President Biden finished a second-year makeover of his communications shop Wednesday with the promotion of several longtime aides to new responsibilities at the White House, according to a person briefed on the plans.
Jennifer Molina, senior director of White House coalitions media since the start of Biden’s term, will become deputy communications director, serving under communications director Kate Bedingfield, who decided this summer to stay in the role after previously planning her departure.
Molina previously worked for Xavier Becerra when the current health and human services secretary was California attorney general and worked in Nevada for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She will continue to work on coalitions outreach, among other responsibilities.
Andrew Bates, an original member of Biden’s 2020 campaign team who has been working as a deputy press secretary, will add the title of senior communications adviser for strategic response. Bates, a passionate behind-the-scenes defender of Biden, is expected to increase his focus on rapid response and pushing back on storylines that the White House views as false.
Emilie Simons, an assistant press secretary for the economic portfolio, will be promoted to deputy press secretary. A former adviser to Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), she also worked on the Biden presidential campaign.
The White House is also adding two new assistant press secretaries: Michael Kikukawa, a Treasury Department spokesman who previously worked as a press assistant at the White House, will return to the West Wing, where his responsibilities will include press briefing preparations. Robyn Patterson, a former spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who now works as Commerce Department press secretary, will be detailed to the White House for the new role.
The latest changes follow other personnel shifts at the end of the summer. Olivia Dalton, a former communications director for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, was appointed principal deputy press secretary in August. Herbie Ziskend, a former senior adviser for Vice President Harris, was also named as deputy communications director at the same time.
Chris Meagher, another former deputy White House press secretary, was appointed in September as a public affairs assistant to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.