Joint Center 2016 Highlights and 2017 Plans

Highlights of 2016 



Governance in 2016

Diversity Among Top Congressional Staff: Building on our 31-page report on Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, in 2016 the Joint Center produced this 2-minute video on congressional staff diversity and made several presentations to talk about the issue to U.S. Senators, to congressional staff, and to the media. After the 2016 election, we organized 52 black, Latino, AAPI, and Native American organizations and sent this letter asking six new U.S. Senators to recruit diverse staffs. We also organized outreach to over 70 civil rights organizations and media outlets in six states with newly elected U.S. Senators educating them about the lack of diversity among top staff, and created this fact sheet on the issue. Following our efforts and those of our partner organizations, House Speaker Paul Ryan hired the first African American Chief of Staff in the Speaker's office, Senator Kamala Harris & Senator Thom Tillis hired the Senate’s first African American legislative directors, Senator Dianne Feinstein & Senator Jerry Moran both hired an African American Chief of Staff, Senator Martin Heinrich hired a Latino Legislative Director, and Senator Cortez Masto hired a Latino Communications Director. The number of African American top staff in Senate offices increased by 100 percent, and incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer announced plans to continue and staff the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative.

Black Talent Initiative: Starting in June 2016, the Joint Center convened 36 African-American organizations (e.g., NAACP, National Urban League, INSIGHT America, National Action Network, and more) and over 250 policy and communications experts to work on transition policy and appointments issues. This effort transitioned into the Black Talent Initiative (housed at and staffed by the Joint Center), which identifies and counsels top African American talent for agency appointments and congressional staff positions.Candidates can submit key experiences and expertise on this online portal, and a searchable database allows Joint Center staff to match this information with job openings for agency appointments and congressional staff positions.  

Black44/Joint Center Conference: In October, the Joint Center partnered with Black44 to host a day-long professional development workshop for over 150 African-American appointees exiting the Obama Administration. The conference featured speakers such as Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, Education Secretary John King, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and former Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin.

Bipartisan Breakfast Series: The Joint Center, partnering with INSIGHT America, hosted 10 bipartisan breakfasts for economic development, civil rights, and private sector leaders. Speakers included House Ways & Means Chair Kevin Brady, HUD Secretary Julián Castro, House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, House Agriculture Chair Mike Conaway, Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, FTC Chair Edith Ramirez, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.

June Roundtable of the South for Elected Officials of Color: From June 21-23 the Joint Center hosted over 20 of the South's most innovative and influential elected state, county, and local elected officials of color for a policy roundtable at the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and GW Law. The elected officials met with leading experts and policy-makers, including Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jerry Abramson, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and many others. Sessions focused on workforce development, the school-to-prison pipeline, and health equity.

November Transition Roundtable for Elected Officials of Color: On November 16, the Joint Center – in partnership with NALEO – hosted leaders of over 20 organizations that represent elected officials of color (e.g., African American Mayors Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Association of Hispanic County Officials, National Caucus of Native American State Legislators) for a day-long roundtable in Washington, DC focused on the upcoming transition. The participants met at the White House, the Republican National Committee headquarters (co-hosted by INSIGHT America), and George Washington University Law School. Participants met with leaders like Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jerry Abramson, John Acton of the Partnership for Public Service's Center for Presidential Transition, Management & Budget Chair for the Trump-Pence Transition Project Kay Coles James, and many others. At a reception following the event, we gave the Joint Center's highest honor--the Louis E. Martin Great American Award--to Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Black Rural Policy Mayors Roundtable: In March, the Joint Center traveled to Selma, Alabama for the 51st anniversary of Bloody Sunday, where we hosted a Business Empowerment Symposium with former Selma Mayor George Evans, and organized key sessions for small town Black Belt mayors on improving infrastructure, economic opportunity, and quality of life in the rural South. The Joint Center also testified at a Congressional voting rights field hearing before ten Members of Congress.

Black Mayors Technology Summit: The Joint Center partnered with the African American Mayors Association to host black mayors at a day-long 2016 Technology Summit.


Research & Policy Solutions in 2016

Engaging Communities in Reducing Gun Violence: The Joint Center, Joyce Foundation, and Urban Institute released Engaging Communities in Reducing Gun Violence. The 57-page report focuses on race, gun violence, and policing reforms, and is based on recommendations of more than 100 community members convened in three diverse American cities—Richmond, Virginia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Stockton, California. We also returned to Richmond and Milwaukee and organized events with community members about how to implement the recommendations.

How to Reduce Long Lines to Vote: The Joint Center released a policy brief and a 2-minute video on how to reduce long lines to vote. On average, African Americans wait in line to vote twice as long and Latinos 1.5 times as long as whites, and some voters of color wait up to 7 hours. Long lines reduce voter turnout and can determine election outcomes.

Survey Data and Briefs: In 2016, we commissioned a nationwide survey that oversampled African Americans and Latinos to allow for detailed demographic analysis (e.g., African Americans and Latinos by age, gender, income, geography). The survey gathered data about preferences of African Americans, Latinos, and whites on voting, policy, workforce, financial services, health and nutrition, energy, and other issues. We published a series of briefs based on the data.

Think Tank Leaders Luncheons: The Joint Center brought together researchers who focus on race at various think tanks (e.g. Brookings, CAP, Urban Institute) to share their newest research and ideas with one another over several lunches.


Growth in 2016

5 New Board Members: The Joint Center added five new board members: Paula Boyd, Microsoft Director of Government & Regulatory Affairs; Chanelle Hardy, Google Strategic Outreach & External Partnerships Director; Christopher Kang, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) National Director; Vince Sarmiento, Santa Ana, California Mayor Pro Tem; and Paul N. D. Thornell, Citigroup Federal Government Affairs Managing Director. 

7 New Employees: This year the Joint Center hired seven new full-time staff members: Chief Operating Officer Richard Clemmons, Senior Policy Analyst Jenalyn Sotto, Innovation & Opportunity Fellow Alejandra Montoya-Boyer, Public Policy Fellow Will Searcy, Development Associate Lydia Munn, Program/Grants Management Associate Keith Rogers, and Executive & Staff Administrative Assistant Stephanie Wong.

New Offices: The Joint Center opened offices in the National Council of Negro Women Building at 633 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Supporters: Our 2016 supporters included American Express, Annie E. Casey Foundation, API, AT&T, Boule Foundation, BP, CenturyLink, Charter, Citi, Comcast NBCUniversal, CTIA, Democracy Fund, Eddie Williams, Edison Electric Institute, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Ford Foundation, Google, GW Law, Hewlett Foundation, Home Depot, Honda, the Joyce Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, MasterCard, Microsoft, NAB, NEO Philanthropy, Oracle, Open Society Foundation, PepsiCo, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Sabio Enterprises, Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock P.C., Southern Education Foundation, State Infrastructure Fund, University of Texas at Austin Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Univision, Venable LLP, Verizon, Viacom, Walmart, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


Plans for 2017

Governance in 2017

Diversity Among Top Congressional Staff and Agency Appointments: The Joint Center will publish a major report on diversity among U.S. House Chiefs of Staff, Legislative Directors, and Committee Staff Directors, and start research on our second Diversity Among Top Senate Staff report. We will continue to inform state and local civil rights organizations and media outlets about the status of diversity among top Congressional staff. Our Black Talent Initiative (see, led by a director and two staff members, will identify, recruit, and advise African-American candidates for key positions on staffs of Members of Congress and the executive branch, maintain an online searchable resume database of candidates, and collaborate with NALEO, congressional staff associations of color, and other organizations focused on diversity in appointments.

Bipartisan Breakfasts With Top Federal Officials: The Joint Center will host several breakfasts that bring together 25 economic development leaders, civil rights leaders, and private sector leaders to hear a top speaker, such as a congressional committee chair or cabinet official about policy issues that shape the future of communities of color.

Roundtables for Top State & Local Elected Officials of Color from the Midwest and West: The Joint Center will host two Policy Roundtables for top elected officials of color covering issues that will shape communities of color over the next decade.

Black Elected Officials: The Joint Center will collaborate with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), the Center for Technology and Civic Life, and other partners to pilot a digital platform to more efficiently compile and update the Joint Center’s Roster of 10,000 Black Elected Official and NALEO’s Roster of 6,000 Latino elected officials, including those on the municipal level.  The Joint Center will also work with organizations like the African American Mayors Association, the National Association of Black County Officials, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, and the National Black Council of School Board Members on projects like training for new Black Elected Officials.   


Research & Policy Solutions in 2017: The Future of People of Color


In 2017, the Joint Center will examine shifts in our culture and economy over the next decade, and implications for communities of color. For example, how will disruptive innovations shape quality of life, workforce, and economic development in communities of color? What steps should elected officials, entrepreneurs, workers, and parents take now to maximize opportunities and to mitigate challenges? 


Sessions with leaders from industry, academia, nonprofits, and philanthropy to discuss anticipated shifts in our culture and economy over the next decade and implications for communities of color (both opportunities and challenges), covering topics such as the next generation of wireless broadband (5G), Smart Cities, mobile and small business, driverless cars, robotics, machine learning, digital money, big data, telemedicine, and genomics.      


Research reports with policy solutions to maximize opportunities and mitigate challenges for communities of color of anticipated shifts in our culture and economy over the next decade. Report topics will include race and the next generation of wireless broadband (5G) and Smart Cities, mobile and businesses of color, and the impact of innovations on people of color in other areas such as health, financial services, voting, energy, education, transportation, workforce, and minority contracting.     


Accessible policy briefs, fact sheets, and policy videos on issues and solutions on the next generation of wireless broadband (5G) and Smart Cities, mobile and businesses of color, and the impact of innovations on people of color in other areas such as health, financial services, voting, energy, education, transportation, workforce, and minority contracting.

Public opinion surveys that oversample African Americans and Latinos and allow for detailed demographic analysis (e.g., African Americans and Latinos by age, gender, income, geography) on the next generation of wireless broadband (5G) and Smart Cities, mobile and businesses of color, and the impact of innovations on people of color in other areas such as health, financial services, voting, energy, education, transportation, workforce, and minority contracting.

Highlights of 2016 



Governance in 2016