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5 things to know about Karine Jean-Pierre, the next White House press secretary

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WASHINGTON — Karine Jean-Pierre is slated to step into her new role as the next White House press secretary within just a few weeks, the White House announced Thursday.

Jean-Pierre, 44, who currently serves as principal deputy press secretary and deputy assistant to the president, was promoted to the coveted position and will replace current press secretary Jen Psaki, officials said. Psaki's last day is May 13.

"Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris administration on behalf of the American people," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Karine Jean-Pierre

Karine Jean-Pierre, seen here in November, has been named White House press secretary.

Here are five things to know about the White House's next spokesperson:

Her promotion is a historic one

Jean-Pierre will become the first Black and openly gay woman to serve as White House press secretary.

Last May, she made history when she led her first full press briefing and fielded questions in the White House briefing room, becoming only the second Black woman to do so.

"It's a real honor to be standing here today," she said, according to NBC News. "Clearly the president believes that representation matters, and I appreciate him giving me this opportunity."

She's no stranger to politics or the White House

As a longtime adviser to Biden, Jean-Pierre has filled "senior communication and political roles" in the president's administration, worked on the Biden campaign and served under him when he was vice president in President Barack Obama's administration.

Additionally, she was the regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Obama-Biden administration, officials said, and served as deputy battleground states director during Obama's reelection bid in 2012, among other political roles.

She also served as chief of staff for then-vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris during the Biden campaign.

She's an immigrant

Jean-Pierre was born on the Caribbean island of Martinique after her parents fled Haiti, according to The Carnegie Corporation of New York, which named her the recipient of the Great Immigrants Award in 2021. Her family immigrated to New York City when she was 5 years old.

"That immigrant upbringing, growing up in New York, it shaped everything and anything that I'm about," she told PBS NewsHour. "My parents ... came here for the American dream that in many ways eluded them. They still live check to check, but in their eyes, because I made it to the White House ... they have received it."

She has worked with political advocacy groups

Jean-Pierre previously served as chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org, which bills itself as "the largest independent progressive advocacy group in the country," according to the group's Facebook page.

She also provided commentary as a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC.

She's an author, speaker and mental health advocate

Jean-Pierre wrote her first book in 2019, a memoir titled "Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work and the Promise of America." She's also a speaker and lecturer at Columbia University, where she teaches a course in the School of International and Public Affairs.

The Columbia alumna is also an advocate for mental health and has been candid about her own struggles, which she detailed in her book.

"It's not easy to write those words," she wrote in a piece for MSNBC in 2019. "But it's also not easy to struggle with your mental health, especially in a world that continues to stigmatize it. We need to make it easier to talk about, because talking about your struggles is often the first step toward getting help."

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