Director of Research
Areas of expertise
Macroeconomics • Globalization • Social insurance • Public investment
Josh Bivens is the director of research at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). His areas of research include macroeconomics, fiscal and monetary policy, the economics of globalization, social insurance, and public investment. He frequently appears as an economics expert on news shows, including the Public Broadcasting Service’s “NewsHour,” the “Melissa Harris-Perry” show on MSNBC, WAMU’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and programs of the BBC.
As a leading policy analyst, Bivens regularly testifies before the U.S. Congress on fiscal and monetary policy, the economic impact of regulations, and other issues. He has also provided analyses for the annual meeting of Project LINK of the United Nations and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Bivens is the author of Failure by Design: The Story behind America’s Broken Economy (EPI and Cornell University Press) and Everybody Wins Except for Most of Us: What Economics Really Teaches About Globalization (EPI). He is the co-author of The State of Working America, 12th Edition (EPI and Cornell University Press) and a co-editor of Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, No Jobs: Labor Markets and Informal Work in Egypt, El Salvador, India, Russia and South Africa (EPI).
His academic articles have appeared in the International Review of Applied Economics, the Journal of Economic Issues and the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Bivens has also provided peer-reviewed articles to several edited collections, including The Handbook of the Political Economy of Financial Crises (Oxford University Press), Public Economics in the United States: How the Federal Government Analyzes and Influences the Economy (ABC-CLIO), and Restoring Shared Prosperity: A Policy Agenda from Leading Keynesian Economists (AFL-CIO and the Macroeconomic Policy Institute).
Prior to becoming director of research, Bivens was a research economist at EPI. Before coming to EPI, he was an assistant professor of economics at Roosevelt University and provided consulting services to Oxfam America. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Ph.D., Economics, New School for Social Research
B.A., Economics, University of Maryland at College Park
Senior Economic Analyst | Deputy Director of EARN
Areas of expertise
Poverty • State labor markets • Economic inequality and social mobility • Minimum wage • Wage theft
David Cooper conducts both national and state-level research, with a focus on the minimum wage, wage theft, employment and unemployment, poverty, and wage and income trends. He also coordinates and provides technical support to the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a national network of over 60 state-level policy research and advocacy organizations.
David’s analyses on the impact of minimum wage laws have been used by policymakers and advocates in city halls and statehouses across the country, as well as in Congress and the White House. He has testified in many states and cities on the challenges facing low-wage workers and their families, and has been interviewed and cited by numerous local and national media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and NPR.
Master of Public Policy, Georgetown University
Bachelor of Arts, English and Government, Georgetown University
Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research
Areas of expertise
U.S. immigration law and policy • International labor migration • Farm labor • Forced migration
Daniel Costa is an attorney who first joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2010 and was EPI’s director of immigration law and policy research from 2013 to early 2018; he returned to this role in 2019 after serving as the California Attorney General’s senior advisor on immigration and labor. Costa’s areas of research include a wide range of labor migration issues, including governance of temporary labor migration programs, migration for both professional occupations and lower-wage jobs, worksite enforcement, and immigrant workers’ rights, as well as farm labor, global multilateral processes related to migration, and refugee and asylum issues.
Costa has testified on immigration before the U.S. Congress and state governments, been quoted and cited by many major news outlets, and appeared on radio and television news. His commentaries have appeared in publications like The New York Times, Roll Call, Fortune, La Opinión, and others, and he was named one of “20 Immigration Experts to Follow on Twitter” by ABC News. Costa is currently a visiting scholar at the Global Migration Center at the University of California-Davis, and was previously a visiting scholar at U.C. Davis, School of Law (2019-2020) and an affiliated scholar with the University of California-Merced (2015-2017).
Prior to his tenure at EPI, Costa worked on developing the legal and normative framework for disaster response and humanitarian relief operations with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, Switzerland, and completed the International Law Seminar with the UN International Law Commission. He was also a policy analyst at the Great Valley Center, a former University of California think tank, where he managed an immigrant integration program.
LL.M., International and Comparative Law, Georgetown University Law Center
J.D., International Law, Syracuse University
B.A., Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
Founding President and Distinguished Fellow
Areas of expertise
Political economy • International economics • Macroeconomics • Labor markets • Unions
Jeff Faux founded the Economic Policy Institute in 1986, and made it into the country’s leading think tank on the political and economic issues that working Americans face. In 2003, he stepped down as EPI’s president, and is now a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute. Faux has studied, taught and published on a wide variety of economic and political issues from the global economy to neighborhood community development, from monetary policy to political strategy. He is the author or co-author of six books, the latest being, The Servant Economy: Where America’s Elite is Sending the Middle Class (Wiley, 2012).
Faux worked as an economist in the Departments of State, Labor and Commerce, a manager in the finance industry, a blueberry farmer, and a member of a municipal planning board in the State of Maine. He’s been an advisor to governments, trade unions, businesses, political campaigns, and community organizations. He’s lectured in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, sits on the boards of several of non-profit institutions and magazines, has written articles for numerous newspapers, magazines and journals, has testified before Congress, and has appeared many times on television and radio.
Queens College, George Washington University, and Harvard University
Honorary Degree, University of New England
Areas of expertise
Workers’ rights • Workplace law enforcement
Terri Gerstein is the director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program and a senior fellow at the Economic Policy Institute. She recently completed an Open Society Foundations Leadership in Government Fellowship. Previously, she was the Labor Bureau chief in the New York State Attorney General’s Office and a deputy commissioner in the New York State Department of Labor. Prior to her government service, Gerstein worked at nonprofit organizations in Miami, representing immigrant workers and domestic violence survivors, and co-hosting a Spanish-language radio show on workers’ rights. She was a law clerk to the Honorable Mary Johnson Lowe in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Her writing on workers’ rights issues has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Guardian, The American Prospect, The Hill, The Nation, and the New York Daily News.
A.B., Harvard College
J.D., Harvard Law School
Areas of expertise
Wages • Poverty • Jobs • Health care • Economic mobility
Elise Gould joined EPI in 2003. Her research areas include wages, poverty, inequality, economic mobility and health care. She is a co-author of The State of Working America, 12th Edition. Gould authored a chapter on health in The State of Working America 2008/09; co-authored a book on health insurance coverage in retirement; published in venues such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Challenge Magazine, and Tax Notes; and written for academic journals including Health Economics, Health Affairs, Journal of Aging and Social Policy, Risk Management & Insurance Review, Environmental Health Perspectives, and International Journal of Health Services. Gould has been quoted by a variety of news sources, including Bloomberg, NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and her opinions have appeared on the op-ed pages of USA Today and The Detroit News. She has testified before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Maryland Senate Finance and House Economic Matters committees, the New York City Council, and the District of Columbia Council.
Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Master of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
B.A., Sociology, Wesleyan University
Adam Hersh joined EPI in 2021, bringing a wide range of research interests from the interrelationship between growth and inequality, to global economic governance, Chinese industrial policy and reform, and climate change. Adam publishes and is cited frequently in both peer reviewed and popular media outlets, regularly provides expert Congressional testimony and advises U.S. and international policymakers and civil society leaders. He is a contributing author of Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy (2015) with Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz.
Prior to joining EPI, Adam co-directed the Global Initiative for a Shared Future, working to center environment, social, and governance (ESG) principles in the U.S.-China bilateral investment relationship. He was also Chief Economist for Congressional Joint Economic Committee Democrats, Senior Economist at the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Center for American Progress, and worked at the Asian Development Bank. Adam has held academic appointments as a Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute, a Research Fellow at the University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue and at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics’ Institute for Advanced Research, and teaching macroeconomics and monetary and financial economics at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Senior State Policy Coordinator
Dave Kamper is senior state policy coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI. He believes that worker power and racial equity are necessary components to a healthy democracy. His work focuses on the Midwest, helping to bring together policy thinkers and grassroots leaders to build collaborative relationships that empower communities in America’s heartland to obtain the justice they deserve.
Prior to joining EPI in 2021, Kamper worked for 20 years in the labor movement in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Minnesota, most recently for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE). He is Board Chair of the New Brookwood Labor College and is part of the editorial collective of The Forge, a journal of organizing strategy and practice. He writes regularly on labor issues for progressive publications.
Kamper lives in Minnesota with his wife, Joanne, a veterinarian who sometimes operates on lions and tigers.
M.A., Ph.D., History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Labor Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Thea Lee was the president of the Economic Policy Institute from 2017 to 2021. Lee has a longstanding relationship with EPI, having begun her career here as an international trade economist in the 1990s. Lee came to EPI from the AFL-CIO, a voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women, where she served as deputy chief of staff. At the AFL-CIO, she developed a track record of conducting rigorous economic research, overseeing an ambitious policy agenda, and helping steer a large organization through change.
Lee has spent her career advocating on behalf of working families in national policy debates on issues such as wage inequality, workers’ rights, and fair trade. She is co-author of The Field Guide to the Global Economy, published by The New Press, and has authored numerous publications on the North American Free Trade Agreement, the impact of international trade on U.S. wage inequality, and the domestic steel and textile industries.
Lee has been a voice for workers in testimony before congressional committees and in television and radio appearances—including on PBS NewsHour, Good Morning America, NPR’s All Things Considered and Marketplace, Fox Business, and the PBS documentary Commanding Heights. She has also served on the State Department Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, the Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee, and the Board of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research, among others. She currently serves on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, to which she was appointed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, as well as the boards of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, the Center for International Policy, the Coalition for Human Needs, and the Progressive Talent Pipeline advisory council. She also serves on the national advisory board of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the external advisory board of the Roosevelt Project at the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
Lee holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College. Lee lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two dogs. She has one daughter, who teaches middle school in Brooklyn. She likes to cook, read, and travel.
Director of Government Affairs | Labor Counsel
Areas of expertise
Labor and employment law • Collective bargaining • Union organizing • Regulatory policy
Celine McNicholas is EPI’s director of government affairs and labor counsel. An attorney, her current areas of work include a wide range of workers’ rights issues, including labor and employment law, collective bargaining, and union organizing. She was a core member of EPI’s Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages Policy Watch, an online resource that tracked federal actions affecting working people and the economy during the first year of the Trump administration. McNicholas continues to monitor and analyze the Trump administration’s labor and employment policies.
Before joining EPI in 2017, McNicholas served as director of congressional and public affairs and as special counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). At the NLRB, she counseled presidential nominees to the board and the general counsel throughout the Senate confirmation process. In addition, McNicholas was responsible for the agency’s congressional affairs work including all agency oversight matters. From 2009 to 2013, she served as senior labor counsel to Ranking Member George Miller (D-Calif.) for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. She advised Rep. Miller on legal issues surrounding the Fair Labor Standards Act, National Labor Relations Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Davis Bacon Act, Service Contract Act, and project labor agreements. Before working for the committee, McNicholas was a legislative staffer for both U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas from Massachusetts.
A native of Philadelphia, McNicholas is an avid baseball fan, amateur baseball historian, and runner.
J.D., Villanova University School of Law
B.A., Mount Holyoke College
Areas of expertise
Education • Labor markets • Income distribution and poverty • Industrial relations • Technology and productivity • Wages • Unions and collective bargaining
Lawrence Mishel is a distinguished fellow at EPI after serving as president from 2002–2017. Mishel first joined EPI in 1987 as research director. In the more than three decades he has been with EPI, Mishel has helped build it into the nation’s premier research organization focused on U.S. living standards and labor markets.
Mishel has co-authored all 12 editions of The State of Working America, a book that former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich says “remains unrivaled as the most-trusted source for a comprehensive understanding of how working Americans and their families are faring in today’s economy.” The State of Working America has been an invaluable resource in newsrooms, classrooms, and halls of power since 1988.
Mishel’s primary research interests include labor markets and education. He has written extensively on wage and job quality trends in the United States. He co-edited a research volume on emerging labor market institutions for the National Bureau of Economic Research. His 1988 research on manufacturing data led the U.S. Commerce Department to revise the way it measures U.S. manufacturing output. This new measure helped accurately document the long decline in U.S. manufacturing, a trend that is now widely understood.
Mishel leads EPI’s education research program. He has written extensively on charter schools, teacher pay, and high school graduation rates. His research with Joydeep Roy has shown that high school graduation rates are significantly higher than the rates that are often cited by education analysts. This work has enabled policymakers to more accurately assess the state of U.S. public education.
Mishel has testified before Congress on the importance of promoting policies that reduce inequality, generate jobs, improve the lives of American workers and their families, and strengthen the middle class. He also serves frequently as a commentator in print, broadcast, and online media.
Prior to joining EPI, Mishel held a number of research roles, including a fellowship at the U.S. Department of Labor. He also served as a faculty member at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Mishel also served as an economist for several unions, including the Auto Workers, Steelworkers, AFSCME, and the Industrial Union Department, AFL-CIO. Mishel holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Originally from Philadelphia, he has four children and two grandsons and lives with his wife and his dog, Bella, in Washington, D.C.
Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
M.A., Economics, American University
B.S., Pennsylvania State University
Zane Mokhiber joined EPI in 2016. As a data analyst, he supports the research of EPI’s economists on topics such as wages, labor markets, inequality, trade and manufacturing, and economic growth. Prior to joining EPI, Zane worked for the Worker Institute at Cornell University as an undergraduate research fellow.
B.S., Industrial and Labor Relations,
Cornell University ILR School
Economist, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy
Areas of expertise
Stratification economics • Political economy of health • Labor economics
Kyle K. Moore is an economist with the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. He studies economic inequality in the frameworks of stratification economics, political economy, and public health. Prior to joining EPI, Moore was a senior policy analyst with the Joint Economic Committee’s Democratic Staff, where he authored reports on economic policy issues centered on race, class, age, and gender disparities for use by Members of Congress and the public.
Moore’s research focuses on the intersection between racial economic disparities and health inequity across the life course, with particular focus on “upstream” structural causes of morbidity and mortality differences across race. In 2019 Moore was a Dissertation Scholar at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Prior to this he worked as a doctoral fellow and research associate with the Retirement Equity Lab at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. He is currently a PhD candidate at The New School for Social Research.
M.A., Economics, The New School for Social Research
B.A, Economics, Morehouse College
Areas of expertise
Retirement security • Labor markets • Financial markets
Monique Morrissey joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2006. Her areas of interest include Social Security, pensions and other employee benefits, household savings, tax expenditures, older workers, public employees, unions, and collective bargaining, Medicare, institutional investors, corporate governance, executive compensation, financial markets, and the Federal Reserve. She is active in coalition efforts to reform our private retirement system to ensure an adequate, secure, and affordable retirement for all workers. She is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. Prior to joining EPI, Morrissey worked at the AFL-CIO Office of Investment and the Financial Markets Center.
Ph.D., Economics, American University
B.A., Political Science and History, Swarthmore College
Margaret Poydock joined EPI in 2016. As the policy analyst, she assists the policy team in managing EPI’s legislative and policy initiatives to build a more just economy. Previously, Poydock was EPI’s communications assistant. In that position, she provided support for the media relations, publications, and web departments.
B.S., Political Communication, Emerson College
Areas of expertise
Labor and employment policy • Unions • Collective bargaining
Lynn Rhinehart is a senior fellow at EPI, where she works on labor and employment policy, with a focus on collective bargaining. Rhinehart was general counsel of the AFL-CIO from 2009 until July 2018. She joined the legal staff at the AFL-CIO as an associate general counsel in 1996. While at the AFL-CIO, she was the executive director of the Lawyers Coordinating Committee (LCC), a national organization of 2,000 union-side labor lawyers in law firms and legal departments. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Rhinehart clerked for the Honorable Joyce Hens Green of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor. Rhinehart has authored publications on enforcement of federal workplace safety laws, the contingent workforce, and other topics. She serves on the board of directors of the National Employment Law Project and the advisory board of the Harvard Law School “Clean Slate” labor law project.
J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
B.A., University of Michigan
Areas of expertise
Education • Race and ethnicity
Richard Rothstein is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a Senior Fellow (emeritus) at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, which recovers a forgotten history of how federal, state, and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas nationwide, creating racially homogenous neighborhoods in patterns that violate the Constitution and require remediation. He is also the author of many other articles and books on race and education, which can be found on his web page at the Economic Policy Institute: http://www.epi.org/people/richard-rothstein/. Previous influential books include Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black–White Achievement Gap and Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right. He welcomes questions and comments at email@example.com.
State Economic Analyst
Marokey Sawo joined EPI’s Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team as an economic analyst in 2021. She focuses on EARN-related research that is simultaneously informed by and seeks to address racial and gender disparities. Sawo was most recently a researcher at the Groundwork Collaborative, where she worked on a variety of economic and data analysis projects. She primarily focused on the economics of anti-austerity at the federal level as well as varying unemployment insurance issues and broader labor market conditions. Sawo previously worked at Futures and Options, a New York-based non-profit, under several roles. As a project manager, she spearheaded an organization-wide project to build a robust new Salesforce CRM database and develop processes to increase efficiency and capacity. As a data associate, she worked closely with the program director to audit existing data evaluation systems to better capture the organization’s impact in providing internship and career-readiness opportunities for New York City youth.
M.S., Economic Theory and Policy, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College
B.A., Economics, Vassar College
Areas of expertise
Economic inequality • Economic mobility • Minimum wage • Unemployment • Unions • Work–life balance • Discrimination • International labor market comparisons
John Schmitt became EPI’s vice president on January 1, 2018, returning to where he started his career as an economist from 1995 to 2001. Following his earlier tenure at EPI, he spent 10 years as a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and, most recently, was the research director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Over the last two decades, he has also worked as a consultant to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the European Commission, the Solidarity Center, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and other national and international organizations.
Schmitt has published peer-reviewed research on unemployment, wage inequality, the minimum wage, unionization, immigration, technology, racial inequality, mass incarceration, and other topics. His popular writing has appeared in The American Prospect, Boston Review, BusinessWeek.com, Challenge, Democracy, Dissent, The Guardian, The International Herald Tribune, Salon, The Washington Post, and other publications. His research has been cited widely in the media including The Economist, Harper’s Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Schmitt has also given talks on economic and policy issues to government, academic, union, and general audiences throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
At EPI, Schmitt was the co-author of three editions of The State of Working America. He was also a co-editor of Low-Wage Work in the Wealthy World (Russell Sage Foundation, 2010). From 1999 through 2015, he was a visiting professor in public policy at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
Before joining EPI in 1995, Schmitt was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, and then spent a year working as an information officer for the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL).
Ph.D. and M.Sc. in economics, London School of Economics
A.B. in Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Senior Economist and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research
Areas of expertise
International economics • Trade and manufacturing policies • Global finance • Foreign investment and “insourcing” • Industry studies
Robert E. Scott joined the Economic Policy Institute in 1997 and is currently director of trade and manufacturing policy research. His areas of research include international economics, the impacts of trade and manufacturing policies on working people in the United States and other countries, the economic impacts of foreign investment, and the macroeconomic effects of trade and capital flows and exchange rates. He has published widely in academic journals and the popular press, including in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the International Review of Applied Economics, and the Stanford Law and Policy Review, the Detroit News, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, USA Today, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Times, The Hill, and other newspapers. He has also provided economic commentary for a range of electronic media, including NPR, CNN, Bloomberg, and the BBC. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley.
- Elizabeth Warren’s Radical Plan to Fix the Dollar • The New York Times • June 16, 2019
- GM cutbacks a result of overvalued dollar • The Detroit News • December 1, 2018
- How Trump Should Address Unfair Trade With China • New York Times • October 23, 2018
- Don’t Sweat Trump’s Tariffs • U.S. News & World Report • March 5, 2018
Ph.D., Economics, University of California at Berkeley
B.S., Engineering, Washington University (St. Louis)
Senior State Policy Coordinator, Worker Power Project
Jennifer Sherer is senior state policy coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) Worker Power Project. Her work focuses on expanding the ability of working people to achieve racial, gender, and economic justice through organizing, collective bargaining, and public policies that promote worker voice.
Prior to joining EPI in 2021, Sherer served as director of the University of Iowa Labor Center, leading statewide worker outreach, education, and leadership development programming in close partnership with labor unions and community organizations. As director, she coordinated interdisciplinary research and engagement; taught on a range of worker rights, gender and racial justice, and labor policy subjects; and led initiatives to extend labor education to new audiences. Her published work includes articles on wage theft, public-sector collective bargaining, women’s labor education, and working-class voters. While at the Labor Center, Sherer also directed the Iowa Labor History Oral Project, helped found the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, co-coordinated the Midwest School for Women Workers, and served on the boards of the Labor and Working Class History Association and Labor Studies Journal.
Sherer first became active in the labor movement over 20 years ago as a local union officer, a project staff organizer for the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE), and a leader of student anti-sweatshop campaigns while earning her PhD. She has since served as a local labor council delegate, volunteered in dozens of issue campaigns, and walked many picket lines. She is a board member of Common Good Iowa (formerly the Iowa Policy Project).
Ph.D., English, University of Iowa
B.A., English and Neuroscience, Oberlin College
Since its founding, EPI has highlighted how rising inequality, wage stagnation, and an expanding Black–white wage gap are not ‘natural’ phenomena, but are the result of deliberate policy choices shifting power from workers to the wealthy. Through its research and expertise, EPI has the opportunity to advance real reforms that lead to economic justice, racial justice, and gender equity.”
Heidi Shierholz is the president of the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that uses the power of its research on economic trends and on the impact of economic policies to advance reforms that serve working people, deliver racial justice, and guarantee gender equity. In 2021 she became the fourth president EPI has had since its founding in 1986.
Shierholz, who served the Obama administration as chief economist at the Department of Labor, has been a consistent and leading voice for a worker-centered policy agenda that prioritizes economic and racial justice. Taking the helm at EPI after former President Thea Lee departed to work for the Biden administration, Shierholz is strengthening EPI’s ability to deliver economic analysis that challenges and transforms the mainstream narrative about the economy. Under her leadership, EPI is focused on fighting for and winning federal, state, and local legislative and regulatory reforms that support collective bargaining; increase worker power; improve wages, benefits, and working conditions; and reduce racial and gender inequities.
Shierholz testifying before the Senate on the importance of unions to racial justice
As EPI policy director from 2017 to 2021, Shierholz led a significant expansion of EPI’s federal policy work, using deeply credible economic research and analysis to build power for working people. Research and insights from EPI on labor and employment policy, wage stagnation, unions, inequality, unemployment benefits, and the policies needed to generate a strong and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 recession routinely shaped policy proposals and informed economic news coverage.
As chief economist at the Department of Labor from 2014 to 2017, Shierholz developed and executed initiatives to boost workers’ rights, wages, and benefits. During her term, the Labor Department became a focal point for ambitious economic policies, such as new regulations guaranteeing overtime pay for millions of workers.
A labor market economist who holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan, Shierholz was tapped in 2007 by then EPI President Larry Mishel to join EPI as a labor economist, a role she held until joining the Obama administration in 2014. Prior to joining EPI in 2007, Shierholz was assistant professor of economics at the University of Toronto.
Throughout her career, Shierholz has educated policymakers, journalists, partner organizations, and the public about the effects of economic policies on low- and middle-income families. A frequent expert witness before congressional committees and public commentator on major media outlets, Shierholz was named one of Washington’s most influential people outside of government by Washingtonian Magazine in 2021. Her work has been cited in many news outlets, including NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, The Today Show, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, CSPAN, Fox Business, Bloomberg, NPR, PRI, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times.
A consistent theme throughout Shierholz’s career has been the research showing that unions are a critical force for equality and racial economic justice in this country.
“All workers get a boost from being in unions … but Black workers and Hispanic workers get a bigger boost from being in unions than white workers do,” Shierholz explained to a congressional committee in 2021. “If we take seriously this discussion we are having about racial economic justice, a really important thing we have to do there is boost unionization.”
Areas of expertise
Labor policy • Wage inequality • Unemployment insurance • Long-term unemployment • Labor force participation • Minimum wage • Overtime
Ph.D., Economics, University of Michigan; M.A., Economics, University of Michigan; M.S., Statistics, Iowa State University, B.A., Mathematics, Grinnell College
Director of EARN
Naomi Walker joined 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.
In 2009, Walker was appointed associate deputy secretary of labor under the Obama administration, serving as a liaison between the Department of Labor and the labor movement before she rejoined the AFL-CIO in 2010.
Before joining the AFL-CIO in 1997, Walker served as field director of the Preamble Center for Public Policy, where she helped coordinate both press and field work on progressive policy issues like corporate accountability and fair trade. From 1993 until 1996, she was the Midwest regional organizer for the Children’s Defense Fund.
B.A., Public Policy Studies, Duke University
Director, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy
Valerie Rawlston Wilson is director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE), a nationally recognized source for expert reports and policy analyses on the economic condition of America’s people of color. Prior to joining EPI, Wilson was an economist and vice president of research at the National Urban League Washington Bureau, where she was responsible for planning and directing the bureau’s research agenda. She has written extensively on various issues impacting economic inequality in the United States—including employment and training, income and wealth disparities, access to higher education, and social insurance—and has also appeared in print, television, and radio media. In 2010, through the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, she was selected to deliver the keynote address at an event on Minority Economic Empowerment at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway. In 2011, Wilson served on a National Academies Panel on Measuring and Collecting Pay Information from U.S. Employers by Gender, Race, and National Origin.
Ph.D., Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
State Economic Analyst
Julia Wolfe joined the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team at EPI as an economic analyst in 2019. In addition to conducting national and state-level research on labor market trends, inequality, and collective bargaining, she provides technical support to the state-level policy research and advocacy organizations that make up EARN. Julia first joined EPI as a research assistant in 2017. Prior to joining EPI, Julia worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the retail and manufacturing employment analyst for the Current Employment Statistics program.
B.A., Political Science and International Development, Truman State University
Senior State Policy Coordinator
Jaimie K. Worker is the senior state policy coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI. She is committed to ensuring that racial and gender equity is a public policy priority and that the leaders of communities impacted by structural racism and oppression are key collaborators in developing public policy.
Prior to joining EPI, Worker was a senior policy analyst at Community Change, where for more than six years she worked on racial and economic justice campaigns focused on jobs and public investment in partnership with grassroots organizations. Previously, she worked with the New Organizing Institute, as well as the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan, supporting workplace organizing and policy campaigns to win improved working conditions in the restaurant industry.
Worker is the proud daughter of immigrants and hails from Detroit, Michigan.
B.A., Sociology, University of Michigan
M.S.W., University of Michigan School of Social Work
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 Quarterly Journal of Economics and 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, a research associate at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley, and an associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Ph.D., Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
B.S., Mathematics, University of Georgia, Athens