Sen.-elect Doug Jones of Alabama has hired former congressional aide Dana Gresham as his new chief of staff, making him the only Senate Democrat to have an African-American serving in that position.
Jones made the announcement Tuesday, Jan. 2, along with three other senior staff hires, including Ann Berry as his transition adviser, Katie Campbell as deputy legislative director and Mark Libell as legislative director, according to The Hill.
As for Gresham, the Alabama native previously served as head of the Legislative Affairs Office at the Department of Transportation under the Obama administration. Before then, he was chief of staff to former Rep. Arthur Davis (D-Ala.)
“Today I’m proud to announce that we have recruited four outstanding individuals to join our team,” Jones said in a statement Tuesday. “Each of them possess long and impressive careers in public service, and as Alabama natives, share my commitment to the people of our state.”
While Jones is the sole Democratic senator with a Black chief of staff, he isn’t totally alone. Senate Republicans Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jerry Moran of Kansas also have Black chiefs of staff. There’s still much room for improvement, however, as a 2016 poll from “Roll Call” newspaper showed that only 5 percent of the nearly 3,600 Senate staffers on Capitol Hill are African-American.
Rumors swirled in the wake of Jones stunning win against Republican Roy Moore that the former was facing pressure from conservatives to select an all-white senior staff. However, Gresham’s appointment to chief of staff has since put those claims to rest, as Jones has seemingly made hiring a diverse staff a top priority.
The soon-to-be Alabama senator is set to be sworn into office Wednesday, Jan. 3, in Washington, D.C.