As Karine Jean-Pierre prepares to make history as the first Black press secretary at the White House, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris continue to ensure that African Americans – particularly Black women, maintain the helm of crucial posts.
Alongside Jean-Pierre, there’s Khanya Brann, chief of staff to Kate Bedingfield; outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki’s chief of staff, Amanda Finney and senior regional communications director, Rykia Dorsey.
And then, there’s Erica Loewe.
In Loewe’s important role as director of African American media, she continues to make sure that the Black Press and other media of color have been provided unprecedented access to the White House and top administration and cabinet officials.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris promised an administration that looks like America and they have fulfilled that promise,” Loewe said during a recent visit to the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s headquarters at the Thurgood Marshall Center in Northwest.
“Since day one, the Biden-Harris administration has valued diversity, empowered Black voices and taken a whole-of-government approach to advance racial equity,” she said.
Loewe, born in South Carolina, grew up in Miami. She attended the University of Florida and later interned at the White House for President Barack Obama. A prolific volunteer, she has worked as press secretary and deputy communications director for U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and as deputy communications director for Congressman James Clyburn (D-S.C.).
“Jim Clyburn is one of my favorite bosses and he’s been very clear that I need to tell people that I’m from Charleston even though I grew up in Miami,” Loewe said. “He’s a great man and I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Her parents, particularly her mother, as well as her grandparents, had a profound influence on her early development. Loewe’s father worked in the nonprofit sector and helped her gain a focus on economic empowerment and business development. Her mother worked for a city commissioner, allowing Loewe to spend time at City Hall.
“I have always been around people who lead and serve, to some extent,” she said. “My parents split up but I lived with my mom and grandparents in a house full of love and laughter.”
While working in the Obama White House, Loewe lived with her family and worked under the director of African American outreach. Now, as the director of African American media, she said her life has come full circle.
“I’m back at the White House and my mother lives with me,” she said.
She said while her mother now battles Alzheimer’s disease, “somewhere inside, she’s there, proud of me.”
Loewe said she has enjoyed returning to the White House and tries to stay out of the crosshairs of the Secret Service.
“We have fun. They take their jobs very seriously and we do as well,” Loewe said.
However, she said providing access to Black media and the American public gives her a true sense of accomplishment.
“There’s nothing like being able to grant access to the White House for the very first time,” Loewe said. “It’s a building people have seen on television but thought they may never get inside. Our job is to provide access to people.”
She said the Biden-Harris team has allowed access never before experienced by the American public while also serving as the most inclusive administration in American history.
“Never has there been an administration that has uplifted and supported Black women as much as President Biden and Vice President Harris,” Loewe said. “It’s just a fact. Numbers don’t lie. The Honorable Harris is a Black woman who has lived experiences not just as a Black face to look nice. She attended Howard University and she’s a member of the Divine Nine, the Black Church and an advocate for Black maternal health and accurate home appraisals for Black people.”
“There are more Blacks in first time positions in the President’s cabinet. You have Gen. Lloyd Austin, the first Black to head the Department of Defense as well as Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations – two Black people you see every day who are making sure we provide aid to Ukraine,” she said.
Other Blacks in high-level positions include Michael Regan, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and Marcia Fudge, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“These are not symbolic positions,” Loewe concluded.