Joint Center News: February 28, 2018


Joint Center News: February 28, 2018

We have been spreading the word about the future of work and automation with the National Urban League, Blacks in Government, Comcast Newsmakers, and others. We also penned a letter to newly-appointed committee ranking members Senators Menendez and Cardin urging them to diversify committee staff. Details below!


Sharing Our Strategic Plan with Key Stakeholders: The Joint Center hosted events in Washington, DC at Reed Smith and New York City at the Ford Foundation to share its new five year-strategic plan with representatives from business, labor, and philanthropy. We want to hear your thoughts as well. Read more here.

Joint Center talks Future of Work at National Urban LeagueThe Joint Center's Spencer Overton, Uber’s Malcom Glenn, and the National Urban League’s Don Cravins and Kim Atterbury talked about automation, artificial intelligence, and the future of Black workers on the National Urban League’s podcast. Listen to the episode here.

Joint Center Keynotes Blacks in Government (“BIG”) Legislative Review Summit: In light of the increasing adoption by federal, state, and local governments of technologies that automate processes, Spencer's keynote focused on the need for Black government workers to engage and be prepared. Over 18 percent of the federal civilian workforce is African American.

Joint Center Speaks at Dialogue on Diversity: During his keynote to the 2018 Internet Data Privacy Colloquium, Spencer emphasized that 31% of Latino workers and 27% of Black workers are concentrated in just 30 occupations at high risk to automation.

Joint Center Talks Future of Work on Comcast Newsmakers: Spencer sat down with Comcast Newsmakers to discuss the future of technology and its role in society. While automation may improve quality of life and add new jobs, it can also displace workers of color. Watch the full segment here and read more about it on our blog.

The Aspen Institute recently released a new paper on Modernizing Unemployment Insurance (UI) for the Changing Nature of Work.


Entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s 2020 Democratic presidential campaign is premised on the assumption that automation will cause mass unemployment and social unrest. Details in the NY Times here.

Robotics and artificial intelligence are bringing garment manufacturing back to the U.S., but threaten to displace workers in emerging countries (particularly in South East Asia). Read more in the Wall Street Journal here.

Survey: 86% of senior federal government officials said they would embrace automation that eliminates repetitive, low skilled tasks. NextGov summarizes the research here.

When Robots Take Our Jobs: The Washington Post’s Nathan Gardels summarizes several commentaries in the Post on automation and inequality. More here.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Autonomous Vehicles and Jobs: “We need to be responsible and start that discussion not with a panic but in a thoughtful fashion about how we do training...How do we do this and not wait until it becomes a crisis where these people are not left in a terrible situation?” Read more here.

Automation Fills Gaps in East Europe's Factories: Even with increases in wages, labor shortage is still a problem in Europe. Companies are turning to automation to adapt. Read more in Reuters here.

Lawmakers Eye New Programs to Boost Tech Workforce: This month the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing to help increase the number of science and tech workers. Sixteen million STEM jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree. Read more here.

Whose Boats is Tech Really Lifting?: It's been over four months since CBC Members Barbara Lee and G.K. Butterfield made their latest pilgrimage to Silicon Valley to push for diversity in hiring and board membership. Politico provides an update.

The Meaning of Black Panther to Afrofuturism: Read various perspectives in EngagetMashable, the New York TimesSlate, and the Washington Post. The movie has special meaning to our work at the Joint Center because it fortifies our commitment to anticipate challenges and envision solutions that will allow Black workers to thrive in the future.


Letters to Ranking Members Menendez and Cardin on Committee Staff Diversity: On February 15, 2018, the Joint Center and seven other organizations sent a letter to the new ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez (D-NJ), and the new ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Senator Cardin (D-MD). The letters ask for their continued commitment to diversity when hiring senior staff on their respective committees. Currently, no Senate full committees have an African American or Latino staff director. Read the letters here


Joint Center and NALEO Educational Fund Meet with Office of Compliance to Discuss Anti-Discrimination Efforts: On February 7, 2018, the Joint Center and the NALEO Education Fund met with the Office of Compliance, which oversees anti-discrimination efforts on Capitol Hill. The parties discussed the Office of Compliance’s efforts to increase its visibility on the Hill and provide training for hiring managers and staffers. Training is a key component to reducing implicit bias in hiring practices.


Joint Center Supports Geoffrey Starks for FCC: On February 21, 2018, the Joint Center sent a letter to Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) recommending Geoffrey Starks for the Federal Communications Commission. A native of Kansas City, Starks was appointed by President Obama to serve in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice. Currently, he is the Assistant Chief of the Enforcement Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission.

Black Women Movers and Shakers on Capitol Hill are featured in Roll Call, including Tamia Booker, Ayshia Connors, Jennifer DeCasper, Ashley Etienne, Rhonda Foxx, Shuwanza Goff, Christina Henderson, Courtney Temple, and Shalanda Young.



The National Organization of Black County Officials (NOBCO) is looking to hire a Pretrial Justice Project Associate. More information here.



  • Amazon’s Career Choice Program pays 95% of the tuition for employees employed for at least a year to earn certificates and associate degrees in high-demand occupations (including those unrelated to Amazon’s business).
  • Charter’s CEO Tom Rutledge recently announced that the minimum wage would be increased to $15 per hour across the company. Details here.
  • Engaging Podcasts: Randy Abreu on broadband access and adoption, Dr. Desmond Patton on social media and gang violence, Brian Howard on American Indians and the digital divide, and Professor Simone Browne on Surveillance in Color are featured on the latest episodes of the WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast with Joe Miller.
  • The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) partnered with states and localities to launch the Digital Transformation Exchange (DTE), an online portal that helps government and thought leaders share best practices related to health, safety, security, data, and mobility.
  • MMTC and 12 other organizations filed comments asserting that FCC's new Lifeline proposals would harm low-income people of color.
  • We mourn the passing of former Ebony Magazine editor, historian, and journalist Lerone Bennett Jr.



  • Celebrate the Legacy of Ronald W. Walters and his fight for black power. RSVP here.
  • National Action Network's 2018 Convention will be April 18-21 in New York City, NY. Register here.
  • National Forum of Black Public Administrators 2018 will be April 18 in Cleveland, OH. Register here.
  • African American Mayors Association 2018 Annual Conference will be April 25 - 27 in Washington, DC. Register here.
  • State of the Union with Angela Rye is BET's latest news special. Watch highlights of the first episode here. 
  • The Beat DC's Jamal Simmons announced a new progressive show with The Hill. Read more here. 


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