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Top Kamala Harris aide to leave for Defense Department

Another top aide to Vice President Kamala Harris is departing her office. Sabrina Singh, Harris' current deputy press secretary, is moving to the Defense Department for a new role, according to an internal email obtained by CBS News that details staff changes within the vice president's office.

Jamal Simmons, the communications director for the vice president, wrote in the memo of the "sad news" of Singh's departure. "We will miss her institutional knowledge, strategic counsel and rapid-fire e-mail fingers," Simmons said. 

FILE: Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary for Vice President Kamala Harris. via Twitter

Singh's announcement marks the departure of one of Harris' longest serving aides in an office with many newcomers to the vice president's orbit. Harris first hired Singh in March 2020 to run communications for her  political operations. Singh became a key adviser to Harris during the silent campaign by prominent Democrats to join Joe Biden's ticket. She also worked for Harris during the general election and the transition. Singh has served as deputy press secretary since the beginning of the administration.

Simmons' email also outlined several internal promotions and one new hire. A source familiar with the personnel changes tells CBS News that the vice president plans to "reconfigure," her communications department amid the departures last year of Harris' former press secretary Symone Sanders and communications director Ashley Etienne.

Harris' new deputy press secretary will be Ernesto "Ernie" Apreza. Apreza, who currently serves in the White House Office of Public Engagement, previously worked on the 2020 Biden-Harris campaign, as well as Harris' presidential campaign in 2019.

No announcements have been made regarding a new press secretary, but Simmons told the staff in the email that a new press secretary has been hired — "she will be a fantastic leader" of the communications team, he wrote.

According to the email sent to staffers, Apreza also plans to engage state and local press as well as several key constituency and coalition media groups. Harris was reportedly searching for a seasoned Democratic operative to fill a new Hispanic outreach role ahead of the midterm elections.

Other changes to Harris' office include promotions for Herbie Ziskend and Rachel Palermo. Ziskend, who currently serves as deputy communications director will become a senior communications adviser. Palermo will become the new deputy communications director.

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