Articles by Dr. LaShonda Brenson

Dr. LaShonda Brenson

Dr. LaShonda Brenson currently serves as the Senior Fellow of Diversity and Inclusion at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies where she leads its congressional staff diversity efforts. Prior to her current role, she served as 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.

New LegiStorm Report Shows New House Members Hire More Diverse Staff

New LegiStorm Data Finds Freshmen House Members Hire More Diverse Staff Than Their Senior Colleagues  Joint Center Data Confirms Top Staff Hiring Also More Diverse  Last week, LegiStorm, a web-based platform that identifies congressional staff and monitors activity on Capitol Hill, published a blog comparing staff hiring by new Members of Congress and their longer-serving…

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Joint Center Op-Ed: After Georgia, Senators Must Prioritize Staff Diversity

Sources: CNN, NYT, Cook & Joint Center.* After Black voters in Georgia enabled Democrats to control the Senate, Morning Consult published this commentary by Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson and Joint Center President Spencer Overton calling for the Senate to take key steps to prioritize hiring, developing, and promoting…

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Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in Senate Personal Offices

Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in Senate Personal Offices. This report provides evidence regarding the lack of racial diversity among U.S. Senate personal office top staff positions. This report defines personal office top staff as all chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in…

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Pandemic Relief Priorities for Black Communities

By LaShonda Brenson Ph.D., Jessica Fulton, and Spencer Overton While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately harm Black communities in the United States, Congress and the Trump Administration have failed to come to an agreement on a fourth legislative package that will bring relief to millions in our nation.1 Granted, the relief package should direct…

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Digging Deeper: 2020 Senate Democratic Caucus Diversity Numbers

On July 8, 2020, the Senate Democratic Caucus released an update of the demographic data (find 2020 numbers here) on the staff of Democratic Senators (find 2019 numbers here). The analysis below ranks the offices on their total diversity in the following categories:   Top Three Racially Diverse Staff in Personal Offices Senator Cory Booker…

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New LegiStorm Report Shows The Highest Pay Disparity Between Black and White Staffers on the Hill in 20 Years

As Congress and other American institutions reckon with issues of structural racism, discrimination, and anti-Blackness, congressional staff diversity remains at the forefront of issues to be considered, as it has a direct relationship to the ability of Members of Congress to understand the diverse perspectives of their constituencies.  This week, Legistorm, a web-based platform that…

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