Joint Center News: March

Our diversity efforts are yielding results. In March, the Senate Democratic Conference adopted the Rooney Rule, but we still have a long way to go. The Joint Center also held several sessions with experts to identify which innovations (artificial intelligence, automation, data/analytics) will have the biggest impact on communities of color. Read more below!


Senate Democratic Conference Adopts Rooney Rule: Of the approximately 163 Democratic chiefs of staff, legislative directors, communications directors, and committee staff directors, only one is African American. The Democratic Conference’s new rules state: “to the extent practicable, [Democratic] offices shall: (1) engage with the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative to identify qualified candidates for vacancies; (2) engage with congressional staff associations and outside stakeholder groups that represent diversity to solicit résumés; and (3) interview diverse applicants for all vacancies.” The Joint Center commends Democratic Leader Schumer for this significant first step to help diversify staff. Read more here.

Don Bell Joins as New BTI Director: Don Bell, former president of the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus, has been hired as director of the Black Talent Initiative. Don will lead the Joint Center’s work to promote diversity on the Hill and increase the number of African Americans in appointed positions in the federal government. Read more here.

Joint Center Breakfast with Jonathan Burks:At the end of February the Joint Center–partnering with INSIGHT America–organized a breakfast featuring Jonathan Burks, Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Read more here.

Joint Center Breakfast with CBC & Black Foundation Executives:On Thursday, March 23, the Joint Center–partnering with ABFE–organized a breakfast meeting featuring Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, CBC Chair Cedric Richmond, other CBC Members, and Black foundation executives. Read more here.

Hill Staff and Cyber Security Diversity: On Monday, February 27, then-Interim Joint Center Black Talent Initiative Director Will Searcy highlighted the lack of staff diversity in the Senate as a solution to tackle racial diversity among cyber security personnel at a STEM4US reception entitled, “Hacking the Nation’s Cyber Workforce Shortage.” The conversation focused on the need to increase racial diversity within the cyber workforce sector. Read more here.

IMPACT Senate Diversity Panel: On Thursday, March 9, IMPACT convened a panel centered on the findings of the Joint Center’s 2015 report Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff. Then-Interim Black Talent Initiative Director Will Searcy presented. Read more here.


Joint Center Innovation Sessions: Building on our January session in San Francisco with top race and technology law professors, the Joint Center recently hosted sessions with leaders in various sectors to collect ideas about major technological shifts in their industries over the next decade that may present both challenges and opportunities for communities of color.

  • Transportation Lunch: On Friday, March 24 at Uber DC, transportation sector leaders talked communities of color and education and workforce training, autonomous vehicles, transportation safety, cybersecurity, and more. Read more here.
  • Energy Breakfast: On Friday, March 10 at the Joint Center’s headquarters, energy sector leaders discussed communities of color and cleantech, storage technologies, an enhanced grid, smart cities, automation, big data/analytics, and more. Read more here.
  • Health Lunch: On Wednesday, March 1 at Google DC, health sector leaders talked about communities of color and telemedicine, the expanding need for home healthcare services, wellbeing wearables, inclusive clinical trials, genomics, smart cities, and big data. Read more here.
  • Financial Services Lunch: On Friday, February 24 at CitiGroup, financial services leaders discussed communities of color and fintech, digital money, blockchain, data security, smart cities, big data, and more. Read more here.

Uber Releases Diversity Numbers: Uber’s recent diversity report shows that Uber’s overall workforce is more racially diverse than other tech companies, but is similar with regard to tech and leadership positions. Read Joint Center Innovation & Opportunity Program Manager Alejandra Montoya-Boyer’s take here.

Joint Center Travels to Silicon Valley & Seattle: Joint Center President Spencer Overton traveled to Silicon Valley and Seattle to get input about the impact of innovations on communities of color. He met with officials from the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Stanford Law School, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Facebook, Microsoft, Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the Gates Foundation.

Joint Center Travels to Berlin: Joint Center Innovation Program Manager Alejandra Montoya-Boyer traveled to Berlin, Germany for Google’s Global Consumer Protection Policy Summit. The Summit brought together representatives from consumer protection and civil rights organizations to discuss the future of consumer protections in an increasingly tech-reliant world.

Blacks and Latinos Employed as Drivers May Lose to Driverless Cars: The Center for Global Policy Solutions released an important new report on the possible adverse effect of autonomous vehicles on the more than four million Americans in the driving profession. CGPS President Dr. Maya Rockeymoore discussed solutions in a Wired op-ed here.

Report Claims Digital Redlining Keeps Broadband from Communities of Color: A new report from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance alleges AT&T provided low-income neighborhoods in Cleveland with disproportionate access to high-speed broadband capabilities. AT&T responded by saying “the report does not accurately reflect the investment we’ve made in bringing faster internet to urban and rural areas across the U.S. While we are investing in broadband, we’re also investing in technologies that will mitigate some of the infrastructure limitations.” Read more here.

Diverse Companies Make More Money: Though black, Latino, and Native American employees are underrepresented in the tech industry, a recent report states that racially-diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to have higher financial returns than the national median in their industry. Read more here.

Jay Z Launches Startup Accelerator: Jay Z’s Roc Nation announced that it will begin funding “early stage startups” through its new platform, ARRIVE. The new firm will focus on investing in startups that have a social impact. Read more here.

Google Grants $11.5 Million Toward Racial Justice: In its latest efforts to promote racial justice, Google will work with numerous organizations to support justice transparency. For example, New York think tank Center for Policing Equity will collaborate with police departments in creating a database that tracks police interactions across the country. Read more here.

Google Partners with Howard to Develop More Black Engineers: The program is called “Howard West,” and welcomes computer science majors from Howard and eventually other HBCUs to Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA for immersive training, starting this summer. “Howard West is now the centerpiece of Google’s effort to recruit more Black software engineers from HBCUs and to make them feel right at home here in Mountain View.” Read more here.

$100 Million Wireless-Tech Programs: The National Science Foundation (NSF) pledged $100 million to launch wireless-technology research hubs throughout the country that will bolster cities’ ability to discover alternate solutions for next generation wireless technologies and enhance Internet connectivity. Read more here.

  • The Joint Center & the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University hosted a conference in Washington, DC from March 14-17 entitled Reflections on the Impact of the Reconstruction Amendments: A Research Symposium on the Social and Economic Outcomes of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Read more here.
  • JPMorgan Chase is offeringSophomore Development Fellowship programs for undergraduate students who identify as Black, Hispanic, and Native American. Click here to apply.
  • In April, the Joint Center will release its latest report entitled 5G, Smart Cities, and Communities of Color, highlighting the implications of 5G on communities of color.