Hill Diversity

Senator Van Hollen and Teri Weathers

Joint Center Commends U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen for Hiring Teri Weathers as Deputy Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) for hiring Teri Weathers as deputy chief of staff in his personal office.

Weathers will be the number two for the Senator’s personal office and will partner with Senator Van Hollen’s chief of staff to oversee and manage all of the legislative, communications, state, and administrative teams.

Prior to Weathers’s new position as deputy chief of staff, she most recently directed federal affairs for Nurse-Family Partnership (a maternal and early childhood health program) (Oct. 2014-Jan. 2021). Prior to that, she served in various roles for Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), including counsel (April 2013-Oct. 2014), legislative assistant (Aug. 2009-April 2013), and intern (Jan.-May 2007). She is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and University of Maryland, College Park.

“Senator Chris Van Hollen’s hire of Ms. Weathers shows a significant step toward ensuring all Marylanders are represented in Washington, DC,” said Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity & Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson. “It’s also impressive to see Senator Van Hollen hire Ms. Weathers, who not only has extensive experience on the Hill but a distinctive perspective as a graduate of two universities in the DMV area including an HBCU. Black Americans make up 31 percent of Maryland’s population and 47 percent of Maryland’s Democratic voters. I hope other Senators follow his lead and recruit skilled Black individuals to top staff positions to ensure all Americans are represented on the Hill.”

“It’s encouraging to see Senator Chris Van Hollen hire Ms. Weathers for this important position, ” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “As the number two person in his Washington, DC office, Ms. Weathers will be influential in rooms where critical decisions are made. The Joint Center commends Senator Van Hollen for hiring Ms. Weathers and increasing the diversity of his staff with a strong new hire. Marylanders should be proud of the values and leadership Senator Van Hollen demonstrates through his recruitment and hire of Ms. Weathers. ”

In August 2020, the Joint Center published Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in Senate Personal Offices, a report that provides evidence regarding the lack of racial diversity among U.S. Senate personal office top staff positions (i.e., chiefs of staff, legislative directors, communications directors). We did not include deputy chiefs of staff in our definition of top staff because many U.S. Senate personal offices do not hire them, and the responsibilities of deputy chiefs of staff vary significantly among the offices that do hire them. For example, some deputy chiefs appear to supervise legislative directors and communications directors, while others seem to focus on managing administrative tasks in the office. As of January 2020, about 60 percent of personal offices had a deputy chief of staff position. One-third of these offices had more than one deputy chief of staff, and some offices had as many as four deputy chiefs of staff.

In our August 2020 report, we found that people of color make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, but only 11 percent of all Senate office chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors. During the time of data collection in January 2020, the Joint Center found that Maryland had no people of color serving as chief of staff, legislative director, or communications director in a Washington, DC Senate personal office. We believe that Senator Van Hollen’s addition of Weathers as deputy chief of staff is a substantial and positive contribution toward the representation of African Americans in the Washington, DC offices of the U.S. Senators representing Maryland.

To understand the problem of a lack of Hill staff diversity, why it matters, and solutions, click here.

To see the Joint Center’s research and activities on Hill staff diversity (including our report card tracking the racial diversity of hires to fill the over 200 top staff positions of newly-elected House and Senate Members), click here.

The Joint Center is also hosting an event on this issue on Thursday, January 28 at 4pm EST with Joint Center President Spencer Overton, Black Voters Matter Fund Co-Founder LaTosha Brown, and National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) National Correspondent Stacy Brown. Watch the livestream on NNPA’s YouTube channel, BlackPressUSA TV.

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