Hill Diversity


NALEO Educational Fund & the Joint Center Applaud U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto’s Appointment of Latino Chief of Staff

December 13, 2018
Contact: press@jointcenter.org

NALEO Educational Fund & the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Applaud U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto’s Appointment of Latino Chief of StaffWhile 116th Congress is most diverse in nation’s history, diversity among senior staffers continues to lagReynaldo Benitez, incoming Chief of Staff to Cortez Masto, will be one of just two Latinos to hold senior-most position

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies today commended U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-Nev.) appointment of Reynaldo Benitez as her new chief of staff. Benitez will be the second Latino chief of staff to serve in the Senate of the 116th Congress. Bianca Ortiz Wertheim, who currently serves as chief of staff to Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), is the first.

“We are thrilled that Senator Cortez Masto has chosen to name Reynaldo Benitez her next chief of staff,” said Noel Perez, Policy and Program Manager at NALEO Educational Fund. “While this incoming Congress will be the most diverse in American history, greater staff diversity is still urgently needed on Capitol Hill. Without senior staffers who reflect the diversity of America, Congress cannot fully represent the communities it serves.”

“As Members of the 116th Congress staff up their offices, it is critical that they prioritize diversity and build a Congress that is truly representative of the people it serves,” said Don Bell, Director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies “We are pleased to see lawmakers like Senator Cortez Masto recognize that there are immensely talented and highly qualified staffers of color, and we look forward to working with other offices to help build a culture of diversity and inclusion…”

In September, the Joint Center released a report on racial diversity among top staff in the U.S. House, finding that while people of color account for 39.3 percent of the U.S. population, they make up only 13.7 percent of all top House staff. In 2015, the Joint Center issued a similar report, Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, finding that people of color accounted for only 7.1 percent of top Senate staffers.

In response to the lack of diversity among top House staff, NALEO Educational Fund and the Joint Center launched Staff Up Congress, a national initiative to build a representative congressional workforce. Launched in 2017, Staff Up Congress is working to grow the pool of candidates of color for senior positions; develop candidates’ skills and networks; build a sustainable pipeline of candidates from the entry level to chief of staff; and urge hiring managers to actively consider, recruit, and hire in an inclusive manner.
NALEO Educational Fund is the nation’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization that facilitates full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.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.