April 29, 2019
The Joint Center Commends Sen. Maria Cantwell for Hiring David Strickland, the First Black Senate Full Committee Staff Director in Two Years
WASHINGTON — The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies applauded Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, for the hiring of David Strickland to serve as Democratic committee staff director. Senator Cantwell announced the appointment earlier today.
Strickland is the first Black full committee staff director since the January 2017 departure of Derron Parks, who served as staff director of the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging. There are a total of 39 full committee staff director positions in the Senate.
Strickland served as the fourteenth Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the Obama administration, and chaired the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS). He has also served as senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and practiced law at the firm Venable. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
“I’ve known David for 29 years and I’m thrilled to see him take on this historic role in his next chapter of public service. He is an incredibly smart and fundamentally good person. His experiences analyzing legal issues, creating sound strategies, and leading an agency will be invaluable assets to the committee and to our nation,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “Senator Maria Cantwell’s ability to identify and successfully hire someone of David’s caliber for this critical position demonstrates her leadership in the U.S. Senate. I hope other Senators follow her lead and recruit talented people of color for top staff positions.”
With the addition of Strickland, African Americans account for 9 of the approximately 340 top Senate staffers who serve as full committee staff directors, chiefs of staff, legislative directors, or communications directors (under 3 percent). The Democrats’ share of these top staffers has grown from one-third in 2015 (1 of 3) to two-thirds today (6 of 9).
Former Joint Center President Ralph Everett became the first Black full committee staff director in the U.S. Senate in 1982 when he also became Democratic staff director and minority chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Last December, the Joint Center launched an interactive tool to track top staff hires by newly-elected Members of Congress. According to the Joint Center’s tool, none of the nine new U.S. Senators have hired a Black staffer as chief of staff, legislative director, or communications director.