Policy Experts

Meet our team of experienced policy analysts.

  • Menna Demessie, Ph.D.

    Dr. Menna Demessie is the vice president of policy and research for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF), where she works on public policy issues relevant to African Americans. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of California, Washington Center.

    "In her latest publication, Toward A More Inclusive America: African Americans & Voting Rights, she discusses the significance of restrictive voting law changes in the context of the Voting Rights Act and recent age discrimination."

    Prior to joining CBCF’s staff, Dr. Demessie worked for Representative Barbara Lee as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow focusing on unemployment legislation, poverty, and foreign policy. Her honors include the NCOBPS Presidential Award for Outstanding Dedication and Service (2010), Ginsburg Award for Community Service and Social Action (2010), Congressional Research Award (2008), and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists Graduate Paper Award (2008).

    Dr. Demessie holds a joint doctorate in Public Policy and Political Science as well as a Master of Arts in Political Science and Certificate in African American, African and Black Transnational Studies from the University of Michigan. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Law and Society from Oberlin College. She has been interviewed on NPR and other media outlets and currently serves on the Alumni board for the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, on the advisory board of the Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN), and has served as National Youth Coordinator for the Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED) since 2000.

  • Harry Watkins, Ph.D.

    Dr. Harry Watkins is the Senior Research and Policy Analyst for the Center for Policy Analysis and Research (CPAR) for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF). He is responsible for the production of policy analysis and research central to the CBCF’s efforts to establish a world class research strategy aimed at eliminating disparities in the global black community. He will provide high-level data collection and the dissemination of research findings and relevant information to inform CBCF partners, stakeholders and the general public while serving as a key point of contact across the core policy areas for the department. He will produce policy reports, fact sheets, and other publications illustrating the impact of public policies critical to the black community.

    Prior to coming to the CBCF, Dr. Watkins was the Principal of HarryCo, LLC. a counseling and mental health services agency in Virginia. Mr. Watkins has served as a legislative aide for a State Senator and Delegate in the General Assembly of Virginia, where he has seen first-hand the impact substantive representation has on the development and stability of African American families and communities. He has been actively engaged in the shaping of public policies and human services to strengthen at-risk families and disadvantaged communities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for 20 years.

    Dr. Watkins holds degrees in Psychology, Clinical Social Work, and Public Administration. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.