Senior Adviser, Biden for President
Democratic campaign communicator
Industry: Political consulting
Key previous position: Sanders 2016 press secretary
Notable fact: Nebraska native
Symone Sanders was just 25 in 2015 when she became the national press secretary to Bernie Sanders’s underdog presidential bid. At the time, the senator from Vermont was trailing Hillary Clinton, the heavy favorite. Yet as he gained traction and rose in the polls, his namesake was right there with him, making his case on national television, speaking a mile a minute in what has become her trademark style.
Sanders may be the most prominent black woman advising a presidential campaign today, but it’s not for the elder Sanders this time around. Many candidates—namely Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris—courted her as the 2020 primary began to take shape. She decided to join Joe Biden’s campaign as a senior adviser, in order to, as the Associated Press put it at the time, provide “a younger diverse voice to Biden’s cadre of top advisers, which has been dominated by older white men.” Sanders regularly took on conservative pundits directly during her time as a CNN political commentator, and one can expect her to forcefully defend the former vice president on television as the primary goes on.
Considering her work for the much more liberal Sanders in 2016, her choice to join Biden’s campaign was a surprise to many, and she drew a fair amount of criticism from liberal activists. As she told Glamour magazine, however, her politics are tied to her values, not to people, and she believes that one way to create change is from the inside out.
Sanders, who has been a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and a strategist at Priorities USA, grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, graduating from Creighton University with a degree in business administration. Her first experience in the spotlight came when she was 16 years old, as she aggressively lobbied to introduce President Clinton at a fundraiser in Omaha in 2006. Her speech was so notable that Clinton later referenced it one of his books. Little did he know how hard she’d work 10 years later in attempting to deprive his wife of the Democratic nomination.