FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2018
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Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC & the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Applaud U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’s Appointment of Asian American Woman Chief of Staff
WASHINGTON – Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commended U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) appointment of Rohini Kosoglu as her new chief of staff. The Beatreported that Kosoglu is currently the only Asian American woman serving as chief of staff in the U.S. Senate.
“Earlier this month, more than 60 organizations called on current and incoming members of Congress to increase the diversity in their hiring practices and we applaud Senator Harris for not only listening, but taking action,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “In a time where we still see Asian Americans marginalized when it comes to representation in government, it is a proud day to see Ms. Kosoglu become the only Asian American woman in the Senate to serve currently as chief of staff. Better governance will only come from involving diverse perspectives in decision-making and the crafting of critical policies that will have an impact our communities.”
“Senator Harris’s appointment is a step in the right direction toward more diversity and inclusion in Congress. As new Senators and House Members set up their personal offices and as new Ranking Members and Chairs set up committee offices, they must take notice,” said Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center. “More than 300 top staff positions will be filled during the transition into the 116th Congress, and over the next few weeks Members have an opportunity to start to fix the lack of diversity among top staff in Congress. There is no good reason why many of these slots should not be filled by talented staffers, like Kosoglu, who truly represent all of America.”
In 2015, the Joint Center issued a report, Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, finding that while people of color accounted for over 36 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for only 7.1 percent of top Senate staffers. Only 4 percent of top Senate staffers were Asian American/Pacific Islanders. The Joint Center’s September 2018 on top staff diversity in the U.S. House found that no Asian American/Pacific Islanders served as full committee staff directors or as chiefs of staff, policy directors, or communications directors in the top four leadership offices of either party.
On December 14, the Joint Center launched an interactive tool to track new top staff hires in the 116th Congress. According to the Joint Center’s tool, five Asian American/Pacific Islander chiefs of staff and one Asian American/Pacific Islander legislative director have been hired by Members of the 116th Congress since November 2018.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, founded in 1970, is a think tank that produces data, analysis, and ideas to solve challenges that confront the African American community. The Joint Center collaborates with top experts, various organizations, and others that value racial inclusion to maximize our impact. We are currently focused on the future of work in African American communities and congressional staff diversity.