“No matter where I go in life, Richmond means the most to me,” says Sesha Joi Moon, who was appointed by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi to be director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022.
The assignment follows her terms as the director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, senior talent management strategist at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and senior policy specialist at the D.C. Department of Human Resources.
Even with the turnover of the 118th U.S. Congress, Moon, 39, has been retained to continue to lead her office. “We are non-partisan and non-legislative, which I attribute to its success and support. Representation in the people’s house is not a red issue nor a blue issue, but should reflect every shade of the American people.”
Back at home, Moon, who got her master of science degree from VCU, where she was one of the first students to earn a bachelor’s degree from the department of African-American studies, continues to spearhead the JXN Project as its executive director. She and her co-founding sister, Enjoli Moon, received the 2022 Leadership in History Award for their work on the restorative history initiative, which has been lauded by PBS NewsHour, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and TIME.
She says that JXN started as a “research organization” looking into the origins of Richmond’s historic, African American-centered Jackson Ward area. It has since grown into a movement to recontextualize the Ward’s origin story as the nation’s first historically registered Black urban neighborhood. It also has spearheaded a $5.6 million campaign to honor Abraham Peyton Skipwith, the first known Black homeowner of the Ward, by reestablishing his cottage displaced in 1958 by the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike.
“We are in the thick of fundraising right now,” she says, adding that JXN has reached $2.5 million toward its goal. “We had the parcels donated by Maggie Walker Community Land Trust and RRHA [Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority], and we just finished the archaeological analysis and are now getting the space ready for the reconstruction. And we continue to do the research and peel back the layers on Abraham Skipwith and the origin story of Jackson Ward.”
As for Moon’s personal life, she’s an avowed “queer Black woman” with a loving wife, Janice Pritchett, and a dog named Benji. “I am really boring,” she claims. “I’m a homebody. I spend time between Richmond and D.C. and Richmond is where I’m my most authentic self.”