Joint Center Updates

Spencer Overton Featured Image

Spencer Overton to Step Down After a Decade of Joint Center Leadership

October 12, 2022

Chandra Hayslett,
Victoria Johnson,

Washington D.C. — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies announced that President Spencer Overton will step down from his role in the spring of 2023 after a decade of leading the organization through an era of incredible transformation and growth.

Under Spencer’s leadership, the Joint Center regained fiscal health, and eventually grew its total net assets to over $11 million. He restructured the organization and built programs that focused on the future of Black communities, including racial diversity in congressional staff and federal appointments, workforce policy, economic policy, and tech policy.

“It has been one of the richest experiences of my life to lead the Joint Center during this critical period in its history. When I started, we faced significant challenges, and it is gratifying to have worked together with so many great people to overcome those obstacles and set the Joint Center on a trajectory toward a bright future,” said Spencer. “I’m particularly thankful to my family, former Board Chair Barbara Johnson, our entire board and staff, GW Law School, and many public officials, policy experts, researchers, financial supporters, civil rights leaders, think tank leaders, Joint Center alumni, and other allies and advisors for their consistent engagement and support.”

The Joint Center’s Board of Directors is led by Chairman Paul Thornell, who will lead the search for a new Joint Center president. Paul will work closely with the board, Spencer, and the staff to ensure a smooth transition to the new President who will continue the Joint Center’s growth and the implementation of its strategic plan.

Paul said: “The Joint Center and Black communities will forever be indebted to Spencer Overton for his amazing leadership over the ten years he served on the board and then as President. He kept the doors open when shuttering the organization was definitely one option.  Indeed, that was no small feat and one performed with great humility, creativity, and persistence over the years. He has effectively been the founder of this new organization, one with a rich history and now – in large part because of him – an amazing future grounded in convening and content. The Board so appreciates his contributions and his vision for the important mission work only the Joint Center can deliver.  It also is critical to recognize the vital leadership of Barbara Johnson who was the Board chair for most of Spencer’s time as President.  They were fantastic partners in charting a new path for the Joint Center.”

In July of 2023, Spencer will rejoin the faculty at George Washington University Law School. “We are incredibly proud of Spencer’s hard work and accomplishments at the Joint Center,” said GW Law School Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew. “We are also excited that he will return to GW as the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law and lead the ‘The Multiracial Democracy Project’ at the GW Equity Institute, which will allow him to build on his national reputation as a leading voting rights scholar to help shape our democracy at a crucial moment in our nation’s history.”

While Spencer is proud of the work of the Joint Center during his tenure, he is even more excited about the future of the Joint Center.

“The work of the Joint Center is just beginning. During my time with the Joint Center, our primary goal has been to build an institution that would transcend any one individual and effectively serve future generations of Black Americans as they face new challenges,” said Spencer. “We wanted to create a home for researchers and policy analysts to do rigorous work that gives voice to Black communities in public policy debates and has real impact. Our current team members have laid the foundation for that vision. Their successes illustrate that the Joint Center as an institution knows how to build impactful programs that will shape the future of Black communities, and will continue to do so.”


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.