Our Team

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SPENCER OVERTON  

Joint Center President

 

Spencer Overton is the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which was founded in 1970 as the Black think tank. Today, the Joint Center focuses on the impact of innovations like artificial intelligence and automation on the future of work and economic development in places like Detroit, Memphis, and the rural Black Belt of the South. The Joint Center also works to increase diversity among congressional staff.

 

Spencer chaired Government Reform Policy on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign, and on the Obama transition, he served as a lawyer in the General Counsel's office and as a member of the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform (TIGER) policy team. During the Administration, Spencer served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Policy, the “think tank” of the Department of Justice. After leaving the Department, Spencer held several roles on the 2012 Obama National Finance Committee, including teaching fundraising and chairing a fundraising program that raised $25 million.

 

Spencer is also a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University, where he teaches race and the law, property law, and election law. He is a co-author of 5G, Smart Cities, and Communities of Color (2017), and the author of the book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression and several academic and popular articles. Through his work on national election law commissions, Spencer helped shape the contours of the modern voter ID debate and he led an effort that resulted in Iowa restoring voting rights to 98,000 Iowans who had completed their sentences.  

 

Spencer is an honors graduate of both Hampton University and Harvard Law School, he clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, and he represented large companies for four years practicing law at the firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

 

  
 
DON BELL

Director, Black Talent Initiative

 

Don Bell, a Connecticut native, is currently the director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Prior to this position, Don spent over three years working on Capitol Hill. In that time, he worked as a legal fellow to Senator Chris Murphy, judiciary staffer to Senator Richard Blumenthal, and associate counsel then counsel to the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Don was elected President of the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus (SBLSC) in April 2016. During his term, he conducted a groundbreaking census of black Senate staffers that inspired a movement toward greater diversity and inclusion in policy making on Capitol Hill. 

 

As President, Don oversaw the development of additional employment resources for black Senate staffers, worked with the SBLSC Professional Development Committee to place members, and actively collaborated with House and Senate influencers to break down the barriers people of diverse backgrounds have to work on the Hill. This work, and his current role as director of BTI, has drawn national attention to the pervasive lack of diversity among Congressional staffers and the urgent need to increase representation for all communities. Don is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and University of Connecticut School of Law.

 

 

 

Harin Contractor
Director, Economic, and Workforce 

A self-described data nerd, he loves working on problems, looking for creative solutions, and helping people make connections to enhance their goals. Previously, Harin worked at a tech start-up that used government data to empower communities and worked in the Obama Administration at the U.S Department of Labor as the Economic Policy Advisor to the Secretary. Harin is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the University of Chicago. You can follow him @harincontractor.

 

 
P.J. Stinson 
Office Manager

P.J. has over 10 years of experience and is responsible for all office procedures, including finance and administration, human resources, IT, and supporting our leadership team. Before the Joint Center, P.J. worked with other non-profit research and policy organizations. He lives in Washington, D.C

  

SEAN MICHAEL LOVE

Executive Assistant

Sean Michael Love was born in Rota Spain while his mother served in the Navy and has called Washington DC his home for over 15 years. In 2007, Sean Michael left DC to attend Boise State University where he majored in Music Composition and English. Since returning to the DC, Sean Michael has invested his time into volunteering with several grassroots campaign advocating on the issues that affect the African-American community. Sean Michael joins the Joint Center team looking to continue to grow as a leader in his community and wants to continue to develop the relationships needed to make a true lasting change.

 

 Lynn English

 

LYNN ENGLISH

Development Counsel 

 

Lynn English has a twenty-five year history of fundraising and program planning with dozens of local and national non-profit organizations and foundations. Her work includes extensive experience in virtually all facets of development including prospect research; donor cultivation; proposal writing and developing collateral materials; development audits, fundraising plans, and feasibility studies; special events; and managing board and volunteer fundraising. She is also an experienced facilitator and trainer and enjoys working with boards and staffs through the process of reaching consensus, developing skills, and navigating change. 

Lynn has served as a development executive for organizations including AARP Experience Corps, Center for Community Change, Latin American Youth Center, Year Up National Capital Region, and others. She holds a B.A. in English from Georgetown University and a M.A. in English from the University of Maryland at College Park. She was a founding board member of Public Allies and currently serves on the Public Allies DC Advisory Board.

 

Dr White

DR. ISMAIL WHITE

Director of Survey Research

 

Dr. White is an Associate Professor of political science at George Washington University. He received his B.A. in political science from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. He previously held positions at the University of Texas at Austin, The Ohio State University, and Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Politics. Dr. White studies American politics with a focus on African-American politics, public opinion, and political participation. His research in these areas has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Black Studies, Race and Social Problems, Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, and a number of edited book volumes. 

He is co-editor of the book African-American Political Psychology: Identity, Opinion, and Action in the Post-Civil Rights Era. He also works on the development of survey and experimental methods for better understanding political and social issues. He has published work in these areas in the American Journal of Political Science and Political Analysis, and previously worked on surveys through the Detroit Area Study and as a fellow for the American National Election Study.