A person who has the resume and qualifications that Dr. Jonathan Cox possesses is considered a prime candidate for an executive-level leadership position at an institution of higher learning but he has decided to take his talents out of academia into a leading Black nonprofit.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jonathan Cox as the new vice president of the Center for Policy Analysis at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, president and CEO of the foundation. “Dr. Cox’s exceptional expertise, scholarly work, dedication to advancing equitable policies, and commitment to empowering marginalized communities make him an invaluable addition to our team. We are confident that under Dr. Cox’s leadership, the center will expand its impact playing a pivotal role in shaping policies that uplift and empower Black communities across the nation.”
Cox holds Bachelor of Science dual degrees in Health and Physical Education from Hampton University. He has earned a Master of Education degree in College Student Affairs from Pennsylvania State University. Cox has another masters, Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park. He also received his doctoral degree in sociology from College Park.
As a scholar, Cox, 39, has worked two decades teaching and administrating at public and private K-12 and colleges and universities. Highlights include his pedagogical tenure as an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida, with his research focusing on racial and social inequalities and their impact on racism.
Additionally, Cox has been published in numerous academic journals on topics related to race and ethnicity, the experiences of college students, diversity and inclusion in corporate America and racial bias in the American health system.
Cox has also worked as the Assistant Director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Wake Forest University. However, in June, Cox joined the CPAR, leaving academia.
“I have worked 20 years in the education field as an instructor and administrator and did a lot of research on inequality and systemic racism,” he said. “I wanted to give the nonprofit sector a try. Working in the nonprofit sector gives me the chance to leverage all of these experiences that I have and there on the ground implications.”
Cox told the Informer that being a college or university president is an aspiration that he once harbored and hasn’t ruled it out in the future.
“Working in a college environment can be limiting,” he said. “That is why I focused on the nonprofit route. It will allow me to do my work more broadly.”
At the CPAR, Cox is charged with developing top notch public policy and research strategies for the foundation and its work in eradicating disparities among people in the African diaspora. He views research as a tool for solving problems and understands that one size doesn’t fit all.
“In this country, we tend to view things in extremes,” Cox said. “There are some people who say that if there is a problem, throw public money at it. There are others who say problems should be solved using the means of the private sector exclusively. Public money is great, but it is not ‘the end-all-be-all.’ The private sector can be helpful but there has to be more than just that. The American people have to be engaged to take on our challenges.”
Cox said his approach toward research will have a people-oriented component instead of the usual scholarly input on dealing with issues.
“People are experts on their own lives,” he said. “Folks know what needs to be done.”
Cox explained the four priorities of his team at CPAR are voter engagement, technology (as far as its relationship to the Black community), health equity and racial equity.
The vice president said he and his team at CPAR will have a heavy public engagement presence and utilize their skills to add to public dialogue on issues.
While at the University of Central Florida, Cox served twice on the Orange County Citizens Safety Task Force at the behest of Mayor Jerry Demings to provide recommendations to the county on law enforcement, social services and judicial affairs aimed toward lowering gun violence and violent crime.
Cox said those experiences will help aid his team as they continue the work of the foundation in terms of public engagement.
“We will not sit at our desks and look at the computer all day,” he said. “We will continue to produce excellent research that the members of the Congressional Black Caucus can use, if needed. But we will also produce papers that the average person can read and understand. We want our papers to generate community conversations.”