Experts

Research AssociatesStaffBoard of DirectorsAbout EPI

Josh Bivens
Chief Economist

Chandra Childers
Senior Policy and Economic Analyst

Ismael Cid-Martinez
Economist

David Cooper
Director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)

Daniel Costa
Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research

Jeff Faux
Founding President

Terri Gerstein

Elise Gould
Senior Economist

Adam S. Hersh
Senior Economist

Sebastian Martinez Hickey
State Economic Analyst

Dave Kamper
Senior State Policy Strategist

Nina Mast
State Economic Analyst

Adewale A. Maye
Policy and Research Analyst

Celine McNicholas
Director of Policy/General Counsel

Lawrence Mishel
Emeritus Fellow

Zane Mokhiber
Director of Data Management and Analysis

Kyle K. Moore
Economist, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy

Monique Morrissey
Senior Economist

Jasmine Payne-Patterson
Senior State Policy Strategist

Daniel Perez
State Economic Analyst

Margaret Poydock
Senior Policy Analyst

Richard Rothstein
Distinguished Fellow

Samantha Sanders
Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

John Schmitt
Distinguished Fellow

Michael Schoettle
Deputy Director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)

Jennifer Sherer
Director, State Worker Power Initiative

Heidi Shierholz
President

Naomi Walker
Executive Vice President

Hilary Wething
Economist

Valerie Wilson
Director, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy

Ben Zipperer
Senior Economist


Josh Bivens

Chief Economist

Areas of expertise
Macroeconomics • Globalization • Social insurance • Public investment

Biography
Josh Bivens is the chief economist at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). His areas of research include macroeconomics, inequality, social insurance, public investment, and the economics of globalization.

Bivens has written extensively for both professional and public audiences, with his work appearing in peer-reviewed academic journals (like the Journal of Economic Perspectives) and edited volumes (like The Handbook of the Political Economy of Financial Crises from Oxford University Press), as well as in popular print outlets (like USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times).

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), and is a co-author of The State of Working America, 12th Edition (EPI and Cornell University Press).

Bivens has provided expert insight to a range of institutions and media, including formally testifying numerous times before committees of the U.S. Congress.

Before coming to EPI, he was an assistant professor of economics at Roosevelt University. 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.

Education
Ph.D., Economics, New School for Social Research
B.A., Economics, University of Maryland at College Park


Chandra Childers

Senior Policy and Economic Analyst

Biography

Chandra Childers is a senior policy and economic analyst with the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI. Her work is primarily focused on supporting EARN’s state and local policy research and advocacy network in the Southern United States. Childers is committed to economic justice and ensuring that all workers have a voice in their workplaces and that they experience real economic security independent of race, sex, or economic status. Using an intersectional lens, her research focuses on employment, earnings, job quality, and worker power. 

Before joining the EARN team at EPI, Childers was a Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, where her work focused on occupational segregation, the gender wage gap, and Black, Hispanic, and Native American women’s access to good jobs that pay well, provide benefits, and ensure economic security for them, their families, and their communities.

Education

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Washington in Seattle
M.S., Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University
M.A., Sociology, Texas Tech University
B.A., Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University.

 


Ismael Cid-Martinez

Economist

Areas of expertise

Labor economics • Stratification economics • Child poverty and well-being • Retirement security and public finance • Human development and capabilities

Biography

Ismael Cid-Martinez is an economist with the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE). He studies economic inequality and well-being within the frameworks of stratification economics, human development, and political economy. Cid-Martinez has co-authored and published peer-reviewed research on child poverty and welfare, intergroup disparities, retirement security and public finance, and the capability approach.

Prior to joining EPI, Cid-Martinez served as a senior policy analyst for the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, where he authored reports on economic inequality and racial and ethnic disparities in the labor market and the broader economy. Before this, he worked for UNICEF’s Data & Analytics unit and for UNICEF regional and country offices in Latin America and West Africa. He also served as a research associate for the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. He is currently a PhD candidate at The New School for Social Research.

Education

M.Phil., Economics, The New School for Social Research

 


David Cooper

Director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)

Some of the most innovative and consequential policymaking happens at the state and local level, and we have to make sure that policymakers at every level of government are doing what’s best for working people, and prioritizing anti-racist, equity-promoting policies. EARN’s impeccable research and strong partnerships with grassroots allies are critical to that achieving that goal.”

Biography

David Cooper is director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a national network of nearly 60 state- and local-level policy research and advocacy organizations coordinated by the Economic Policy Institute. He assumed the leadership of EARN in October 2021, after serving as senior economic analyst and EARN deputy director. As EARN director, Cooper works to expand the network’s reach and deepen its impact by strengthening partnerships between EARN groups and grassroots organizations, labor unions, and community advocates. He also works to expand EARN groups’ ability to provide rigorous analysis that centers people of color and is grounded in the real-world experiences of workers and families.

In his time with EARN, Cooper has overseen a vast expansion in the program’s research and analytical capacities and a more explicit focus on the experience of Black and Brown workers—building up the data, research, and policy resources available to support EARN groups’ worker, racial, and gender justice work. He has guided EARN’s creation of new training programs, workshop series, state-level data tools, and a robust technical assistance infrastructure to assist policy researchers and advocates throughout the country. With support from the EARN team at EPI, EARN groups have shaped numerous state and local policy debates, providing timely and credible analyses that have helped secure critical pro-worker, equity-promoting policy reforms, such as higher minimum wages, expanded access to overtime, paid leave benefits, fair scheduling protections, and stronger collective bargaining rights.

As part of EPI’s research team, Cooper’s work on the minimum wage, wage theft, social insurance, and state labor markets has been used by policymakers in city halls and statehouses across the country, as well as in Congress and the White House. His analyses on the impact of minimum wage laws have been instrumental in dozens of state and local minimum wage debates since 2011. He has testified in many states and cities on the challenges low-wage workers and low-income families face.

Cooper has been interviewed and cited by numerous media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on many local and national news programs, including the Public Broadcasting Service’s “NewsHour,” CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and American Public Media’s ”Marketplace.”

Education

Master of Public Policy, Georgetown University
Bachelor of Arts, English and Government, Georgetown University

Areas of expertise

State labor markets • Minimum wage • Wage theft • Poverty • Inequality and social mobility


Daniel Costa

Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research

Areas of expertise
U.S. immigration law and policy • International labor migration • Farm labor • Forced migration

Biography

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. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as 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). He is also the proud son of immigrants and fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. 

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.  

Education
LL.M., International and Comparative Law, Georgetown University Law Center
J.D., International Law, Syracuse University
B.A., Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley


Jeff Faux

Founding President

Areas of expertise
Political economy • International economics • Macroeconomics • Labor markets • Unions

Biography
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. 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.

Education
Queens College, George Washington University, and Harvard University
Honorary Degree, University of New England


Terri Gerstein


Areas of expertise
Workers’ rights • Workplace law enforcement

Biography 
Terri Gerstein is the Director of Labor Initiative at NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She previously founded and led the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Center for Labor and a Just Economy and was a Senior Fellow at EPI. Before that, 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. Before her government service, Gerstein was a nonprofit lawyer in Miami, Florida, representing immigrant workers. Her writing on workers’ rights issues has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The American Prospect, NBC News THINK, Teen Vogue, and more. She is a member of the American Law Institute and is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Education
A.B., Harvard College
J.D., Harvard Law School


Elise Gould

Senior Economist

Areas of expertise
Wages • Poverty • Jobs • Health care • Economic mobility

Biography
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 EducationChallenge Magazine, and Tax Notes; and written for academic journals including Health Economics, Health Affairs, Journal of Aging and Social PolicyRisk 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.

Education
Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Master of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
B.A., Sociology, Wesleyan University


Adam S. Hersh

Senior Economist

Adam Hersh focuses on international trade, industrial, climate, China, and macroeconomic policies. 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.


Sebastian Martinez Hickey

State Economic Analyst

Biography

Sebastian Martinez Hickey (he/him) is a State Economic Analyst on the State Policy & Research team at EPI. Martinez Hickey’s research studies state minimum wages, employment levels and pay in the public sector and K-12 education, and state unemployment insurance. He is passionate about centering race and gender in his research and providing historical context for modern day inequalities. His research on state minimum wage increases has been used in numerous debates regarding state and local minimum wage ballot measures. He has made numerous media appearances discussing the minimum wage and public education workers. In addition, he provides technical support to the state-level policy research and advocacy organizations that make up the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). He originally joined EPI in 2021 as a research assistant.

Martinez Hickey has been quoted in Marketplace, CNN, FAIR radio, KFF Health News, and News & Views with Joel Heitkamp, and his work has been cited in the Washington Post, CBS News (Money Watch), NPR, Politico, MarketWatch, the Hill, Business Insider, Mother Jones, and the Associated Press.

Prior to joining EPI, Martinez Hickey worked as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow where he trained community advocates for affordable housing at the Welcome Home Coalition in Portland, OR and researched access to mental health services for young people with low-incomes at CLASP.

Education
B.A., Public Policy, Stanford University


Dave Kamper

Senior State Policy Strategist

Biography

Dave Kamper (he/him) is senior state policy strategist for the State Policy and Research team at EPI. He believes that worker power and racial equity are necessary components to a healthy democracy. His work focuses on organizing to build family economic security, the equitable use of federal funds, and supporting collaboration between policy thinkers and grassroots leaders that build collaborative relationships to win needed policy changes at the state and local level.

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).

Kamper’s work has been cited in various publications including The Forge, In These Times, Jacobin, Labor Notes, Labor Studies Journal, Strikewave, St Paul Union Advocate and Workday Magazine. He has also been interviewed by American Prospect,  The Economist, Sacramento Bee, Stateline, Bond Buyer, Tampa Bay Times, The Rick Smith Show, Background Briefing with Ian Masters, KDKA, WAMU, WAMC, New America

Kamper lives in Minnesota with his wife, Joanne, a veterinarian who sometimes operates on lions and tigers.

Education
M.A., Ph.D., History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Labor Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Nina Mast

State Economic Analyst

Nina Mast (she/they) joined EPI in 2022 as an economic analyst on the State Policy and Research team. Mast’s research at EPI includes a focus on child labor standards.  Mast is a graduate of the Master of Public Policy program at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School, where she served as a researcher for the UC Berkeley Labor Center and represented academic student employees as a union steward with UAW-2865.

Mast has been interviewed or quoted by numerous outlets including ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, and The New Yorker, and appeared on American Public Media for “Marketplace” and the popular “Pitchfork Economics” podcast. 

Before graduate school, Mast worked as a researcher in the labor movement and at issue advocacy organizations focused on health care and the economy. At SEIU Local 32BJ, she conducted research to support fast-food workers in Connecticut and commercial cleaning workers in New York. Prior to 32BJ, she worked on issue campaigns at The Hub Project and efforts to advance a progressive economic worldview at the Groundwork Collaborative.

 

Education

M.P.P., UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy
B.S., Carnegie Mellon University, International Relations and Politics


Adewale A. Maye

Policy and Research Analyst

Adewale A. Maye is a policy and research analyst with the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. He studies the root causes of racial economic inequality in order to advance inclusive and restorative policy solutions that build equity. His research interests are centered at the intersection of labor economics, the political economy, and inequality. 

Prior to joining EPI, Adewale was a policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), where he focused on expanding workers’ rights on issues including paid leave, paid sick days, and fair scheduling, as well as advocating for broader economic justice initiatives that impact marginalized communities, such as student loan debt cancellation and labor standards enforcement.

Education

M.S., Applied Economics and Data Science, The George Washington University
B.A., Economics, University of Maryland, College Park


Celine McNicholas

Director of Policy/General Counsel

With the current administration and Congress, we have a major opportunity to build power for working people and advance economic and racial justice—but only if we get the policy right. Now is the time for Congress to pass the PRO Act, a $15 minimum wage, and the Build Back Better agenda, which makes vital investments in child care, home health care, climate, and more.”

Biography

Celine McNicholas is the director of policy and government affairs/general counsel at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that uses the power of its research on economic trends and the impact of economic policies to advance reforms that serve working people, deliver racial justice, and guarantee gender equity. McNicholas assumed the policy director position in October 2021. She has served as EPI’s director of government affairs and labor counsel since 2017.

 

An attorney, McNicholas leads EPI’s legislative efforts on a wide range of workers’ rights issues, including labor law reform, collective bargaining, and union organizing. Her research has informed policymakers, advocates, and journalists on why unions are good for workers, how current labor law fails to protect the right to unionize, and why workers need legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to restore the right to unionize. 

Before joining EPI, 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. In that role, 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.

Education
J.D., Villanova University School of Law
B.A., Mount Holyoke College

Areas of expertise
Labor and employment law • Collective bargaining • Union organizing • Regulatory policy


Lawrence Mishel

Emeritus Fellow

Areas of expertise
Education • Labor markets • Income distribution and poverty • Industrial relations • Technology and productivity • Wages • Unions and collective bargaining

Biography
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.

Education
Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
M.A., Economics, American University
B.S., Pennsylvania State University


Zane Mokhiber

Director of Data Management and Analysis

Biography
Zane Mokhiber (he/him) joined EPI in 2016. As director of data management and analysis, he is responsible for developing, deploying and training users of EPI’s myriad public use data products. Mokhiber manages research support staff to deliver the analytical needs of EPI’s economists and policy researchers on topics such as wages, labor markets, race and gender inequality, trade, manufacturing, and economic growth. Prior to joining EPI, Mokhiber worked for the Worker Institute at Cornell University as an undergraduate research fellow.

Education
B.S., Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University ILR School


Kyle K. Moore

Economist, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy

Areas of expertise

Stratification economics  • Political economy of health • Labor economics

Biography

Kyle K. Moore (he/him) 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. 

Education

Ph.D., Economics, The New School for Social Research

M.A., Economics, The New School for Social Research

B.A, Economics, Morehouse College


Monique Morrissey

Senior Economist

Areas of expertise
Retirement security • Labor markets • Financial markets

Biography
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.

Education
Ph.D., Economics, American University
B.A., Political Science and History, Swarthmore College


Jasmine Payne-Patterson

Senior State Policy Strategist

Biography

Jasmine Payne-Patterson (she/her) joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2023 as senior state policy strategist. She is a friend, advocate, scholar, and servant leader. An advocate for removing systemic barriers, she seeks to identify opportunities to combat intergenerational poverty, bolster socioeconomic mobility, and increase equity. Her key focus areas are economic empowerment, worker’s rights, housing, and social determinants of health.

Payne-Patterson has experience conducting research and advocating at the local, state, and federal levels, holding positions at many nonprofits, government agencies, and campaigns. Previously she worked in the United States House of Representatives, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, CARE, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank, as well as several other community-centered organizations. Committed to community involvement, Payne-Patterson has served on various boards including as the vice chair of the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Foundation board of trustees and formerly as the president of her homeowner’s association.

Payne-Patterson has been interviewed, cited or quoted by CNN, BET, Essence, Advocate Today, Malveaux!, Bloomberg News, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and MLK50. Her work has been referenced by Reuters and NBC.

Believing that everyone can be a catalyst for change, she believes that “we are the ones that we have been waiting for.”

Education
Master of Public Administration with a Concentration in Urban Planning and Economic Development, Georgia State University
Bachelor of Arts in English, Spelman College


Daniel Perez

State Economic Analyst

Biography
Daniel Perez (he/him) joined the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team at EPI as State Economic Analyst in 2022. He provides technical assistance to the state-level policy research and advocacy organizations that make up EARN and conducts research into the historical causes of poverty and inequality. Perez is particularly interested in the role of unions and collective bargaining as means for working people to build economic and political power.

Perez first joined EPI as a research assistant in 2019. He has worked in a variety of industries, and prior to becoming a researcher, held roles as a pizza maker, dishwasher, forklift driver, and bookkeeper. He learned the power of collectively bargaining for better working conditions when he joined AFT Local 6109. He is currently a proud member of NPEU/IFPTE Local 70 and co-president of the EPI staff union.

Perez lives on an island in the Chesapeake with his fiancée, Emily, and their dogs Theo and Rey.

Education
B.A., Economics and Mathematics, University of California, Santa Cruz


Margaret Poydock

Senior Policy Analyst

Biography
Margaret Poydock joined EPI in 2016. As a senior policy analyst, she works on issues of unions, labor standards, and strikes. She also helps manage EPI’s legislative and policy initiatives to build a more just economy. Previously, Poydock was EPI’s communications assistant where she provided support for the media relations, publications, and web departments.

Education
B.S., Political Communication, Emerson College


Richard Rothstein

Distinguished Fellow

Areas of expertise
Education • Race and ethnicity

Biography
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 riroth@epi.org.


Samantha Sanders

Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

Biography
Samantha Sanders (she/her) works to ensure that policymakers and advocates have access to EPI research that supports improving the lives of workers and their families and reducing economic inequality. Sanders also works in partnership on behalf of EPI with allies and advocates in the progressive movement.

Prior to rejoining EPI in 2022, Sanders worked at More Perfect Union, a nonprofit media advocacy organization focused on covering stories about labor, worker power, and the economy primarily through video, social media, and online reporting. Sanders also worked on the team at the Groundwork Collaborative, designing programs and developing policy-informed messaging to advance a strong progressive narrative on the economy.

Sanders originally joined EPI in 2017. She came to EPI after serving as a policy adviser in the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Division (WHD). At the WHD, she worked closely with agency leadership on issues including the future of work and employment, overtime pay regulations, communications and public engagement, strategic enforcement of labor standards, and more. Prior to joining DOL, Sanders led digital communications for the Religious Action Center, a faith-based advocacy organization.  

Education
B.A. East Asian Studies, Yale University


John Schmitt

Distinguished Fellow

Areas of expertise
Economic inequality • Economic mobility • Minimum wage • Unemployment • Unions • Work–life balance •  Discrimination • International labor market comparisons

Biography
John Schmitt is a distinguished fellow at 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. Schmitt served as EPI’s vice president from January 2018 to October 2021. When Schmitt joined EPI in 2018, he was 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).

Education
Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Economics, London School of Economics
A.B. in Public and International Affairs, Princeton University


Michael Schoettle

Deputy Director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)

Biography

Michael Schoettle (he/him) joined EPI’s State Policy and Research team as deputy director in 2023.  As deputy director, he crafts the vision, strategies, and plans that help advance state policy through EPI’s Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) to achieve state and local policy reforms that build power for working people, improve workers’ economic conditions, and advance racial and gender equity.

Prior to joining EPI, Schoettle was a field manager for the National Education Association’s Center for Organizing and Affiliate Support, where he led a team of national organizers that supported the development and implementation of issue-based organizing campaigns in NEA’s state and local affiliates. During his tenure at NEA, Schoettle’s team led successful organizing campaigns to improve wages and benefits, increase funding for public education, improve student learning conditions, and ensure affordable health care for teachers and school support staff.

As an NEA field manager, Schoettle als4o coordinated the creation of organizing trainings, toolkits, and materials to support organizing efforts by union leaders and rank-and-file members. He oversaw NEA’s New Local Presidents Training Program in partnership with NEA governance leaders and served as a management liaison to NEA’s National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA), an organizational body within NEA comprising NEA’s largest urban and suburban local affiliates. Before becoming a field manager, Michael coordinated NEA’s education and organizing efforts on student debt.

Before joining NEA, Michael worked as a strategic researcher at UNITE HERE’s Local 226 (Culinary Union) supporting organizing efforts by hospitality workers in Las Vegas, Nevada; as a researcher at the Equal Rights Center supporting efforts to address housing discrimination; and as a fellow at the AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work researching best practices to improve collective bargaining agreements for LGBTQ workers.

Education

M.S., Labor Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
M.A., Political Science, University of Toronto
B.A., Political Science, Kalamazoo College 


Jennifer Sherer

Director, State Worker Power Initiative

Biography 

Jennifer Sherer (she/her) is director of EPI’s State Worker Power Initiative. Her work focuses on expanding the ability of working people to achieve racial, gender, and economic justice through organizing, collective bargaining, and state and local policy change. She leads the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) Worker Power Project, supporting a growing cohort of state and local groups working with labor and grassroots partners to advance state and local policies that expand worker rights and build worker power. Her publications include reports and articles on labor unions, public-sector collective bargaining, “right-to-work” laws, child labor, worker misclassification, wage theft, women’s labor education, labor oral history, and working-class voters, and her work has been cited by numerous local and national media outlets including The Washington Post, The New Yorker, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, and NPR.

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. 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, Labor Studies Journal, and EARN affiliate Common Good Iowa (formerly the Iowa Policy Project).

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 officer, volunteered in dozens of issue campaigns, and walked many picket lines.

Education 

Ph.D., English, University of Iowa
B.A., English and Neuroscience, Oberlin College


Heidi Shierholz

President

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.”

 

 

Biography

Heidi Shierholz (she/her) 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

Education

Ph.D., Economics, University of Michigan; M.A., Economics, University of Michigan; M.S., Statistics, Iowa State University, B.A., Mathematics, Grinnell College


Naomi Walker

Executive Vice President

Working people across the country are ready for transformative economic change. Through partnerships with unions, grassroots partners, and other allies, EPI builds power for working families and advances policy reforms at the local, state, and national levels that center economic justice, racial justice, and gender equity.”

Biography

Naomi Walker (she/her) is executive vice 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. As EPI vice president, Walker builds and strengthens partnerships with allied groups to advance policy reforms that support collective bargaining; improve wages, benefits, and working conditions; and reduce racial and gender inequities. She also provides strategic guidance to EPI’s state and local research and policy work.

Walker joined EPI in 2018 as director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a national network of almost 60 state-level policy research and advocacy organizations.

During her tenure at EARN, she significantly increased the size and scope of the network’s capacity to engage in worker, racial, and gender justice campaigns. Under Walker’s leadership, EARN launched two regional initiatives in the South and Midwest that bring together state and local research and policy organizations with people of color–led grassroots partners to co-lead economic justice initiatives and strengthen the progressive economic justice infrastructure at the state and local levels. In addition, she led the creation of a new Worker Power initiative focused on expanding the ability of working people to achieve justice through organizing, collective bargaining, and enacting state and local policies that ensure all workers have the freedom to join together in a union and gain a voice on the job.  

Before joining EPI, Walker served as assistant to the president at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), where she coordinated AFSCME’s partnerships with allies and coalitions to build power for working families.

Prior to AFSCME, Walker served as director of state government relations and deputy director of the government affairs department for the AFL-CIO. There, she coordinated state issue campaigns on a variety of issues, including fighting so-called “right-to-work” legislation and other attacks on working families, and providing affordable health care for working families. Walker also served as assistant director of the AFL-CIO politics and field department, leading labor’s field campaign for the 2006 election cycle.

 

Education

B.A., Public Policy Studies, Duke University


Hilary Wething

Economist

Biography
Hilary Wething (she/her) is an Economist at the Economic Policy Institute. Her research examines the relationship between labor market policy, household economic security, and social safety net programs. Prior to joining EPI as an Economist, Wething was an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Pennsylvania State University School of Public Policy.

She holds a Ph.D. in public policy and management, with concentrations in demography and economics, from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. Wething has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and economics from Creighton University.


Valerie Wilson

Director, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy

Biography
Valerie Rawlston Wilson (she/her) is a labor economist and 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. As PREE Director, Wilson has worked to elevate EPI’s thought leadership on issues of racial and economic justice and expand PREE’s capacity to prescribe policy solutions that center racial equity. Prior to joining EPI, Wilson served as Vice President of Research at the National Urban League, where she played a pivotal role in the production of the organization’s annual signature publication, The State of Black America, and assisting the historic civil rights organization in shaping its national economic policy.   In 2022, she was President of the National Economics Association, an organization founded to promote the professional lives of black economists while expanding knowledge of economic issues of particular interest to communities of color. In 2023, she was elected to become a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.  

Throughout her career, Wilson has written extensively on various issues impacting racial economic inequality in the United States—including employment, wage, income and wealth disparities—and has also appeared in major print, television, and radio media.  Wilson has testified before Congress on racial disparities in unemployment and earnings and was keynote speaker for the regional Federal Reserve Banks’ series on Racism and the Economy: Focus on Employment.  She has twice served on National Academies panels charged with proposing ways to improve the EEOC’s ability to measure and collect pay information from U.S. employers in support of the agency’s responsibility to investigate charges of pay discrimination. 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.

Education
Ph.D., Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Ben Zipperer

Senior Economist

Biography
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, Zipperer 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.

Education
Ph.D., Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
B.S., Mathematics, University of Georgia, Athens

Follow @benzipperer@econtwitter.net


Research Associates