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Vice President Kamala Harris hires Stephanie Young to be new senior adviser

<i>Rory Doyle/Sipa/Bloomberg/Getty Images</i><br/>Stephanie Young
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rory Doyle/Sipa/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Stephanie Young

By Jasmine Wright, CNN

Stephanie Young, a veteran Democratic aide, has been tapped to be Vice President Kamala Harris’ new senior adviser to focus on messaging and outreach.

Young’s role is a new position for the vice president’s office, meant to take a birds-eye approach to manage Harris’ overall communications platform and political engagement but not fill the role of a day-to-day communications director. Her second communications director in two years, Jamal Simmons, departed the office around New Year’s for family reasons. The role still has not been filled.

Harris’ image has been under intense scrutiny since taking office. The vice president has been the target of snubs from both Democrats and Republicans, who’ve criticized her performance in various rounds of negative stories. It’s led to an often defensive messaging strategy from the office, with aides focused on protecting the vice president and the White House sharing social media posts depicting how in lockstep she is with President Joe Biden. Allies of Harris have complained that she’s under the spotlight more than any other modern day vice president, a reality that often appeared to catch the administration off guard in the beginning of its tenure.

A White House official said Young’s role would mirror that of an inner circle senior counselor meant to be at the nexus of political engagement and messaging. CNN previously reported that a possible restructuring has remained underway for months to give Harris what several involved feel is a much needed role of senior counselor, in absence of a communications director.

The vice president’s chief of staff Lorraine Voles announced Young’s new position in an email to staff Friday afternoon.

“In her new role, she will advise the Vice President on messaging and manage communications. Having previously served in the public engagement team of the Obama Administration, Stephanie will also leverage her previous experience to inform the outreach strategy and efforts of the office,” Voles wrote in the email obtained by CNN.

Young’s new role will likely prove useful as Biden is expected to launch a bid for reelection in the coming months, with Harris at his side. Young will join the office after serving as the Executive Director of When We All Vote, a voting initiate launched by former first lady Michelle Obama. Obama praised Young in a press release that announced her departure Friday, crediting her for helping build the organization up from the ground.

“Over the past five years, I’ve seen Stephanie become a strategic, creative, and passionate leader who has left a lasting mark on the way Americans engage with their democracy. Her work at When We All Vote has helped to truly shift our culture of voting—and I know that her work in the months and years ahead will continue to make our country even stronger,” the former first lady wrote.

Those same skills, the official said, would help the office streamline communication needs to help the vice president and make the case for the Biden administration on the road. Young also worked for the Obama White House, House Democratic Leadership and the Congressional Black Caucus.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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