The Joint Center Commends Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) for Appointing Ariel Marshall and Jasmine Hunt as Legislative Directors
With their promotions, Marshall and Hunt join a small group of Black LDs in the Senate
WASHINGTON — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Democratic Whip Senator Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL) for promoting Ariel Marshall (pictured left) and Jasmine Hunt (pictured right) to legislative director, in their respective personal offices.
Marshall and Hunt join a handful of Black women serving as legislative directors in the Senate, including Zephranie Buetow (Senator Peters (D-MI)),Courtney Temple (Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)), and Deanne Millison (Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)). With the addition of Marshall and Hunt, African Americans account for 11 of the approximately 340 top Senate staffers who serve as full committee staff directors, chiefs of staff, legislative directors, or communications directors (3.2 percent). The Democrats’ share of these top staffers has grown from just over 33 percent in 2015 (1 of 3) to almost 73 percent today (8 of 11).
Marshall began working with Sen. Shaheen in 2014 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science/Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Science and Technology Fellow. Prior to her new position, she served as Sen. Shaheen’s Legislative Assistant (2015-2017), Senior Policy Advisor (2017-2018), and Senior Domestic Policy Advisor (2018-2019). In 2008 she received her B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Central Arkansas, and in 2014 she earned a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Hunt began working in Sen. Durbin’s office in 2010 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science/American Chemical Society Science Policy Fellow. Prior to her new position, she served as Sen. Durbin’s Legislative Assistant (2011-2015), Senior Policy Adviser (2015-2018), and Deputy Legislative Director (2018-2019). In 2005 she earned her B.A. in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, and in 2010 she earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“It’s great to see more Black women be recognized for their talent and hard work in the Senate—especially in this powerful role that helps shape our laws,” said Dr. LaShonda Brenson, Senior Fellow of Diversity & Inclusion of the Joint Center. “Ariel and Jasmine’s rise in the ranks over the last few years in the Senator’s respective offices show the importance of fellowships and hiring skilled, diverse candidates for entry-level positions. We applaud Senators Shaheen and Durbin for being leaders in this space and for recognizing Ariel and Jasmine’s work. However, while the number of Black legislative directors increased, there are still far too few in the House and Senate.”
In 2015, the Joint Center issued a report, Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, finding that African Americans accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population and 22 percent of those who identified as Democratic voters, but less than 1 percent of top Senate staffers. The report also noted several steps for senators to increase diversity including establishing a competitive, senior-level minority fellowship, and to hire interns and fellows from the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), and George Washington University’s Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP). Marshall and Hunt’s careers demonstrate the value of these recommendations as they both began working in fellowship programs and later earned a senior-level position in the same office.