Joint Center Updates


Our May 2022 Work: Black Worker Bill of Rights Virtual Rally, Celebrating Dr. Lisa Cook & More

May Day is universally recognized as International Workers’ Day. On this day across the globe, labor activists shine a light on how integral workers’ labor remains to our day-to-day lives.  

We would be remiss if we did not mention how this holds especially true when reflecting on the contributions of Black workers in this country. Black workers have always been foundational to America’s economic growth and development from this nation’s inception, yet have rarely been acknowledged for their labor and contributions. As America’s Black think tank, we will never shy away from an opportunity to research and uplift the contributions of Black Americans historically and in the generations to come. To commemorate May Day, the Joint Center rallied around an effort to ensure that Black workers across the country are protected with the rights and privileges that they deserve. 

We have extensively researched the distinct and diverse experiences of Black workers and will continue to advocate for policies that highlight the plight of Black American workers with the hope that an equitable economic recovery centers their voices. 

Read below to learn more about the Joint Center’s contributions to political and economic studies this past month.

Economic Studies

Department of Treasury meeting on tax administration:  The Joint Center, represented by Vice President of Policy Jessica Fulton, was one of the organizations invited to a roundtable of tax equity policy experts, hosted by U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo, to discuss ways to modernize and ensure a more equitable tax administration.

Presenting to the U.S. Commerce Department on expanding broadband in the Black Rural South: Joint Center President Spencer Overton was the featured speaker to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) staff in the U.S. Commerce Department. In his presentation, Spencer discussed how the NTIA can play a critical role in reducing inequality in the Black Rural South by ensuring states equitably deploy broadband resources.

Black Worker Bill of Rights virtual rally: As a Black Worker Policy Coalition member, the Joint Center participated in the Black Worker Bill of Rights Virtual Rally. This event brought together workers, artists, activists, advocates, and concerned citizens to officially launch the campaign to win a Black Worker Bill of Rights. Spencer offered remarks at the event. The campaign is a result of representatives of national and state-based Black worker-focused organizations who formed the Black Worker Policy Coalition in October 2021. Members of the coalition committed to working together to address critical issues facing Black people in the job market and workplace. Dr. Alex Camardelle, director of Workforce Policy at the Joint Center, was a key contributor to the Black Worker Bill of Rights.

According to Spencer, “[r]arely, if ever, does the nation embrace a policy framework that centers the Black worker experience. Instead, too often we see racist narratives about Black workers and a dismissal of the basic humanity of Black workers. The Black Worker Bill of Rights is critical in this moment because it presents a counter force to a long history of policymakers and special interests who have profited off of erecting egregious laws that block opportunity for Black people in order to maintain a pool of low-wage or no-wage labor.”

“Today too many Black workers are struggling to find quality jobs that provide the dignity that Dr. King spoke about — jobs that guarantee all the rights listed in the Black Worker Bill of Rights. The Joint Center is proud to stand with Black workers everywhere and affirm these rights are overdue and must be adopted into this nation’s labor policies,” said Dr. Camardelle.

Sign the petition here.

White House Bipartisan Infrastructure Act Rose Garden announcement: Spencer attended the White House Rose Garden announcement where President Biden announced a new private-public partnership to ensure that high-speed broadband internet is more affordable for millions of Americans. Large providers like AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum (Charter Communications), and Verizon plan to increase speeds or cut prices for households that participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program. Black households are estimated to make up about a quarter of eligible households. As a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Affordable Connectivity Program is the most extensive high-speed internet affordability program in our nation’s history. This program is a direct link to a recommendation from our report, “Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South,” which suggests establishing a permanent broadband benefit program for lower-income households.

Black Innovation Alliance at Capitol Hill:  Dr. Camardelle spoke at the Congressional Caucus on Black Innovation launch day. The Congressional Caucus on Black Innovation identified the policy needs of Black entrepreneurs, creatives, and innovators; addressed the educational and programmatic gaps pursuant to creating real pipelines toward viable innovative careers; and explored strategies to repair inequity in funding, resources, and accountability related to entrepreneurial growth and sustainability.

The Rationale for and Key Elements of a Business Civil Rights Audit: Spencer hosted a conversation with Laura Murphy, business consultant and a national civil rights leader, and Meta Civil Rights VP Roy L. Austin, Jr. on why civil rights audits are critical for companies, the effects of Meta’s (formerly known as Facebook) civil rights audit, and the future of civil rights audits at other companies. Murphy led landmark civil rights audits of Airbnb and Facebook and is the author of “The Rationale for and Key Elements of a Business Civil Rights Audit.” Listen to the conversation here.

lack of access

How philanthropy can build an ecosystem of effective Black institutions: Spencer was a key panelist at the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) Annual Conference plenary session, alongside Georgia Alliance For Progress Executive Director Christine White and Demos President Taifa Smith Butler. They discussed the role of philanthropy in the policy process and supporting Black communities. Spencer emphasized that philanthropy can magnify its impact by scaling an ecosystem of Black research and advocacy institutions to ensure equitable laws and public spending now (e.g., equitable spending of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) and in the future.

How philanthropy can help ensure equity in federal broadband infrastructure spending to connect Black families:  The Joint Center organized an ABFE panel on broadband in Black communities. Spencer framed the discussion with Joint Center research showing significant racial disparities in home broadband, how philanthropy could help ensure eligible Black families take advantage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program broadband benefit, and how philanthropy can help ensure states deploy broadband buildout based on need rather than politics (particularly in the Black Rural South). Panelists included Comcast Executive Vice President Dalila Wilson-Scott and officials from the U.S. Commerce Department and the office of Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL).

Developing effective platform regulation: Spencer joined the Media Democracy Fund and the NetGain Partnership’s conversation to share initial insights from the Joint Center’s ongoing research on the benefits and harms to Black communities of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and proposed reforms to the law.

Joint Center Appears on NPR Marketplace to discuss racial disparities in economic recovery: Dr. Camardelle joined NPR Marketplace to discuss racial disparities that exist in our current economic landscape.

“When we look at some of the disaggregated dynamics of the labor market, in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, we recognize that not everybody is doing so well,” says Dr. Camardelle.

Listen to the interview here.

Groundwork Collaborative Beyond The Numbers

Discussing recent job numbers limitations: Joint Center Senior Policy Analyst Justin Nalley participated in Groundwork Collaborative’s Twitter chat on the Bureau of Labor Statistics April Jobs Report. Nalley offered commentary #BeyondTheNumbers in response to the bureau’s monthly report. View the conversation here.

Political Science 

Celebrating Dr. Lisa Cook: The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies hosted Dr. Lisa Cook to celebrate her swearing in on the Federal Reserve Board as its first Black woman member. Joining Dr. Cook, who took her oath immediately prior to the gathering, were Joint Center President Spencer Overton, Vice President for Policy Jessica Fulton, Board Chair Barbara Johnson, and Board Member Paul Thornell. Also spotted were Wade Henderson, retired CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Lisa Rice, president/CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance; Rob Nichols, president/CEO of the American Bankers Association; Caitlyn Peterson, chief of staff to Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI); Tanya Otsuka, counsel at United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Gautam Raghavan, White House director of Presidential Personnel; Joi Chaney, executive director, Washington Bureau and SVP Policy and Advocacy, National Urban League; Rodney Hood, National Credit Union Administration board member; Gisele Roget, founding principal, Overbrook Square Group; and Ashley Lewis, SVP, Edelman.

Since March 2021, the Joint Center’s Black Talent Initiative played a critical role in support of Dr. Cook’s nomination and confirmation, and recently a Joint Center tweet in support of Dr. Cook was highlighted by NewsOne and the celebratory gathering was mentioned in Politico’s Playbook.

Voice at the Table with U.S. Rep. Horsford (D-NV): Spencer welcomed Congressman Steven Horsford in a robust, one-hour conversation to discuss tax policy, budget priorities, appointments, and other public policy issues that affect Black communities. Rep. Horsford serves on the House Ways & Means Committee (and co-leads its Racial Equity Initiative), the House Budget Committee, and the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Horsford also serves as First Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Letter to Speaker Pelosi in support of the Speaker Pay Order on Staff Pay Floor: The Joint Center recently signed on to a letter thanking Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the recent Speaker Pay Order that will require all House staff be paid no less than $45,000 annually by Sept. 1, 2022. Dr. LaShonda Brenson’s research on Congressional staff diversity was also featured in Axios and Vox.

In Case You Missed It

Joint Center sunsets weekly roundup and foreshadows new communications: The Joint Center announced that the organization will no longer publish its weekly roundup. According to Spencer, “[a]s the sun sets on our weekly roundup email, we are looking forward to rolling out new publications that lift up Black communities, research, and policy solutions. For example, we’ll introduce a newly-designed newsletter, as well as other exciting publications. Stay tuned.”


Now Hiring

The Joint Center is seeking a director of People and Operations. The director of People and Operations will serve as an integral thought partner to the senior leadership team and work collaboratively across the organization to ensure the Joint Center attracts, develops, and retains the exceptional talent needed to achieve its mission and uphold the Joint Center’s commitment to its nine cultural principles., Additionally, the director will ensure that the Joint Center has the people-centric, operational, and finance systems, processes, policies, and infrastructure needed to support a growing organization. Read the full description here.

The Joint Center is seeking a director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Policy. The director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Policy will be an inspirational leader dedicated to leading the Joint Center’s budding Small Business and Entrepreneurship program. The director will be responsible for building the Joint Center’s expertise and influence on key policy issues affecting Black small-business owners and entrepreneurs through research, building, and convening the Joint Center’s network of experts and engaging in public education on timely issues affecting Black business owners. Read the full description here.

The Joint Center is seeking an executive assistant to the president. The executive assistant to the president will provide high-level support to the president, keeping his path clear of non-essential tasks while proactively anticipating his requirements. The executive assistant will serve as a liaison to the board of directors and the leadership team. Additionally, they will serve as the primary point of contact for internal and external constituencies on all matters pertaining to the Office of the President, organizing and coordinating executive outreach and external relations efforts, and overseeing special projects as needed. Read the full description here.

The Joint Center is seeking a special assistant of Policy. The ideal special assistant is mission-driven, detail-oriented, collaborative, and thrives in high-performing environments. They are thoughtful, intellectually curious, and have strong written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills. This is an exciting role for a recent college graduate or entry level professional to learn from and with the nation’s leading scholars examining economic and tech policy issues affecting Black communities. Read the full description here.


Joint Center Workforce Policy Director Dr. Alex Camardelle will join the next installment of Associated Black Charities’ Equity First speaker series, June 1. Register for the event here.

Joint Center Senior Researcher Dr. LaShonda Brenson will be a panelist in a conversation, “Diversity in Golf & Politics.” This discussion will emphasize “how diversity in golf and politics leads to better outcomes on the green and in our communities,” June 1, 2-3 p.m., ET. Register for the virtual event here.