Detroit native Simmons hired as communications director for VP Kamala Harris

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — Detroit native Jamal Simmons has been hired by Vice President Kamala Harris as her new communications director, according to a White House official.

Simmons, a graduate of Cass Technical High School, will assume the post held by the vice president's first communications director, Ashley Etienne, who left the office late last year. His starting date is unclear.

Jamal Simmons speaks onstage at the Elections 2016: The Wild Ride to the White House panel on the Times Center Stage during 2016 Advertising Week New York on Sept. 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York)

The VP's communications staff also recently lost Symone Sanders, who was Harris' chief spokesperson and senior adviser. Harris is also losing Peter Velz, her director of press operations, and Vincent Evans, her deputy director of public engagement, who is headed to direct the Congressional Black Caucus.

Harris' first year was at times dogged by reports about dysfunction within her office. 

Simmons is a longtime Democratic communications aide who has contributed to political analysis on CNN, CBS News, NPR, ABC and MSNBC and worked in politics for two decades, according to a bio.

His resume includes time on Capitol Hill working for lawmakers including as chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, and as an aide for the Democratic National Committee.

He's also worked on campaigns for former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida. 

Jamal Simmons and Andrew Gillum attend META - Convened by BET Networks at The Edition Hotel on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Simmons' hiring was first reported by The Hill, where he was a host and contributor for two years.

He graduated from Morehouse College in 1993 and has a master's in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

mburke@detroitnews.com