The Board of Directors of the Economic Policy Institute announced today that economist Thea Lee will serve as the next president of EPI. Lee comes to EPI from the AFL-CIO, where she served most recently as deputy chief of staff. Lee brings a deep connection to and appreciation for EPI, where she began her career as an international trade economist from 1991 to 1997. She will begin work at EPI on November 1, 2017; Lawrence Mishel will step down as EPI president on January 1, 2018.
“I’m delighted to join EPI’s diverse and talented team of economists and researchers,” said Lee. “Together, we will build on EPI’s impressive body of empirical research and insightful policy analysis and arm policymakers and advocates with the tools they need to fight and win key battles on behalf of all working people at this challenging moment in history.”
Lee has spent her career advocating on behalf of working families in the national policy debate, including on wage inequality, workers’ rights, and fair trade, among other issues. She played a key role in the management of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO, helping to craft a vision for the organization and implement its policy agenda.
“Our search process was thorough, transparent, and competitive. While we interviewed extremely qualified candidates, we unanimously selected Thea Lee, who will continue the EPI tradition of quality research focused on improving economic prosperity for everyone,” said EPI board member Julianne Malveaux. “She is well-suited to take EPI to another level, by expanding possibilities for our engagement with the states and using EPI’s work to help progressive organizers focus on important economic issues.”
Lee has authored numerous publications, including A Field Guide to the Global Economy, and several EPI papers on international trade, trade deals, and their impacts on U.S. wage inequality and on the domestic steel and textile industries.
“Thea Lee and I have worked together for a policy agenda to protect working people throughout the years, including opposing trade deals that undercut U.S. jobs and wages,” said EPI President Lawrence Mishel. “Thea is dedicated to EPI’s mission of building an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. We are fortunate to have her step up to lead EPI.”
Lee holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from Smith College.
“We unanimously selected an ambitious economist with a proven track record to manage a rigorous research schedule,” said EPI board member Teresa Ghilarducci. “With poise and intelligence, Thea’s research shows how a wage-led economy is more stable and robust, allowing everyone to share the prosperity. She has articulated this vision in all the right places: in Congress, to academics, in high profile debates, and to workers.”