Prior to her current appointment, Psaki held several senior roles in the Obama administration, including deputy press secretary and deputy communications director during the financial crisis; State Department spokesperson under John Kerry; and later on White House communications director, which she assumed while six months pregnant.
Colleagues have noted her reputation for being approachable, friendly, unafraid to let her personality come through — and importantly, someone who gets “a lot of s— done.”
Throughout her political career, Psaki, 42, says one major piece of advice has helped her overcome imposter syndrome and take on more challenging roles. She tells CNBC Make It the best career advice she’s ever received came from former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, when she was about to join the 2012 campaign to travel with then-President Obama.
“I had said to him, ‘I’m so used to there being a more senior person briefing him or prepping him for interviews or briefing the press,'” Psaki says. “And he said to me: ‘If you act like you belong there, at a certain point, people will believe you.'”
Psaki’s work history was enough to get President Joe Biden to ask her to join the administration directly, though she was initially hesitant to take on the high-pressure job due in large part to having two young children, ages 2 and 5.
Psaki took extra time to consider the offer “because I really wanted to take a step back and think about how this would be for my kids,” she says. “This is a hard time, with Covid and the lack of normalcy. I thought, is this really the right time? But you don’t know that this opportunity will come up again.”
In her first months on the job, Psaki has been recognized for beginning to repair the lines of transparency and communication between the White House and the press, as well as with the public overall. She’s also demonstrated a willingness to confront tension with reporters in the briefing room, and at times her personal quips have landed her in hot water.
Today, Psaki is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s all-female communications team, the first time in history the senior communications roles in the White House are filled entirely by women.
Many members of the team are also moms to young children, which Psaki says makes them “tough as nails” and qualified, she told The 19th: “This is the group of women who are the best in the business, and that is why we have these jobs.”