Summer/Fall 2014 Contents

Summer/Fall 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
Blitz Associates, LLC
EDITOR: CommonHealth ACTION™
DESIGN: Conceptual Geniuses™

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  • An Interview with Representative Mike Shelton (OK), Chair, NBCSL Youth Policy Committee is a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  He was first elected to the chamber in 2004 and serves as the Assistant Minority Floor Leader.  Shelton earned his B.S. in Economics from Langston University.  His professional experience includes working as District Executive Director for the Boy Scouts of America, Director of Community Relations for Langston University, and Director of Community Relations for Oklahoma County.
  • By Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, Director of Health Equality, Families USA, a lawyer, health policy analyst, and mom, has nearly 20 years of experience fighting for equal rights for women and families of color. She is the Director of Health Equity at Families USA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for better access to high-quality health care for all.
  • By Representative Barbara W. Ballard (KS), NBCSL Immediate Past President is the Immediate Past President of NBCSL and currently serves as President of the NBCSL Foundation. She is the Associate Director at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, and the Director of the Youth Civic Leadership Institute (YCLI).  She also teaches in the School of Education and in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
  • By State Senator Dwight Bullard (FL), Senate Committee Member on Education is a Democratic member of the Florida State Senate.  Bullard has sponsored legislation aimed at preventing cyber bullying which allows schools to discipline students for bullying if they use a computer, computer system or computer network owned by a school.  He has criticized efforts by the legislature to reduce funding for Florida Virtual School while simultaneously allowing private companies to offer virtual education.  Senator Bullard’s mother and father both served in Florida’s House of Representatives.
  • By Representative Helen Miller (IA), Chair, NBCSL Agriculture Policy Committee is in her sixth term serving Iowa House District 9 in north-central Iowa. Rep. Miller is the ranking member of the Iowa House’s Agriculture Committee and serves as Agriculture Committee Chair for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. and Theressa Cooper, PhD, Assistant Dean for Diversity, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Iowa State University
  • By Assemblyman Troy Singleton (NJ), Assembly Committee Member on Education represents the 7th Legislative District in the state of New Jersey. He is vice chair of the New Jersey General Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts committee and also serves on the Budget and Education committees. For more information on Assemblyman Singleton, visit his website at You may also contact him at: or (856) 234-2790.


  • By Nate Davis, Chief Executive Officer, K12, Inc. has served as the Chief Executive Officer of K12, Inc. since January, 2014. He first came to K12, Inc. as a director of in July 2009, served as the Chairman beginning June 2012, then became Executive Chairman in January 2013.

    Since K12, Inc. was formed in 2000, it has been at the center of the growth of digital learning and charter schools.  K12 has created new digital learning models that have been developed through charter schools and later adopted by school districts, large and small.  K12 is continuously innovating by leveraging private sector investment to develop new technologies, tools and instructional programs for the benefit of America’s education system.  K12 has created jobs for thousands of teachers, new educational opportunities for families in all 50 states and serves over 120,000 students nationwide in online and blended public schools. 
    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.
  • 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 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.