12-02-2021  2:34 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 15 October 2021

WASHINGTON — The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for hiring Monalisa Dugué as chief of staff in his personal office.

Dugué is one of two Black chiefs of staff in the U.S. Senate. Jennifer DeCasper (Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)) is the other. 

Monalisa Dugué

Prior to Dugué’s position as chief of staff, she served as a deputy chief counsel for the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, a position she held since 2016.

Dugué was the first Black woman deputy chief counsel hired by the Subcommittee, where she focused on issues of crime prevention and intervention, recidivism, and federal criminal justice programs, according to Whitehouse’s website. Dugué has drafted important legislation—including House versions of landmark bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation that Whitehouse worked on in the Senate—and has won trust and praise from both sides of the aisle in Congress, according to Whitehouse’s website. Prior to her policy work in the House, she worked for more than 10 years in the courtroom with Chicago’s Public Defenders’ office. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law. 

Expanding representation

“Senator Whitehouse’s hiring of Ms. Dugué positions his team for success. Having written legislation and found middle ground with both congressional parties for her work with criminal justice reform, Ms. Dugué brings a wealth of experience,” said Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity & Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson. “I hope to see more senators follow Senator Whitehouse’s leadership in hiring diverse and talented staff.”

Joint Center President Spencer Overton said “Senator Whitehouse demonstrates significant leadership in the U.S. Senate as a whole in his hire of Ms. Dugué. As the number one person in his Washington, D.C. office, Ms. Dugué will be instrumental in rooms where vital decisions are made. Rhode Islanders of all backgrounds should be proud of Senator Whitehouse’s leadership. He is ahead of all other 49 Democratic senators in recognizing and recruiting top Black talent to lead his Washington, D.C. office.”

With the addition of Dugué, African Americans will account for 10 (or 2.9 percent) of the approximately 340 top Senate staffers in Washington, D.C. who serve as chiefs of staff, legislative directors, communications directors, or full committee staff directors (African Americans account for over 13 percent of the U.S. population). There are no African American staff directors.

To understand the problem of a lack of Hill staff diversity, why it matters, and solutions, click here.

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