In June, the Joint Center convened a group of 25 top state legislative and city council leaders of color for a three-day policy roundtable at the U.S. Capitol Complex, GW Law School, and the White House EEOB. (Click here for a 2-minute video of the leaders describing the event).
The Joint Center researched and carefully selected these 25 participants for their demonstrated innovation and leadership (full list below). Most of the officials were floor leaders or committee leaders, and they represented geographically diverse cities and states from Washington, DC to Hawaii, as well as African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and Native American communities.
The roundtable focused on four issues critical to the future of communities of color and the nation generally—criminal justice (policing, sentencing), technology (broadband infrastructure, broadband home adoption, entrepreneurship, tech diversity), financial services (challenges of the unbanked, access to capital), and energy workforce. Generally, the 25 state and local elected officials sat around a large conference table along with a keynote speaker or 2-4 panelists, and another 20 chairs were arranged theater-style for scholars, sponsors, students, non-profit representatives, and other special guests. To maximize discussion, speakers' opening remarks were limited and framed the issue, and the bulk of the time was devoted to interactive exchange between the speakers and elected officials.
The challenges, ideas, and solutions shared by experts and elected officials form the foundation of a series of white papers the Joint Center is currently researching and writing.
Wednesday, June 10—Policing and Criminal Justice Reform
The Roundtable kicked off on Wednesday, June 10th at the Dirksen Senate Office Building with a policing and criminal justice session. The United States incarcerates a higher percentage of its racial/ethnic minorities than any other nation, and the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment is 1 in 3 for Black men and 1 in 6 for Latino men (compared to 1 in 17 for White men) according to the Sentencing Project.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul addressed the Roundtable participants with a keynote on criminal justice reform. Also pictured above are Insight America Executive Director Elroy Sailor and Urban Institute Researcher Jocelyn Fontaine, PhD.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker with Illinois Senate Financial Institutions Chair Jacqueline Collins, Jackson City Council President De'Keither Stamps, Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Vincent Sarmiento, and Illinois House Criminal Justice Chair La Shawn Ford. Senator Booker talked with Roundtable participants about criminal justice reform.
Former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts moderated criminal justice sessions. U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott discussed criminal justice reform with Roundtable participants.
Bernard Kerik--who was New York City Police Commissioner on September 11, 2001 and also spent time in federal prison--spoke on a criminal justice panel along with Urban Institute Researchers Ryan King and Jocelyn Fontaine PhD, and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon (Napoleon is not pictured here).
After moving from the U.S. Senate over to the U.S. House, the state and city leaders talked about criminal justice reform with Judiciary Committee Ranking Member U.S. Congressman John Conyers and floor leadership with Democratic Whip U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer.
Government Oversight Ranking Member U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings and Congressional Black Caucus Chair U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield. Congressman Butterfield, who was instrumental in helping the Joint Center organize the Roundtable, talked with Roundtable participants about key issues in Congress and leadership.
Financial Services Ranking Member U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Ranking Member U.S. Congressman William Lacy Clay talked about the challenges of unbanked Americans.
Joint Center President Spencer Overton welcomed Energy and Power Subcommittee Ranking Member U.S Congressman Bobby Rush, who spoke on energy workforce issues.
An opening reception with an honorary host committee comprised of 73 members of Congress (listed below) allowed the state and city elected officials to enjoy informal conversations with several significant figures. In this picture, Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson and Jackson City Council President De'Keither Stamps caught up with U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop, and U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott. Many other luminaries engaged with the state and city elected officials, including Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Wade Henderson, as well as Congressional Black Caucus Chair U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings, U.S. Congressman Danny Davis, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and U.S. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett.
Thursday, June 11—Technology and Financial Services
Thursday morning at GW Law focused on technology. According to the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Latinos and African-Americans accounted for less than 1% of venture capital-funded start up founders. Latinos and African Americans are underrepresented in tech jobs at large tech companies (for example, at Facebook 3% identified as Latino and 1% as African-American). While one study found that Asians and Asian-Americans made up 27% of tech company workers, they represented under 14% of executives.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator Larry Strickling talked about broadband infrastructure (in the background are Maryland House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch, Charlotte City Council Budget Chair Greg Phipps, and Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson).
Comcast Public Policy Executive Director Madura Wijewardena, former National Broadband Plan Executive Director Blair Levin, Pew Fellow John Horrigan, PhD, and FCC Official Chanelle Hardy (Chief of Staff to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn) talked about broadband infrastructure and home adoption.
Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Joint Center President Spencer Overton talked to Verizon VP Emilio Gonzalez just before his remarks on broadband, technology, and communities of color.
Swiftwing Ventures COO Patrick Gusman (pictured), Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) President Kim Keenan, and WashingTECH President Joseph Miller covered startups/entrepreneurship in non-conventional communities.
The tech industry diversity discussion was framed by Google Sr. Policy Advisor Jenny Backus and former NAACP President & CEO & Kapor Capital Partner Benjamin Todd Jealous.
Thursday afternoon featured a session on financial services. FDIC Sr. Consumer Research Associate Yazmin Osaki and MasterCard Global Head of Public Policy Shawn Miles led the discussion on challenges of the unbanked (e.g., excessive check cashing fees and abusive payday lending practices). A recent FDIC report found that 53.6% of Black households, 46.4% of Latino households, and 42.3% of American Indian/Alaskan households were unbanked or underbanked. (Unbanked households lack a bank account, and underbanked households have bank accounts but use alternative financial services such as check cashing services, payday loans, rent-to-own services, or pawn shop loans).
Potomac Coalition President Larry Parks and U.S. Small Business Administration Assistant Administrator Christopher James led the discussion on challenges to credit availability in homeownership and small business. Also pictured are West Virginia House Minority Issues Chair Jill Upson, New Orleans City Council President Jason Rogers Williams, and Montana Minority Caucus Chair Carolyn Pease-Lopez.
Friday, June 12—Energy Workforce and White House EEOB
Friday morning at GW Law, the Roundtable turned to energy workforce issues in oil and gas, electricity, and renewables. The energy production and distribution sector accounts for millions of direct and indirect jobs in the United States, many of which do not require a college degree.
FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable provided an overview on energy workforce issues.
BP VP Ray Dempsey talked about oil and gas workforce development opportunities.
EEI Executive Vice President David Owens discussed electricity workforce issues.
Pepco Strategic Policy Director Robert Revelle, US Department of Energy Solar Energies Tech Office Director Minh Le, STEM researcher Dr. Carlos Rodriguez, and American Association of Blacks in Energy President Paula Jackson discussed energy workforce.
"The Joint Center has done a remarkable job of putting together a comprehensive, and more importantly, deep, conversation on a series of issues that relate not only to communities of color, but relate to my responsibility as minority leader. What I've been most impressed by over the last two days has been the willingness of the participants to engage on issues but also the quality and the caliber of those coming to speak to us, that quality I think is very telling...I find it to be transformative for my work as a leader"
Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams
Nevada Senate Co-Minority Whip Kelvin Atkinson
Maryland House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch
Cleveland City Council Majority Leader Phyllis Cleveland
Illinois Senate Financial Institutions Chair Jacqueline Collins
Houston City Council Vice Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Davis
Illinois House Criminal Justice Chair La Shawn Ford
Tennessee Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris
District of Columbia Council Chair Pro Tem Kenyan McDuffie
Hawaii Immediate Past Senate President Donna Mercado Kim
Alabama House Minority Chair Darrio Melton
Colorado House Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon
Montana Minority Caucus Chair Carolyn Pease-Lopez
North Carolina General Assembly Minority Conference Chair Garland E. Pierce
Charlotte City Council Budget Chair Greg Phipps
Maryland Senate Majority Leader & National Black Caucus of State Legislators President Catherine Pugh
Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson
Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Vincent Sarmiento
Jackson City Council President De'Keither Stamps
Louisville City Council President David Tandy
Georgia Senate Minority Caucus Chair Horacena Tate
West Virginia House Minority Issues Chair Jill Upson
Texas State Representative Jason Villalba
New Orleans City Council President Jason Rogers Williams
Baltimore City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young