JOTF in the Media

We are making headlines and telling stories that matter.

JOTF focuses on providing potential solutions and engaging community members, providers, and employers in productive dialogue to address necessary systemic changes. We are often cited for our expertise and research. Here you will find articles, media and other highlights of our work.

Aug 8, 2023

Editorial: Cannabis and the courts: Expungement is an important step forward; Maryland should keep going

Read the editorial in the Baltimore Sun by JOTF senior policy advocate Kam Bridges on cannabis history and Maryland legislative efforts during the 2023 Session.

"Marijuana is racist. Not the drug itself, but the word. Derived from Mexican slang for cannabis, “marihuana” was not originally an established part of the American lexicon. But that changed when Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the U.S. Treasury Department, began to use the foreign sounding term in a concerted effort to stigmatize cannabis usage by connecting it to Mexicans. While his tactics specifically targeted Mexicans, his racist motivations were much broader. He is quoted as saying, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men. The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

Anslinger’s campaign was instrumental to the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which paved the way for the Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956. These two latter laws set mandatory sentences of 2 to 10 years for convictions of first-time cannabis possession. While the War on Drugs is commonly linked to the Nixon and Reagan administrations, their tactics were simply inspired by Anslinger’s playbook of the ‘40s and ‘50s to associate people of color with drug use and crime in order to justify incarcerative policies."

Go to Article
Go to Article
Mar 3, 2023

Jobs & Economic Justice Advocacy Day

  Join the Job Opportunities Task Force and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle for Jobs & Economic Justice Advocacy Day! Join us in advocating for better jobs, higher wages, and economic stability for all! Learn about the legislative process, meet with legislators, take action by phone banking, march and rally for jobs and economic justice, and meet other community activists for a day of action! Schedule
  • 7:30 am Leave Baltimore
  • 8:30 am Breakfast & Orientation
  • 9:15 am March and Rally at Lawyers Mall
  • 10:15 am Legislative Meetings & Phone-Banking
  • 11:45 pm Lunch
  • 1:00 pm Legislative Hearings
  • 1:45 pm Leave for Baltimore
Register now! Buses will leave from and return to the Langston Hughes Community, Business & Resource Center, 5011 Arbutus Ave, Baltimore. If you are providing your own transportation, you are welcome to join us in Annapolis at 8:30am. The event ends at 1:45pm  
Go to Article
Oct 17, 2022

Job Opportunities Task Force Names Debra Carr as New CEO

Baltimore, MD. – The Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF) is pleased to announce that Debra Carr has been appointed the new CEO of JOTF, effective October 17, 2022. An experienced leader with a passion for working in support of underserved communities, Debra will succeed Interim CEO Monique Boyd, who will resume her prior position as JOTF’s Chief Operating Officer. Debra has had an illustrious career of more than 30 years working in the federal government at leadership levels, most recently as Acting Director of the Office of Job Corps for the Department of Labor, a national job training program. Prior to that, Debra spent a number of years with the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance developing equal opportunity policies and programs covering the employment practices of some of the nation’s largest employers. Debra also spent a decade with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights researching civil rights issues and before that she spent several years with the U.S. Department of Justice enforcing civil rights laws. In these positions, Debra gained extensive experience across policy and advocacy, research, and programming – the three pillars that underpin JOTF’s work. “Debra is an excellent fit for JOTF,” says Keith Stone, JOTF’s Board president. “The breadth and depth of her expertise will be a real asset to JOTF, our partners and our constituents. We are thrilled to welcome Debra to JOTF and look forward to the next chapter under her leadership.” “I am looking forward to working with JOTF and its partners, and anyone interested in economic development and creating job opportunities for communities and individuals that have been voiceless or marginalized,” said Ms. Carr.


About JOTF Since 1996, JOTF has worked to develop and advocate policies and programs that increase the marketable skills, income, and economic opportunities of low-skill, low-income workers and job seekers in Maryland. To achieve this vision, JOTF leverages its efforts in three core pillars:   policy/advocacy, research, and on-the-ground job skills training. Funding sources include the Abell Foundation,  Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fund for Change,  Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Open Society Institute-Baltimore,  David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and the Working Poor Families Project, among other private and government sources.
Go to Article
Oct 1, 2022

Launch of JOTF’s Podcast – “MoneyTalks”

“MoneyTalks” is a podcast examining how government laws, policies, and programs impact Maryland’s workforce and finances. Ep.1 is now LIVE!

Go to Article
Feb 23, 2021

JOTF’s CEO Caryn York was named a “Game Changer,” by Baltimore Magazine!

Baltimore Magazine
JOTF’s CEO Caryn York was named a “Game Changer,” by Baltimore Magazine! Thank you Corey McLaughlin for a holistic look at JOTF’s mission, policy work, programming and the communities that we serve.  As we reflect on JOTF’s 25th anniversary, we are humbled and grateful for the spotlight from our friends @baltimoremag. Read the profile at Here are two highlights: “Individuals are sitting in jail, for non-violent offenses, more often than not, simply because they’re poor, because they don’t have $100.” - Caryn York on JOTF’s Community Bail Fund, learn more about the Fund at

“There’s no way in the world you can do the work of economic justice in Baltimore City and not recognize the very incestuous intersection between race, criminality, and poverty here.”  Read our 2018 groundbreaking report, The Criminalization of Poverty: How to Break the Cycle Through Policy Reform in Maryland at

#BlackWoman #CEO #GameChanger #Baltimore #MyBmore#JOTF #AnniversaryYear #25thAnniversary #DecriminalizePovertyandRace #EconomicEquity #EconomicSecurity #EconomicMobility #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackHistory 
Go to Article