Joint Center Updates

Joint Center Board Announces Spencer Overton as Interim President and CEO

WASHINGTON, DC – The Board of Governors of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies today announced George Washington University Law Professor Spencer Overton as its new Interim President & CEO. Professor Overton takes on this leadership role as the 44-year-old organization creates a more integrative strategy to strengthen its status as one of the nation’s leading research institutions on public policy affecting communities of color.

At the beginning of the first term of the Obama Administration, Professor Overton served as the Principal Deputy Attorney General of the Office of Legal Policy, also known as the Justice Department’s “think tank.” In that position, he managed more than 25 lawyers and staff responsible for coordinating Department policy. Currently, Professor Overton is on sabbatical from his position as a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University. At George Washington University Law School, Overton led the Political Law Studies Initiative, which provides an extensive curriculum, regularly hosts panels and conferences, and provides a neutral venue for government officials, scholars, practitioners, and policy advocates to develop ideas and create bipartisan professional networks.

Dr. Brian Smedley, the Vice President and Director of the Joint Center’s nationally recognized Health Policy Institute (HPI), has managed the day-to-day operations of the Joint Center since January 1 of this year. His service afforded the Board of Governors the opportunity and time to assess leadership options after former President & CEO Ralph B. Everett, Esq. stepped down in December 2013.

“I am honored to be entrusted with such a valuable legacy,” stated Professor Overton. “I look forward to building upon the important work of the past four decades, and to partnering with others and using new tools to develop ideas and solutions to challenges that confront our increasingly diverse nation,” Overton added. “It is important that I recognize and thank Dr. Smedley for his leadership efforts that set the stage for my appointment.  I am looking forward to the continuation of his contributions as the leader of the Joint Center’s Health Policy Institute which is at the forefront of several national initiatives, including the Obama Administration’s recently announced ‘Promise Zones’ and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded ‘place matters’ initiative.”

“As an organization, we have capable executives in our ranks that have the fortitude to handle multiple leadership responsibilities. We are fortunate to have been able to count on Dr. Smedley’s leadership during this critical time, for which the Joint Center Board of Governors owe Brian a debt of gratitude,” stated Barbara L. Johnson, Esq., Joint Center Board of Governors Acting Chair. “As a Board of Governors member, Spencer is uniquely positioned to help execute the Board’s long-term strategy for the organization,” Johnson continued, “which centers around strengthening and expanding our position as thought leaders in policy circumstances both nationally and around the globe.”

“I look forward to working with Professor Overton, who is a visionary and talented leader,” said Dr. Smedley. “We have great potential going forward to once again lead the national discussion on policy issues facing communities of color.”

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the nation’s leading research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. To learn more, please visit