Joint Center Senior Fellow, Diversity and Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson joined NPR’s Marketplace to discuss our efforts to increase congressional staff diversity. During the interview, LaShonda shared that when she interned for a Member of Congress in 2009, she didn’t see many people who looked like her. She also noted that not much has changed since then.
In LaShonda’s report for the Joint Center, she found that people of color are nearly 40% of the U.S. population, but only account for about 11% of the top staff positions in Senate personal offices. A 2018 Joint Center report found that people of color account for nearly 14% of top staff in the House. In Joint Center reports, top staff positions refer to chief of staff, legislative director, and communications director.
“These staffers, as you know, are so important because they are the ones who are really doing the day-to-day tasks, giving talking points, giving notes, informing their member on various issues that might arise. Of course members of Congress make the final say, but these staffers really have a lot of influence in enacting legislation,” said LaShonda in the interview.
Listen to the full interview below, or read the full transcript here.