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Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr., January 21, 2015

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr.

Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr.

The Center for Public Policy welcomed Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr., the longest serving Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Agriculture on January 21, 2015 to the campus of Hampton University.

Nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2009, Dr. Leonard's prestigious path started at three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)!

He holds a bachelor's degree from Huston-Tillotson University in Texas, a master's degree from Southern University, and, he received his Ph.D from Howard University, writing for his dissertation a topic that is timely today... "We are Catchin' Hell down here: The Struggle for Public Accommodations and Voter Franchisement by the Congress of Racial Equality in Louisiana, 1960-1965."

Before joining the USDA, Assistant Secretary Leonard served as Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) under the leadership of Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI). Prior to his role at the CBC, Assistant Secretary Leonard served as the Executive Director of the Black Leadership Forum, an umbrella organization of 32 member groups that together work to develop and implement progressive public policies for social change. He has also served as the Washington, DC Bureau Chief of the Rainbow/ PUSH Coalition, and, Director of the Arthur Fleming Institute of the Center for Policy Alternatives.

Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr. was received enthusiastically by 200 students in the Hampton University Student Center Theatre who queried the secretary about adversity, the relevance of HBCU's, and, handling life's inevitable challenges.

"The most dedicated thing you can do is have a plan!" Dr. Leonard told students to start his lecture. "You have to drive yourself. When you're your hardest critic, no one can hurt you."

Many students in attendance wanted Dr. Leonard's opinion on how HBCU's helped his career. "The institution you're leaving cares about you!" He explained to Hampton students that the faculty, staff and administrators at the HBCU's he attended "knew my success was their success" and not to take for granted those individuals who want nothing more than for students to succeed.

Books and the love of history were communicated as one of Dr. Leonard's passions. "The great things about history and reading is it lets you go through time!" He encouraged students to read the biographies of great people because "you see they were prepared for their moment… be ready for that moment [in your life] because it's coming!"

Jamal Simmons, April 14, 2014

"Preparing for the Post-Obama Era and Your Future"

Political analyst and commentator, Jamal Simmons, shared his thoughts and advised students about "Preparing for the Post-Obama Era and Your Future" when he visited the campus of Hampton University on April 14, 2014. Simmons spoke to students and the general public at 5:30pm in the Hampton University Student Center Theatre, located on the first floor .

His visit was made possible by the Center for Public Policy (CPP), where research, theory and practical applications help to shape public policy for Virginians.

A highly sought after advisor for his media savvy analysis and political commentary, Jamal Simmons works for the Washington, D.C. consulting firm, The Raben Group. There, he strategizes and consults for corporate and non-profit clients on public policy advocacy.

A graduate of Morehouse College, he brought with him a wealth of knowledge from his years in the political arena having worked on various campaigns, including former president Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign. He was a political appointee in the Clinton Administration with U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, and the deputy communications director for Vice President Al Gore during his presidential campaign in 2000.

Other positions include, traveling press secretary to presidential candidates Bob Graham and Wesley Clark, campaign communications director for U.S. Senator Max Cleland, and, Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick. Mr. Simmons was also an advisor to the Democratic National Committee for the 2008 Obama/Biden campaign.

Simmons also earned a master degree in public policy from Harvard University and is frequently featured on CNN and MSNBC and in major publications for his insight on politics and public policy issues.

2012 Spring Speakers Series Event Archive

Clay Johnson
April 12, 2012

Clay Johnson was the former deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget at the White House from 2005-2008. He has earned a Bachelors of Science from Yale University and a Masters of Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the former chairman and CEO of Horchow Collection Worldwide.

"U.S. Foreign Policy Conference"
February 24, 2012 1:00pm-5:15pm

Venue: U.S. Department of State, District of Columbia

Hampton University Center for Public Policy and International Studies students traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a U.S. foreign policy conference for historically black colleges and universities at the State Department.

The agenda featured senior State Department officials discussing key foreign policy issues as well as presentations on career opportunities and student exchanges.

"The Artist as Activist"
February 17, 2012 at 12 noon

Venue: Hampton University Campus, Little Theatre in Armstrong Hall

"The Artist as Activist is a discussion panel on how to juxtapose business and life featuring actors Darryl Bell (A Different World) and Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show).