Meet the Miami native and Immaculata-La Salle alum who now has a senior White House role

By C. ISAIAH SMALLS II for the Miami Herald

Liberty City native Erica Loewe pictured on the runway. A graduate of Immaculata-La Salle High School, Loewe was recently promoted to the White House’s new chief of staff of public engagement

A Black woman from Liberty City now helps lead how the White House engages with citizens.

As of Aug. 28, Miami native Erica Loewe serves as the White House’s new chief of staff of public engagement. Loewe’s role allows her to control how the nation’s leader engages with various community stakeholders as well as messaging in matters of civil rights and racial equity. The White House’s former director of African American media, she called the move a “shift in portfolio” which gives her the opportunity to engage the country’s diverse population to ensure an inclusive and transparent government.

The importance of civic engagement had been impressed upon Loewe since childhood. Her uncle worked for various mayoral campaigns, her aunt worked as general counsel for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, and her mom worked at city hall, she said.

“All I know is, I used to be handing out fliers at the Youth Fair, helping my mom with whatever she was working on at the moment, doing stuff at church,” Loewe recalled with a chuckle.

Despite living in Washington, D.C., for more than a decade, Loewe, a Liberty City native, is a Miami girl through and through.

You can tell by her excitement when she mentions having recently met rapper Trick Daddy, who’s also from Liberty City. By the way she pauses mid-conversation when she hears his “Take It To da House.” And by the way her intonation changes when she talks about Miami radio host Supa Cindy and 99 Jamz.

But it was Loewe’s high school experience at Immaculata-La Salle, a private Roman Catholic high school in Coconut Grove, that laid the groundwork for her new role in the White House. The school, from which she graduated in 2007, was a “cultural shock,” she recalls.

“I was probably one of three Black people at La Salle, which I think it definitely came with challenges,” Loewe said, explaining that most of her classmates were a lot more affluent than she was. “I also think that it was integral part of my upbringing and led to me doing the equity work that I do now.”

An internship at the White House after she graduated from the University of Florida in 2011 ultimately ignited a thirst for public service.

“I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do next,” Loewe recalled after she moved to Washington, D.C., in the early 2010s. “I just knew President Obama was in office and I was trying to figure out how to make that make sense. That was one of the few things I could do that would make my parents happy because they were obsessed with Obama.”

After a short stint in the White House and on Obama’s 2012 inaugural committee, Loewe left for the private sector. Something about public service kept calling her name, and in 2017, she worked under Rep. Maxine Waters, then Rep. Jim Clyburn, until finally joining the Biden White House as the director of African American media.

Loewe’s time with Clyburn gave her a better understanding of the importance of democracy: She and the highest-ranking Black lawmaker were hunkered down together during the January 6th insurrection.

“You often see those pictures online of staffers pushing the table against the door, and that was me and my colleagues in Mr. Clyburn’s office,” she said. The experience, she recalled, was “absolutely terrifying” yet it highlighted the importance in protecting against threats to democracy.

As director of African American media, she pushed for more representation of Black-led or Black-serving outlets.

“Erica has spearheaded our Black media engagement since the early days of the Biden-Harris Administration,” Anita Dunn, senior advisor to President Biden, said in a statement. “She’s smart, innovative, hardworking and has a passion that aligns with the President’s mission of ensuring everyone has a seat at the table.”

In her new role, Loewe’s purview will expand. The office of public engagement, she describes, is essentially the “front door to the White House.” That means all outreach, official announcements and events will go through her. She will also be more involved in working more with advocacy groups and organizations than press and that front door will be open for everybody, she said.

“The goal is to be helpful to and reach as many people as possible,” Loewe said. “In this role, I get to do that on behalf of the president.”

This story is from the MIAMI HERALD. 

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