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February News: Inclusion, Innovation, & Economics

We are excited to release the first issue of our monthly newsletter! In 2017, the Joint Center will focus on inclusion, innovation, and economics (video below). We look forward to working with you.

2017—The Future for Communities of Color

In 2017, the Joint Center will examine anticipated shifts in our economy, and implications for communities of color. For example, how will disruptive innovations like Smart Cities, driverless cars, automation, machine learning, digital money, telemedicine, and big data shape quality of life, workforce, and economic development in communities of color? The Joint Center will also continue our work on political appointee diversity in 2017.


Senate Staff Diversity: So far, Senators Cortez Masto, Feinstein, Harris, Heinrich, Moran, and Tillis have hired new top staffers of color. Democratic Leader Schumer announced plans to continue the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative. In the new Congress, there are no Black or Latino Staff Directors of full Senate committees. For details, see our Senate Staff Diversity Fact SheetHouse Staff Diversity: The first Black Chief of Staff to a U.S. House Speaker, Jonathan Burks, iscoordinating efforts between the White House, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House. Jonathan will speak at a Joint Center/Insight America breakfast later this month.Executive Branch Diversity: People of color make up over 37% of the U.S. population, but only 13% (two) of the 15 individuals nominated to secretary positions in President Trump’s cabinet. Women account for 50.43% of the U.S. population, but only 13% (two) of President Trump’s secretary nominees. The Administration nominated no Latinos for cabinet positions, a first in almost 30 years.

Black Talent Initiative: The Joint Center’s BTI Interim Director Will Searcy spoke on a National Urban League panel about continuing diversification efforts on the Hill (more here). In 2017, the Joint Center BTI will team up with NALEO to work on diversity in appointments issues.

WGRG Diversity Task Force: The Washington Government Relations Group launched its Diversity Task Force to attract and retain diverse staff in Congress. The Task Force is co-chaired by Don Cravins and Marie Sylla.


Joint Center Hosts Tech and Race Professors: The Joint Center hosted a working session of fifteen of the nation’s top law professors who focus on race and technology in San Francisco in January. We collected their thoughts on innovation trends that will affect communities of color over the next decade, and policy solutions.More here.

Joint Center Talks Smart Cities at MMTC:Joint Center Prez Spencer Overton spoke on 5G, Smart Cities, and Communities of Color at MMTC’s 8th Annual Broadband & Social Justice Summit.More here.

Top Tech Companies Support Immigrants and Refugees: Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and over 100 other tech companies responded swiftly and strongly with a brief challenging the Administration’s immigration ban.More here.

New FCC Chair Ajit Paisaid one of his top priorities will be to close the digital divide.Some of his first acts, however, included stopping nine companies from participating in the Lifeline program to provide discounted internet to low-income Americans and withdrawing the FCC from efforts to lower prison phone call rates.More here.

Bipartisan Support for Broadband in Infrastructure Package:Senate Democrats included $20 billion to expand broadband access in their $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Investing in broadband is also backed by Commerce Secretary Nominee Wilbur Ross and supported by Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune.More here.

Former President Obama on Shifts in the Workforce:In his farewell address, former President Obama highlighted the importance of technological shifts in our workforce and the need for career-readiness training. “The next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.”More here.

  • The Joint Center & the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University will host a conference in Washington, DC from March 14-17 entitled Reflections on the Impact of the Reconstruction Amendments: A Research Symposium on the Social and Economic Outcomes of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Register here.