Long Island communities beam with pride after local Karine Jean-Pierre promoted to White House Press Secretary

NEW YORK — For the first time U.S. history, the president has named a Black, openly gay woman to be White House Press Secretary.

Enthusiasm and pride are bubbling over in the Long Island communities where Karine Jean-Pierre grew up and attended school, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Friday.

“This is an historic moment and it’s not lost on me,” Jean-Pierre said.

“I think that the administration is fulfilling their pledge to diversity and inclusion, that they’re putting someone in one of the most visible position,” said Robert Vitelli of the LGBT Network.

Jean-Pierre’s local roots run deep. Born to Haitian parents, her dad is a cab driver and her mom is a home health aide. They emigrated from Martinique to Queens village and bought a home in Hempstead.

She attended college in Old Westbury then Columbia University before her political calling to Washington, D.C.

“Wouldn’t that be terrific to have our students go to one of her press conferences, would just be a dream,” said Dr. Hank Foley, president of New York Tech, Jean-Pierre’s alma mater.

Jean-Pierre graduated from NYIT in 1997 after attending Kellenberg High School, where she was a track star. Her parish: Our Lady of Loretto.

She attended grammar school at McNeil in Hempstead.

“And this is a way to encourage them to just go ahead and reach for the stars. You can be whatever you want to be and it’s just a great day in the Village of Hempstead,” Mayor Waylyn Hobbs said.

Jean-Pierre detailed her life growing up on Long Island in a memoir. She wrote she was a volunteer firefighter here and worked in Melville at the Estee Lauder plant. She also monitored piping plovers at Jones Beach for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“To know someone when they were in college looking to find their way and looking to gain greater skills, and now she’s working for the President of the United States of America. That’s pretty cool,” said Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“Follow your passion, follow what you believe in,” Jean-Pierre said. “The rewards are pretty amazing, especially if you stay true to yourself.”

Jen Psaki, a Stamford, Connecticut native, is expected to step down on May 13, when Jean-Pierre will officially take over as White House Press Secretary.

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