Sen.-elect Doug Jones (AL) announced on Tuesday that he has hired Dana Gresham as his chief of staff, which will make him the only Democratic senator to have an African-American in that position.
Gresham, a Birmingham native, has served in leadership roles in presidential administrations and for members of Congress. He led the Legislative Affairs Office at the Department of Transportation during all eight years of the Obama administration and has also worked on Capitol Hill for 14 years. He previously served as chief of staff for Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama. He also worked in the congressional offices of Bud Cramer of Alabama and Eva Clayton of North Carolina.
The two other Black chiefs of staff in the U.S. Senate both work for Republicans—Jennifer DeCasper in the office of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and Brennan Britton in the office of Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).
Although African Americans account for 23% of Democratic voters, before this announcement they accounted for just 1% of top Democratic Senate staff, both of whom are legislative directors (Clint Odom in Senator Harris’s office and Roscoe Jones in Senator Feinstein’s office). According to a 2016 report from Roll Call, only 5 percent of nearly 3,600 Senate staffers are Black.
Jones also announced three other senior staff hires Tuesday, including Mark Libell as legislative director, Ann Berry as transition adviser and Katie Campbell as deputy legislative director. All three are Alabama natives and have extensive experience working for Senators and House members.
“Today I’m proud to announce that we have recruited four outstanding individuals to join our team,” Jones said in a statement. “Each of them possesses long and impressive careers in public service, and as Alabama natives, share my commitment to the people of our state.”
The Joint Center for Political And Economic Studies, a Washington D. C. think-tank, which last week had urged Senator-elect Jones to employ a diverse staff was quick to commend his actions. Don Bell, Director of the Black Talent Initiative for the Joint Center said, “ We commend Senator-elect Jones for his leadership and commitment to diversity. This is an important moment in the movement to make the Senate truly representative of all Americans. The Joint Center looks forward to continuing to work with Senator-elect Jones as he makes diversity a priority in building the rest of his staff.”
Senator-elect Doug Jones will be filling other positions in his Washington D. C. office and district offices in the state and welcomes applicants to submit their resumes to: senatordougjonestransition.com.