Who is new White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre?

Karine Jean-Pierre made history this week as the first black woman and first openly gay person to be named White House press secretary, replacing her boss Jen Psaki.

Jean-Pierre, 44, who grew up in Queens, will be taking over the top communications job May 13, after spending more than a year working as a deputy press secretary for the Biden administration.

Psaki, 43, announced last month that she will be leaving the White House later in the spring. She is expected to join MSNBC as a political commentator.

In her remarks in the White House Briefing Room on Thursday, Psaki referred to her successor as “my friend, my colleague, my partner in truth.” 

Here’s everything we know about Jean-Pierre:

Professional experience

Jean-Pierre got her professional start working at the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to study the impact of large corporations on society and to develop standards for responsible corporate behavior.

She also has served as a senior aide on staffs for two members of the New York City Council and acted as a campaign manager for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Initiative.

Karine Jean-Pierre poses with President Barack Obama, circa 2009.
Karine Jean-Pierre worked on President Barack Obama’s two victorious presidential campaigns.
Instagram / Karine Jean-Pierre

She later went on to work on President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, as deputy manager for Democratic former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s failed 2016 presidential bid and as a member of Biden’s campaign team in 2020.

When not campaigning for Democratic hopefuls, Jean-Pierre frequently appeared on NBC and MSNBC as a political analyst.

In 2014, Jean-Pierre was tapped to teach at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, her alma mater.

Background and education

Jean-Pierre was born in the French territory Martinique to Haitian parents, who later emigrated to the US and settled in Queens, where she grew up and graduated from Kellenberg Memorial High School in 1993.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology in 1997 and received a master’s in public affairs from Columbia University’s SIPA in 2003.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, right, listens as incoming press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Washington.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki listens as her successor, Karine Jean-Pierre, speaks during a press briefing at the White House on May 5, 2022.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In 2019, Jean-Pierre published a memoir titled, “Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America.” The book follows her journey as an immigrant growing up in New York’s Haitian community to working in the Obama administration.

Personal life and motherhood

Jean-Pierre lives in Washington, DC, with her partner, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, 54, and their adopted daughter, Soleil.

The new White House press secretary has been in a long-term relationship and shares a daughter with a prominent CNN correspondent, raising questions on whether the already ethical-challenged and scandal-scarred network can offer impartial coverage
The new White House press secretary has been in a long-term relationship and shares a daughter with CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
Instagram / Suzanne Malveaux

Jean-Pierre is openly gay. She shared her difficult coming-out story in a Twitter thread for Pride Month last year, revealing that when she first told her mother she was gay at age 16, “the revolted look on her face sent me running back into the proverbial closet and slamming the door shut.”

Jean-Pierre confided that after that traumatic experience, her sexuality became a family secret and stayed that way for years.

But she said her mother eventually came around on her being gay “and is now proud of ALL of whom I am; she loves my partner and she loves being a doting grandmother to the daughter we are raising.”