Vanessa is a native of Columbia, SC, but has called the National Capital Region home for nearly 20 years. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. In this role, she is responsible for leading the organization in fulfilling its mission of "educating today's voters and training tomorrow's leaders." Vanessa believes her job is to inform, inspire, and ignite the future of leadership. She is also the founder and principal of Evolved Agenda Consulting, LLC.
With over 20 years of legislative and international relations experience, Vanessa has served on the staff of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee and Congressman Alcee Hastings. She has also worked with the South Carolina and Texas legislatures and the Harris County Public Defender Office in Houston, TX and the Washington,DC based law firm of Davis and Harman.
Vanessa also served as senior adviser and speechwriter to the President of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCEPA). She is the first African American woman ever to hold this position. In that role, she traveled extensively throughout Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East engaging in active public diplomacy and encouraging free and fair elections as an international election monitor in developing democracies, including Ukraine, during its "Orange Revolution," Russia, Belarus, and Azerbaijan. Continuing her interest in international relations, Vanessa is also the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Vanessa is a graduate of Columbia College, single-sex liberal college in South Carolina, where she majored in Public Affairs and formerly served on the Board of Visitors. She also holds a Juris Doctor degree and Public Law Certificate from Southern University Law Center and studied abroad at the University College of London in London, England focusing on international law. Vanessa holds an LL.M, in International Law from the University of Houston Law Center and has completed coursework in nonprofit leadership from the Harvard University Kennedy School Executive Education Program.
Vanessa is a listed in the Worldwide Association of Notable Alumni; a public speaker, mentor, and contributing author of Lessons from Successful African American Lawyers, a book of wisdom and aspiration to the next generation of lawyers. She also is a member of the NAACP, NCNW and Higher Height. She also serves on the board of Woman Warrior, a non-profit devoted to healing sexually-abused and assaulted women through yoga.