Joint Center News: October 2018

We’re gearing up to release six state-specific reports on top staff diversity in the House and Senate. In the meantime, we joined the Atlantic Festival’s roundtable on the future of work, released an op-ed in The Washington Post, and continued our monthly analysis of Black job numbers. We also remember former Joint Center COO Fredric Leigh. Details below.

Economic Studies: Future of Work

Spencer delivered the Seventh Biennial Lecture of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School. His subject was “Racial Equality and the Future of Work,” and he discussed the relationship between the future of work and the inequality that persists in Detroit and many other metro areas. Click here for the full transcript.
The Joint Center’s October Discussion on Black Job Numbers: Harin Contractor hosted a conversation on the U.S. Labor Department’s latest jobs report and policies to empower Black workers with the Urban Institute’s Constance Lindsay and the Progressive Policy Institute’s Michael Mandel. See the Twitter conversation here. Follow the conversation in real time on the first Friday of each month when the Labor Department releases the data.

Joint Center Workforce Director Harin Contractor Joined The Atlantic’s Roundtable on the Future of Work: Harin discussed the risk automation poses for African Americans. Other participants included experts like former White House economist Jared Bernstein, American Association of Community Colleges President and CEO Walter Bumphus, and Brookings Hamilton Project Managing Director Kriston McIntosh. Details here.

Spencer attended his first Markle Rework America Task Force meeting, where he presented a preview of the Joint Center’s new data on African Americans and the future of work. Details here.< Joint Center Economic Director Jessica Fulton will represent the Joint Center at The Atlantic’s Future of Work Summit in New York City on October 31. More info here.


Harin will join other experts at the US 2050 conference to present our recent findings about the future of work. The initiative, founded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Ford Foundation, “examines and analyzes the multiple demographic, socioeconomic, and fiscal trends that will shape the nation in the decades ahead.” Details here.

Spencer will head to his first meeting with the Partnership on AI(the Joint Center recently became a partner) in San Francisco.

Automation could replace 294,000 jobs that go to long-distance drivers, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center’s report on the impact of autonomous vehicles on the trucking workforce. More here.

Beginner’s Guide to AI: Allied Media’s Mimi Onuoha and Mother Cyborg (Diana Nucera) released “A People’s Guide to AI,” which explains artificial intelligence and its future impact. Read it here.

Uniqlo replaced 90% of their staff in their warehouse with robots. Details>here.

There’s an abundance of “middle-skill” jobs that often require digital savvy over college degrees, writes John Horrigan for the Benton Foundation. Read it here.

Political Studies: Congressional Staff Diversity

Spencer wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post highlighting the lack of diversity among top staffers in the House. Read it here.

Our September report Racial Diversity Among Top U.S. House Staff continues to receive extensive coverage (here are appearances on Hill TV and MSNBC).

Joint Center to Release State Reports on Congressional Delegation Diversity: These reports will look at top House staff along with top and mid-level Senate staff in several states with diverse populations. Is your state on the list? Stay tuned.

TechCongress’s program manager, Andrés Bascumbe, responds to the Joint Center’s report, Racial Diversity Among Top House Staff in The Hill. Bascumbe highlights TechCongress’s efforts to bring diverse candidates to the tech industry through their one-year Congressional Innovation Fellowship. Read his piece here.

Joint Center and NALEO Educational Fund’s Staff Up Congress Legislative Academy Participant Profiled: Imani Augustus shares her day-to-day life as a senior legislative assistant for Rep. Tim Walz, (MN-1) in Refinery29. Read the profilehere.

The Joint Center’s findings on the lack of diversity on Capitol Hill inspired Troy Clair to create a resume bank for those seeking entry-level, mid-level, and senior staff positions. More info here.

AXIOS reports 11 of the 22 committee chairs would be women and/or people of color if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House in November, including five Black chairs. This would be the most diverse congressional leadership team in history. Details here.

Tyrone Gayle, press secretary for U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, passed away at age 30 after a battle with cancer. He had previously served as an aide to both U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and colleagues. Details here.

Think Tank Round Up

The CBC Foundation released its inaugural issueof the Journal of the Center for Policy Analysis and Research (JCPAR),Defining the Black Agenda in a Post-Obama Era.

Michael Mitchellof Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote “Unkept Promises: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity.”

Olubenga Ajilorefrom the Center for American Progress wrote “The Treasury Department’s Regulations for Opportunity Zones Ignore the Communities They Should Serve.”

Jocelyn Frye of Center for American Progress wrote “Advancing #MeToo in a Post-Kavanaugh Confirmation World.”

Daniella Gibbs Leger hosts podcast episodes on the Mueller investigation and international politics. She also interviewed Ike Barinholtz for a discussion on “How to Talk Politics at the Dinner Table.”

Daria Daniel of NACo highlighted four of the major cases to be argued in front of the Supreme Court.  

Rejane Frederick, Rebecca Cokley, Hannah Leibson, and Eliza Schultz of Center for American Progress tackled the concerns of people with disabilities during natural disasters.

Ashley Burnside and Ife Floyd of Center of Budget and Policy Priorities co-wrote “TANF Benefits Remain Low Despite Recent Increases in Some States.”

Monica Anderson & Skye Toor of Pew Research wrote “How social media users have discussed sexual harassment since #MeToo went viral.”

Misha Hill from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy wrote “State Tax Codes Can Help Mitigate Poverty and Impact of Federal Tax Cuts on Low- and Middle-Income Families.”

Andre Perry of Brookings wrote about the importance of mentorships in the ‘gig economy.’

Monica Anderson & Andrew Perrin of Pew Research wrote “Nearly one-in-five teens can’t always finish their homework because of the digital divide.”


Jessica Fulton is our new Director of Economic Policy. Prior to joining the Joint Center, she served as External Relations Director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
DeMarcus Freeman is the Joint Center’s new Development Manager. He has over ten years of experience in fundraising and development, including serving as the Associate Director for Development at the American Diabetes Association.
Victoria Johnson joins the Joint Center team as the Digital Communications Specialist. She’s a former journalist with robust newspaper and magazine experience including reportage on policy and arts for New York Daily News, New York Amsterdam News, Mashable, Vulture and more.

We’re so happy to add them to our team!

The Democracy Fund is looking to fill several positions, including Chief Operating Officer, Director of Partnerships, Senior Associate for Cybersecurity Policy, Senior Communications Associate, and a Team Coordinator for the Public Square Program.

Protect Democracy has an interest in diverse candidates as they look to hire a Policy AdvocateCounsel, and Communications Organizer. Details here.

Remembering Fredric ‘Fred’ Leigh

Fredric ‘Fred’ Leigh, a former COO of the Joint Center, passed away at age 78. He served as a Major General for the U.S. Army and dedicated his life to helping the African diaspora, including work in Sierra Leone and Liberia. His wife, Karyn Trader-Leigh, also worked at the Joint Center. His obituary can be found here. “We are incredibly thankful for his service to our nation, to Sierra Leone and Liberia, to our community, and to the Joint Center,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “Karyn and the rest of his family remain in our thoughts.”

Watch Roland Martin’s new Daily Digital TV News Show,#RolandMartinUnfiltered, where Spencer is a weekly panelist on Tuesdays. The show airs weekdays at 6 pm EST. Details here.

The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc is teaming up with Teaneck International Film Festival to screen the documentary, The Rape of Recy Taylor, on November 1. More info here.

National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials will draw local leaders to its annual city summit in Los Angeles from November 7-10. Get info here.

Jessica will join Economic Policy Institute’s 10th Anniversary Symposiumon November 14. This year’s theme is “Mobilizing Economic Research to Address Socioeconomic and Racial Injustices.” More info can be foundhere.

NALEO’s 12th Biennial National Institute for Newly Elected Officials kicks off on November 16. Find out morehere.

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators hosts its 42ndAnnual Legislative Conference on November 28 in Brooklyn, NY. Advance registration ends on November 2. More info here.

Spencer and other civil rights experts traveled to Silicon Valley and met with Sheryl Sandberg and other Facebook executives to discuss the company’s new policies on preventing voter suppression on the platform. Details on the policy are here.

Former Joint Center Director for Health Policy Program Dr. Kenneth Chance received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who. More info here.

On his weekly podcast, WashingTECH Host Joe Miller talked to Oxford Internet Institute Researcher Alex J. Wood about the pros and cons of the ‘gig economy,’ Internet Association’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion Policy and Counsel Sean Perryman on bridging diversity in tech with broader policy agenda, University of Toronto’s Technology and Human Rights Researcher Petra Molnar on automated decision-making and immigration, and Consumer Technology Association’s Senior Vice President of Political and Industry Affairs Tiffany Moore on how policy affects consumer tech. The podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify, and on WashingTECH’s website. New episodes every Tuesday.

Native American philanthropy executive Edgar Villanueva released Decolonizing Wealth, a book that analyzes the “dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance,” and offers solutions using “the guidance of indigenous wisdom.” Get a copy here.

Carol Fulp’s new book, Success Through Diversity: Why the Most Inclusive Companies Will Win, argues that racially diverse workplaces are “more dynamic, powerful, and profitable.” Find it here.

The Seat at the Table Project at the Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston highlights the importance of inclusion in democracy. The project draws inspiration from Shirley Chisholm’s quote: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Details here.

The Hate U Give is a highly-acclaimed movie that grapples with the challenges of police violence against Black communities (97% on the Tomatometer). The movie is told from the perspective of a high school teenager who navigates life between her Black neighborhood and her mostly white prep school. Check out a trailer here.

Ellen featuresVerizon’s Innovative Learning schools. The Verizon-based program provides tools (e.g. free technology, internet access, etc) to about one million middle school kids to prepare them to succeed in the digital future. Watch the clip here.

LinkedIn to help organizations find diverse candidates. It will initially focus on bridging the gender gap with a “Gender Tab” in the Company Report on LinkedIn’s new talent analytics tool, and long term it looks to provide data on race and other demographics. Read more here.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, founded in 1970, is a think tank that produces data, analysis, and ideas to solve challenges that confront the African American community. The Joint Center collaborates with top experts, various organizations, and others that value racial inclusion to maximize our impact. We are currently focused on the future of work in African American communities and congressional staff diversity.