Our Team

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SPENCER OVERTON  

Joint Center President

 

Spencer Overton is the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which was founded in 1970 as the Black think tank. Today, the Joint Center focuses on the impact of innovations like artificial intelligence and automation on the future of work and economic development in places like Detroit, Memphis, and the rural Black Belt of the South. The Joint Center also works to increase diversity among congressional staff.

 

Spencer chaired Government Reform Policy on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign, and on the Obama transition he served as a lawyer in the General Counsel's office and as a member of the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform (TIGER) policy team. During the Administration, Spencer served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Policy, the “think tank” of the Department of Justice. After leaving the Department, Spencer held several roles on the 2012 Obama National Finance Committee, including teaching fundraising and chairing a fundraising program that raised $25 million.

 

Spencer is also a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University, where he teaches race and the law, property law, and election law. He is a co-author of 5G, Smart Cities, and Communities of Color (2017), and the author of the book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression and several academic and popular articles. Through his work on national election law commissions, Spencer helped shape the contours of the modern voter ID debate and he led an effort that resulted in Iowa restoring voting rights to 98,000 Iowans who had completed their sentences.  

 

Spencer is an honors graduate of both Hampton University and Harvard Law School, he clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, and he represented large companies for four years practicing law at the firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

  

 

DR. ISMAIL WHITE

Director of Survey Research
 
Dr. White is an Associate Professor of political science at George Washington University. He received his B.A. in political science from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. He previously held positions at the University of Texas at Austin, The Ohio State University, and Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Politics. Dr. White studies American politics with a focus on African-American politics, public opinion, and political participation. His research in these areas has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Black Studies,Race and Social Problems, Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, and a number of edited book volumes. He is co-editor of the book African-American Political Psychology: Identity, Opinion, and Action in the Post-Civil Rights Era. He also works on the development of survey and experimental methods for better understanding political and social issues. He has published work in these areas in the American Journal of Political Science and Political Analysis, and previously worked on surveys through the Detroit Area Study and as a fellow for the American National Election Study.
 
 
MARCUS LITTLES
Senior Fellow
 
Marcus Littles is an experienced social entrepreneur with expertise in racial justice, community engagement and social innovation. He is the Founder and Senior Partner at Frontline Solutions, a national consulting firm that offers clients in the nonprofit and public sectors a full range of services to enhance impact. Frontline’s expertise includes, strategy, project management and assessment, and in each FS engagement, it seeks to apply a critical understanding of race, place, class and gender.Specifically, Frontline supports organizations in areas such as organizational and program development, coalition-building, developing backbone organizations, evaluation and communications support. Under Marcus’ leadership, Frontline has provided support services to numerous social change organizations, including philanthropic foundations, affinity groups and support organizations, as well as nonprofits advocacy groups and social enterprises. Frontline has three offices, in Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Durham, NC, and 17 full-time staff. Littles has worked for 20 years in the social sector, as a consultant for TCC Group, a Program Associate at the Ford Foundation, a policy analyst at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, an educator at a middle school in South Africa, a youth service provider, and as a part of the organizing community in Brooklyn and Washington DC. Marcus has authored and contributed to numerous publications.  Littles holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Delaware’s School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy.  He concentrated his studies in nonprofit management, community-based and youth development.  Littles received a BA in Public Relations and Marketing from Auburn University.

 

 
NEVILLE DEPASS 
Director, Finance & Accounting
 
Neville  DePass is responsible for the Joint Center's accounting, grants and contracts. He has served as the Joint Center’s Controller and Grants/Contracts Manager, which included developing, implementing, and managing the Center’s domestic and international financial systems. During this time, he established and oversaw financial operations for the Center’s South Africa office. He has done extensive grants and contracts management work in West and South Africa with multiple international funding sources.  Prior to joining the Joint Center in 1993, Mr. DePass served as an accounting consultant for DatanamicsInc where he led the analysis and auditing of government contracts. Mr. DePass holds a B.S. in accounting from the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, where he also completed Masters courses in accounting. 
  
 
DON BELL

Director, Black Talent Initiative

 

Don Bell, a Connecticut native, has spent the last three years working on Capitol Hill. In that time, he worked as a fellow, judiciary legislative correspondent, and Counsel to three Senators, culminating with his time on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Don was elected President of the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus (SBLSC) in April 2016. During his term, he conducted a groundbreaking Census of black Senate staffers that inspired the current diversity movement, and has been a leader in advocating for greater Senate staff diversity and organizing an inside/outside movement that has drawn national attention to the pervasive lack of diversity among Congressional staffers. As President, Don oversaw the development of additional employment resources for black Senate staffers, worked with the SBLSC Professional Development Committee to place members, and actively collaborated with House and Senate influencers to break down the barriers people of diverse backgrounds have to working on the Hill. Don is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and University of Connecticut School of Law. 

 

 

 

KEITH ROGERS

Program/Grants Management Associate

 

Keith Rogers was born in Gary, Indiana and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Grand Canyon University, a private christian school in Phoenix, where he majored in Justice Studies. His interests lie in politics, sports, and fashion. He is currently preparing to attend law school within the next few years. Eventually, Keith hopes to become involved in a kind of public service that will help make America even stronger socially. 

 

 

 

Digital Media/ Communications Associate

 

 

 

SEAN MICHAEL LOVE

Executive Assistant

 

Sean Michael Love was born in Rota Spain while his mother served in the Navy and has called Washington DC his home for over 15 years. In 2007, Sean Michael left DC to attend Boise State University where he majored in Music Composition and English. Since returning to the DC, Sean Michael has invested his time into volunteering with several grassroots campaign advocating on the issues that affect the African-American community. Sean Michael joins the Joint Center team looking to continue to grow as a leader in his community and wants to continue to develop the relationships needed to make a true lasting change.