Inclusv works to ensure staff, consultants, and vendors of color are found at every professional level within advocacy, policy, and campaigns and elections.
After Hillary Clinton officially announced her campaign to become Barack Obama’s successor, the "overarching question is whether she can create the same kind of rainbow campaign coalition as her predecessor". For one group of prominent politicos of color, the answer to that question is, “Yes, she can.” That group, called Inclusv, launched in March 2015 with the mission “to ensure staff, consultants, and vendors of color are found at every professional level within advocacy, policy, and campaigns and elections.”
It was founded by Quentin James, who was part of that first class of 2008 Obama campaign staffers, and who most recently worked as the outreach director for African-American and environmental affairs for the Ready 4 Hillary political action committee. Before that, he served as national director of Sierra Club’s Student Coalition where he led campaigns to oppose construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and to push colleges to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. So it follows that James is interested not only in getting people of color onto Clinton’s staff, but also people who are invested in realizing her campaign’s priorities around climate change and clean energy.
“What Inclusv can help out with is the supply of talented people of color, and vendors who have transferable skills from working on political campaigns to working on environmental campaigns,” James said.
James is joined in this Inclusv venture by Alida Garcia, who worked on Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, helping ramp up Latino voter engagement strategies. Part of that has meant helping campaigns understand that Latino voters are just as concerned about climate change as Americans in general, if not more.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve started to hear a more robust conversation about where and how climate change impacts people of color,” said Garcia. “More inclusive hiring is going to help further that mission of making the issue more broadly received as a priority issue in the day-to-day conversations of families of color across America.”
Founding members also include Steve Phillips, a political donor known for leading a number of political action committee initiatives aimed at electing candidates of color, and Gregory Cendana, who co-chairs the D.C. Asian American and Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus and was a delegate at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The idea is for these four to leverage the relationships and partnerships they’ve formed throughout their enterprising careers to help emerging leaders of color recreate the same kind of multi-racial political energy felt during the Obama years.
The Inclusv website is their vessel for cultivating this change. Prospective campaign staffers can upload their resumes to the site, and they’ve already fielded over 600 since going live in late-March, they say. Minority business owners and independent contractors can also submit their contact information to a database at the site so they can be considered as vendors or consultants for campaigns. While the group’s focus is the 2016 presidential election, with Clinton’s campaign in mind, the information gathered can also be plucked by non-presidential campaigns and political organizations looking to diversity their staffs.
The Clinton campaign has already met with Inclusv members, as Darren Sands reported at Buzzfeed.
“I’m genuinely concerned progressives are going to lose elections if we don’t increase our cultural competence in campaigns,” he said. “That’s what happened in 2010 and 2014, those campaigns were unable to inspire turnout of voters of color.”
In the 2010 mid-term elections, when Democrats got pummeled at the polls and the Tea Party nation premiered, pundits blamed low turnout, particularly among voters of color in certain places. There was hardly better turnout in 2014. This is historically true of most mid-term elections. But the hope in 2010 and 2014 was that Democrats could capitalize off of the electoral enthusiasm the Obama campaigns captured, especially among African-American and Latino voters. When that didn’t happen, some political scientists blamed voter apathy or disillusionment.
However, some Democrats simply failed to build the Obama-brand of multicultural infrastructure for the midterms, meaning they didn’t aggressively hire people of color for the campaigns or contract with minority entrepreneurs. One example is the Democratic candidate Alex Sink, who ran for Florida governor in 2010, and then ran for a U.S. House seat during a special election in 2014. She was favored to win both races, but didn’t prevail in either. In both cases, she was criticized for failing to do the kind of outreach and recruitment to communities of color that many political experts agree are needed to mobilize those populations to the polls.
Clinton can’t afford to make the same mistake if she hopes to win. Inclusv wants to ensure that quality employees aren’t overlooked by Clinton and her party. And for young prospects who lack experience but show potential, the group is working on ways to provide professional development training for aspiring job candidates, to get them up to snuff. They also will track those who land campaign jobs and contracts to help them find employment when the campaign ends. Basically, this will be about changing a culture where people are hired through good ol’ boy networks to one where people of all backgrounds are truly linked in.
“This is about hiring the kind of leaders who can engage the general electorate on the substantive issues that are disproportionately impacting communities of color,” said Garcia. “It’s really about the voters and the disenfranchised being more engaged by campaigns in substantive and meaningful ways.”
Almost a year ago, PowerPAC+ released the Fannie Lou Report illustrating the lack of diversity in Democratic Party spending. The report showed that fewer than 2% of the money the Party spent during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles went to firms owned by people of color - just $8.7 million of $514 million spent.
Top campaign institutions lose when they don’t invest in political professionals of color with the cultural competency to win elections by engaging the growing numbers of voters of color.
As told to Buzzfeed, “I’m genuinely concerned progressives are going to lose elections if we don’t increase our cultural competence in campaigns,” said Inclusv co-founder Steve Phillips, a major Democratic donor. “That’s what happened in 2010 and 2014, those campaigns were unable to inspire turnout of voters of color.”
Any campaign in majority-minority district that wants to increase voter turnout has to focus on and understand key voters of color if they want to have a shot at winning an election.
One advisory board member, Lucy Flores, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2014 in Nevada, said this focus is crucially important for campaigns, even ones that feature a minority candidate at the helm.
“Even in my own campaign that was high-profile and well-funded, I had issues with trying to find culturally competent staff and consultants,” Flores told BuzzFeed.
That’s why we are thrilled to announce the launch of Inclusv, a talent bank of staff, consultants and vendors of color to give them access to the 2016 campaigns and electoral work. The savvy group of political professionals of color that founded Inclusv were inspired by our Fannie Lou Hamer Report.
Says former National Latino Vote Deputy Director of Obama for America in 2012 and Inclusv co-founder, Alida Garcia, “There has been a lot of dialogue in D.C. around diverse contracting, which is a big gap that needs to be fixed,” she said. “One part of how you fix it from the bottom up is by identifying young leaders now and getting them into these campaigns. They are the future press secretaries, pollsters, and campaign managers who will better understand and work with the communities they seek to engage.”
Inclusv is the bridge between talented businesses and professionals of color and the campaigns and political organizations who want to hire them.
“One thing we no longer want to hear we don’t have anyone qualified who is a person of color. We know that talent exists,” says Gregory Cendana, Inclusv co-founder and Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.
We need to start strong in 2016. If you are a staff, consultant or vendor of color, upload your resume to Inclusv at www.inclusv.com.
The mission of Inclusv is to ensure staff, consultants, and vendors of color are found at every professional level within advocacy, policy, and campaigns and elections. We envision those who are disproportionately represented in almost every negative measure of well being in our society have a seat at the table to create strategies and solutions for change. Too long organizations and institutions have been working on behalf of communities of color and not working with them. We don’t need well-intentioned ideas that continue to fail. We need to jumpstart professional inclusionary efforts to keep up with the demographic changes in our nation as well as to protect access to the American Dream for all.
Inclusv is a community of people of color in politics and advocacy who are dedicated to developing their careers in this field and employers who are committed to strengthening their efforts to make diversity and inclusion a priority in their organizations. We pursue this work with three primary stakeholder communities:
Inclusv recognizes that it is only as strong as its members. We spend the bulk of our time serving current and prospective employees with access to information about job opportunities, professional development training, and mentorship. Our membership is free, all it requires is an upload of your resume, which you can do here.
Inclusv is not a professional headhunter service. We do things differently because we are people of color who have developed careers in politics and we recognize the systemic barriers that exist in a professional field where hiring is dominated by informal processes and networks. We work to amplify available job opportunities from employer partners to our entire network, elevate relevant training opportunities, and provide culturally competent career development trainings for staffs or conference attendees of partners. 
Inclusv aims to be a leading advocate for people of color working in politics and advocacy. We engage in public advocacy efforts to elevate dialogue around diversity and inclusion within the progressive movement. To read about our advocacy efforts visit our News & Updates page.
Founders and Staff
Inclusv Founders and Staff.
- Quentin James, Founder
- Steve Phillips, Co-Founder
- Gregory Cendana, Co-Founder
- Alida Garcia, Esq., Co-Founder
- Eric Lundy, Program Director
Inclusv is also led by an advisory board of volunteers and supporters who believe in our mission and assist in a variety of ways, helping accomplish our goals:
Inclusv Advisory Board, as of May 12, 2018; Nathaly Arriola, Luis Avila, Diana Banks, Carmen Berkley, Marvin Bing, Assembly Member Michael Blake, Jessica Byrd, Gloria Caoile, Anathea Chino, Addisu Demissie, Gabriela Domenzain, Maria Echaveste, Lucy Flores, Nadia Garnett, Vanessa Gonzales-Plumhoff, Arshad Hasan, Arisha Hatch, Malik Hubbard, Greg Jackson Stefanie Brown James, Sam Jammal, Dallas Jones, Latoia Jones, Krystal Ka’ai Representative Kevin Killer, Heather Laverty, Irene Lin, Nicholas Lepham, Nirmal Mankani, Eddy Morales, Jessica Morales Rocketto, Carlos Odio, Lou Pieh, Ashley Pinedo, Lorella Praeli, Oscar Ramirez, Elianne Ramos, Etoy Ridgnal, Emmy Ruiz, Angela Rye, Linda Sarsour, Sujata Tejwani, Lena Tom,, Sara El Amine, Khalil Thompson, Mini Timmaraju, Martin Diego Garcia, Catalina Velaszquez, Nelson Devezin, Gabby Seay, Ashindi Maxton.