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Black Advocacy Group Names New Leader

WASHINGTON -- The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, one of the nation's leading research and public policy institutions, today announced the election of former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr.to its Board of Governors.

Mr. Watts, who is the chairman of the J.C. Watts Companies in Washington, DC, served in Congress from 1995 to 2002, and in 1998 was selected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the majority party.  While a member of the House he served on the Armed Services, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Banking Committees, as well as the Select Committee on Homeland Security.  He co-authored the American Community Renewal and New Markets Act, which President Clinton signed into law in 2000, and was the author of President Bush's faith-based initiative, the Community Solutions Act of 2001. He also developed legislation with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) to establish a Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. 

"Over the past four decades the Joint Center has done enormously important work to make America a better place for all its citizens, and today it continues to play a critical role in the policy making process," said Mr. Watts.  "I value this opportunity to build on the Joint Center's influence and increase its impact in empowering all Americans to achieve their dreams."

As head of J.C. Watts Companies, Mr. Watts has built a diverse business organization that includes the nation's first African-American owned John Deere dealerships; CLS Group, a project management firm with construction and engineering operations; and Watts Partners, a public affairs consulting company.  He currently advises several major companies, including John Deere, and serves on the Board of Directors of Dillard's.  He is a frequent guest on national and international news shows and writes a twice monthly column for more than a dozen newspapers.

Mr. Watts co-founded the Coalition for AIDS Relief in Africa.  He also created the J.C. and Frankie Watts Foundation to focus on urban renewal and other charitable initiatives.

"We are delighted that J.C. Watts will be bringing his insights and his passion for public policy to the Joint Center's board," saidRoderick D. Gillum, Esq., Chair of the Board of Governors.  "He is a noted thought leader on many of the issues that are at the heart of the Joint Center's mission, and we look forward to the perspectives and guidance he will bring to our work."

"With his dedication to excellence in everything he does, Mr. Watts is both an inspiration to his fellow Americans and an energetic force for building a better America," said Ralph B. Everett, Esq., the Joint Center's President and CEO.  "We look forward to the contributions he will make as a member of our board."

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the nation's leading research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. To learn more, please visit www.jointcenter.org.



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