prioritizes LGBT issues.”
“I felt like this is my job as a mom to step in,” she told Hollywood Life at the end of July on joining the Biden campaign. “I thought about my six-year-old and I thought about what kind of planet or world or country are we going to be leaving to her and her peers. I’m a Black woman, I’m a gay woman and I’m an immigrant. And Donald Trump, he is someone who hates everything I am.”
There has never before been a non-white or openly gay chief of staff to a U.S. vice-presidential nominee or elected Vice President. The only woman to ever serve in the role ended her term in 1977.
Jean-Pierre tweeted on August 11 “Karine ‘ambitious’ Jean-Pierre is incredibly proud to be working to elect the Biden/Harris ticket. Let’s go!!” The word “ambitious” was used against Harris in the national political discourse, but Jean-Pierre is embracing it, tweeting yesterday a quote from Harris’ August 12 speech where she said, “And Joe, I’m so proud to stand with you. And I do so mindful of all the heroic—and ambitious—women before me whose sacrifice, determination, and resilience makes my presence here today even possible.”
At the end of 2019 the political phenom told The Advocate her success hasn’t come easily: “No one handed it to me. I had to go out and take it. I got involved. I worked on campaigns and for politicians. Eventually, [I] worked my way all the way to the White House.”