The Alumni of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) Leadership Institute (LI) are an impressive worldwide community who share a common experience in being members of the esteemed Institute. It is a distinct honor shared for almost a half of century with more than 2,500 individuals who have participated in intern or fellow positions on Capitol Hill, federal agencies, and corporate suites with the intention of changing the landscape to reflect the diversity of America. 

Every year CBCF recognizes an alum for their contribution and commitment to its mission to develop leaders, inform policy, and educate the public. 

“The alumni of the year nominees were selected by a secret ballot given to alumni,” explained Jasmine Gillispie, program coordinator for LI. “After nominations were counted, the top five nominees were notified, and then submitted headshots and bios. Nominees were then posted on the CBCF Instagram and LinkedIn pages for voting, and nominees shared the post to their personal pages to rally support. The 2023 top five nominees are a combination of former interns and a fellow and hold current positions both on Capitol Hill and in corporate America,” she said.

“Congratulations to our alumni nominees,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, president & chief executive officer of CBCF. “The accomplishments made by our illustrious alumni validate our work every day. CBCF is producing thought partners, strategists, community leaders, and lawmakers who understand the power in influencing and creating public policy that addresses concerns across the global Black community.”

The 2023 Alumni of the Year will be announced on September 20 at the Alumni Association Networking Reception during the Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). Here are the 2023 nominees.

Remmington F. Belford | 2016 Emerging Leader

Remmington F. Belford is the deputy chief of staff to Congresswoman Emilia Strong Sykes of Ohio’s 13th Congressional District. Prior to joining Team Sykes, Belford was the first openly Black Queer Man to serve as the director of communications for the Congressional Black Caucus. (CBC) He also served as communications director to both Congresswomen Yvette D. Clarke of Brooklyn and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston. 

“Let it be unambiguously stated: my present standing owes a monumental debt to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation,” said Belford. “They saw potential in me, an ember worth igniting. For that initial chance and the continued investment in my growth, my gratitude is boundless. My identity as a CBCF alumnus is not just a detail on my résumé; it is an emblem worn with immense pride,” he said.

Belford hails from Houston and is a second-generation alumnus of Texas Southern University. He is also an alumnus of The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Belford is often described — by those who know and interact with him — as a solution-oriented, high-impact strategic communications practitioner with a passion for cooking and connecting.

Rontel Batie | Summer 2010 Congressional Intern

 “I am thrilled that I have been nominated as Alumni of the Year for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation,” said Batie. “It is an absolute honor to be recognized by such an esteemed organization. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the Foundation and highlight the importance of its work,” he said.

Rontel Batie is the Managing Partner of Batie & Associates where he manages a boutique team of former Hill staffers who help corporations, trade associations, non-profits and educational institutions build meaningful relationships with lawmakers in Congress and state legislatures. His career began in Tallahassee, Florida, as a speechwriter for State Representative Alan Williams. He returned to CBCF where he led seven leadership programs and helped place more than 300 young, black college students and recent graduates in congressional offices, committees, and federal agencies. Batie has served as a congressional staffer to U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown where he helped author legislation related to HBCU funding, improving the veteran health care system and payday lending reform. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida A&M University and his Master’s in legislative affairs from The George Washington University.

Rasheedah Hasan | Fall 2016 Emerging Leader

Driven by organized action and systemic innovation, Rasheedah Hasan is the deputy director and co-founder of CEO Consulting Firm, which specializes in providing strategic action plans across public sector companies to organize internal workflows, develop succession plans, and train and develop staff to create a stronger workforce. 

Hasan previously served as a chief clerk for both the U.S. House of Representatives’ Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Hasan kickstarted her D.C. career as the judicial legal intern for Chief Administrative Law Judge David A. Simmons of the D.C. Office of Human Rights, followed by an internship with the CBCF and as a communications intern for the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. 

“As a nominee for CBCF Alumni of the Year, this nomination serves as encouragement that ‘our labor is not in vain and though the vision may tarry, wait for it, it will surely come, if we faint not,’” said Hasan. “This nomination also means that because of the backing from God and the support system of family, mentors, colleagues, and the CBCF staff, we are never alone on this journey, resilient, and embody the strength, knowledge, and skill to persevere for the now and next generation. I am forever grateful and in appreciation,” concluded Hasan. 

Hasan is completing a professional certificate program for Women in Entrepreneurship at Cornell University and is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University. 

Leanna Wade | Fall 2015 Emerging Leader

Leanna Wade is the global and regulatory policy associate at ACT | The App Association, where she is responsible for advocating on behalf of the small business community in technology. She engages with federal agencies and foreign governments on issues including digital health, broadband deployment, cybersecurity, workforce development, and competition. Wade also established the App Association’s HBCU internship program, which serves as a pipeline for undergrad and graduate students interested in building skills and growing their network to pursue careers in technology.  

Hailing from Atlanta, Wade worked in the Office of Compliance Advisor Ombudsman at the World Bank prior to her current role. She earned her J.D. with a certificate in alternative dispute resolution from Howard University School of Law and her B.A. in government and world affairs with honors from the University of Tampa. 

She attributes much of her success to CBCF and strives to help carry out the mission. “Being a part of the CBCF family has not only enriched my personal and professional life, but it has also given me the chance to connect with exceptional individuals who share the same passion for making a difference,” she eagerly shared. “The Foundation’s commitment to empowering Black leaders and fostering opportunities in public policy is truly commendable.”

Christopher Cox | 2018-2020 Fellowship Cohort

According to a Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies June 2022 report, Christopher Cox is one of the 79 or 18.5% of people of color serving as a chief of staff in the U.S. House of Representatives, working for Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke of New York’s 9th Congressional District. Cox previously served on her legislative team as senior policy advisor, overseeing the member’s health care and tech/telecommunications portfolios. He was also recently selected as one of the National Minority Quality Forums 40 under 40 Leaders in Health Award for his work in health care policy. 

As a Mississippi native, Cox serves as a board member for Mississippi Votes, an organization of intergenerational synergy centering and led by young people invested in the progression of Mississippi. He is also a former board member of the Congressional Tech Staff Association and the Congressional Black Associates on Capitol Hill.  

Cox holds a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Public Health Policy and Management from Jackson State University. 

“Being selected as one of the nominees for CBCF Alumni of the Year is an honor and one of the highlights of my DC career,” said Cox. “I am grateful to the Foundation for selecting me as a fellow in 2018 which was my launching pad to Capitol Hill. I look forward to the continued growth of the Foundation, and to the enrichment of other young Black professionals in policy.”

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