Longtime lesbian activist Jean-Pierre named Harris' chief of staff

  • by Sari Staver
  • Wednesday August 12, 2020
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Karine Jean-Pierre has been named chief of staff to presumptive Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris. Photo: Sari Staver
Karine Jean-Pierre has been named chief of staff to presumptive Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris. Photo: Sari Staver

Longtime organizer Karine Jean-Pierre has been named chief of staff for Democratic presumptive vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris (D-California). Earlier this year, she began serving as a senior adviser to Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

Previously, Jean-Pierre, a lesbian, served as national public affairs officer for progressive policy advocacy group MoveOn.org.

According to an August 11 article on www.hillreporter.com, the appointment makes Jeanne-Pierre "the first Black woman to hold the position."

Jean-Pierre, a Haitian immigrant, had held positions in Democratic or progressive organizations for more than a decade. She was the southeast regional political director for the Obama for America campaign and during his first term, served as a political director for the White House. In 2011, she served as a regional director for President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. She is also a lecturer in political campaign management at Columbia University.

MoveOn praised the selection.

"Karine is a talented and fiercely intelligent individual who has worked to advance progressive values, candidates and policies throughout her entire career," MoveOn Executive Director Rahna Epting wrote in an email to the Bay Area Reporter. "Her appointment as chief of staff to our next vice president during this campaign is a testament to her level of skill and dedication. MoveOn members are proud of Karine and confident that she will make the Biden and Harris campaign to be the best it can be."

Jean-Pierre, 43, a frequent political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, drew national headlines last year when she intervened physically when an animal rights activist jumped the stage and rushed at Harris at a San Francisco forum where she was discussing equal rights, during her 2020 presidential campaign.

In a 2019 interview with the B.A.R. in San Francisco, where she was promoting her memoir, "Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America," published by Hanover Square Press last year, Jean-Pierre opened up about her life in suburban Washington, D.C. with her partner, CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their then-5-year-old daughter, Soleil.

Jean-Pierre said she wrote the book to explain how people can "access politics, no matter what their economic status, age, education or background." She looked back on her life as a first-generation Haitian American and concluded that if she could break through the many barriers she faced going into politics, others could too.

"Getting involved in politics can be intimidating," she said. "But in today's political climate, the need for all of us to participate has never been more crucial."

Biden's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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