Two top aides who oversee travel for Vice President Kamala Harris are departing, leaving the vice president with her critical support staff in flux as she seeks to ramp up travel ahead of big vaccine and voting rights pushes she is planning through July.
Karly Satkowiak, the director of advance, and Gabrielle DeFranceschi, the deputy director of advance, have both told the vice president’s office they plan to leave in the coming weeks, according to three sources familiar with their plans. A spokeswoman for Ms. Harris said the departures were long planned and that both women are currently engaged with finding their replacements.
Advance workers are an integral part of the vice president’s team, responsible for planning all of her trips. Ms. Satkowiak and Ms. DeFranceschi put together the teams that survey venues for Ms. Harris to visit, and negotiate with local officials to get the venues camera-ready.
The departures come as the administration has put out a broad call for “advance associates” to help Ms. Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, with a big push of vaccine-related travel in the summer months. The vice president’s office, according to a person familiar with its hiring, is currently short on travel support staff, and the call for advance associates came as the administration has also been planning Ms. Harris’s high-stakes trip to the southern border. That trip was announced Wednesday amid mounting pressure from conservatives and is scheduled days before former President Donald J. Trump also plans to visit the border with a group of House Republicans and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.
The Biden administration is trying to recruit advance associates — an unpaid position where travel expenses are paid for or reimbursed by the government — to help staff and manage the travel of Ms. Harris and her husband. They also asked anyone who previously served as an advance associate to “consider doing so again.”
“We aim to onboard a critical mass of talented logistical experts,” the administration said in an email sent widely to current and former Democratic employees.
Unlike President Biden, who has been surrounded by the same top aides for the majority of his political career, Ms. Harris entered the administration with many new employees. Many of those officials came in with an understanding that they would stay only on a short-term basis.