Joint Center Updates

Jessica Fulton

Joint Center’s Board of Governors Announce Interim President

June 14, 2023

Chandra Hayslett,

Joint Center’s Board of Governors Announce Interim President 

Jessica Fulton appointed to top position 

WASHINGTON — The Board of Governors for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies today announced that Jessica Fulton will serve as the interim president of America’s Black think tank.

Fulton has been the Joint Center’s vice president of Policy since November 2020. Fulton will continue to oversee Policy while serving as interim president. Fulton is replacing Spencer Overton, who served as president of the organization since 2014, and has been a Joint Center board member since 2013.

“The board is grateful to Jessica for stepping into the interim role while we continue our search for a permanent successor for Spencer. Jessica has brought exceptional leadership to the organization as a vice president the last three years,” said Paul N.D. Thornell, chair of the Board of Governors. “The board has the utmost trust that Jessica will lead the Joint Center with the same passion, drive, and rigor that our funders and partners have grown to expect.”

Spencer announced in October that he was stepping down as president. Next month, he will rejoin the faculty at George Washington University Law School as the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law and lead “The Multiracial Democracy Project” at the GW Equity Institute, where he will focus on his own research and supporting other scholars working on challenges to multiracial democracy like disinformation, gerrymandering, and voter suppression.

“With Jessica, the Joint Center is in excellent hands. She has served as my sounding board and most trusted confidant since 2018, when she was hired as the Economic Policy director. Jessica brought to the Joint Center her first-hand experience helping facilitate the expansion of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and she played a leading role in many of the initiatives that allowed us to scale, such as the cultural values that guide our work and our Objectives and Key Results process,” said Spencer Overton, the outgoing president of the Joint Center. “She played an essential role in moving us from a group of individual researchers to a research and policy organization. She has also played a critical role in hiring. Jessica has great judgment and is team oriented. I don’t make significant decisions without first consulting her. The Joint Center would not have enjoyed the success that it has without Jessica. There is no better person to serve as interim president.”
In this interim president role, Fulton will be responsible for planning and leading the Joint Center’s future vision and ensuring organizational continuity and stability.

“I am grateful to the Board of Governors for trusting me to serve as interim president while continuing the search for a permanent leader,” said Jessica Fulton, interim president of the Joint Center and vice president of Policy. “The Joint Center has a longstanding legacy for excellence, rigor, centering Black voices in policy debates, and convening the country’s most noted non-profit, government, philanthropic, business, and academic leaders. I look forward to engaging on a deeper level with the Board of Governors, our funders, policy makers, and myriad partners to maintain this stellar reputation. I am honored to have been chosen for this critical role during this period of transition.”

The Joint Center’s board chair will continue to lead the presidential search committee in identifying a new permanent president. Thornell will closely work with Fulton and the staff to ensure a smooth transition so that the new president can continue the Joint Center’s growth and the implementation of its strategic plan.

About Jessica Fulton

Jessica Fulton is interim president and vice president of Policy at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. An expert on issues at the intersection of race and economic policy, Fulton’s work focuses on identifying and promoting policies to advance the socioeconomic status of the Black community. In her current role, she is responsible for ensuring organizational continuity and stability, overseeing the Joint Center’s research and policy team, and leading the Joint Center’s Economic Policy research.

Before joining the Joint Center, Fulton served as external relations director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, where she worked with scholars to advance policymaker understanding of the connection between economic inequality and economic growth. She has also held local research and advocacy positions at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the Chicago Urban League.

Fulton is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She serves on the board of The Black Swan Academy, an organization focused on increasing civic engagement among Black youth, and the advisory board of the Sadie Collective, which strives to increase the representation of Black women in economics. Fulton earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in Economic Policy Analysis from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University.

Read her policy analysis and commentary here.



About the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank, provides compelling and actionable policy solutions to eradicate persistent and evolving barriers to the full freedom of Black people in America. We are the trusted forum for leading experts and scholars to participate in major public policy debates and promote ideas that advance Black communities. We use evidence-based research, analysis, convenings, and strategic communications to support Black communities and a network of allies.