KARINE JEAN-PIERRE is a Haitian-American political campaign organizer, activist, political commentator, and lecturer in international and public affairs at Columbia University. She is the senior advisor and national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org and a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. In August 2020, she was selected to serve as the chief of staff for Democratic presumptive vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique to Haitian immigrant parents. She was raised in Queens New York. She credits her parents’ decisions for her own success in politics.
Jean-Pierre was the southeast regional political director for John Edwards’ presidential campaign. She was the southeast regional political director for Obama for America Campaign. During the first Obama term, Jean-Pierre served as the regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs.
In 2011, Jean-Pierre served as National Deputy Battleground States Director for President Obama’s re-election campaign. She led the delegate selection and ballot access process, while managing the political engagement in key states. She provided resources to help states determine “the best way for them to get the word out for the campaign.”
During the Kamala Harris 2020 presidential campaign at a MoveOn discussion forum in July 2019, in San Francisco, an animal rights activist jumped the stage and rushed at Harris and grabbed her microphone while she was trying to speak about equal rights. Jean-Pierre was a moderator and intervened physically until security rushed the man off the stage.
Jean-Pierre received her MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in 2003. Jean-Pierre later joined the Columbia University faculty in 2014, where she is a lecturer in international and public affairs.
Jean-Pierre identifies as lesbian. In an interview regarding her tenure working for the Obama Administration as an openly gay staffer, 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.”