The Harvard Kennedy School has named nationally-known Atlanta community organizer LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, as a senior fellow to its Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
Recognized as a go-to expert on Black voting rights and voter suppression, Brown is the “nexus between the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, and Black Lives Matter,” the Ash Center said in its announcement.
Brown will serve as the American Democracy fellow for the Ash Center’s Democratic Governance program during the Spring semester. She joins two other senior fellows, Joseph Curtatone and Jason Hsu, at the Ash Center, which promotes creative government problem-solving.
Curtatone just finished his ninth term as Mayor of Somerville, Mass., and is now president of the Northeast Clean Energy Council. He is senior fellow in the center’s Innovations in Government program. Hsu, the senior research fellow in the center’s Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia, served as a legislator-at-large for Taiwan’s national parliament from 2016 to 2020.
“We are thrilled that LaTosha, Joe, and Jason are bringing their unique backgrounds and perspectives to the center to help move our work forward meeting the challenges to democracy and inspiring innovative government solutions to some of the country’s (and world’s) most pressing problems,” the Ash Center’s director, Tony Saich, said.
The center selected Brown for “her deeply impressive track record of strengthening civic engagement in the United States and working to ensure that all Americans have equal access to the ballot box,” spokesman Daniel Harsha told Atlanta Civic Circle.
During her time at the center, Harsha said Brown “will continue her work engaging with students across the Kennedy School interested in issues related to democracy and equality. She will also be engaging with a select cohort of democracy scholars and practitioners the Ash Center convenes on the Harvard campus to discuss new ideas for reimagining American democracy.”
Brown and Cliff Albright co-founded Black Voters Matter in 2016 as a voting rights and community empowerment organization. It focuses on voter registration and turnout, voting access policy, and organizational development and training for other grassroots groups.
Black Voters Matter played a key role in the 2017 special election in Alabama of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, against former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, a Republican. The group is credited with increasing Black voter turnout for the 2020-2021 Georgia elections, and then the Peach State’s two crucial U.S. Senate runoff races, where the elections of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock gave the Democrats a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate.
Brown also founded a regional philanthropic network, the Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium, that in 2020 announced a $100 million, 10-year fundraising initiative to invest in local community groups that empower Black women and girls.
Brown is no stranger to Harvard. She was the 2020 Hauser Leader at the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership; the 2020 Leader in Practice for its Women and Public Policy Program, and a 2020-2021 American Democracy fellow at Harvard’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.