Obama Names White House Communications Staff

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 23, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama continued building his White House staff yesterday, naming his Senate and campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs as press secretary and filling two other key slots on his communications team.

Gibbs began working with Obama in 2004 as communications director for his Senate campaign. The Alabama native then served in the same role for Obama in the Senate before becoming a senior communications strategist in his presidential campaign.

Gibbs has a reputation as a combative defender of Obama behind the scenes. He is also known for his smooth presence in front of the camera, a valuable trait in a job that will make him one of the best-known faces of the administration.

Before working for Obama, Gibbs, 37, served as communications director for Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.). He also worked on the 2000 Senate campaign of Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Before that, he was a press secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and worked for Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.

Obama also announced that Ellen Moran, executive director of Emily's List -- a Washington group that backs pro-choice women for political office -- will be White House communications director. In that role, she will be responsible for the delivery of Obama's message across different media.

Moran is in her second stint with Emily's List, having rejoined the organization in 2005 after working with the AFL-CIO, where she coordinated the union's Wal-Mart corporate accountability work. In 2004, she took a leave of absence from the AFL-CIO to work for the Democratic National Committee, managing media outreach efforts and the placement of presidential advertising in 20 states.

Before that, the Amherst, Mass., native directed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's $50 million issue advocacy drive and worked as manager of gubernatorial and congressional campaigns.

Obama also named Dan Pfeiffer, communications director of his transition team, to be White House deputy director of communications. Pfeiffer was a traveling press secretary in Obama's campaign before becoming communications director and overseeing the campaign's media operation.

"These individuals will fill essential roles, and bring a breadth and depth of experience that can help our administration advance prosperity and security for the American people," Obama said in a statement. "This dedicated and impressive group of public servants includes longtime advisors and a talented new addition to our team, and together we will work to serve our country and meet the challenges of this defining moment in history."

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