Joint Center 2016 Highlights and 2017 Plans

Highlights of 2016 

Governance in 2016
Diversity Among Top Congressional Staff: Building on our 31-page report on Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, in 2016 the Joint Center produced this 2-minute video on congressional staff diversity and made several presentations to talk about the issue to U.S. Senators, to congressional staff, and to the media. After the 2016 election, we organized 52 Black, Latino, AAPI, and American Indian organizations and sent this letter asking six new U.S. Senators to recruit diverse staffs. We also organized outreach to over 70 civil rights organizations and media outlets in six states with newly elected U.S. Senators educating them about the lack of diversity among top staff, and created this fact sheet on the issue. Following our efforts and those of our partner organizations, House Speaker Paul Ryan hired the first Black Chief of Staff in the Speaker’s office, Senator Kamala Harris & Senator Thom Tillis hired Black Legislative Directors, Senator Dianne Feinstein hired a Latino Chief of Staff, Senator Jerry Moran hired a Black Chief of Staff, Senator Martin Heinrich hired a Latino Legislative Director, and Senator Cortez Masto hired a Latino Communications Director. The number of Black top staff in Senate offices increased by 100 percent, and incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer announced plans to continue and staff the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative.

Black Talent Initiative: Starting in June 2016, the Joint Center convened 36 Black organizations (e.g., NAACP, National Urban League, INSIGHT America, National Action Network, and more) and over 250 policy and communications experts to work on transition policy and appointments issues. This effort transitioned into the Black Talent Initiative (housed at and staffed by the Joint Center), which identifies and counsels top African American talent for agency appointments and congressional staff positions.Candidates can submit key experiences and expertise on this online portal, and a searchable database allows Joint Center staff to match this information with job openings for agency appointments and congressional staff positions.
Black44/Joint Center Conference: In October, the Joint Center partnered with Black44 to host a day-long professional development workshop for over 150 Black appointees exiting the Obama Administration. The conference featured speakers such as Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, Education Secretary John King, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and former Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin.

Bipartisan Breakfast Series: The Joint Center, partnering with INSIGHT America, hosted 10 bipartisan breakfasts for economic development, civil rights, and private sector leaders. Speakers included House Ways & Means Chair Kevin Brady,HUD Secretary Julián Castro,House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn,House Agriculture Chair Mike Conaway,Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr.,House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy,Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,FTC Chair Edith Ramirez,Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.

June Roundtable of the South for Elected Officials of Color: From June 21-23 the Joint Center hosted over 20 of the South’s most innovative and influential elected state, county, and local elected officials of color for a policy roundtable at the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and GW Law. The elected officials met with leading experts and policy-makers, including Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jerry Abramson, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and many others. Sessions focused on workforce development, the school-to-prison pipeline, and health equity.

November Transition Roundtable for Elected Officials of Color: On November 16, the Joint Center – in partnership with NALEO – hosted leaders of over 20 organizations that represent elected officials of color (e.g., African American Mayors Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Association of Hispanic County Officials, National Caucus of Native American State Legislators) for a day-long roundtable in Washington, DC focused on the upcoming transition. The participants met at the White House, the Republican National Committee headquarters (co-hosted by INSIGHT America), and George Washington University Law School. Participants met with leaders like Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jerry Abramson, John Acton of the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition, Management & Budget Chair for the Trump-Pence Transition Project Kay Coles James, and many others. At a reception following the event, we gave the Joint Center’s highest honor–the Louis E. Martin Great American Award–to Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Black Rural Policy Mayors Roundtable: In March, the Joint Center traveled to Selma, Alabama for the 51st anniversary of Bloody Sunday, where we hosted a Business Empowerment Symposium with former Selma Mayor George Evans, and organized key sessions for small town Black Belt mayors on improving infrastructure, economic opportunity, and quality of life in the rural South. The Joint Center also testified at a Congressional voting rights field hearing before ten Members of Congress.
Black Mayors Technology Summit: The Joint Center partnered with the African American Mayors Association to host black mayors at a day-long 2016 Technology Summit.

Research & Policy Solutions in 2016
Engaging Communities in Reducing Gun Violence: The Joint Center, Joyce Foundation, and Urban Institute released Engaging Communities in Reducing Gun Violence. The 57-page report focuses on race, gun violence, and policing reforms, and is based on recommendations of more than 100 community members convened in three diverse American cities—Richmond, Virginia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Stockton, California. We also returned to Richmond and Milwaukee and organized events with community members about how to implement the recommendations.

How to Reduce Long Lines to Vote: The Joint Center released a policy brief and a 2-minute video on how to reduce long lines to vote. On average, Blacks wait in line to vote twice as long as whites and Latinos 1.5 times as long as whites, and some voters of color wait up to 7 hours. Long lines reduce voter turnout and can determine election outcomes.

Survey Data and Briefs: In 2016, we commissioned a nationwide survey that oversampled Blacks and Latinos to allow for detailed demographic analysis (e.g., Blacks and Latinos by age, gender, income, geography). The survey gathered data about preferences of Blacks, Latinos, and Whites on voting, policy, workforce, financial services, health and nutrition, energy, and other issues. We published a series of briefs based on the data.
Think Tank Leaders Luncheons: The Joint Center brought together researchers who focus on race at various think tanks (e.g. Brookings, CAP, Urban Institute) to share their newest research and ideas with one another over several lunches.

Growth in 2016
5 New Board Members: The Joint Center added five new board members: Paula Boyd, Microsoft Director of Government & Regulatory Affairs; Chanelle Hardy, Google Strategic Outreach & External Partnerships Director; Christopher Kang, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) National Director; Vince Sarmiento, Santa Ana, California Mayor Pro Tem; and Paul N. D. Thornell, Citigroup Managing Director.

7 New Employees: This year the Joint Center hired seven new full-time staff members: Chief Operating Officer Richard Clemmons, Senior Policy Analyst Jenalyn Sotto, Innovation & Opportunity Fellow Alejandra Montoya-Boyer, Public Policy Fellow Will Searcy, Development Associate Lydia Munn, Program/Grants Management Associate Keith Rogers, and Executive & Staff Administrative Assistant Stephanie Wong.
New Offices: The Joint Center opened offices in the National Council of Negro Women Building at 633 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Financial Supporters: Our 2016 supporters included American Express, Annie E. Casey Foundation, API, AT&T, Boule Foundation, BP, California Wellness Foundation, CenturyLink, Citi, Comcast NBCUniversal, CTIA, Democracy Fund, Eddie Williams, Edison Electric Institute, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Ford Foundation, Google, GW Law, Hewlett Foundation, Home Depot, Honda, the Joyce Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, MasterCard, Microsoft, NAB, NEO Philanthropy, Oracle, Open Society Foundation, PepsiCo, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Sabio Enterprises, Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock P.C., Southern Education Foundation, State Infrastructure Fund, University of Texas at Austin Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Venable LLP, Verizon, Viacom, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Click here to read the Joint Center’s 2017 plans.


About Joint Center

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1970 and based in Washington, DC. The Joint Center's mission is to inform and illuminate the nation's major public policy debates through research, analysis, and information dissemination in order to improve the socioeconomic status of Black communities in the United States; expand their effective participation in the political and public policy arenas; and promote communication and relationships across racial and ethnic lines to strengthen the nation's pluralistic society.