Don Bell Wants To Deversify Capitol Hill

The first-ever director of the Black Talent Initiative is lobbying Hill lawmakers to hire more Black people in key staffing roles on Capitol Hill.

Don Bell, 27, wants to reach the impossible – push fo diversity on Capitol Hill. To do so as director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, he’s promoting a multi-pronged strategy.

“My mission every day will be to try to help some other person achieve the dream that I once had, which was to work in the policy space on Capitol Hill,” Bell says.

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It is not Bell’s first experience of such initiative. He was the president of the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus before he joined the center. At the end of November, the caucus published a report demonstrating that only five percent of the Senate’s nearly 3,600 staffers are Black.

Don Bell identified the main reasons for the existing disparity, such as financial barriers, for example, and found the way to overcome these. According to Pittsburgh Courier, he is aiming at

  • Pushing for paid internships and fellowships for people who don’t have the means to work on the Hill for free.
  • Deploying a talent bank that pairs resumes of promising Black candidates with jobs on Hill.
  • Supporting those candidates with mock interviews and professional development sessions.
  • Conducting research for a follow-up study on diversity among key Senate staff and for a new report on diversity among Senate legislative assistants.

Bell found a way around those financial issues by working at Wal-Mart and relying on his friends’ generosity.

“As someone who wanted to be part of the policy-making space and have a seat at the table, it wasn’t just about me getting to that position,”sition,” Bell adds. “It was about me getting to the policy-making position and affecting the people that got up every day, worked very hard, struggled deeply and felt they didn’t have a voice in D.C. or in our country.”

 

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