Karine Jean-Pierre is an American political campaign organizer, activist, political commentator, and author. Since January 2021, she has been White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary in the Biden Administration. Jean-Pierre served as the chief of staff for Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on the 2020 United States presidential campaign and was the first Black woman to ever hold that position. Previously, Jean-Pierre was the senior advisor and national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org and a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Jean-Pierre is a former lecturer in international and public affairs at Columbia University.
Early life and education
Jean-Pierre was born in Fort-de-France, Martinique to Haitian parents, and was raised in Queens Village, Queens from age 5, the oldest of three siblings. Her mother worked as a home health aide, and her father was a taxi driver. Since both parents worked most days of the week, Jean-Pierre was often responsible for caring for her younger siblings. She is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology and received her MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University (SIPA) in 2003, where she served in student government and decided to pursue politics.
Following graduate school, Jean-Pierre worked as the director of legislative and budget affairs for New York City councilor James F. Gennaro. In 2006, she was hired as the outreach coordinator for Walmart Watch in Washington, D.C.
Jean-Pierre was the southeast regional political director for John Edwards' presidential campaign in 2008. She joined the Columbia University faculty in 2014, where she is a lecturer in international and public affairs.
Jean-Pierre has worked at the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics. In December 2018, the Haitian Times named her one of six "Haitian Newsmakers Of The Year".
As of 2020, Jean-Pierre lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her partner, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter.
In an interview regarding her work as an openly gay staffer in the Obama White House, she said: "What's been wonderful is that I was not the only; I was one of many. President Obama didn't hire LGBT staffers, he hired experienced individuals who happen to be LGBT," she says. "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."
Jean-Pierre's first book, Moving Forward, was published in 2019. It is described by WJLA as "part memoir, part call to arms," in which she recounts her personal and professional life and encourages people to become involved in politics.
She is fluent in French, English, and Haitian Creole.