House lawmakers announce new diversity initiative

Afro.com

Minorities on Capitol Hill recently procured a win when Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democratic leaders on June 14 announced the development of a House Democratic Diversity Initiative.

The initiative would include a full-time staffer and a focus on increasing the diversity among staff members of the House of Representatives, and would expand opportunities for diverse candidates at all House staff levels.

The initiative, which is expected to commence in the next few weeks, will maintain a database of highly qualified individuals for positions at all levels, and aid in building relationships with outside organizations and institutions to recruit diverse candidates for House employment.

“This is a major victory,” said Lewis Myers, president of the Congressional Black Associates, a professional and social networking organization that strives to enhance the political, social and economic capabilities of Black employees on Capitol Hill.

While the initiative is a bright light in his organization’s efforts to diversify Capitol Hill, Myers said it is only the beginning. The CBA is still waiting on data or metrics of the number of minority staff in the House, an inquiry he said was first made last year.

“Though the forming of this Diversity Initiative is a step in the right direction, it is not the endgame,” Myers said. “CBA looks forward to building upon this momentum as we continue to strive for diversity and equality on Capitol Hill.”

Among other programs, the CBA hosts networking events and provides employment tools, such as a resume bank, to members.

According to a June 14 statement, control of the House Diversity Initiative will reside with the Committee on House Administration. In that committee, Ranking Member Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.) will collaborate with a Member Advisory Council that would include members from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, the Democratic Women’s Working Group, the Progressive Caucus, New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Caucus.

“By helping to build an increasingly diverse staff for our Member and Committee offices, our Caucus will be strengthened by a wide range of experiences and knowledge by staff who are committed to doing their best work for the American people,” Brady said in a statement.  “The Director of this Initiative will work with our strong caucuses and their leadership to build the most productive tools to aid our Caucus in this effort.”

Brady and the council have embarked on a process to select the initiative’s first director.