Council on Communities of Color

The Council on Communities of Color (CCC) is CSG’s only self-identified member committee that provides a forum for state decision-makers to examine the unique challenges facing historically distressed and marginalized Black, Brown, Indigenous and Asian-Pacific Islander populations of color (also referenced as “BIPOC” communities).

Based in CSG’s Eastern Region (CSG East), the CCC explores a wide range of issues intended to promote equitable, improved, and sustainable public policy outcomes that enhance the quality of life for people of color and the communities in which they live. The purpose is to help achieve a diverse and inclusive governance model.


State-level policymakers who are members of the CSG East are automatically members and participants in the CCC. In addition, the CCC offers opportunities for policymakers originating from or representing BIPOC communities to participate in a number of special activities, initiatives and events, with the CCC’s lead consultant and team facilitating:

  • Media visibility opportunities for policymakers
  • Participation in both on-site and virtual panels and discussion on relevant topics
  • Research and writing support for legislators
  • Assignment of CCC student interns and fellows
  • Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)
  • Participation of BIPOC-community state legislators in other CSG East committees
  • Learning from, connection to and partnership with legislators in other CSG regions on relevant issues

Stay tuned for more special activities and events on the horizon. We look forward to hearing from you!

Committee Leadership

Headshot Kevin Parker
Kevin Parker
Senator, New York
State Senator Kevin S. Parker is committed to restoring the overall quality of life for the constituents of the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn. A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Senator Parker has been a Flatbush resident for more than 31 years
-- nurtured, educated, and employed in the borough. Senator Parker is intimately familiar with the needs of the 21st District, which consists of many diverse communities: Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, and Park Slope. A product of the New York City Public School system, Senator Parker attended P.S. 193, Andries Hudde I.S. 240, and Midwood High School. Elected to the New York State Senate in 2002, Senator Parker’s professional background reflects a wide range of public service and an unwavering commitment to a better New York. As the Special Assistant to former New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, Senator Parker managed intergovernmental relations in New York City, and was the liaison between the Comptroller; city, state, and federal elected officials. Before taking office, Senator Parker was a New York City Urban Fellow and also served as Special Assistant to former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger; Legislative Aide to former New York City Councilmember Una Clarke, and Special Assistant to Assemblyman Nick Perry. As Project Manager with the New York State Urban Development Corporation, Senator Parker financed minority and women owned businesses and promoted community business redevelopment. His commitment to education has taken him into the classroom as a professor of both African-American Studies and Political Science at several colleges, including: CUNYs: Baruch College, John Jay College, Medgar Evers College, City College; SUNY, Old Westbury; and Long Island University. Brooklyn College is where Senator Parker teaches a majority of his classes and is a faculty advisor to student organizations and activities. The Senator is currently an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College’s Center for Worker Education. At Penn State (where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Service), Senator Parker organized students for racial justice and encouraged diversity at the University. He holds a Master’s of Science Degree from the New School for Social Research in Urban Policy and Management and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Political Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He is also a member of the Alpha Chapter of the Pi Eta Honor Society.
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Headshot of Joseline Pena-Melnyk
Joseline Peña-Melnyk
Delegate, Maryland
Joseline Peña-Melnyk has represented Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties as state delegate for ten years. After Joseline got her law degree, she took court appointments to represent abused and neglected children, and to provide criminal defense for the poor. Later
she joined Eric Holder’s U.S. Attorney’s Office and prosecuted criminals; building cases by working closely with police officers, witnesses and victims in the community. Joseline has served on the board of Casa de Maryland, a community social service organization focused on immigrant issues. Her committee in the House deals with public health and she has made great strides to improve the healthcare system by making it more efficient and in line with the needs of everyday Marylanders. Her legislation to digitize medical records is improving health care delivery and lowering costs. She has also moved many bills into law dealing with women’s and children’s health, including bills on family planning, mammograms, childhood obesity and suicide prevention. She also leads on matters of policing and criminal justice. The Baltimore riots show that we need to create more paths to success for all our citizens and that a broken justice system weakens our communities. She was one of ten Delegates that served on the Workgroup on Public Safety and Policing Practices established after the riots, but her strong record on these issues predates the riots. One of her bills made Maryland the first state to count inmates of state prisons in the place where they lived when arrested, which helps boost representation for the poor communities with the most problems. She co-sponsored the repeal of the death penalty (HB 0295, 2013) and she supported “ban the box” on state employment forms because we need to improve employment options for people with criminal convictions if we are to break the cycle of incarceration. She also has pushed for police accountability, including ending race based traffic stops and promoting legislation for an independent state prosecutor to investigate deaths related to law enforcement. (See, HB 130, 2011.) She is a strong advocate for a people’s democracy and supports public campaign financing to limit the corrosive effects of large contributions and constant fundraising on our democracy.
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For more information on the Council on Communities of Color, please contact staff liaison

Charles Ellison, policy consultant
direct: 301.526.2239