WASHINGTON (CNN) - After more than a decade covering politics at CNN, Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson is leaving the network to join the Obama administration as press secretary for the Department of Transportation, which is headed by former Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois.
"CNN is losing a great friend and colleague," said CNN Political Director Sam Feist. Johnson started at CNN's Washington bureau in August of 1998. She served first as a researcher and then associate producer for CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. Johnson then moved over to the show production side, first as a producer and then a senior producer for Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics. Since 2003, Johnson served as a senior political producer, working alongside Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley and Political Producer Mike Roselli through two presidential campaigns.
In the past few years, Johnson also became a familiar face in front of the camera, as well as behind the camera. During the 2004 campaign, she appeared frequently on CNN's On the Story. During the past presidential campaign and in the months following last November's election, Johnson provided smart political analysis on CNN, CNN International, CNN.com Live and CNN Radio. Her byline was also a familiar sight on the CNN Political Ticker and CNNPolitics.com.
Johnson was an essential player on the political team that won an Emmy award for the network's coverage of the 2006 election and just won a Peabody Award for CNN's coverage of the 2008 campaign. She was also honored, along with Candy and Mike, with the 2005 Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in journalism for their coverage of the 2004 race for the White House.
"Anybody who's worked with her knows what a loss this is for CNN. Sasha is a superior producer and an even better friend. I will very much miss the former. Fortunately, I am not losing the latter," said Crowley.
"After 10 1/2 years at CNN, which included three presidential campaigns, I am ready for a new challenge and ready to fulfill another career goal - the opportunity to work in public policy," Johnson wrote in an email to colleagues.
At the Transportation Department, Johnson will work alongside former Chicago Tribune reporter Jill Zuckman, who in February became Director of Public Affairs and Assistant to Secretary LaHood.