Alabama’s Sen.-elect Doug Jones picks African-American chief of staff

  • David Weigel
  • The Washington Post
Jan 03, 2018
John Bazemore/AP
In a Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 file photo, Doug Jones is greeted by a supporter before speaking during an election-night watch party in Birmingham, Ala. A super PAC that spent millions of dollars backing Jones in Alabama's Senate race was heavily supported by the Democratic Senate Majority PAC. Chris Hayden, spokesman for the Senate Majority PAC, said Tuesday, Dec. 25 that the group "predominantly funded" the PAC called Highway 31, which sent out advertising and mailings to help defeat Republican Roy Moore.

Sen.-elect Doug Jones, D-Ala., has tapped Dana Gresham, a fellow Alabamian who served in the Department of Transportation under President Barack Obama, to become his chief of staff, and former Senate staffer Sonceria Ann Bishop-Berry to advise his transition — a victory for minority groups that had urged Jones to pick African-Americans for key roles. Both Gresham and Bishop-Berry are black. 

Gresham, a Georgetown University graduate, spent more than a decade as a House staffer, working as a legislative director for former representative Bud Cramer and as chief of staff to former representative Artur Davis. He moved from that office to the DOT in 2009, spending eight years as an assistant secretary. 

In the Senate, he'll be the only black chief of staff for a Senate Democrat — a point that the NAACP and other groups made last month when urging Jones to make diverse hires. 

"Hiring at least one person of color to your senior staff in Washington would speak loudly, and we ask that you do so among the qualified applicants that you will receive," 17 groups wrote in the letter. "The lack of diversity among top Senate staff is not caused by a complete absence of strong candidates of color." 

The news that Jones would tap Gresham was quickly celebrated by some of the activists who'd called for Senate staff diversity. 

Bishop-Berry worked with Jones as a staffer for Howell Heflin, Alabama's last Democratic U.S. senator. 

Jones's other top hires, legislative director Mark Libell and deputy legislative director Katie Campbell, are white Alabamians. Campbell formerly served as policy director for the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats.