Alumni Spotlight: Sabrina Singh '99

By Lauren Goulston '94
We had the opportunity to catch up with Sabrina Singh ‘99, the Deputy Press Secretary at the Department of Defense. Her career reflects a steadfast commitment to public service and a relentless pursuit of excellence.
Tracing the Path from JTD

I always loved history and have fond memories of hikes led by Mr. Bartel and traditions like the JTD Fair and Christmas carols. My teachers not only prepared me for high school but gently pushed me to do activities I might not otherwise have tried. It was such a warm environment to learn and grow up in. From JTD, I continued my academic journey at Harvard Westlake and USC, where a “Peace and Conflict” class ignited a passion for international relations and politics.

My career in politics began with an internship for Senator Barbara Boxer. Capitol Hill is a great place to transition from college. It’s a young environment that’s fast-paced, demanding, and incredibly interesting. While initially inclined to working in foreign policy and legislation, a communications director piqued my interest in the press. I realized I loved working with media and reporters to help craft public conversations versus actually writing the legislation itself.

After a press assistant role at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), I worked my way up, eventually serving as press secretary for Cory Booker and in senior communications positions for Mike Bloomberg and Vice President Kamala Harris.

How did you get the role with Kamala? When you started working for her in early 2020, did you have any sense that she was potentially going to be on the ticket?

I was connected to then Senator Kamala Harris through a few friends because she was looking for someone to help with her political communications. I met her in March 2020, during the very beginning of the pandemic, and interviewed with her in the same office where I interned for Senator Boxer. We had a great connection—it felt like a full circle moment.

Growing up in California and of course, during the 2020 primary, I was familiar with Vice President Harris’ story and inspired by her work. While I didn’t know that she would eventually join the ticket, I did know that she was going to make an impact in Democratic politics, and so it was really an honor to work for her.

Working in her office, I was exposed to working on national security and foreign policy issues, which got me itching to start looking at opportunities in this field. When a job opened up at the Department of Defense, I jumped at the opportunity.

A Day in the Life at the Pentagon

I wake up at 5:00am every day, go to the gym for an hour, and drive to work, arriving around 7:15 to 7:30am. My first meeting starts at 7:30am.

At 7:30am, we have an intel briefing, followed by an internal communications meeting at 7:45am, and an inter-agency meeting at 8:30am. Between 9:00am and noon, I have various meetings, sometimes with the Secretary or within our communications press office.

If I’m at the podium that day, from 10:00 to 11:00am I prepare with our press team, who brief me on potential reporter questions and policy updates. We cover global regions and internal department issues. I also get operational updates from the joint staff regarding force movements or other intel. Midday, I try to fit in meetings as needed.

At 2:30pm, I’m briefing at the podium and then the rest of the day involves catching up on tasks I missed earlier. In the evening, we do a close-out to summarize the day and plan for the next. We typically brief on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with Wednesdays and Fridays being somewhat lighter.

What has been most awe-inspiring for you?

The capability of our military is truly unmatched. We can get military equipment and capabilities to a country like Ukraine within hours of the President signing out a package. This includes major air defense systems that can defend an entire city. Following the October 7 attack, the Secretary ordered two carrier strike groups to move towards the region, one in the eastern Mediterranean and the other in the Red Sea. We can support Ukraine, surge capability and power to the Middle East, and simultaneously keep our focus on China - no other military in the world can do what we do. It's incredible to watch it unfold.

Highlight of your career so far?

Briefing at the podium—I not only brief the press in the room but also the American people. It's amazing to speak on behalf of the administration and the Secretary, who entrusts me with this responsibility. Standing behind the podium where so many great people have stood before me and being as transparent as possible is an honor. We can't share intelligence matters, but we do everything we can to ensure reporters have what they need to tell the story to the American people.

Have you always been a confident public speaker? 

I am always very nervous. By the time I walk off the podium, I am drenched in sweat! I tried debate at Harvard Westlake and didn’t like it at all. However, I am outgoing and enjoy meeting people and forming relationships, which works well with reporters. I wouldn’t say I’ve always been a confident public speaker, but I’ve been confident in forming relationships and being willing to step outside my comfort zone. Curiosity has also been beneficial to my career. I like to ask questions, leading to more conversations and expanding my public speaking roles.

Are there aliens? 

That’s classified. Just kidding – no.

Final Thoughts

JTD is still a linchpin of my family's community in Los Angeles. To this day, there are many families that are all still friends and even travel together. It’s a little crew that still keeps in touch. Every time I see them when we're home, we can pick up where we left off. The dads have a book club, and the moms still talk almost every day.

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