Power means influencing how resources are allocated, possessing the ability to create change, and having a seat at the table. The allocation of power within our workplaces, our schools, our communities, and our political systems has been at the core of major events that have dominated headlines over the past several years: from the Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and “March for Our Lives” movements to the teachers’ strikes, the Fight for $15, and advocacy to stop repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Each of these movements acknowledges the inextricable link between economic and political power. We are seeing smart, determined, and organized individuals and organizations demanding policy changes that strengthen communities, improve equity, and empower workers and families.
The 2018 EARN Conference will celebrate this nationwide momentum, evaluate EARN’s contributions to these movements, and discuss how we can challenge structural and historical disparities of political and economic power. This three-day gathering will bring together EARN’s nearly 60 groups from 44 states to share stories, discuss strategies, sharpen skills, and plan for the year ahead.
The conference will continue EARN’s tradition of bringing together leading economic thinkers, policy experts, members of the labor movement, social services providers, community organizers, faith leaders, and academic researchers to learn from one another and develop strategies and policies that will improve job quality and economic security, while also considering ways to improve our democracy.
Conference dates: October 3–5, 2018*
*A pre-conference meeting for EARN state group executive directors will take place on Wednesday, October 3rd at 1:00 pm. On-site registration for all attendees will open Wednesday, October 3 at 4:00 pm. The program will run until Friday, October 5 at 3:00 pm.
Marriott Marquis Chicago
2121 South Prairie Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616
Tel: (312) 824-0500
For EARN members: Click here to access previous years’ conference materials.
Agenda items subject to change.
Wednesday, Oct. 3
EARN Directors’ meeting
- Glessner House AB
- 1:00–4:30 pm
Annual strategy meeting for EARN group executive directors and designated representatives.
- Great Lakes Foyer
- 4:00–7:00 pm
Opening dinner: Welcome to Chicago! Illinois’s evidence-based education funding model as a blueprint for inclusive policy
- Great Lakes C
- 5:30–7:30 pm
Illinois’ evidence-based education funding model provides a comprehensive formula for refocusing state education funding on the most under-resourced students. The Illinois policy provides a framework for achieving funding that is equitable and meets the needs of students, teachers, and administrators. The panelists, who include some of the most influential advocates behind the legislation’s passage, will discuss the political will and grassroots advocacy which laid the groundwork for this progressive victory. Attendees from all 50 states will find lessons in how Illinois-based advocates balanced the interests of multiple stakeholders, conducted outreach, highlighted the implications for teachers as well as students, and are following through to implement the policy.
- Moderator: Ralph Martire, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability
- Representative Christian Mitchell, Illinois General Assembly
- Stacy Davis Gates, Chicago Teachers Union
- Dr. Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Chicago Urban League
- Kedda Williams, Opportunity Institute
- Great Lakes B
- 7:30–9:30 pm
Thursday, Oct. 4
- Meet in hotel lobby
- 7:00 am
Runners of all paces are encouraged to join, as are those who prefer a good walk.
- Great Lakes B
- 8:00–8:55 am
Housing policy failures: How housing policy has failed workers and served as an obstacle to racial justice
- Great Lakes C
- 9:00–10:30 am
A shortage of affordable housing— both for renters and for potential homeowners— remains a central obstacle for working families hoping to accumulate savings, build their wealth, and afford ever-increasing costs of health care and higher education. Given that improvements to working class families’ standard of living can so easily be undermined by housing costs, pursuing common sense housing policies that alleviate the shortage of affordable housing in a progressive way, while also remediating historical inequities in access to credit and homeownership, should be a central part of the progressive agenda.
- Moderator: Ed Lazere, DC Fiscal Policy Institute
- Leah Levinger, Chicago Housing Initiative
- Jawanza Brian Malone, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations
- Molly Parker, The Southern Illinoisan
- Andrea Mitchell, Neighbors for Affordable Housing
Session 1.1 10:35–11:50 am
First Day Fairness: An initiative to build worker power and ensure job quality
- Glessner House A
- 10:35–11:50 am
From their first day on the job, the rules governing work in this country are rigged against working people. This rigged system has helped produce the inequality that characterizes the United States economy. There are many factors contributing to this economic inequality, but the common thread that binds them is the erosion of the bargaining power of low- and middle-wage workers. The situation of weak economic leverage for most workers is not the “unfortunate-but-inevitable” result of natural trends in technology and global integration; it is instead the product of decades of concerted attacks on workers’ leverage. There is an understandable desire among those seeking shared prosperity to agree on and advance one simple, bold, “big fix” to this situation. However, there is no single reform that can reverse the trends that have done so much to harm working people. Multiple reforms are needed to meaningfully address the decades-long campaign waged to disempower America’s workers. EPI’s First Day Fairness agenda is based on the right of all workers to a fair system of work from their first day on the job. This session will discuss a series of state-level First Day Fairness reforms that will help to unrig the system and ensure a fair first day for working people.
- Moderator: Heidi Shierholz, Economic Policy Institute
- Najah Farley, National Employment Law Project
- Jane Flanagan, Illinois Attorney General’s Office
- Gordon Lafer, University of Oregon
- Teófilo Reyes Reyes, ROC United
Data 201: Building essential skills for data analysis
- Glessner House B
- 10:35–11:50 am
Many economists evaluate the effects of state and local policies using an empirical technique called “difference-in-differences.” Using minimum wage increases as an example, this session will cover how and why this technique is widely used when estimating the employment and wage effects of a policy. We will show how to calculate a “difference-in-differences” estimate with a spreadsheet and, time permitting, with Stata. Finally, we will explain common problems and limitations in order to better equip participants to understand the potential weaknesses of research using this technique.
- Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute
Championing racial equity and inclusion policies in the South
- Glessner House C
- 10:35–11:50 am
- EARN in the South
Groups pushing for progressive policy change in the South have often sought to avoid issues and framing that explicitly involve race, ethnicity, or immigration status. But as the region rapidly grows and diversifies, tackling historic inequities and pursuing welcoming policies for newcomers is more important than ever to build a regional economy that works for everyone. And as recent developments such as the Alabama senate and Georgia governor’s races illustrate, leaning in to equity and inclusion may also be emerging as a powerful new strategy to achieve durable change in the region. This panel will host EARN groups and community partners from Georgia and North Carolina to walk through their own experiences incorporating racial and ethnic inclusion into their campaigns, including some tangible policy, advocacy, and outreach examples of what it looks like on the ground. Discussion encouraged!
- Moderator: Corey Wiggins, Mississippi NAACP
- Ana Pardo, North Carolina Justice Center
- David Schaefer, Latin American Association
- Kerrie Stewart, Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Queen City Metropolitan Chapter
- Wesley Tharpe, Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Introductory remarks: Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
- Great Lakes B
- 12:15–12:30 pm
Stacy Davis Gates, Chicago Teachers Union, will introduce Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, for brief remarks.
The teacher strikes: Takeaways for the progressive movement and consequences for the future of public sector employment
- Great Lakes B
- 12:30–1:40 pm
- Lunch plenary
This session will focus on the experiences of educators who have themselves walked out of schools to improve conditions for their colleagues and their students. In addition to discussing the teaching profession, the panelists will offer their thoughts on the ability of teachers to demand change, the factors that led them and their colleagues to take action, and the various models for coordinating actions across the states.
- Introduction: Sylvia Allegretto, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
- Overview: Eric Blanc, Jacobin
- Moderator: Ted Boettner, West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy
- Stacy Davis Gates, Chicago Teachers Union
- Katie Endicott, High school English teacher in Mingo County, West Virginia, and West Virginia Education Association
- Michelle Randolph, Kentucky public school teacher
- Joe Thomas, Arizona Education Association
Session 1.2 1:45–3:00 pm
Paid family and medical leave and paid sick days: Creating good policy, winning campaigns
- Glessner House A
- 1:45–3:00 pm
A bright spot in the U.S. policy landscape is recent victories on paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. But neither creating good policy nor winning campaigns is easy. This panel will explore the themes of: creating thoughtful policy that will provide access for those who need it the most; answering tough questions; and building power to win campaigns. We’ll hear from leaders of recent campaign victories on paid sick days in Austin, Texas, and paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts, and from staff who are pioneering creation of a new administrative structure for PFML in Washington State.
- Moderator: Marilyn Watkins, Economic Opportunity Institute
- Matt Buelow, Washington Employment Security Department
- Ana Gonzalez, Workers Defense Project
- Elizabeth Whiteway, Greater Boston Legal Services
Data 101: We make the mistakes so you don’t have to
- Glessner House B
- 1:45–3:00 pm
Data 101 is a foundational workshop for people who are new to the network or who are interested in getting more mileage out of the Job Watch, Recession Watch, and State of Working X (SWXX) data. Jessica Schieder, economic analyst with EPI and EARN, will provide an overview of the data packages available to EARN groups and best practices related to wage data. Andrew Bradley, senior analyst with the Indiana Institute for Working Families, will present a short overview of how his shop uses the data and walk participants through building a couple of charts focusing on employment-to-population ratios (EPOPs). Hannah Halbert, project director with Policy Matters Ohio, will moderate the panel and close out the session describing the organization’s new data page. Bring your data questions and your laptops loaded with the SWXX data to create social media content from the workshop.
- Moderator: Hannah Halbert, Policy Matters Ohio
- Andrew Bradley, Indiana Institute for Working Families
- Jessica Schieder, Economic Policy Institute and EARN
The Janus Decision: Implications for union workers, nonunion workers, and worker power
- Glessner House C
- 1:45–3:00 pm
Janus v. AFSCME is only the latest step in a long running campaign from the right wing, and the State Policy Network in particular to undermine workers’ freedom to join together in strong unions in the public sector. This session will review the decision’s impact, the right’s campaign, and organized labor’s responses. It will also offer an opportunity to assess what’s next.
- Moderator: Naomi Walker, EARN
- Steve Kreisberg, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
- Ed Muir, American Federation of Teachers
Coffee and snack break
- Great Lakes B
- 3:00–3:30 pm
Session 1.3 3:30–4:45 pm
Number stories: The changing nature of work and the erosion of quality jobs
- Glessner House A
- 3:30–4:45 pm
This workshop will take participants on an interactive gallery walk through four visually compelling data stations that provide insight into the changing nature of work. Each station will paint a number story using data infographics that highlights key findings on the changing nature of four precarious, low-wage industries: the retail sector and scheduling; gig economy, including ride-hailing; temporary help agencies; and independent contractors (including a discussion of Handy bills).
- Tim Bell, Chicago Workers Collaborative and Chicago Worker Collaborative’s Worker Theater
- Lucero Herrera, UCLA Labor Center
- Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center
- Edgar Ortiz, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
- Maya Pinto, National Employment Law Project
- Saba Waheed, UCLA Labor Center
- Kathy White, Colorado Fiscal Institute
Taking the high road: Improving the effectiveness and equity of state and local economic development
- Glessner House B
- 3:30–4:45 pm
- EARN in the South
All too often, state and local governments pursue “low-road” economic development marked by lowering tax and labor costs for businesses rather than improving business productivity and generating broadly shared prosperity. This panel focuses on creative “high-road” policy alternatives that ensure inclusive economic growth, build human capital capacity, connect firms and workers to productivity-enhancing institutions, and leverage existing assets within a community. Examples include equitable development tools like minority contracting, first source hiring, and sector strategies alongside new ways to convert traditional tools like business incentives into more progressive approaches that genuinely benefit the states and communities using them.
- Moderator: Allan Freyer, Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center
- Lindsay Baker, Missouri Budget Project
- William Munn, NC Justice Center
- Chandra Villanueva, Center for Public Policy Priorities
Immigrant inclusion as economic development
- Glessner House C
- 3:30–4:45 pm
A growing number of cities and states have come to see immigrants as an asset to local economic growth, not— as Donald Trump was hardly the first to suggest— a hindrance. This session will explore strategies for helping immigrants and communities of color while also fostering local economic growth: nurturing entrepreneurship in low-income communities, allowing immigrants with foreign certification and degrees to use them to their fullest, eliminating barriers to home ownership, and more. These strategies— with their focus on inclusion, neighborhood revitalization and building from within— are relevant almost everywhere, but is of particular interest in areas where overall population is declining yet immigration is offsetting or even reversing that trend.
- Seemi Choudry, Chicago Mayor’s Office of New Americans
- David Dyssegaard Kallick, Fiscal Policy Institute
- Lisa Xiong, Neighborhood Development Center
Making the point visually: How to change minds and expand your audience with effective (and doable) graphics
- Great Lakes B
- 3:30–4:45 pm
For wonky organizations high on research and low on marketing budgets, simple graphic content—charts, shareables, infographics, and data visualizations—can multiply your reach by orders of magnitude. But you don’t need a design firm to take your graphic game to the next level. You can go a long way with a few basic principles of design, readability, and messaging. In this workshop, we’ll show what works and what doesn’t and share tools, tips, and, templates for more effective graphics—even if you don’t have a designer on staff.
- Eric Shansby, Economic Policy Institute
Owned: A Tale of Two Americas – Film screening and a discussion with the director
- Great Lakes B
- 5:15 – 7:15 pm
Featured on MSNBC host Chris Hayes’s “Why Is This Happening?” podcast, Owned: A Tale of Two Americas is a “visually stunning documentary” that documents the United States’ obsession with real estate, our history of policy-driven housing discrimination, the lasting effect that discrimination has had on generations of black Americans, and the way that real estate and housing policy continue to have an enormous impact on the economic outcomes of families, communities, and the country as a whole.
During this special evening event, we will present a screening of the film, followed immediately by a discussion with the film’s director, Giorgio Angelini.
Friday, Oct. 5
- Meet in hotel lobby
- 7:00 am
Runners of all paces are encouraged to join, as are those who prefer a good walk.
- Great Lakes B
- 8:00–8:55 am
Session 2.1 9:00–10:15 am
State responses to the retirement financial crisis
- Glessner House A
- 9:00–10:15 am
Corporations have abandoned the social contract of 40 years ago, leaving workers on their own when it comes to retirement. One consequence is that most families—even those approaching retirement—have little or no retirement savings. In the state of Washington, more than three out of five workers do not have retirement savings plans at their places of work. Many states developed universal retirement plans in the first third of the 20th century. These became the seeds for Social Security. States are again developing new retirement security vehicles. We will discuss some of these approaches.
- Moderator: John Burbank, Economic Opportunity Institute
- Monique Ching, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
- Steve Kreisberg, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
- Nari Rhee, University of California Berkeley Labor Center
- Sarah Zimmerman, SEIU 1000
Defense against the dark arts: Creating wins in challenging policy environments
- Glessner House B
- 9:00–10:15 am
- EARN in the South
How can EARN members and partners create wins that build long-term power, even in the 31 states with all-red legislatures and in other challenging policy environments? Panelists will discuss how they have led victories in inhospitable climates, including a successful ballot effort repealing a so-called right-to-work law, flipping a local preemption bill into opening occupational licensing for people with criminal records, and crafting a “defense-to-offense” policy platform. Attendees should bring their own examples of challenging work, and be prepared for a discussion about positive ways to assemble coalitions of diverse voices and strange bedfellows; about using creative data, messaging, and leadership to create short-term success; and about stacking those wins up to sustainable achievements for a progressive agenda.
- Andrew Bradley, Indiana Institute for Working Families
- Ryan Burke, AFL-CIO
- Taifa Smith Butler, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
State and local policies to expand access to care services and improve care workers’ wages
- Glessner House C
- 9:00–10:15 am
Childcare and homecare both face a dual crisis: costs are prohibitively expensive to consumers, while workers’ wages are too low. State and local organizations are taking the lead on innovative new policies to expand access to care services, improve care workers’ wages, and create infrastructure for organizing. Two important examples are a ballot initiative in Alameda County, California, to fund an expansion of childcare subsidies and improvements in wages and benefits for care workers, and an initiative in Maine to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund universal long-term care. Both policies would require recipients to allow dues deduction for workers’ organizations. These models point to an important new direction for organizing in the care industries.
- Laura Dresser, COWS
- Alexa Frankenberg, SEIU
- Ken Jacobs, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education
- Kevin Simowitz, Caring Across Generations
Session 2.2 10:20–11:35 am
State and local campaigns for progressive taxation
- Glessner House A
- 10:20–11:35 am
The new federal tax law delivers a massive windfall to corporations and those with the highest incomes, while the less affluent already pay a greater portion of their incomes in state and local taxes. How can states and localities recoup these funds though progressive taxation? What approaches hold strategic promise to win passage?
- Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies
- Phineas Baxandall, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
- John Burbank, Economic Opportunity Institute
- Tasha Green Cruzat, Voices for Illinois Children
- Meg Wiehe, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
Manufacturing’s rebound: Analyzing the effectiveness of state industrial policy in creating equitable access to good jobs
- Glessner House B
- 10:20–11:35 am
Manufacturing has gained back more than one million jobs since 2010, reversing a decade-long decline. The panel will discuss how automation, reshoring, trade, an aging workforce, and changes in job structure have created a different manufacturing sector. Panelists will provide an analysis of how state policy can accelerate manufacturing’s recovery while creating a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable sector.
- Teresa Córdova, University of Illinois, Chicago, Great Cities Institute
- Steve Herzenberg, Keystone Research Center
- Michael Shields, Policy Matters Ohio
- Andrew Stettner, The Century Foundation
Working with the media and breaking through the noise to get your research covered
- Glessner House C
- 10:20–11:35 am
Have you ever given what you thought was a great interview, only to not show up in the final story? Does anyone read press releases anymore? How important is being on Twitter?
EARN groups have great research and brilliant researchers, but it doesn’t matter if no one knows about your work. Good public relations means building strong relationships with members of the media, coming up with pitches that reporters want to hear, and using your research to tell a compelling story. We’ll sit down with Chicagoland reporters who cover business, economics, and politics to learn about what they’re looking for in a pitch, what they want in a source, and how they decide who to quote in their stories. Bring your questions about how to work with members of the media to get your research covered.
- Moderator: Dan Crawford, Economic Policy Institute
- Rebecca Burns, In These Times
- Desiree Hanford, Medill School of Journalism
- Alden Loury, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio
Session 2.3 11:40 am–12:55 pm
Safeguarding our democracy: Automatic voter registration, public financing, single transferable vote, and other proposals
- Glessner House A
- 11:40 am–12:55 pm
Our democracy is only a semi-democracy, with voter suppression, winner-take-all elections, and private financing. States have passed laws to intentionally disenfranchise people of color and suppress voter turnout. Moreover, with winner-take-all elections, votes often don’t even translate into representation. In this session, we will discuss some of the mechanisms being employed to make elections genuine instruments for a true democracy. Speakers will discuss both the mechanics of the policies and the campaigns that have led to their implementation in various states and cities.
- Katrina Gamble, Sojourn Strategies
- Robin Garwood, FairVote Minnesota
- Amber McReynolds, Vote at Home
- Harish Patel, Chicago Votes
- Rob Richie, Fair Vote
- Cynthia Richie Terrell, RepresentWomen and FairVote
Strategies for advancing progressive economic policies in the South: Organizing with a gender and racial lens
- Glessner House B
- 11:40 am–12:55 pm
- EARN in the South
Women are absolutely essential to the economic security of Southern families and the strength of Southern economies. Indeed, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana have some of the highest percentages of primary or co-breadwinner mothers in the country. But women in the South—especially women of color and mothers—have long been overlooked, shortchanged, and penalized by employer and public policies, leading to Southern states having some of the largest gender wage gaps and poverty rates in the country. In recent years, however, women, and women of color in particular, have been fighting for progressive economic advancements in the South—and succeeding. By using a gender and racial lens to message and build coalitions around progressive economic policies, and an economic lens to build support where policymakers might otherwise be averse to “women’s rights” policies, advocates have made progressive economic, gender, and racial justice advances possible in the South. This session will highlight the coalition, messaging, and policy strategies that went into the recent passage of a bill providing reasonable workplace accommodations to pregnant workers in South Carolina; the development of bipartisan support for equal pay legislation in Mississippi; and the growing support for Louisiana’s 3-Point Economic Justice Platform: Fight for $15, Equal Pay, and Ban the Box. The session will include a dialogue with some of the state-based and national partners involved.
- Moderator: Andrea Johnson, National Women’s Law Center
- Maria Harmon, Step Up Louisiana
- Ashley Lidow, South Carolina Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network
- Cassandra Welchlin, Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative & Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable
Towards a workers’ agenda for new technology: Research, policy, and organizing
- Glessner House C
- 11:40 am–12:55 pm
Are the robots coming to take our jobs? Should state and local advocates pay attention to the new technology debates? Is it possible to organize against the tech sector? And how do we conduct research on the future? This panel will give an overview of what researchers and worker organizations are thinking and doing about how to respond to new technology. We will give a state-of-play of the automation debates and highlight examples of industry research, local organizing strategies, and public policy solutions being developed. Ultimately, the goal is to build a progressive strategy that inserts the interests of workers and their communities as a core constituency in decisions over which technologies are developed and to what ends, and how they are incorporated in the workplace.
- Moderator: Annette Bernhardt, UC Berkeley Labor Center
- Maria Noel Fernandez, Working Partnerships USA
- Andrew Stettner, The Century Foundation
- Steve Viscelli, University of Pennsylvania
The Future of EARN
- Great Lakes B
- 1:00–2:35 pm
This year, EARN celebrates its 20th anniversary. The closing plenary session will feature four EARN directors stepping back and reflecting on where EARN has been and where EARN should be heading in its next 20 years.
- Moderator: Annette Bernhardt, UC Berkeley Labor Center
- Taifa Smith Butler, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
- Amy Hanauer, Policy Matters Ohio
- David Lujan, Arizona Center for Economic Progress
- Joel Rogers, COWS
Sylvia Allegretto, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
Sylvia Allegretto is a labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley. CWED is a research center housed at the Institute for Researcher on Labor and Employment. Dr. Allegretto received her Ph. D. in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder and worked for several years at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington DC where she is currently a research associate. Allegretto co-authored several editions of The State of Working America and she most recently authored The State of Working America’s Wealth, 2011. Research interests include long-term unemployment, family budgets, teacher pay, public employee compensation, low-wage labor markets, inequality, minimum wages and sub-minimum wages received by tipped workers. Sylvia closely tracks a myriad of economic statistics with particular interest in the labor market and how typical workers are faring. She is often called upon by media outlets to provide commentary and contextualize economic data and trends.
Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies
Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is a co-editor of the IPS web site Inequality.org. Sarah’s research covers a wide range of international and domestic economic issues, including inequality, Wall Street reform, CEO pay, taxes, labor, and international trade and investment. Sarah is a well-known expert on executive compensation, as the lead author of more than 20 annual “Executive Excess” reports that have received extensive media coverage.
During the Obama administration, she served on the Investment Subcommittee of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP). In 2009, this subcommittee carried out a review of the U.S. model bilateral investment treaty. In 2000, she served on the staff of the bipartisan International Financial Institutions Advisory Commission (“Meltzer Commission”), commissioned by the U.S. Congress to evaluate the World Bank and IMF. Sarah is a co-author of the books Field Guide to the Global Economy (New Press, 2nd edition, 2005) and Alternatives to Economic Globalization (Berrett-Koehler, 2nd edition, 2004).
Prior to coming to IPS in 1992, Sarah was a consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development and an editor for the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from The American University and a BA in Journalism from Northwestern University.
Georgio Angelini, Director, Owned, A Tale of Two Americas
Giorgio Angelini is a director and actor, known for Owned, A Tale of Two Americas (2018), My Friend Dahmer (2017) and My Death is Pending… Because (2017).
Lindsey Baker, Missouri Budget Project
Lindsey Baker is the Director of Research for the Missouri Budget Project. She is a former National Institute on Aging Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Assistant Professor at the University of California’s Andrus Gerontology Center whose research focuses on economic and health disparities throughout the life course. Lindsey has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Gerontology from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Phineas Baxandall, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
Phineas Baxandall is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, focusing on transportation and tax revenue, as well as local aid in the state budget. Before joining MassBudget, Phineas directed the Transportation and Tax & Budget programs for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and its network of 30 state affiliate organizations.
Prior to his work with U.S. PIRG, Phineas was Assistant Director at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was a teaching fellow for eight years at Harvard’s Committee for Degrees in Social Studies, where he lectured on social policy and political economy. He was a long-time editorial board member for Dollars & Sense magazine.
Phineas earned a Ph.D. from MIT in Political Science and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
Tim Bell, Chicago Workers Collaborative and Chicago Worker Collaborative’s Worker Theater
Tim Bell is the Executive Director of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, a worker center which promotes the rights of workers in the temporary services industry to fully regulated, stable employment. Tim has been involved in worker and community organizing for the past 28 years. He spent the beginning of his career in Mexico participating in community organizing efforts grounded in liberation pedagogy before returning to his home town of Chicago. In Chicago, he applied liberatory pedagogy principles and methods to the development of an adult education center for immigrants at Erie Neighborhood House. His involvement in the Chicago area temp workers’ rights movement evolved directly from the worker leaders at Erie House in the late 1990s. Since co-founding the Chicago Workers Collaborative in 2003, he has created a model for connecting temp workers with academic, media, union, legal and government resources and led efforts to pass eight pieces of legislation, including the only regulations in the United States that govern the misuse of E-verify immigration checks and the strongest regulations of the temp industry in the U.S.
Annette Bernhardt, UC Berkeley Labor Center
Annette Bernhardt is director of the Low-Wage Work Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, as well as a senior researcher at Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. She recently was visiting professor in the UC Berkeley sociology department, as well as a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Her current research focuses on domestic outsourcing, the gig economy, and the impact of new technologies on low-wage work. Her most recent book is the co-edited The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market.
Eric Blanc, Jacobin
Author of the forthcoming book Red State Revolt (Verso 2019) on the strike wave, Eric Blanc is a political sociologist and doctoral student at New York University. A former high school teacher, he writes on labor movements past and present. He has been Jacobin magazine’s on-the-ground correspondent during the West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona public education strikes.
Ted Boettner, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
As the co-founding Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, Ted brings a wealth of experience and understanding of state fiscal issues. In addition to running the Center, Ted is the author of numerous reports on state tax and budget issues, economic development, and family economic security, including the annual “State of Working West Virginia.” Ted frequently presents policy proposals to the West Virginia Legislature and testifies before committees. He also regularly addresses statewide civic groups on state tax, budget and economic policies and is frequently quoted in news stories on those topics. In 2011, The State Journal named Ted “one of the most influential businesses leaders” in West Virginia. Ted also serves on the board of directors of Cabin Creek Health Systems, Legal Aid of West Virginia, The Dunn Foundation, and Mountain State Justice. He has also taught at West Virginia University Institute of Technology and West Virginia University.
Ted holds a B.S. in journalism from West Virginia University and a M.A. in political science from the University of New Hampshire.
Andrew Bradley, Indiana Institute for Working Families
Andrew Bradley has been Senior Policy Analyst for the Indiana Institute for Working Families since 2012. Andrew’s policy portfolio includes higher education, workforce and economic development, as well as EARN issues related to wages, jobs, and labor standards. Andrew has authored ‘The Status of Working Families in Indiana, 2018’ and ‘Clearing the Jobs Pathway: Removing Non-Academic Barriers to Adult Student Completion’ among other reports, policy briefs, and articles. He earned a B.A. in History from Indiana University-Bloomington and an A.M. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.
Matt Buelow, Washington Employment Security Department
Matt Buelow is the Paid Family and Medical Leave Policy and Rules Director for the Washington State Employment Security Department. He has worked for Employment Security since 2001 in various capacities. Before joining the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, he was the Unemployment Insurance Policy Manager for the State of Washington and the business lead for the state’s unemployment benefits modernization project. He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix. Matt and his wife of 12 years have a 2-year-old son.
Ryan Burke, AFL-CIO
Ryan Burke is a National AFL-CIO Senior Field Representative in the Midwest Region. Ryan was born and raised in Saint Louis and now lives there with his wife, daughter, and dog. Ryan graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Political Science and previously has run state legislative campaigns and worked as a legislative aide in the State Capitol. In his free time, Ryan likes to follow and play sports. Ryan was released by the National AFL-CIO manage the ‘No on Proposition A Campaign’ to repeal ‘Right-to-Work’, in which Missourians voted 67.5% to reject the legislature’s actions.
John Burbank, Economic Opportunity Institute
John Burbank has a Master of Public Administration from the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington and a B.A. from Evergreen State College. Before founding EOI, John was project manager of the Sand Point Community Housing Association, political director of the Washington State Labor Council, staff coordinator for the Washington State Senate, and director for the Community Labor Coalition in Rhode Island. He speaks Finnish and has published in the Journal of Finnish Studies. John is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. He has a faculty appointment with the Department of Health Services, University of Washington, as a clinical instructor in the School of Public Health.
Rebecca Burns, In These Times
Rebecca Burns is an award-winning investigative reporter whose work has appeared in The Baffler, the Chicago Reader, The Intercept and other outlets. She is a contributing editor at In These Times.
Monique Ching, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
Monique Ching is a Policy Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center focusing on human services and juvenile justice. She also handles media inquiries for MassBudget. Her background is in journalism, reporting on local and state government in Texas. Monique holds a Masters Degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.
Seemi Choudry, Chicago Mayor’s Office of New Americans
Born and raised in Venezuela, Seemi is the child of Pakistani immigrants who moved her family of six to Chicago in the late 1990s. In 2010, she graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in political science and Spanish. Since then, she has worked in community development, program management, conflict mediation, and financial technology. All the while, Seemi has fostered a strong interest in serving Chicago’s immigrant communities. In 2016, she joined the Chicago’s Mayor’s Office as Director of the Office of New Americans where she works on public policy and programs directly impacting the city’s immigrant and refugee populations.
Teresa Córdova, University of Illinois at Chicago – Great Cities Institute
Teresa Córdova is the Director of the Great Cities Institute (GCI) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also Professor of Urban Planning and Policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) and an affiliate faculty of UIC’s Departments of Sociology, Gender and Women Studies, and Latino and Latin American Studies. Professor Córdova received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dan Crawford, Economic Policy Institute
Dan Crawford joined EPI in 2013. As the media relations director, Dan helps craft EPI’s external communications, works to promote EPI’s research in the press and on social media, and edits Working Economics, the EPI blog. He is a veteran of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and served at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Dan holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.
Stacy Davis Gates, Chicago Teachers’ Union
Stacy Davis Gates is the Director of Intergovernmental Relations and Public Affairs at the Teachers Union. While at the CTU, Ms. Davis Gates has been the architect of bold political and legislative campaigns for the schools and city that all Chicagoans deserve. In 2015, she raised resources for a coordinated challenge to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his rubber-stamp City Council and coordinated a collaborative effort to pass a voter referendum for an elected school board in 37 out of Chicago’s 50 wards. Most recently, she has led campaigns to pass statewide legislation for an elected school board, strengthen charter operator regulations, and fund public education through an elimination of tax breaks and slush funds for the 1%. In 2017, Ms. Davis Gates was elected Chair of United Working Families, an independent political organization by and for working class people and our movements. She also serves as a board member for ACRE, The Action Center on Race & the Economy, a nexus for organizations working at the intersection of racial justice and Wall Street accountability.
Ms. Davis Gates is currently on leave from the classroom, where she taught high school social studies for over a decade. She attended Saint Mary’s College, the University of Notre Dame, and Concordia University. Ms. Davis Gates lives on the Southside with her husband and three children.
Laura Dresser, COWS
Laura Dresser is Associate Director of COWS. A labor economist and expert on low-wage work and workforce development systems, she has both written about ways to build stronger labor market systems and worked extensively with labor, business, and community leaders in building them. Laura has written low-wage jobs, care work, inequality, and labor market reform. A co-editor of The Gloves-Off Economy, she is currently working issues on the connections between quality care, quality jobs, and minimum wages.
Katie Endicott, West Virginia Education Association
Katie Endicott is a high-school English teacher in Mingo County, West Virginia, and a member of the West Virginia Education Association. Katie’s story has been shared via numerous broadcast, radio, print, and online news outlets, including The New York Times and The New Yorker.
Najah Farley, National Employment Law Project
Najah A. Farley is a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). At NELP, Ms. Farley has focused her work on federal advocacy and improving work quality. Prior to joining NELP, Ms. Farley was an Assistant Attorney General in the Labor Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General, where she investigated violations of New York State’s labor laws. Ms. Farley also investigated companies for their unlawful usage of non-competition agreements. Before her tenure with New York State, Ms. Farley was a trial attorney at the United States Department of Labor in Philadelphia. Ms. Farley received a J.D. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. from Yale University.
Maria Noel Fernandez, Working Partnerships USA
Maria Noel Fernandez joined Working Partnerships in 2013 and currently leads Silicon Valley Rising along with our community organizing strategies. Before joining WPUSA, she worked with the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council on a number of successful local campaigns. She was district director for the California State Speaker Pro Tempore, community organizer through Sacred Heart Community Service’s policy and organizing department, on the staff of then San Jose Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez and teaching English and Social Studies in Bogota, Colombia. Maria Noel is also a board member of Californians for Justice and the National Partnership for Working Families.
Jane Flanagan, Office of the Illinois Attorney General
Jane Flanagan is Chief of the Workplace Rights Bureau within the Office of the Attorney General of Illinois. In this role Ms. Flanagan investigates and litigates cases involving unpaid wages, patterns of employment discrimination, labor trafficking, overuse of non-competition agreements, and other labor and employment violations. She advises on policy matters and has helped spearhead multistate investigations into issues such as on-call employee scheduling and, more recently, use of no-poach/no-hire agreements by fast food franchises. Ms. Flanagan has played a key role in several state-level legislative initiatives include drafting and negotiating passage of a bill to regulate the use of payroll cards as a form of wage payment. Prior to relocating to Chicago, Ms. Flanagan spent several years as counsel to Maryland’s Commissioner of Labor and Industry.
Alexa Frankenberg, SEIU
Alexa Frankenberg, Deputy Director for SEIU’s California Child Care Team, is leading SEIU’s new model work in child care in California. She led the joint International-State Council-Local Union effort to pass Measure A in Alameda County and supported the launch of Raising Alameda, a 501c4 organization for early educators. She has spearheaded organizing through training work in California, including establishing groundbreaking SEIU ECE apprenticeships in multiple child care sectors and encouraging replication in other states. She has had a leadership role in SEIU’s family child care organizing efforts of the 50,000 family child care providers in California for a decade.
Allan Freyer, Workers’ Rights at NC Justice Center
Allan Freyer is the Director of Workers’ Rights at the North Carolina Justice Center, where he oversees the Center’s policy and campaign efforts aimed at helping North Carolina’s low-wage workers earn higher wages, receive adequate health and safety protections, and access crucial work family supports like paid leave and unemployment insurance. He also has extensive experience writing and advocating for smarter, more equitable economic development policies. Before joining the Justice Center in 2011, he worked as a policy advisor for three members of Congress and as an economic development consultant to universities and local governments. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Duke University and a Masters and Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which makes basketball season confusing.
Katrina Gamble, Sojourn Strategies
Katrina Gamble, PhD is principal and owner of Sojourn Strategies, a consulting firm that works with social justice organizations to build impactful campaigns, innovative programs and research driven messages. Gamble has deep experience working on democracy, criminal justice, and electoral justice issues. She has served as campaign manager for the Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME) in Illinois and Maryland resulting in successful passage of Automatic Voter Registration in both states. Prior to founding Sojourn Strategies, Gamble was the national political director at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). During her time at CPD she launched the organization’s Voting Rights & Democracy program and provided direct support to more than a dozen state organizations that drove political and GOTV programs that contacted more than 1 million low-propensity voters across the country.
Robyn Garwood, Office of Minneapolis Council Member Cam Gordon
Robin Garwood is senior policy aide to Minneapolis Second Ward Council Member Cam Gordon, and a board member of FairVote Minnesota. He worked to pass ranked choice voting in Minneapolis in 2006, ensure its implementation in 2009, and has been active in campaigns under RCV in 2009, 2013, and 2017.
Tasha Green Cruzat, Voices for Illinois Children
Tasha R. Green Cruzat joined Voices for Illinois Children as its president in March 2016 with more than twenty-five years of experience in the public and private sectors of education, business, and government. Immediately prior to joining Voices, Tasha served as the Chief of Staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, where she was responsible for an operating budget of $4.2 billion. Previously, Tasha was with the State of Illinois as the Senior Management Advisor to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and before that as the Chief Operating Officer for Central Management Services, one of the largest state agencies, with an operating budget of $4.5 billion.
Prior to joining the State of Illinois, Ms. Cruzat was the Executive Director of High Jump, a non-profit organization devoted to providing enriched academic opportunities for talented, low-income middle-school students in Chicago. Ms. Cruzat dedicated six years of active duty service in the United States Navy, where she received awards including the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. In 2009, Tasha was appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to the Illinois Reform Commission — an independent advisory group of commissioners whose role was to examine Illinois government practices and ethics, and make recommendations for cleaning up state government.
Tasha holds a BA in Political Science from Brooklyn College, an MA in Education Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. Ms. Cruzat was born in the city of Chicago and raised in Evanston, Illinois. She is married to Edward Cruzat, and currently lives in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. In her spare time, Tasha enjoys mentoring children, playing golf and tennis, along with spending time with her family.
Ana Gonzalez, Workers Defense Project
Ana Gonzalez is the Policy Advocate for the Workers Defense Project. Ana was born in El Paso, TX and raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Ana worked in the Texas State Legislature since 2013; in 2015, after session ended she decided to join the Workers Defense Project due to her passion to help her community. Ana had led lead strategic policy local and state campaigns, and is devoted to ensure immigrant families and workers have a voice at levels of government.
Hannah Halbert, Policy Matters Ohio
Hannah Halbert is a project director at Policy Matters Ohio. Hannah came to Policy Matters from the Equal Justice Foundation and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus – in both places she represented low-income consumers who had been victimized by predatory lenders of different types. Hannah has both a master’s in nonprofit management and a law degree from Hamline University. Her undergraduate degree is from Transylvania University.
Amy Hanauer, Policy Matters Ohio
Amy Hanauer is the founding executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, which creates a more equitable, vibrant and inclusive Ohio through research, coalition building and policy advocacy. She has a master’s of public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Cornell University. Before starting Policy Matters in 2000, Amy did research and policy work in Wisconsin, Colorado and Washington D.C. In addition to running Policy Matters, Amy does research on work, wages, tax policy, energy policy and other issues. Amy is vice chair of the board of directors of the national think tank Demos, and serves on governing bodies for the national Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), and the national State Priorities Partnership. She also helps steer some economic vitality efforts in Cleveland. In America’s most important swing state, Amy provides a passionate voice about how to make an economy that works for all.
Desiree Hanford, Medill School of Journalism
Desiree Hanford is a lecturer and director of academic integrity and appeals at Medill. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses that include news reporting and business and money reporting. She is the co-faculty adviser for the Northwestern Business Review and the faculty adviser for the student chapter of the Association of Women in Sports Media. In addition, Desiree is a contributing editor for a B2B publication.
While at Medill, Desiree has served as acting director of undergraduate education and has worked closely with the Medill Office of Student Life. Desiree joined the Medill faculty full time in November 2009 when she became Medill’s Journalism Residency Coordinator, a position she had for nearly five years. She was an adjunct instructor at Medill for three years while still reporting.
Outside of Medill, Desiree was an equities reporter for Dow Jones & Co. for more than 10 years, where she predominantly covered publicly traded companies and mutual funds. While at Dow Jones, Desiree’s work appeared on Dow Jones Newswires, The Wall Street Journal and other national publications. She also worked for the Associated Press and other news organizations and magazines, and she has freelanced for several publications, including The New York Times.
Maria Harmon, Step Up Louisiana
maria Harmon is the co-director and co-founder of Step Up Louisiana. Maria is from Lake Charles, LA and is a fierce education advocate and social justice organizer. Her experiences working with parents, congregations and on political campaigns drive the work of Step Up Louisiana. Maria hols an MPA from Southern University in Baton Rouge.
Lucero Herrera, UCLA Labor Center
A native of Colombia, Lucero pursued her undergraduate studies in sociology at the University of Chicago and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA. Before moving to LA, she worked for human rights and community-based organizations and conducted research on the impact of forced displacement on social integration and urban dynamics in Colombia. During her time at UCLA, she was part of the Community Scholars Class of 2013 where worker leaders and students developed materials to support worker centers in Los Angeles. Lucero then joined the UCLA Labor Center research team and has been conducting research on low-wage industries and workers.
Steve Herzenberg, Keystone Research Center
Stephen Herzenberg is the Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center (KRC) (www.keystoneresearch.org), a Pennsylvania-based, independent, non-partisan economic research and policy organization, which also houses the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Dr. Herzenberg holds a Ph.D. in economics from MIT. His research has focused on the U.S. and global auto industry, the rise of the service-dominated new economy, the challenges unions face adapting to the new economy, workforce development, economic development, industry studies including early childhood education, long-term care, manufacturing, and construction, and a state policy issues generally. His writings for KRC are available at www.keystoneresearch.org, including The State of Working Pennsylvania, published annually since 1996). His publications for national audiences include Losing Ground in Early Childhood Education, Economic Policy Institute, 2005; New Rules for a New Economy: Employment and Opportunity in Postindustrial America, Cornell/ILR press, 1998; and U.S.-Mexico Trade: Pulling Together or Pulling Apart? Office of Technology Assessment, United States Congress, September 1992.
Before joining Keystone, Steve taught at Rutgers University and worked at the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL). At USDOL, he served as assistant to the chief negotiator of the labor side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Ken Jacobs, UC Berkeley Labor Center
Ken Jacobs is the Chair of the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, where he has been a Labor Specialist since 2002. His areas of focus include low-wage work, labor standards policies, and health care coverage. Recent research includes analyses the effects of unions on wages and benefits in California, prospective studies of proposed city and state minimum wage laws, and analyses of the public cost of low-wage work. Jacobs is the co-editor with Michael Reich and Miranda Dietz of “When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level.”
Andrea Johnson, National Women’s Law Center
@nwlc \ @andylynnjo
Andrea is Senior Counsel for State Policy at NWLC. She coordinates efforts to advance state policies across NWLC’s workplace justice, income security, education, and reproductive rights and health teams, while working directly on legislation and litigation related to pay discrimination, sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and unfair scheduling practices. Prior to joining the Center, Andrea was a law clerk for the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the Honorable Eric T. Washington, Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Andrea served as a Legislative Aide for Congresswoman Betty McCollum from Minnesota before law school. She received a law degree from Columbia Law School and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and French from Macalester College.
David Dyssegaard Kallick, Fiscal Policy Institute
David Dyssegaard Kallick joined Fiscal Policy Institute as Senior Fellow in 2001, and since 2007 has also directed FPI’s Immigration Research Initiative. In 2017, he was named Deputy Director of FPI. Prior to his work with the Fiscal Policy Institute, Kallick was Senior Fellow at the Preamble Center, and before that spent eight years as editor of Social Policy magazine. He is a frequent commentator in the media, and his writings have been published in the New York Times, Daily News, Newsday, and a wide range of other media outlets. He is a graduate of Yale University, and can make presentations in French, German, and Danish.
Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center
Tia Koonse is the Legal and Policy Research Manager at the UCLA Labor Center, where she provides legal research on low-wage industries and program support for ReWork: The Worker Justice Institute and the Black Worker Center. She holds a law and a master’s degree (’11) in urban planning from UCLA’s Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, with concentrations in Critical Race Studies and Community Development and Housing. She was co-Editor-in-Chief of the Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal and her student note, “There Is No There, There: How Anti-Discrimination Successes for Trans Litigants Under the Categories of Sex and Disability Can Further the Intersex Rights Movement,” won the 2008 Dukeminier Awards Student Writing Competition for best note on issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the law.
Steve Kreisberg, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Steven Kreisberg is the Director of Research and Collective Bargaining Services with AFSCME. This position serves as the International Union’s focal point for collective bargaining, health and pension benefits, and the development of AFSCME’s public policies on health care and retirement security. In addition, the Department leads the International Union’s efforts on issues related to workplace health and safety, public finance, privatization and outsourcing and provides support for local affiliates’ state and local government legislative agendas. Prior to joining the AFSCME staff in 1994, Mr. Kreisberg served on the staffs of the American Nurses Association and the National Treasury Employees Union, and was the Executive Director of the National Federation of Federal Employees. In addition, Mr. Kreisberg served in the elected positions of President and Vice President of Locals affiliated with the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO and has also been a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the New York State Public Employee Federation (SEIU/AFT), AFL-CIO. He has served in the capacity of a full time professional staff person in the labor movement since 1981.
Mr. Kreisberg has served on the New Jersey State Health Benefits Design Committee, the New Jersey Local Pension Committee and URAC’s Board of Directors. Mr. Kreisberg has a Bachelors of Science degree from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and had served on the School’s Alumni Board of Directors.
Gordon Lafer, University of Oregon
Gordon Lafer is a professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education & Research Center and a Research Associate with EPI. He has written widely on labor, employment and education policy and in 2009-10 served as Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor. Since 2011, his work has focused largely on state legislation and has included testifying as an expert witness before multiple state legislatures. His most recent book is The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time (Cornell Univ Press, 2017).
Ed Lazere, DC Fiscal Policy Institute
Ed has led the work of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute since its inception in 2001. Under his leadership, DCFPI has become the primary source of independent information on the DC budget and one of the most influential policy organizations focused on the District. Lazere is recognized as a leading expert on the District’s budget and tax system, and he is looked to as a resource on a number of policy issues such as affordable housing and welfare-to-work programs. Ed’s work at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has received numerous honors, including awards from Bread for the City, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the DC Employment Justice Center, the DC Primary Care Association, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, DC Jobs With Justice, and the Healthy Families/Thriving Communities Collaborative Council. Ed served as the Chair of the Public Education Finance Reform Commission in 2011-2012 and a member of the DC Tax Revision Commission in 2012-2013. Lazere also serves on the board of directors of a number of local non-profits, including the DC Primary Care Association and Temple Micah. He also is a member of the emeritus board of the Children’s Law Center.
Ed earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a Master’s in public policy from the University of Maryland.
Ashley Lidow, South Carolina Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN)
@WRENetwork / @craashy
Ashley is the Associate Director of Policy & Government Relations at WREN, leading research and policy objectives with the SC General Assembly. The driving force behind the SC Coalition for Healthy Families’, Ashley fosters effective collaboration with organizations and individuals working to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights. She is a member of the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council Advocates Advisory Board. She holds a Master’s in Public Health, has co-authored research on how policy-level interventions benefit public health, and serves as an advisor on local, state, and federal levels.
Leah Levinger, Chicago Housing Initiative
Leah Levinger is the founding director of the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI), a citywide coalition comprised of nine community-based organizations working to amplify the power of low income individuals to expand low-rent housing. Since 2005, Leah has served as a tenant organizer with residents on the front lines of gentrification. From 2005-2010, Leah worked alongside residents of Grove Parc Plaza Apartments with Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), supporting residents of the dilapidated subsidized housing in their fight for new owners, one-for-one replacement of all 504 subsidized units, and a binding relocation rights contract. In 2010, Leah began staffing CHI’s campaign to reform the Chicago Housing Authority. Leah’s work at CHI enabled ground-breaking exposes in the Chicago Reporter, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Huffington Post which unmasked CHA’s waste of public housing units and vouchers and propelled CHA to lease over 2,400 long-vacant units and release 3,200 more housing vouchers. Currently, Leah’s work with CHI focuses on securing structural reform of CHA by passing the Keeping the Promise Ordinance, which will strengthen City Council’s oversight, institute a policy of one-for-one replacement in all future redevelopments, and provide affordable housing to 12,000 additional families at no cost to the City budget.
Alden Loury, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio
In July 2018, Alden joined WBEZ as senior editor of the race, class and communities desk, which provides enterprise reporting on those topics as well as housing, immigration and employment. Previously, Alden served as the director of research and evaluation for the Metropolitan Planning Council for two years where he examined and wrote about population loss, demographic shifts, job trends and racial segregation. Prior to joining MPC, Alden served as an investigator and later as a policy analyst for the Better Government Association. In more than four years at the BGA, Alden documented abuses with legislative scholarships, campaign finance expenditures and ward remapping and later analyzed data and lobbied for reforms to increase government transparency, efficiency and accountability. Prior to joining the BGA, Alden spent 12 years at The Chicago Reporter, initially as a reporter, then senior editor and finally as publisher. He authored, edited or provided research for more than 50 investigative projects examining the impact of race and class in drug sentencing, jury verdicts, jury selection, lottery ticket sales, fatal police shootings and subprime mortgage lending, among others.
Alden is a Chicago native who grew up in the LeClaire Courts public housing development and later the Auburn Gresham community on the city’s south side. He is married with three daughters.
David Lujan, Arizona Center for Economic Progress
Lujan is the Director of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies to create jobs and grow the Arizona economy. David is an Arizona native who served in the Arizona legislature from 2005 until 2013. He was first elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2004, representing most of the central Phoenix area. He served three terms in the House from 2005 until 2011, and one term in the Senate from 2012-2013. He was the House Minority Leader from 2009-2011. While in the House of Representatives, Lujan was the Ranking Democrat on the House Education committee and served on the Appropriations committee. Lujan received many awards while serving in the legislature, including being named Public Official of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers. For most of his time in the legislature, Lujan also held a second elected office, serving as a school board member for the Phoenix Union High School District. Upon becoming Board President, Lujan led efforts to unanimously pass a resolution urging Congress to pass the Dream Act, providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant students. At the time, the Phoenix Union Board was one of the first elected bodies in Arizona to pass such a resolution. Lujan became an Arizona State Senator on January 11, 2012 when he was appointed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to complete the term of Kyrsten Sinema who resigned to run for the United States Congress.
Jawanza Brian Malone, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization
Jawanza Malone is the Executive Director for the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) on Chicago’s Southside; one of the oldest membership-based grassroots community organizations in Chicago dedicated to serving low-income and working families. Prior to serving as Executive Director, Jawanza has held different posts within KOCO – volunteer, board member, program coordinator, and community organizer. As an organizer, Jawanza worked with public housing residents and legal aides to defeat the Chicago Housing Authority’s proposal to mandate annual drug testing for its family and senior housing residents. Jawanza’s extensive background in community organizing and program development has led him to work in both the public and private sectors, philanthropy, and with communities on five continents. Jawanza has received a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master of the Arts degree in Community Counseling from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University. Jawanza seeks to live in accordance with the Kenyan proverb, “Treat the world well for it was not given to you by your parents, it was lent to you by your children.”
Ralph Martire, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability
In addition to his role as the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), Ralph is the Arthur Rubloff Endowed Professor of Public Policy at Roosevelt University. CTBA is a bipartisan 501(c)(3) think tank committed to ensuring that state, federal and local workforce, education, fiscal, economic and budget policies are fair and just, and to promoting opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or income class. During his time at CTBA, Ralph helped obtain numerous legislative successes (including passage of the Evidence Based Model of Education Funding in FY2018, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, creation of a bipartisan legislative task force to integrate workforce and economic development policies, passage of the 2011 Temporary Tax Increases, corporate accountability legislation that, among other things, requires public reporting of economic development benefits created through receipt of tax breaks and other subsidies, decoupling Illinois tax policy from the federal bonus depreciation rules, and federal repeal of the estate tax).
Appointed in 2018 to serve on the legislatively established “Professional Review Panel,” charged with monitoring the implementation of Illinois’ new school funding formula—the “Evidence Based Formula,” and making recommendations to improve said formula to the Illinois General Assembly over the 2018-2023 sequence.
Ralph also served as a member of the Equity and Excellence in Education Commission, established by Congress during the Obama Administration as part of the Civil Rights Division of the Federal Department of Education.
Amber McReynolds, National Vote at Home Institute and the National Vote at Home Coalition
Amber McReynolds is the Executive Director of the National Vote at Home Institute and the National Vote at Home Coalition – entities created to remove barriers to voter participation by encouraging the widespread adoption of Vote at Home (“V@H”) friendly practices, policies, and laws for all U.S. elections. Amber was previously the director of elections for the city of Denver, CO. Under her leadership, Denver Elections earned national awards from the Election Center and the National Association of Counties for Ballot TRACE, a first-in-the-nation ballot tracking, reporting and communication engine and eSign, as well as other innovations. Denver also received a ‘Clearie’ Award from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, International Electoral Awards for Ballot TRACE and eSign from the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies, and other technology recognitions. She serves on the Advisory Board for the MIT Election and Data Science Lab, the Circle of Advisors for Democracy Fund’s Election Validation Project, and the Council of State Government’s Overseas Voting Initiative.
Andrea Mitchell, Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park
Andrea Mitchell is co-founder and administrator for Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park, an independent community group of Northwest Side neighbors (and Facebook group) working to make their community more accessible, tolerant, and inclusive. For Mitchell, a homeowner in the almost-suburban, majority-white Jefferson Park neighborhood in Chicago, she decided to form the group with like-minded community members after hearing dog whistles at a neighborhood meeting regarding the proposed construction of a low-income housing development. The group represents a grassroots constituency of those strongly supportive of the inclusion of affordable and CHA-subsidized housing in local developments, calling out appeals to social exclusion, homeowner entitlement, and racist paranoia in zoning committee and community meetings.
Representative Christian Mitchell, Illinois General Assembly
Christian L. Mitchell is a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing District 26. Mitchell was first elected to the chamber in 2012. Mitchell is running for re-election in 2018. Previously, he had working as a community organizer and deputy field director for the Lisa Madigan re-election campaign, as well as campaign manager for Will Burns, Alderman, 4th Ward, in 2010. In July 2018, Mitchell was named the interim executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Mitchell earned his Bachelor’s in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago.
Ed Muir, American Federation of Teachers
Ed Muir directs the team in the AFT Research Department that supports AFT affiliates on state policy issues. His work has appeared in the Journal of Education Finance, Educational Considerations and other scholarly journals. He is a former board member of the American Education Finance Association. He defended his doctoral dissertation in American Government in 1995 and has worked at AFT since 1996. He formerly taught in New York City Public Schools, CUNY, NYU and the George Washington University. Ed holds a Ph.D. from New York University in American Government and Politics.
William Munn, NC Justice Center
William Munn joined the Budget & Tax Center (BTC), a project of the North Carolina Justice Center, in February 2017 as a Policy Analyst. His expertise is grounded in community engagement in culturally diverse and transient communities. As a former intermediary between federal agencies, local government and marginalized communities in eastern North Carolina, William has advocated for public policy that promotes equity and shared prosperity. William earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Fayetteville State University, Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Carl Nadler, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics
Carl Nadler is a labor economist and postdoctoral scholar at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED) at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, where he works on research related to the minimum wage. Prior to joining CWED, Carl was an associate at Cornerstone Research. He received a PhD in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016.
Edgar Ortiz, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)
Edgar Ortiz is a Research and Policy Analyst with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). As a researcher, Edgar works on LAANE’s Fair Work Week LA, and Reclaim Our Schools LA campaigns, respectively. Before joining LAANE, Edgar worked for the Los Angeles City Controller, where he focused on making City departmental data more transparent to the public through data visualizations, analysis, and web design. He received his Master’s in Public Policy degree at the University of Southern California, and his Bachelor of Arts in political science degree from the University of La Verne. Edgar is a native Los Angeleno.
Cassandra Overton Welchlin, Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative & Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable
Cassandra Overton Welchlin is co-convener of MS Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR) an intergenerational civic engagement statewide network of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) at the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls. Prior to joining MS BWR, she cofounded and launched an ambitious and progressive MS Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI), founded as a project of MS Low Income Child Care Initiative. MWESI is rooted at the intersections of race, gender and poverty.
Cassandra is a daughter of the South, raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a wife and mother of three beautiful and amazing children. She holds an undergraduate degree from Jackson State University and is a licensed social worker. In 2005, she received a Master’s from Brandies University at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
Ana Pardo, North Carolina Justice Center
Ana Pardo is the Policy Advocate for the Workers’ Rights Project of the North Carolina Justice Center, where she coordinates campaigns for policies that benefit working people. An organizer at heart, Ana has worked for nearly two decades at the intersections of environmental, agricultural, labor and immigration justice. Ana spent most of her formative years in small-town rural North Carolina, and her experiences witnessing economic, gender and racial oppression and violence in her community informed her path as an advocate. She currently calls Raleigh, North Carolina home.
Molly Parker, The Southern Illinoisan
Molly Parker is a reporter at The Southern Illinoisan who’s been covering the housing and economic crisis in Cairo, in southern Illinois, for the past two-and-a-half years. She is one of seven reporters selected to join ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, a yearlong initiative that aims to boost local, investigative reporting by partnering with and paying the salaries of journalists in cities with populations below 1 million.
Harish Patel, Chicago Votes
Harish Patel is the co-founder of Chicago Votes, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement among young people that played a critical role in passing two landmark pieces of voting rights legislation in Illinois. Harish is also a social entrepreneur at Accelerate Change, a joint initiative of SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights that supports community organizations that advocate for policies to improve the lives of immigrants, new residents, and their neighbors.
Maya Pinto, National Employment Law Project
Maya Pinto is a senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. At NELP, her research focuses on wage standards, occupational health and safety, workforce demographics, and the structure of employment in low-wage industries. Pinto has over a decade of experience doing research and policy work at community and labor organizations, including the Service Employees International Union and the Alliance for a Greater New York. Her work has supported organizing and policy campaigns to raise standards for workers in the building.
Gabriela Quintana, Economic Opportunity Institute
Gabriela earned a Masters of Social Work from Boston University and a BA in Political Science from the University of Washington. Prior to joining EOI, Gabriela managed her own consulting business where she worked on social and racial justice issues such as the panhandling ordinance in Seattle, the voting restoration rights bill in Olympia as well as on some state-wide initiatives such as the domestic partnership and the anti-liquor privatization initiatives.
Michelle Randolph, Kentucky Education Association
Michelle Randolph is a French teacher in Jefferson County, Kentucky, and a member of the West Virginia Education Association. Michelle has shared her account of the Kentucky teachers’ strike with numerous news outlets.
Nari Rhee, University of California Berkeley Labor Center
Nari Rhee, Ph.D., is Director of the Retirement Security Program at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Her current research focuses on the retirement crisis facing California and the US in the context of declining pension coverage, and policies to improve the retirement income prospects of low- and middle- wage workers. Before returning to the Labor Center in November 2014, she served for two years as Manager of Research at the National Institute on Retirement Security. She formerly held appointments as a Postdoctoral Scholar, Visiting Scholar, and Associate Academic Specialist at the Labor Center. Dr. Rhee has written on a wide range of issues related to pensions and retirement security, including public pension reform, international pension systems, and retirement plan design. Her analysis of the retirement savings crisis and its racial dimensions has received broad media coverage and informed policy debates at the state and national levels.
Dr. Rhee’s previous work engaged a range of issues related to the economic security of low-wage workers, including care work, income inequality, housing affordability, uneven regional development, and labor-community coalition building. She earned a Ph.D. in Geography from UC Berkeley in 2007, an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA in 1998, and a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 1996.
Rob Richie, FairVote
Rob Richie has been the leader of FairVote since co-founding the organization in 1992; he was named president and CEO in 2018. He has played a key role in advancing, winning, and implementing electoral reforms at the local and state levels. Richie has been involved in implementing ranked choice voting in more than a dozen cities, cumulative voting in numerous Voting Rights Act cases, the National Popular Vote plan in 11 states, and promoting voter access proposals like voter preregistration and a lower voting age.
Joel Rogers, COWS
Joel Rogers is the Sewell-Bascom Professor of Law, Political Science, Public Affairs, and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also directs COWS, the national high-road strategy center. Rogers has written widely on American politics and democratic theory. Along with many articles, his books include The Hidden Election, On Democracy, Right Turn, Metro Futures, Associations and Democracy, Works Councils, Working Capital, What Workers Want, Cites at Work, and American Society. Joel is an active citizen as well as academic. He has worked with and advised many politicians and social movement leaders, initiated and helped operate several progressive NGOs (including the New Party, Economic Analysis Research Network, Apollo Alliance, Emerald Cities Collaborative, State Innovation Exchange, and the EPIC [Educational Partnership for Innovation in Communities] – Network). He is a contributing editor of The Nation and Boston Review, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Fellow, and identified by Newsweek as one of the 100 living Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the 21st century.
David Schaefer, Latin American Association
David Schaefer joined the Latin American Association in 2014 as the Managing Director of Advocacy. Prior to coming to the LAA, Schaefer worked in immigration law and higher education as a paralegal, attorney, grant writer, editor, and associate chief of staff, where he focused on immigration issues and policy. David holds a JD, MA, and BA, all with a focus on politics, immigration, and international affairs. He has been a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, served as legislative chair for the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies (Atlanta) and is licensed to practice law in Georgia and North Carolina.
Jessica Schieder, Economic Policy Institute & Economic Analysis and Research Network
Jessica Schieder is an economic analyst for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). Her research focuses on executive compensation, gender and racial wage gaps, and social protection. She works with EARN to provide technical support to the Network’s member organizations. Prior to joining EPI, Schieder worked at the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) for three years as a fiscal policy analyst, where she examined how budget and tax policy decisions impact working families. She has also conducted research on gendered labor market outcomes as a consultant with the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs unit. She holds a master’s degree in international development from Georgetown University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in international political economy from the same institution.
Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Chicago Urban League
Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Ph.D. is the Vice President and Executive Director of the Research and Policy Center, newly relaunched in the summer of 2016. She brings over fifteen years of experience in research and evaluation to the position, and has been employed with the League since 2013. In her current role, Bechteler implements and oversees all of the research activities of the Chicago Urban League, including internal research activities (program development and program performance monitoring; organizational evaluations) to improve organizational impact and external research activities (community and policy landscape analyses, research reports and briefs) to inform the League’s policy and advocacy efforts. Prior to joining the Chicago Urban League, Bechteler was the Associate Director of Research and Policy for the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University. During her time at Roosevelt University, she examined the role of Illinois drug policies in the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans and promoted public health approaches to reduce substance use and overdose deaths. Bechteler received her A.M. from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 2006 and her Ph.D. in Social Work from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois in 2015.
Eric Shansby, Economic Policy Institute
Eric Shansby is a cartoonist and illustrator for various American periodicals, including The Washington Post. He works as Online and Creative Director for the Economic Policy Institute.
Heidi Shierholz, Economic Policy Institute
Heidi Shierholz is the Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, DC. Prior to joining EPI, she was Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. Her research on labor and employment policy, on the effects of automation on the labor market, on wage stagnation, inequality, and other topics has been cited in many broadcast, radio, print, and online news outlets, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. Shierholz has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in statistics from Iowa State University, and a B.A. in mathematics from Grinnell College.
Kevin Simowitz, Caring Across Generations
Prior to joining the Caring Across Generations campaign in 2015 as the Political Director, Kevin worked as the Organizing Director at Maine People’s Alliance and helped lead the Rebuild Maine field campaign, a coalition supporting progressive candidates in Maine during the 2014 cycle. While at Maine People’s Alliance, Kevin also directed the Maine Small Business Coalition, a group of more than 3000 progressive small business owners organized for social justice. Kevin got his start organizing as a student fighting for a living wage for university employees, and then worked as community organizer with Virginia Organizing. Kevin lives in Portland, Maine.
Taifa Smith Butler, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
Taifa Smith Butler is executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, where she leads and inspires the GBPI team to accomplish the organization’s mission and vision to improve economic opportunity for all Georgians. She is a problem solver, tireless champion for equity, working families and investing early in children — Georgia’s greatest asset. Taifa brings more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications, public policy research and data analysis in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Prior to joining the GBPI team as deputy director in 2011, she served as the policy and communications director for Georgia Family Connection Partnership where she co-managed the Georgia KIDS COUNT project and monitored public policy and its impact on children, families and communities. Taifa currently serves on the Demos board of directors, as well as the Betty & Davis Fitzgerald Foundation board of trustees. Taifa graduated from Mount Holyoke College and holds a master’s in public management and policy from the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University, with a concentration in economic development and financial management.
Andrew Stettner, The Century Foundation
Andrew Stettner is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation. His career as a non-profit leader spans 20 years of experience modernizing workforce protections and social insurance programs at every level, including community organizing, research, policy, and program development.
Kerrie Stewart, Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. – Queen City Metropolitan Chapter
Kerrie Stewart is a native of Louisiana and graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans. She received an MA in Sociology from UNC Charlotte, with concentration in race, gender, and class inequality. At UNC Charlotte, she coordinates a diversity and inclusion initiative and works in the ADVANCE Faculty Affairs & Diversity Office, to promote diversity and equity within the faculty. In the community, she is active in advocacy, guided by a black feminist framework, to advance social and economic justice for Black women and girls.
Cynthia Richie Terrell, RepresentWomen
Cynthia Richie Terrell is the founder and executive director of RepresentWomen (formerly Representation2020) and an outspoken advocate for rules & systems reforms to advance women’s representation and leadership in the United States. Terrell is also a co-founder of FairVote – a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a truly representative democracy. Terrell has worked on projects related to women’s representation and voting system reform in the United States and abroad.
Wesley Tharpe, Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Wesley Tharpe serves as research director at GBPI, where he coordinates the organization’s team of policy analysts and ensures all reports and analysis meet the highest standards. He also spearheads GBPI’s tax policy agenda and conducts research on a wide range of fiscal and economic issues. Wesley authored many reports since joining GBPI in 2011, including a blueprint for ways to improve Georgia’s tax system, a case for enacting a Georgia Earned Income Tax Credit, a detailed analysis of raising the minimum wage and a series of reports examining immigrants’ positive contributions to Georgia communities. His work also includes chief authorship of People-Powered Prosperity, GBPI’s first comprehensive vision to build a fair and inclusive Georgia where all people can thrive.
Wesley serves on the City of Atlanta’s Board of Ethics and is a member of LEAD Atlanta’s Class of 2017. A native of Fayetteville, Ga., Wesley graduated from the University of Georgia and holds a master’s in public policy from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Joe Thomas, Arizona Education Association
Joe Thomas is President of the Arizona Education Association (AEA) and a former teacher. Thomas has been an AEA member since 1997 and in that time has served the Association in several positions, including AEA Board of Directors member, Mesa Education Association (MEA) vice-president, AEA Government Relations and Legislative Task Force chair, Finance and Revenue Committee member, and MEA site representative. For the 20 years prior to becoming AEA President, Thomas was a public school teacher, most recently as a government teacher at Skyline High School in Mesa.
Thomas is an Arizona State Board of Education Certification Advisory Committee member and previously served on the School District Redistricting Commission from 2005 – 2008.
Thomas received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma in 1995 and his master’s in adult education and distance learning from the University of Phoenix. Thomas was born and raised in rural Oklahoma. He and his wife Valerie, a counselor in Higley, have three children.
Chandra Villanueva, Center for Public Policy Priorities
Chandra Villanueva oversees the Center’s work on education, workforce development and job quality. She joined CPPP in 2010 and focused on school finance and education policy ranging from early education to higher education access and success. Prior to joining the Center, Chandra was the manager of Advocacy and Public Policy with the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York City. At WPA, she educated formerly incarcerated women on the legislative process and researched options for pregnant women in the criminal justice system. Chandra has also served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center with placements in Tucson, Arizona and Washington, DC. Chandra earned a Master of Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Steve Viscelli, University of Pennsylvania
Steve Viscelli is a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies work, labor markets and public policy related to freight transportation, automation and energy. His first book, The Big Rig (UC Press, 2016), examines how long-haul trucking went from being one of the best to one of the toughest blue-collar jobs in the US. His current research explores the policy and politics of self-driving trucks and their potential impacts on labor and the environment. In addition to his academic research, he works with a wide variety of public and private stakeholders to solve real-world problems in freight transportation.
Saba Waheed, UCLA Labor Center
Saba Waheed is the research director at the UCLA Labor Center. Her work focuses on labor, in particular low-wage service industries such as taxis, restaurants, nail salons and domestic work, as well as sharing economy businesses like Uber and Lyft. Waheed’s research has informed campaigns and policy such as the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights and the Wage Theft Ordinance in San Francisco. Waheed also co-produces the the radio show “Re:Work,” a storytelling show about work on KPFK.
Naomi Walker, Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)
Naomi Walker joined the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in 2018 as director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a national network of more than 60 state-level policy research and advocacy organizations coordinated by EPI. Prior to joining EPI, Naomi Walker served as assistant to the president at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the nation’s largest and fastest-growing public services employees union, with more than 1.6 million active and retired members. In her role on the executive team of the union, she was responsible for coordinating AFSCME’s partnerships with allies and coalitions in order to build power for working families. Prior to joining AFSCME in 2012, Walker served as director of state government relations and deputy director of the government affairs department for the AFL-CIO, where she worked with national unions, state federations, state legislators, and allies to coordinate state legislative campaigns around the country, providing guidance on strategy, message, member mobilization, and research, as well as writing model legislation. Walker has coordinated state issue campaigns on a variety of issues, including fighting so-called “right-to-work” legislation and attacks on working families; exposing profitable corporations like Walmart that shift their health care costs onto state taxpayers; stopping the export of American jobs; and providing affordable health care for working families.
While at the AFL-CIO, Walker also served as assistant director of the AFL-CIO politics and field department, leading labor’s field campaign for the 2006 election cycle. She managed staff across the country as they coordinated labor’s political program to educate, mobilize, and turn out union members to vote.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University.
Marilyn Watkins, Economic Opportunity Institute
Marilyn Watkins, Policy Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, spearheaded the 2017 paid family and medical leave victory in Washington state and earlier city and state wins for paid sick days and gender equity. She serves as Clinical Assistant Professor in Health Services at the University of Washington, on the Washington State PFML Advisory Committee, and on the executive committee of Family Values @ Work. Before joining EOI in 1999, she worked as a historical consultant and taught Pacific Northwest and U.S. women’s history. She earned a B.A. at Harvard and Ph.D. in history at the University of Michigan.
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal government employees; and early childhood educators. Among other initiatives, she created the AFT Innovation Fund, a groundbreaking initiative to support sustainable, innovative and collaborative education reform projects developed by members and their local unions. Under Weingarten’s leadership, the AFT continues to grow and expand its voice as a union of professionals. In 2013, the National Federation of Nurses, representing 34,000 nurses, voted to affiliate, making the AFT the second-largest union of nurses in the country. The AFT has also expanded its higher education and public employee membership as well as building strength in the South and Southwest.
Prior to her election as AFT president in 2008, Weingarten served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education. In 2012-13, Weingarten served on an education reform commission convened by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which made a series of recommendations to improve teaching and learning. She was appointed to the Equity and Excellence Commission, a federal advisory committee chartered by Congress to examine and make recommendations concerning the disparities in educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap.
Weingarten holds degrees from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law. She is an active member of the Democratic National Committee and numerous professional, civic and philanthropic organizations. Born in 1957 and raised in Rockland County, N.Y., Weingarten now resides on Long Island and in Washington, D.C.
Kathy White, Colorado Fiscal Institute
Kathy White is the deputy director at the Colorado Fiscal Institute. She oversees many of the research projects at CFI and is considered a veteran advocate for policies that enhance economic prosperity for working families. Over a nearly 20-year career, White has worked on issues ranging from tax credits for low-income families to unemployment insurance and immigration reform.
Elizabeth Whiteway, Greater Boston Legal Services
Elizabeth Whiteway, a senior attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, represents low wage workers in employment matters and advocates for their legislative priorities at the Massachusetts State House. Elizabeth drafted and defended the successful 2014 earned sick time ballot initiative, and drafted the successful 2018 paid family and medical leave legislation for the Coalition for Social Justice and Raise Up Massachusetts. Elizabeth served on the board of Family Values at Work, a national network of 27 state and local coalitions helping spur the growing movement for family-friendly workplace policies such as earned sick time and family leave insurance.
Meg Wiehe, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
Meg is ITEP’s deputy director. She joined ITEP as its state tax policy director in 2010 after spending several years working on tax policy in her home state of North Carolina. She is responsible for coordinating ITEP’s federal and state tax policy agenda. Meg works closely with policymakers, legislative staff and state and national organizations to advise and provide research on policy solutions that will achieve fair and sustainable federal, state and local tax systems.
Meg is an expert on state tax policy issues. In particular, her analyses focus both on how tax and budget policies affect low- and moderate-income families as well as the intersection of tax and budget policies and state and local governments’ ability to fund basic public priorities, including education, infrastructure and health care. She is a lead author of ITEP’s flagship report, Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All Fifty States.
Before ITEP, Meg worked at the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center where her research and advocacy focused on the effect of state fiscal policy on low- and moderate-income North Carolinians. Her work in North Carolina included leading a successful campaign to enact a state refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and coordinating a statewide revenue coalition, Together NC.
Meg holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Virginia and a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She resides in Durham, N.C.
Corey Wiggins, Mississippi NAACP
Dr. Corey Wiggins, a Mississippi native, is currently the Executive Director of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. For over 10 years, Dr. Wiggins’s diverse professional career has focused on the translation of policy and research into practice. His professional career has included serving as a fellow in the United States Senate and as a policy analyst in the Mississippi State Legislature. In addition, has worked with private and non-profit organizations on a range of policy issues including education, healthcare, broadband and economic security. Dr. Wiggins previously held the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of Public Service at Jackson State University.
Dr. Wiggins completed his undergraduate studies at Alcorn State University. He also holds a Master of Science of Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Kedda Williams, The Opportunity Institute
Kedda is the Deputy Director of Partners for Each and Every Child, where she holds an internal leadership role focused on organizational strategic planning, human resources, and administration activities. Kedda continues to act as Senior Program Director of State and Local Networks, leading the strategy, development, and adaptation of national-level equity guidance that supports meaningful engagement at the state and local levels. Kedda’s work includes consulting with state educational agencies, district and school leadership, and local community-level stakeholders, building and maintaining partnerships, developing guidance on policy implementation, and designing and supporting state and regional convenings. Before joining the Opportunity Institute, Kedda was a senior policy advisor for EducationCounsel LLC where she worked on a range of education policy issues including those related to accountability, assessments, and school climate and culture. Prior to her work with Education Counsel, she worked for the New Jersey Department of Education as Director of Strategic Communications and Partnerships, and as a consultant to Newark Public Schools in the areas of college and career readiness, opportunity youth re-engagement, and new school operations. Kedda received her B.S. in Communication Studies from New York University, her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Lisa Xiong, Neighborhood Development Center
Lisa Xiong is the director of training for the Neighborhood Development Center in Minneapolis/St. Paul. She provides department oversight of entrepreneur training and workshops to diverse, low-income residents of the Minneapolis and St. Paul communities thus empowering entrepreneurs to create jobs and hire from their community. She was voted Hmong Woman of the Year in 2016 by Hmong Women Achieving Together!.
Sarah Zimmerman, SEIU California
Sarah Zimmerman is the Program Director at SEIU California for Retirement Security for All. Prior to becoming Director, Sarah was Deputy Chief of Staff of SEIU Local 1000. She has also worked as Assistant Research and Policy Director and Director of Fund-Raising for Working Partnerships USA and as International Delegation Coordinator for habitat for Humanity. Sarah holds master’s degrees in economics and historical studies from The New School, as well as a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago.
Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute
Ben Zipperer joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2016. His areas of expertise include the minimum wage, inequality, and low-wage labor markets. He has published research in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review and has been quoted in outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and the BBC. Prior to joining EPI, Ben was research economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. He is a senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a research associate at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley. Zipperer earned his B.S. in Mathematics at the University of Georgia, Athens, and his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.