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Joint Center News: April 2019

Economic Studies: Future of Work

The Joint Center provided expertise on several panels, including at SXSW and Princeton University. We also continued our monthly Black jobs analysis on Twitter. Details below!

Future of Work & Automation

here. Spencer also sat on a panel at SXSW entitled “Facing Digitalization: A Workforce at RiskThis 2017 Joint Center report found that many Black workers are concentrated in occupations at high risk to automation, and this 2018 McKinsey report confirmed our findings.

joined several panels including “Diversity, Equity, and Skills in the Workplace” at the National Association of Workforce Boards forum, a Walmart-hosted panel on how tech is shaping the future of work in rural communities, and Princeton University’s Students and Alumni of Color Symposium’s panel on the future of work’s effect on communities of color.

Future of Work & Tech

Spencer Overton analyzed how to increase diversity in tech during the “Diversity in Tech and The Future of Black Communities” panel at SXSW and at an event on Capitol Hill hosted by Verizon and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship.

Future of Work & the Hill

The U.S. House Education & Labor Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Bobby Scott, shared key principles to follow for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. Read the full report here.

The Congressional Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee is hosting a panel, “Preparing the Workforce for Automation: Examples in the Real World.” Robotics Industry Association President Jeff Burnstein will moderate the discussion. Panelists include workers, educators, industry and labor leaders, and technologists.

The U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology, chaired by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, hosted a hearing on “revitalizing American leadership in advanced manufacturing.” Watch it here

Future of Work & Education

College Grads & Non-College Grads: Opportunity@Work’s Co-Founder and CEO Byron Auguste wrote about how the future labor market depends on the relationship between college graduates and non-college graduates.

National Skills Coalition’s Senior Federal Policy Analyst Katie Spiker wrote about the need for skills training—particularly workforce and education programs.

“What If The Future Of Work Starts With High School?” asked Forbes Contributor Heather E. McGowan. Read it here.

April Jobs Analysis

Employment Situation Report: On April 5, 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their monthly jobs report. It revealed that the Black unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent and the labor force participation rate decreased to 61.7 percent in March 2019. Workforce Policy Director Harin Contractor joined Third Way Social Policy and Politics Fellow Akua Amaning and Policy Matters Ohio Researcher Victoria Jackson to dig deeper into the numbers in our April #JobsDay Twitter Chat.

Political Studies: Congressional Staff Diversity

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) hires the first Black full committee staff director in the Senate in two years, Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) hires a Black chief of staff, and Don Bell returns to Connecticut to explore holding public office. Details below.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, hired David Strickland (pictured above) as staff director. Stickland, the former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is the first Black full committee staff director in the U.S. Senate in two years. Read our press release here.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) continued his consistent commitment to diversity among top staff and hired Tanya Bradsher (pictured above) to serve as his chief of staff. Bradsheer formerly served a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security. The Joint Center’s 2018 report Racial Diversity Among Top U.S. House Staff found that while white Democrats represented U.S. House districts that were, on average, 37.4 percent people of color, only 5.6 percent of their chiefs of staff were people of color. Only 2.1 percent of their top staff were Black. The Joint Center’s follow-up report, Racial Diversity Among Top Staff of the Virginia Congressional Delegation, found that Rep. Beyer had 33 percent people of color in his top staff. Read the announcement on Bradsheer here.

Don Bell, who served as the Joint Center’s Black Talent Initiative Director, returned to his home state in Connecticut to pursue a career in public service. We appreciate Don’s many contributions in building our congressional staff diversity program, and we will announce his successor in the near future. Read Don’s reflections on his time at the Joint Center here.

Congressional Capacity Staff Survey: University of Michigan Ph.D. Candidate Alexander C. Furnas and Research Assistant Shelby Taraba are conducting the “most comprehensive study of congressional staffers’ professional backgrounds, career paths, policy views, technical knowledge, substantive expertise, and job experiences.” Find out more here.

Lobbyists say Congress should pay its staffers more. The Joint Center made a similar argument for paying interns—which can lead to more diverse recruitment for top staff. Read their argument here.

Legislative Director for Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Avanza Trailblazer, was honored by The Hispanic Lobbyists Association with the Avanza Trailblazer Award at the 2019 Avanza Awards reception. More here.

Remembering Judge Damon J. Keith

The Joint Center mourns the loss of civil rights icon Judge Damon J. Keith. Joint Center President Spencer Overton clerked for Judge Keith from 1993-1994, and considered Judge Keith his most important legal and public service mentor. Our full statement on the passing of Judge Keith can be found here.

On May 11, a public visitation will be held from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Phi Pi will also hold a fraternal memorial service at 5 p.m. On May 13, the homegoing celebration will be held at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church with the service simulcasted at Wayne State’s Community Arts Auditorium. In lieu of flowers, Judge Keith’s family is asking for donations to the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School or to the Dr. Rachel Boone Keith Prize Fund at the Boston University School of Medicine, which is named after Judge Keith’s wife, who passed away in 2007. More details on Judge Keith’s funeral arrangements and donation information can be found here.

Remembering Lendon Alexander

The Joint Center mourns the loss of Lendon Alexander, who passed away at the age of 27. Lendon worked on an early version of the Joint Center’s Black Talent Initiative as our student assistant and project coordinator in 2016. Before his untimely passing, Lendon was set to begin his new position as Labor Counsel in the U.S. Senate.

“I valued Lendon’s intellect, commitment, and leadership as both my student at GW and as a Joint Center team member,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “His bright promise made his loss particularly difficult, and his memory will continue to inspire those of us who knew him.”

Read his obituary here.

Joint Center Spotlight

The Joint Center celebrated our board member Dr. Dianne Pinderhughes, who was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. We also mourned the loss of civil rights icon Judge Damon J. Keith.

Joint Center Economic Policy Director Jessica Fulton moderated a conversation with Vanessa Williamson, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, at the Brookings Institution on her recent report, “The Filer Voter experiment: How effective is voter registration at tax time?The discussion, which also included Chye-Ching Huang, Director of Federal Fiscal Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Jamila Michener, Assistant Professor at Cornell University, focused on the intersection between civic engagement, tax policy, and public services. Watch it here.<

Jessica also participated in a panel titled “Implications for Social Policy” at New America’s convening on the “millennial wealth gap.” The goal was to focus on the “emerging wealth gaps among the diverse range of young adults in America today.” More info here.

Joint Center Board Member Dr. Dianne Pinderhughes, who is also a Kellogg Institute for International Studies Faculty Fellow, was elected to the renowned American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). She now joins other “thinkers and doers” such as Michelle Obama (who was also elected this year), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2016), and Denzel Washington (2010). Learn more about Dr. Pinderhughes here.

Bridging the Racial Wealth Divide: Chuck Collins, Darrick Hamilton, Dedrick Asante-Muhammed, and Josh Hoxie released a report, “Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide.”

“Employers’ barriers to pension benefits rob $5,600 wealth from Black workers and $9,800 from Latino workers,” according to Brandeis University and The Worker Lab’s new report. Read it here.

Race to Lead: Senior Research Associate at Building Movement Project, Ofronama Biu, wrote the report, “Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector,” which highlights that racial and gender biases limit career advancement for women of color in the sector.

Think Tank Roundup

Olugbenga Ajilore of the Center for American Progress argued that current guidance on Opportunity Zones makes it unlikely that they will help struggling communities.Akua Amaning and Nathan Kasai of Third Way explain the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (HR 6), which aims to protect immigrants from distressed communities.

Martine Aurelien of the North Carolina Justice Center wrote on how revenue structures that tax higher incomes at higher rates might help support priorities that would increase opportunities in communities across North Carolina.

Daria Daniel of the National Association of Counties alerts us that comments are due on the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime pay rule on May 21, 2019. She also highlights a Gunnison County, Colorado commissioner’s testimony in support of the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, and shows how local communities commemorated National Community Development Week.

Ife Floyd of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains that implementing work requirements for public benefits and related programs ignores behavioral science evidence that proves that these policies will not work to reduce poverty.

Jocelyn Fyre and colleagues at the Center for American Progress wrote about the importance of focusing on both wages and opportunities for working women, and challenged persistent myths on equal pay.

Ariane Hegewisch, Dr. Chandra Childers, and Dr. Heidi Hartmann of Institute for Women’s Policy Research explain the potential impact the future of work will have on women.

Misha Hill of the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy wrote legislation in Montana that may negatively impact tribal nations and counties.

Chye-Ching Huang and Roderick Taylor of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote “Any Federal Infrastructure Package Should Boost Investment in Low-Income Communities,” which offers advice on targeting investments to distressed communities.

Andrew Perrin and Monica Anderson of the Pew Research Center wrote about how U.S. adults aren’t using social media any less or more from last year. Perrin, Anderson, and their colleagues also wrote about the 10 percent of Americans who don’t use the internet.

Andre M. Perry of Brookings wrote about the political implications of supporting Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s charter school proposal. He also argued that colleges should work with nearby employers to help work-study students gain work-relevant skills.

Elyse Shaw, Dr. Cynthia Hess, Dr. Chandra Childers, Dr. Jeff Hayes, and Adiam Tesfaselassie of Institute for Women’s Policy Research focus on gender and racial wealth gaps in Central Ohio, and show that Black, Hispanic, and younger women face barriers to wealth building.


On his weekly podcast, WashingTECH Host Joe Miller talked to lawyer Maureen K. Ohlhausen on antitrust enforcement in big tech, Harvard Applied Math Ph. D candidate Ben Green on inclusivity and smart cities, Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy Distinguished Fellow and Benton Senior Fellow Gigi Sohn on the most popular tech policy issues, and National Hispanic Media Coalition Policy Counsel Daiquiri Ryan on tech policy issues that affect Latinos. The podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify, and on WashingTECH’s website. New episodes every Tuesday. Listen here.

Daniella Gibbs of Center for American Progress hosted podcasts on the Mueller Report, gun control, and climate change. She also interviewed two lieutenant governors, Juliana Stratton (D-IL) and Kate Marshall (D-NV). Find each episode here.

NPR will interview 2020 presidential candidates on their podcast, NPR Politics, starting next month. Share any questions you have for the presidential hopefuls on Twitter using #NPRPoliticsLive. Listen to the podcast here.

Now Hiring

The Public Interest Network is looking for a Deputy Chief of Staff. Learn more here.

The Urban Institute is looking for a Policy Associate for its Justice Policy Center. More here.

In Case You Missed It

Gig Economy: “Fifty percent of the workforce will be partaking in freelance work in some capacity in the next 10 years,” says Samaschool’s Managing Director Sarah Currid on Annie E. Casey Foundation’s podcast, CaseyCast. Listen to the full episode here.

Inclusive Business Practices: Ajamu Johnson, Vice President of Procurement at Comcast-NBCUniversal, argues that “We’ve Run Out of Excuses Not to Promote Inclusion and Diversity for Growth” in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to Brookings Fellows Martha Ross and Natalie Holmes, 27 percent of all out of work young people are Black. Learn more about the characteristics of young adults who are out of work here.

Stanford Professor and MacArthur “Genius” Award Winner Jennifer L. Eberhardt appeared on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah to discuss her new book “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do.”

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy and the Workers LabNot Only Unequal Paychecks: Occupational Segregation, Benefits, and the Racial Wealth Gap,” which highlights the persistence of occupational segregation and its impact on workers and their families.

Congress & Tech: Washington Monthly’s Grace Gedye wrote about the relationship of Members of Congress with tech. Read it here.

Black Farmers: Center for American Progress’s Abril Castro and Zoe Willingham released “Progressive Governance Can Turn the Tide for Black Farmers.” The report highlights opportunities to address structural racism of previous U.S. farm policy in an effort to improve the economic well-being of Black farmers.

Black Millennial Women Navigating New Media Landscapes: Loyola University Chicago Doctoral Candidate and Researcher Nickecia Alder is performing a study to examine how media exposure impacts young African American women. Black women (ages 18-37) are encouraged to fill out the survey.

The Hill’s William Bates and Jane Frederick argue that lawmakers should consider experience and diversity when they choose the next Architect of the Capitol. Read here.


The Black Economic Alliance will host a reception to honor 116th Congress Members in Washington DC on May 8. More info here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is hosting its 43rd annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner in Washington, DC on May 15. The speaker will be Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Details can be found here.

APAICS Leadership Network’s inaugural Legislative Leadership Summit is happening from May 15-16. The Summit will focus on bipartisan policies that affect Asian American/Pacific Islander community and other communities. Click here for more info.

The Black Women’s Agenda’s Spirit of Change Town Hall will occur on May 18 in Washington, DC. More info here.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s event, From #Watching Oprah to Now: News in the Age of Generation Y and Social Media, will occur on May 29. More here.

The National Action Network is hosting a “Know Your Rights” workshop in Sacramento, CA on May 30. Details here.

The National League of Cities will host its Large City Council Presidents Convening from May 30 to June 1. Details here.

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators holds its 2019 2nd Convening of Committees – Health and Human Services, Housing, and Veterans Affairs on June 7. Find out more here.