President-elect Joe Biden’s all-female communications staff includes a local connection.
Elizabeth Alexander, a 1997 Cleburne High School graduate, has been named communications director for First Lady-elect Jill Biden.
Alexander previously served as press secretary for Joe Biden when he was vice president and during his time in the Senate before that.
“Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a president, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House. I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women. These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better,” Joe Biden said.
The Bidens attended Alexander’s 2010 wedding to David Eckels Wade, which was held at First United Methodist Church in Cleburne.
“Honored and humbled to join Dr. Biden and her growing team as she charts her own historic path forward as the next FLOTUS,” Alexander tweeted Sunday. “And so proud to be part of this group of hard-working pros and strategic communicators.”
Jill Biden also took to Twitter to praise Alexander.
“I’ve long admired Elizabeth’s intellect, grace and optimism during her many years on the Biden team,” Jill Biden tweeted. “We know her as a consummate professional and manager with a contagious enthusiasm.”
Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Sunday announced the new members of the White House staff who will serve in senior communications roles.
“These diverse, experienced and talented women demonstrate President-elect Biden’s continued commitment to building an administration that looks like America and is ready to deliver results for working families on day one,” according to a Biden release.
For the first time in history, these communications roles will be filled entirely by women.
“Our country is facing unprecedented challenges–from the coronavirus pandemic to the economic crisis, to the climate crisis, and a long-overdue reckoning over racial injustice,” Harris said. “To overcome these challenges, we need to communicate clearly, honestly, and transparently with the American people, and this experienced, talented, and barrier-shattering team will help us do that. These communications professionals express our commitment to building a White House that reflects the very best of our nation.”
Alexander’s mother, Betsy Alexander, beamed pride on Monday over her daughter’s appointment.
“We’re just very excited and proud of all her accomplishments,” Betsy Alexander said. “Elizabeth has quite a few friends here still and they’ve followed her career and are very proud of her, too.”
Retired CHS Band Director Alan Reed and his wife, Judy, were among the guests at Elizabeth’s wedding.
“Our family and the Alexander family were fellow members of First United Methodist Church, so I had the opportunity to know Elizabeth from the time she was a little girl," Reed said. "She played flute in middle school and in high school, and was also a member of the Golden Pride Band Color Guard, serving as captain in her senior year. She had great leadership skills. She wanted everyone to be included — and feel included. She was good with her peers. She was also involved in numerous student organizations including Student Council and YMCA Youth and Government, in which the late Johnnie Hyde served as faculty sponsor. Mrs. Hyde would be so thrilled over this.
"In all the years I have known her, I have rarely seen Elizabeth without a smile on her face. She is gracious and kind and very strong in her faith. When she speaks with you, she makes you feel as if you are the most important person in the world. I am so proud of her. This is so cool and very exciting.”
English teacher and Beta Club Sponsor Robin Fort has fond memories of Alexander from her days at CHS.
“Oh, such memories," Fort said. "Elizabeth was always so articulate about books, culture, current events, school spirit, but especially about priorities — what was really important. There was never a dull moment in class or at Beta Club meetings, if Elizabeth was in attendance. She was always expressing clarity and empathy. I knew she was destined for a role in government when I listened to her work, rather, lead, in collaborative groups — especially in a World Literature class I taught. She was so mature and genuine, possessing a heightened sense of right and wrong. I celebrate anyone who has a chance to work with her on a daily basis.”
Jenny Corder O’Toole, a professor of theater at Hill College, and Alexander have been friends since their days at Presbyterian PreSchool, followed by Coleman Elementary School, through to middle school and high school. O'Toole was one of Alexander's bridesmaids.
“We’ve always been close, and best friends since childhood," O'Toole said. "Elizabeth is amazing. She’s going to do so much good work in this new position. It’s something she’s worked for. I’m so proud to see her in this new leadership position—but she’s always been a leader and very involved. She is one who researches, weighs and views things from all sides, and seeks understanding before making a decision.
"When I need advice, she’s who I text first. She’s conscientious, caring, patient, exceptionally intelligent. She’s very good at maintaining relationships—that’s important to her.
"There’s a group of eight to 10 of us, including Elizabeth, who were friends starting in sixth grade or earlier, and were in band, the same classes through high school and in church together, who have stayed together through the years. Growing up we were in and out of each other’s homes and are also close to each other’s parents. We are all thrilled, excited and so proud of Elizabeth. If you knew her growing up, you knew she would do something special with her life. I’m just so proud—I want to run around telling everybody what this awesome lady I’ve known for 40 years is going to be doing."
Cleburne Democrat Jim Garvin was unaware of Alexander’s appointment.
“Oh that’s awesome news,” Garvin said Monday morning. “That’s a real honor for our city and county to have someone from Cleburne attain that level of success. She’s got great credentials and, having been a mainstay in the White House, no doubt brings a lot of experience to her new job.”
Johnson County Democratic Party Precinct 5 Chairman Bill Hammons was similarly impressed by the announcement.
“I’ve heard her name before but didn’t realize she was from Cleburne,” Hammons said. “That’s wonderful. I’m hoping, with a new president coming in, that we’ll begin to see movement back toward the center on both sides of the political spectrum and both sides can get back to the point where they can sit down and realistically discuss things with each other.
“But everything I’ve heard about [Alexander] has been first rate. Maybe someday she can come back and talk to us about her experiences in Washington.”
Alexander served as a senior advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign. She spent the first years of the Obama-Biden administration as the press secretary to Vice President Biden, a role which followed her time as then-Senator Biden’s communications director on Capitol Hill. She has worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Virginia, where she also served as a counselor to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Previously, Alexander worked as press secretary for the United Nations Foundation, press secretary to Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, communications director for Congressman Adam Schiff, and deputy press secretary for Senator Chuck Schumer.
Before joining the Biden-Harris campaign, Alexander was a senior managing director at FTI Consulting, where she led the firm’s gender inclusion and workplace equality communications offering.
After graduating from CHS, Alexander graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University, earning a degree in political science. From there, she earned her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Alexander and her husband, who is CEO of Greenlight Strategies, live in Bethesda, Maryland, with their two young sons.
In her new duties, Alexander will oversee press releases and speeches and oversee the communication strategy for the first lady.