Diverse Leadership of our U.S. Congress
The United States now has the most racially diverse Congress in its history. This heightened diversity shows how a focus on developing public leadership skills can pay off. Below are profiles of four members of our Congressional Black Caucus whose accomplishments are particularly noteworthy.
Lisa Blunt Rochester
Lisa Rochester made headlines in 2016 when she became the first woman and African-American U.S. Representative elected in Delaware. As the first black woman in several positions throughout Delaware’s legislature, Rochester had already made a significant career impact on her way to Congress. Her time as CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League helped spur an increase in the inclusion of minorities in public policy making decisions. Rochester also authored the book Thrive, sharing her passions to inspire and motivate women who can feel discouraged in a male-centric society. Rochester provides her well-informed perspective in Congress, as someone who has experienced many of the problems people of color face today in America.
Val Demings was elected in 2016 to represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Formerly chief of the Orlando Police Department, Demings draws from her experience of attending segregated schools in the 1960s for inspiration to champion diversity in public administrative positions. Based on her track record of reducing violent crime by 40% in Orlando between 2007 and 2011, Demings first ran for Congress in 2012. She lost that first race, but won the 2016 general election with 65% of the vote. In her first weeks in Congress, she has made news for vowing to defend the Affordable Care Act which is currently facing repeal.
Tim Scott represents South Carolina in the U.S. Senate. Though his parents separated when Scott was young, forcing Scott and his family into poverty, he managed to transcend his poor circumstances and graduate from Charleston Southern University in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Scott started his political career in 1995, winning a special election to the Charleston County Council as a Republican. He lost his bid for re-election, but returned to his local government council seat in 2000 and again in 2004.
Scott was elected to the House of Representatives in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district in 2010, holding this seat until 2013, when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Nikki Haley. Since this appointment, Scott has continued to pave the way for minority leaders by successfully campaigning for re-election two more times, winning office most recently in 2016. As the U.S. Senate’s only black Republican, Scott has recently helped facilitate a day-long conference that welcomed the presidents of 90 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with the intention of getting more young African-Americans involved with the Republican side of the political process they are not often exposed to.
A black man who started within the Texas public school system on a path that would eventually lead him to a seat in Congress, Will Hurd comes from humble roots. Following his graduation from public school, Hurd stood out at Texas A&M University while studying computer science, and was elected and served as student body president. After performing strongly in college, Hurd spent a decade in the CIA as an undercover agent in the Middle East and Asia. Hurd also had a prominent role as senior advisor for a cybersecurity firm, developing expertises and a hands-on perspective of the danger that cyber threats pose to organizations of every industry.
Hurd’s political career began in 2010, when he ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives. Hurd made a second run in 2014 and was successful, and won his re-election bid in 2016. Since his election to the 114th Congress, Hurd has proven his leadership value as a constitutional representative, a true professional public administrator and protector of public service values. He sets a remarkable example for black leaders. Hurd has recently gotten media coverage for speaking out against a one-size-fits-all approach to border security, citing that his district also contains a roughly 800-mile stretch of the U.S. – Mexico border.
Diversity in U.S. Public Administration
People of color are still growing in numbers toward being fully representative in the highest-level legislative positions in Congress. They are increasing the voices and influence of these newest communities in the body as a whole. In the 115th Congressional delegation, there are currently 47 African-Americans, 38 Latinos, and 15 Asian Americans. For minorities and other -underrepresented communities to increase their role in setting the agenda and priorities of government, it is important to develop understanding of how government works and what constitutes excellent public administration skills.
If you seek to change the world on a local, national, or global level, the University of San Francisco is a great place to start. By learning more about the University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration (MPA), you take an important first step toward pursuing your professional goals and commitment to social justice. Our program is designed for professionals who want to become effective managers and civic leaders who affect social change through policy management and advocacy.
Dumain, E. (2017, February 28). Sen. Tim Scott helps Republicans lead on HBCUs. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.postandcourier.com/news/sen-tim-scott-helps-republicans-lead-on-hbcus/article_b4c3f53c-fddd-11e6-a8e0-a77c8fdd3125.html
Congresswoman Val Demings. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://demings.house.gov/media
GOP Rep. Will Hurd: ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Plan To Border Security Is Wrong. (2017, January 27). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/2017/01/27/512047303/gop-rep-will-hurd-one-size-fits-all-plan-to-border-security-is-wrong
Hurd, W. (n.d.). Legislation Sponsored by Will Hurd. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.congress.gov/member/will-hurd/H001073?q=%7B%22sponsorship%22%3A%22sponsored%22%2C%22bill-status%22%3A%5B%22floor%22%2C%22passed-one%22%5D%7D
Lisa Blunt Rochester | Democrat for Congress. (2016, August 09). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://lisabluntrochester.com/about
Senator Tim Scott. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.scott.senate.gov/
Zeleny, J. S. (2012, December 17). Tim Scott to Be Named for South Carolina Senate Seat, Republicans Say. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/tim-scott-to-be-named-for-empty-south-carolina-senate-seat-republicans-say/