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.

  • Jay Arzu

    Jay Arzu is the State Farm Transportation & Equity Research Fellow for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF) in the Center for Research and Analysis (CPAR) department.

    Mr. Arzu is responsible for data collection and the production of policy analysis and research as it relates to transportation equity. He will analyze best practices and policy solutions for the promotion of integrated and comprehensive impact in black communities; and be responsible for the dissemination of research findings and relevant information to inform CBCF partners, stakeholders and the general public.

    Prior to joining CBCF, Jay had experience working on Capitol Hill, formerly serving for Congressmen Jose Serrano and Senator Chuck Schumer where he worked on Transportation and Development related issues. Jay also worked for Public Affairs Company Vox Global where he assisted with research, media outreach and writing.

    Mr. Arzu graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Art in Political Science with a Minor in Public Relations. Jay was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Grant. He obtained his Master of Public Administration (MPA) at SDA Bocconi in Milan Italy, while on Fulbright. Jay’s concentrations at SDA Bocconi were City Management/ Competitiveness and Business/Government Relations.

    Jay’s experiences have given him high hopes for the future this has transformed him into someone who can give hope to others. He will never let insurmountable challenges stop him from being active and engaged in his local community, state and country. Jay is an American Patriot who loves his country and is highly engaged in its future. His interests includes development, transportation, community/urban/regional planning and innovation.