Spencer Overton is the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which was founded in 1970 and is America’s Black think tank. Spencer became the leader of the Joint Center in 2014, restructured the organization, and helped ensure its financial health. He is currently leading the implementation of a five-year strategic plan that will increase the Joint Center’s impact, expand its capacity to partner with Black community organizations, widen the reach of its communication strategies, and more than double its operating budget.
Today, the Joint Center produces data, research, and analysis on economic and tech policy issues that are essential to the future of Black communities, including supporting small businesses, the future of Black workers, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, stopping online disinformation, and broadband access and adoption. The Joint Center also produces leading research on diversity in congressional and presidential appointments.
Spencer is the author or co-author of a book and several academic articles, think tank reports, and popular commentaries on race and public policy, including “An Introduction to the Future of Work in the Black Rural South,” “Improving Training Evaluation Data to Brighten the Future of Black Workers,” “State Power to Regulate Social Media Companies to Prevent Voter Suppression,” “Policies to Help Black & Latino Businesses Use Mobile Apps to Grow,” and “5G, Smart Cities & Communities of Color.” Spencer also edited the Joint Center’s recent report “Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South,” and he conceived of and commissioned the law firm Wilmer Hale to write "How to Advance Corporate Diversity in Compliance with the Law: A Toolkit."
During the Obama administration Spencer served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy (the “think tank” of the Department of Justice) and as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Spencer has also served on the boards of Dēmos, the American Constitution Society, and Common Cause. Spencer’s work on national election commissions laid the groundwork for modern arguments on voter ID laws and resulted in Iowa restoring voting rights to over 80,000 returning citizens. He was also a part of a group of commissioners that worked to successfully move more diverse states like South Carolina to the beginning of the modern Democratic presidential primary process, which would later have significant implications in selecting the Democratic nominee in 2008 (Barack Obama) and 2020 (Joseph Biden).
Since 2005, Spencer has been a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University and is currently on leave from that position while leading the Joint Center. He also represented major companies while practicing law at the firm Debevoise & Plimpton, clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, and graduated with honors from both Hampton University and Harvard Law School.
Read his policy analysis and commentary here.
Vice President, Policy
Jessica Fulton is the vice president of Policy at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. An expert on issues at the intersection of race and economic policy, Jessica’s work focuses on identifying and promoting policies to advance the socioeconomic status of the Black community. In her current role, she oversees the Joint Center’s research and policy team and leads the Economic Policy Program.
Before joining the Joint Center, she served as external relations director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, where she worked with scholars to advance policymaker understanding of the connection between economic inequality and economic growth. She has also held local research and advocacy positions at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the Chicago Urban League.
Jessica is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She serves on the Board of The Black Swan Academy, an organization focused on increasing civic engagement among Black youth, and the Advisory Board of the Sadie Collective, which strives to increase the representation of Black women in economics. Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in Economic Policy Analysis from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at Depaul University.
Read her policy analysis and commentary here.
Vice President, Communications
Chandra M. Hayslett is the vice president of Communications at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning communications executive with 24 years’ experience spanning the public relations, marketing and journalism industries. Before joining the Joint Center, she was director of communications at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she led the overall development of strategic communications.
Prior to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Chandra worked at public relations agencies and nonprofits, where she served as a strategic, trusted counselor who moved public opinion with narrative shifting and thought leadership amplifying CEO and executive director positioning.
Before transitioning into public relations, Chandra spent 11 years as a newspaper reporter covering K-12 public education and politics at newspapers across Tennessee and New Jersey, including the Newark Star-Ledger, where she was part of a reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news.
Chandra is a member of the New York Association of Black Journalists, the Communications Network, New York Women in Communications, Inc., PR Council, and the Metro Manhattan (NY) Links, Inc. She has a Bachelor of Arts in African-American Studies from the University of Tennessee and lives in New York City.
Vice President, Finance and Operations
Quinci Moody is the vice president of Finance and Operations at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. A dedicated nonprofit executive with more than fifteen years of experience, Quinci is passionate about guiding emerging nonprofits to achieve their highest potential. She especially enjoys building capacity in organizations working to strengthen vulnerable or underserved communities, and developing nonprofit leaders of color.
In 2005, she earned a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from American University, after completing a BA in English from Florida A&M University in 2003.
After graduate school, Quinci continued to strengthen organizations through her role as program associate at Fair Chance, an organization that provides nonprofit leaders with tools and knowledge they need to thrive. Hired to continue the organization’s expansion into new communities, Quinci successfully led outreach, consulting, and capacity building efforts in several of Washington, DC’s most underserved communities. After conducting comprehensive organizational assessments, based on best practices, to determine capacity building needs, Quinci provided intensive nonprofit capacity building services in areas of board development, fiscal management, fundraising, strategic planning, program evaluation, and human resources. She also provided leadership coaching to executive directors of community-based nonprofits and facilitated quarterly executive director roundtables on relevant nonprofit management topics.
Prior to joining The Joint Center, Quinci served as chief operating officer at The Fishing School, a nonprofit that provides year-round out-of-school-time academic, life skills, and parent engagement programming for youth and families from Washington, DC’s most under-resourced communities. During her ten-year tenure, Quinci served as a critical thought partner to the chief executive, facilitated significant organizational expansion, and oversaw the organization’s fundraising, programs, and operational functions such as human resources, accounting, facilities management, and information technology.
Vice President, Development
Tykia has 20 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit management. She has raised over $200 million in private and public funding for a wide variety of nonprofits, education institutions and political campaigns. Tykia is an experienced advocate for education at all levels, with a long history of leadership roles at public and private colleges, and universities. Her accomplishments include creating partnerships with key constituents within corporate, foundation, and public entities. Prior to her current position at Joint Center, Tykia was the Executive Director of a San Francisco Community College District Foundation. In that role, she has overseen principal giving, alumni relations, estate and gift planning, corporate and foundation relations, and annual giving. Tykia embodies The Joint Center’s values of courage, collaboration, accountability, and more.
Throughout her career, Tykia has successfully lobbied for affordable housing, increases in school funding, and better educational options for low-income students. She’s an enthusiastic supporter of equity and access in higher education. Her previous positions feature stints at the Smithsonian Institute, University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University. Earlier in her career, Tykia served as a consultant where she managed political fundraising campaigns for Maryland congressional officials. Additionally, Tykia worked on Capitol Hill as staff for a member of the United States House of Representatives.
Tykia received her Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University. She is currently a Doctoral candidate at Northern Illinois University, focusing her dissertation research on philanthropy trends in the Community College and Historical Black University systems. Tykia is also a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and serves on Board of Directors for both Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital and the Network for California Community Colleges Foundation.
Tykia is passionate about helping her community and has served as a volunteer for a variety of organizations including Jack & Jill of America, Inc. and as a Charter member of the Omega Upsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Dr. LaShonda Brenson is the senior researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Prior to her current role, she led the Joint Center's Hill Diversity Program as the senior fellow of diversity and inclusion at the Joint Center.
Prior to the Joint Center, Dr. Brenson served a civil rights analyst at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. At the Commission, Dr. Brenson organized national briefings and wrote reports on municipal fines and fees and its impact on minority communities, minority voting rights, and women in prison. Previously, she was the research director at Project Vote, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded on the belief that an organized, diverse electorate is the key to a better America.
Dr. Brenson earned her bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Political Science from the University of Rochester, and her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Using qualitative interviews with congressional staffers and quantitative methods, her dissertation research provides evidence that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), as institutions, matter. One way she demonstrates the added value of the CBC and CHC is by illustrating that when caucus members serve as caucus leaders, they introduce more bills because of their additional staff capacity.
Read her policy analysis and commentary here.
Director, Workforce Policy
Dr. Alex Camardelle is the director of the Workforce Policy Program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, where he leads a program that centers Black workers in policy debates concerning the future of work, workforce development, and access to good jobs.
Prior to joining the Joint Center, Dr. Camardelle served as the senior policy analyst for Economic Mobility at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute where his research and advocacy supported policy reforms shaping workforce development, worker justice, and access to core safety net programs for individuals and families with low incomes. He also worked at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where he was responsible for strengthening economic opportunity through research, grantmaking, and partnerships.
Dr. Camardelle serves on the board of directors for the National Skills Coalition, an organization that advocates to remove barriers to high-quality training and employment services through policy change. He also serves on the board of directors for Foreverfamily, Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting youth with incarcerated parents. The Georgia Center for Nonprofits recognized Alex as one of its 2017 30 Under 30, a distinction for professionals who are making a powerful impact in Atlanta by exhibiting outstanding leadership, innovation, and commitment to their community work. He is also part of Georgia State University’s 40 under 40 alumni class.
Dr. Camardelle holds a BA in political science from the University of Alabama. He is also a graduate of Georgia State University, where he earned his Master’s of Public Administration degree in policy analysis and evaluation, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational policy studies. Alex’s scholarship focuses on race, workforce development, and political economy. He is also a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.
Read his policy analysis and commentary here.
Kendall Easley is the communications associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Previously, she worked at Ed Farm, an education-technology non-profit organization, as the research and policy associate. Kendall earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration from Yale College. On campus, she was heavily involved in the Afro-American Cultural Center community, where she served a term as president of the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY).
Victoria Johnson is the communications manager at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Victoria originally joined the Joint Center team in 2018 as the digital communications specialist.
Prior to joining the Joint Center, she spent six years as a journalist earning robust newspaper and magazine experience while reporting on policy and the arts for New York Daily News, New York Amsterdam News, Teen Vogue, Mashable, Vulture, and more.
She earned a bachelor's degree in communications at The City College of New York and a master's degree in Urban Reporting at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism (formerly CUNY Graduate School of Journalism).
BRIAN KENNEDY II
Senior Policy Analyst, Workforce Policy
Brian Kennedy II is a senior policy analyst for the Workforce Policy Program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Prior to joining the Joint Center, Brian served as a policy advisor in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Recovery Programs where he supported the administration of American Rescue Plan funds to states and local governments. Previously, Brian worked as a consultant with Frontline Solutions, a Black-owned and led consulting firm supporting non-profits and philanthropic organizations. Brian has also worked as a senior policy analyst with the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, focusing on living wages and social safety net programs.
Brian earned bachelor’s degrees in History and Political Science from North Carolina Central University and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University. Brian is also the co-host of At The Intersection, a Durham-based podcast about policy, culture, and identity.
Senior Policy Analyst, Workforce Policy
Justin Nalley is a senior policy analyst for the Workforce Policy Program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Justin brings his experience advocating for access to equitable resources for Black communities to produce timely policy research and data analysis, which centers Black workers in workforce development, post-secondary access, and access to quality jobs.
Before joining the Joint Center, Justin served as the senior public policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. In this role, Justin researched, lobbied, and conducted state fiscal analysis to shape policy for Black youth and families in public education, juvenile justice reform, and voting rights. Justin was also instrumental in the formation and recognition of the first union at the ACLU of Maryland and held the role of shop steward, leading contract negotiations. He also worked at Baltimore City Public Schools as an analyst, ensuring the large urban district received accurate state revenue to support their students.
Justin is a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. Justin attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore before earning his Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University and Master of Public Administration from West Chester University.