The Joint Center’s panel entitled Advancing Black Agency at the 2022 Future of Black Communities Summit was covered by C-SPAN.
This conversation, moderated by Elliot Williams, principal at The Raben Group, also included House Office of Diversity Initiative Director Dr. Sesha Joi Moon, White House Presidential Personnel Director Gautam Raghavan, Chief of Staff to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Staff Director of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Mike Lynch, General Motors Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs and Transportation Technology Policy David Strickland, and Joint Center Senior Researcher Dr. LaShonda Brenson as panelists, sought to answer the question: how can we improve racial diversity among top congressional staffers and presidential appointees?
For decades, companies and foundations have invested in important internship and fellowship programs that open doors to entry-level government positions for diverse college students and early-career policy professionals. Unfortunately, more needs to be done to ensure young staffers of color have opportunities for advancement, as people of color are woefully underrepresented among top congressional staff and in many presidential appointee positions. This lack of representation among top spots adversely affects communities of color in government decision-making, and limits later opportunities for people of color in Senate-confirmed government positions, the private sector, philanthropy, and the non-profit sector. This panel highlighted recent advances and continuing challenges for Black representation among presidential appointees and congressional staff and explored best practices to achieve better outcomes.
According to Dr. Brenson, “diversity has always been a challenge, especially in key positions on the Hill… Last week, we published a report that basically highlighted the same problem — that people of color make up about 40% of the US population, but on the House side, people of color in key positions make up about 18%… On the one hand is encouraging, because in 2018, that percentage was at 13.7 but at the same time, it pales in comparison to the 40% of people of color that make up this country. So there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, but it’s very encouraging in terms of the institutional changes that have been made since we’ve been engaging in this work since 2015.”
View the recording here.