Joint Center News: February 2020

Happy Black History Month! This year we celebrate our 50-year history and look forward to envisioning our next 50! In February, the Joint Center hosted a roundtable on the future of work for Black communities in Philadelphia, co-hosted a panel on what Black Americans want in 2020, and moderated a forum at the Federal Communications Commission. Details below!

Economic Studies

The Joint Center co-hosted a roundtable with Comcast NBCUniversal and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Workforce Development to discuss challenges and solutions in the wake of the changing nature of work for Black Philadelphians. Presenters included Joint Center President Spencer Overton, City of Philadelphia Office of Workforce Development Executive Director Sheila Ireland and Director of Special Initiatives Anne Gemmell, and Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Community Development Senior Economic Advisor Dr. Lei Ding.

The Joint Center hosted our second Voice at the Table policy breakfast featuring U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Staff Director Veronique Pluviose and U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Staff Director David Strickland.

The Joint Center and Third Way co-hosted a panel discussion to discuss A Nuanced Picture of What Black Americans Want in 2020.” Panelists included report co-author and Joint Center Vice President Jessica Fulton, along with Drake Road Strategies Principal and Third Way Senior Fellow Akunna Cook, Brennan Center for Justice Senior Fellow Ted Johnson, and GBAO Strategies Principal Margie Omero. The discussion was moderated by HillTV‘s Jamal Simmons.

Spencer moderated a discussion at a Future of Work roundtable hosted by Commissioner Geoffrey Starks of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The livestreamed discussion focused on the FCC’s role in the Future of Work.

Jessica served as a panelist at the National Skills Coalition 2020 Skills Summit. Her session—which included representatives from the National Skills Coalition, Deloitte, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, and The Century Foundation—focused on identifying actionable federal re-employment policies.

Jessica attended an Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative roundtable to discuss potential reforms to employer-provided tuition assistance tax credits.

Spencer presented Joint Center data on the future of work in Black communities to the Workforce Matters Funders Network Steering Committee in order to assist the committee in identifying learning priorities for 2020.

Jessica joined the Economic Policy Institute‘s livestreamed panel, Black Workers’ Roundtable: Policy Priorities during the 2020 Presidential Race. The discussion centered on determining “policies presidential candidates should consider to support Black workers.”

Political Studies

The Joint Center joined 14 other organizations in signing a letter supporting the Moving Our Democracy and Congressional Operations Towards Modernization (MODCOM) Resolution of 2019 (H. Res. 756). The resolution includes 30 bipartisan recommendations from the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, including proposed guidelines for the U.S. House Office of Diversity and Inclusion and for recruiting from HBCUs.

Spencer joined a panel, “How are Labor and Clergy preparing for 2020, and how do we engage young voters?,” at the CBC’s 2020 National Black Leadership Summit: An Emergency Convening. Spencer’s comments focused on how CBC Members should respond to discriminatory delivery of social media ads designed to suppress Black votes.

Joint Center Survey Research Director Dr. Ismail White co-authored an op-ed with Bowdoin College Assistant Professor Chryl N. Lairdon on why Black voters tend to vote for Democrats. This month, Professors White and Lairdon released their book Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior, which provides more detail on why Black Americans tend to remain unified politically.


On his weekly podcast, WashingTECH Host Joe Miller spoke with Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right author Anne Nelson on “media public policy that has helped the far right,” BCW Healthcare Managing Director Licy Do Canto on using data mapping to help save moms’ lives, Samsung Electronics America Senior Vice President for Public Policy John Godfrey on 5G networks, and Dell Director of VR/AR Solutions Gary Radburn on using virtual reality for social good. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and on WashingTECH’s website. New episodes every Tuesday. Listen here.

In Case You Missed It

The Joint Center continues to be one of the top think tanks in the U.S.! The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tank and Civil Societies Program named the Joint Center one of the top think tanks in the U.S.: Of the 1871 think tanks in the U.S., the Joint Center ranked No. 52 out of 109 think tanks that “excel in research, analysis, and public engagement on a wide range of policy issues with the aim of advancing debate, facilitating cooperation between relevant actors, maintaining public support and funding, and improving the overall quality of life in the United States.”


On February 25, Dr. Ismail White and Chryl N. Laird released their co-authored book, Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political BehaviorOn Friday, March 21 at 1:30 pm the Joint Center will co-host a panel featuring the co-authors to discuss the role of Black voters in the 2020 presidential primary process and the general election.

On March 10, National Urban League will host a 2020 Census National Tele-Town Hall. The online event will bring together civil rights leaders and mayors to discuss a plan of action to get an accurate count. RSVP here.

On March 25, Jessica will moderate a panel on election security at WashingTECH’s Inaugural Tech Converge Conference. The event will bring together the tech policy community, creatives, scholars, entrepreneurs, and advocates.