Spring 2014 Contents

Spring 2014
By Representative Joe Armstrong (TN), NBCSL President currently serves as the 10th President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). Representative Armstrong began his political career in 1982 as the youngest member of the Knox County Commission and was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly in 1988. He has served as Chair of the Health and Human Resources committee, Chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, and was appointed to the White House Health Task Force on Health Reform. Throughout his tenure, Representative Armstrong has sponsored key legislation to improve the quality of life for all citizens of the State of Tennessee, including the Meharry Wellness Program, the Tennessee Health Safety Net Program, and the Tennessee Pre-K Program.
By LaKimba B. DeSadier, NBCSL Executive Director has served as the Executive Director for NBCSL since 2003. She has worked to promote the organization in state legislatures, as well as increase its membership and visibility nationwide.
National Black Caucus of
State Legislators
EDITOR: CommonHealth ACTION™
DESIGN: Conceptual Geniuses™

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  • By Representative Joe Gibbons (FL), Chair, NBCSL Energy, Transportation, and Environment Policy Committee represents District 100 in the Florida House of Representatives. He is currently the Democratic Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee and was formerly the Minority Leader Pro Tempore.  He also serves as Chair of NBCSL’s Energy, Transportation, and Environment Policy Committee.
  • An Interview with Representative Regina Barrow (LA), serves the 29th District of Louisiana. In addition to her role as Regional Chair on NBCSL’s Executive Committee, she is also Vice Chair of the Louisiana House Executive Committee. Rep. Barrow sits on several committees, including Ways and Means.
  • By The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture serves as the 30th United States Secretary of Agriculture. As leader of the Department of Agriculture, Vilsack is working to strengthen the agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create jobs and opportunity in rural America.
  • By U.S. Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Chair, Congressional Black Caucus is committed to stamping out hunger, ending childhood obesity, and improving the health of Americans. She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee where she serves as Ranking Member of the Department Operations, Oversight and Nutrition Subcommittee.
  • By Mayor Kasim Reed, City of Atlanta, Chair, Transportation Committee, U.S. Conference of Mayors is the 59th Mayor of the City of Atlanta, taking office for a second term on January 6, 2014. He is Chairman of the Transportation and Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Chairman of the Regional Transit Committee of the Atlanta Regional Commission.
  • By Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, started PolicyLink in 1999 and continues to drive its mission of advancing economic and social equity. Under Blackwell’s leadership, PolicyLink has become a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education, and infrastructure.


  • By James E. Lentz, Chief Executive Officer, Toyota North America is chief executive officer of Toyota North America; president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMA); and a senior managing officer of parent company Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), located in Japan.
  • By NBCSL
    By Michael D. Reed, NBCSL Policy Analyst serves as a Policy Analyst for NBCSL. Prior to joining NBCSL, Mr. Reed worked for the National Conference of State Legislatures where he managed policy development, lobbying, and federal affairs on education, labor, and trade issues. Mr. Reed’s previous government experience includes serving as an aide in the U.S. Senate for four years and as an aide in the New Jersey Governor’s Office.
  • By Jennifer Blemur, Esq., NBCSL Policy Associate serves as a Policy Associate for NBCSL. Ms. Blemur staffs several committees including Health and Human Services and Law, Justice, and Ethics. A recently barred lawyer in the state of Maryland, Ms. Blemur maintains a passion for justice and fair play for the underserved. Prior to joining NBCSL, Ms. Blemur worked with the U.S. Committee on the Judiciary and the U.S. Committee on Homeland Security for the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • By Ajenai Clemmons, MPP, NBCSL Policy Director serves as NBSCL’s policy director. She was formerly the ombudsman for Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor, where she helped establish a civilian agency that monitors police and sheriff internal affairs investigations. She has worked in the Iowa State Legislature as well as non-profit and private sectors. Ms. Clemmons holds a Master of Public Policy and B.A. in International Relations, Spanish, and Latin American History.
  • NBCSL EVENTS: 37th Annual Legislative Conference Highlights
    By Lauren E. Williams, NBCSL Communications and Research Associate serves as NBCSL’s Communications and Research Associate. She was formerly a Chief of Staff and Communications for an Atlanta City Councilmember and has provided communications and media support to elected officials and government officials on several levels including municipal, state, and national. Ms. Williams holds a master’s in Public Administration, a bachelor’s in Communications and Rhetoric, and served as a Communications Fellow and Diversity Program Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Congressional Research Service, respectively.