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. He is also a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Spencer is the author of the book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression (W.W. Norton) and several academic articles and popular commentaries on voting rights, race, and public policy, including State Power to Regulate Social Media Companies to Prevent Voter Suppression, 53 U.C. Davis Law Review 1793 (2020).
Spencer’s work as a commissioner on the Carter-Baker Election Commission laid the groundwork for modern arguments against unnecessary voting restrictions that reduce turnout by legitimate voters. His work on the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling 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 and Nevada to the beginning of the modern Democratic presidential primary process. He has testified several times before Congress on voting rights, election administration, and election disinformation.
Spencer chaired the 2008 Obama campaign’s Government Reform Policy Committee, and led the 2008 Obama transition team's Election Assistance Commission agency review group. During the Obama Administration he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy (
Spencer has also served on the boards of Dēmos, the American Constitution Society, and Common Cause. He has practiced 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 our Economic Policy research.
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 Warden 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
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 research 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.
DANIELLE M. HENRY
Digital Communications Director
Danielle M. Henry is the digital communications director at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies She comes to Joint Center from EMILY’s List, where she took a metrics-based approach to social strategy. In her previous work as a consultant, Danielle has used her marketing, communications, and digital expertise to support a variety of small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Prior to that she served as senior marketing and communications manager for BoardSource, where she managed publications, social media, and the organization’s website.
Danielle also lends her energy and expertise to community organizations, serving as a volunteer with Parents Amplifying Voices in Education, the Reeb Voting Rights Project and the Transformation Team for Racial Justice through All Souls Unitarian Church. Danielle earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Studies from Butler University.
Digital Multimedia Director
Victoria Johnson is the digital multimedia director at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies where she serves as the Joint Center's visual storyteller and manages the Joint Center's website and multimedia platforms. Victoria joined the Joint Center team in 2018 as the digital communications specialist and served as its communications manager from Feb. 2021 to Dec. 2022.
Prior to joining the Joint Center, she spent six years as a journalist earning robust newspaper and magazine experience while reporting on policy and entertainment for New York Daily News, New York Amsterdam News, Teen Vogue, Mashable, Vulture, and more.
She earned a bachelor's degree in advertising and public relations at The City College of New York and a master's degree in journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism (formerly CUNY Graduate School of Journalism), where she specialized in urban city reporting.
BRIAN KENNEDY II
Senior Policy Analyst, Workforce Policy
Brian Kennedy II is a senior policy analyst of Workforce Policy 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.
Director of People and Operations
Claire Meneer is the director of People and Operations at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, where she focuses on building structures and policies that allow for organizational growth and centering values.
Previously, Claire was the director of Operations at Millennial Action Project (MAP), whose mission is to empower young elected officials with the tools and resources they need to be effective and empathetic leaders. Before MAP, Claire served as director of Operations at West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and strategic communications firm, where she played an integral role in helping the company double in size during her tenure
A graduate of Heidelberg University, Claire lives in Ohio with her partner, Andrew, and their two Goldendoodles, Bo and Arnie.
Senior Policy Analyst, Workforce Policy
Justin Nalley is a senior policy analyst of Workforce Policy 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.
Special Assistant, Policy
Taliyah Oglesby is the Special Assistant of Policy at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. She supports the policy team through project management, writing and editing, and high-level administrative and related support functions.
Prior to joining the Joint Center, Taliyah served as a program manager for Workforce and Economic Development in the Global, Corporate, and Community Relations Department at Athens State University, where she was responsible for providing leadership for continuing education and noncredit academics, professional development, and training programs throughout the county. Previously, she was a research associate at The University of Alabama in Huntsville – Systems Management and Production Center on behalf of various organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to bring awareness to the state of STEM education within rural, low socioeconomic status Black communities.
Taliyah earned her BA in political science from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. She is also a graduate of The University of Alabama in Huntsville, where she earned her Master’s in Public Administration and Policy. She is currently seeking a Doctorate in Educational Leadership: Strategic Planning and Policy.
Kimberly Victor is the research analyst for the Hill Diversity Program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Prior to joining the Joint Center, she was a research assistant in various labs at Cornell and Stanford University. At Stanford’s Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions (SPARQ), she worked on projects that utilized behavioral science insights to improve police-community relations and promote equity and inclusion in the education sector. At Cornell, she successfully defended her senior honors thesis on the intersection between race and purpose, arguing that the connection between one’s sense of purpose and racial identity has important implications on one’s well-being, particularly for communities of color.
She also served as a student assistant at the New York State Office of the Attorney General Civil Rights Bureau. There she conducted research to help with education campaigns and worked with various diverse communities to ensure the protection of their rights and access to legal counsel.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Development with minors in Inequality Studies and Crime, Prisons, Education, and Justice from Cornell University. During her tenure at Cornell, she worked as the Poetry Program Coordinator for Prisoner Express, helping the organization provide opportunities for creative self-expression through art and poetry to hundreds of incarcerated individuals across the U.S.