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Putting Research To Work: Improving Low-Wage Jobs and Public Policies to Support Vulnerable Workers

Panelist Bios

Sheila H. Akabas, PhD
Sheila Akabas is Professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work where she also directs the Center for Social Policy and Practice in the Workplace, and Chairs the Social Enterprise Administration method and the World of Work as a field of practice. Ms. Akabas acted as consultant to the United Nations Development Program on disability policy in Bulgaria and on training policy for participation in competitive labor markets in Kazhakstan. She served for many years on the Executive Committee of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, chaired the labor and management subcommittee, and for ten years was Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee to the Dole Foundation. Ms. Akabas has been honored for her work by the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University as its Groat Awardee, by the National Association of Social Work, the National Rehabilitation Association, Boston University, and has been named a Switzer scholar. She is the author and editor of several books; the latest, co-authored, is entitled Work and the Workplace: A Resource for Innovative Policy and Practice and was published by Columbia University Press in 2005. She is a graduate of Cornell University and holds an MBA and a doctorate in Economics from New York University.

Evelyn Z. Brodkin, PhD

Aixa Cintrón-Vélez, PhD
Aixa Cintrón-Vélez is Senior Program Officer at the Russell Sage Foundation, where she oversees a program for research on the employment and economic fortunes of less-educated workers in advanced industrial economies and a program for research on contemporary U.S. immigration that focuses on the political integration of immigrants and their children and on migration to new destinations. Before joining Russell Sage, she was a research associate at the Center for Hispanic Mental Health Research at Fordham University. Prior to her tenure at Fordham, she was on the faculty in the Department of Urban Studies & Planning at MIT, where she taught research methods and social policy. Her research and writing has revolved around urban and low-wage labor markets, and the family, employment and migration careers of Latinas in the United States.

Mary Corbitt Clark
Mary Corbitt Clark s the Executive Director of Winning Workplaces, a not-for-profit organization that helps small and midsized businesses create better work environments. She has held senior management positions in human resources and organizational consulting firms, specializing in small to midsize companies, and has established human resources functions for entrepreneurial ventures. She also spent 14 years in career, management and organizational development consulting with Jannotta, Bray & Associates; Right Associates; and People Tech Consulting. Early in her career, she served as Director of Admissions at Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Kimberly A. Clum, PhD
Kimberly A. Clum is LEO Intermittent Lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Her research focuses on the experiences of low-income single mothers in low-wage jobs, the structure of opportunity in the low-wage labor market, and the efficacy of public policies in facilitating low-income families’ well-being. Kimberly’s dissertation was an ethnographic study of the work and family experiences, economic coping strategies, and mobility efforts of a group of single mothers working as nursing assistants. This research shows how the wages and occupational immobility of these mothers’ low-wage jobs not only subject these mothers to on-going financial and social strains but how these strains spill back into the workplace with significant consequences. Not only can spillovers disrupt day-to-day operations but, equally importantly, workers’ efforts to manage these strains make them more amenable to labor strategies that are organizationally and financially beneficial to management. Kimberly received her PhD in 2008 from the Joint Program in Social Work and Anthropology at the University of Michigan.

Sandra K. Danziger, PhD
Sandra K. Danziger is Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, and Research Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, at the University of Michigan. Her primary research interests are the effects of public antipoverty and social service programs and policies on the well-being of disadvantaged families, particularly single mothers and their children. Ms. Danziger received her PhD in Sociology from Boston University in 1978 and has been at University of Michigan since 1987. She is a 2009 Scholar in Residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Bellagio, Italy. She received the 2006 Society for Social Work Research Excellence in Research Award. She was also a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, New York, in 2002-2003 and in 1994, Visiting Research Scientist, Office of the Secretary, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC.

Sheldon Danziger, PhD
Sheldon Danziger is the Henry J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director of the National Poverty Center at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Research Professor at the Population Studies Center, and Director of the Ford Foundation Program on Poverty and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, and a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood. His research focuses on trends in poverty and inequality and the effects of economic and demographic changes and government social programs on disadvantaged groups. Mr. Danziger has written widely about the effects of the 1996 welfare reform on the employment and economic well-being of single mothers. He is the co-author of America Unequal and Detroit Divided and co-editor of numerous books including Understanding Poverty, Working and Poor, The Price of Independence: The Economics of Early Adulthoot, and Changing Poverty.

Laura Dresser, PhD
Laura Dresser is Associate Director of COWS (Center on Wisconsin Strategy), affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A labor economist and expert on low-wage work and workforce development systems, she has both written about ways to build stronger labor market systems and worked extensively with labor, business, and community leaders in building them. Laura has written widely on race and gender inequality and labor market reform. She is most recently co-editor of The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market. Laura received her BA from Rice University and MSW and PhD from University of Michigan.

Anna Haley-Lock, PhD
Anna Haley-Lock is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work and holds a Term Professorship in Work/Life Leadership. Her research focuses on the relationship of workplace and job conditions to workforce stability, diversity, and performance. She has examined these issues within for-profit settings, studying low-wage, low-skill jobs, as well as nonprofit social service organizations. She is currently conducting research on variation in the employment conditions experienced by restaurant waitstaff in Seattle, Chicago, and Vancouver (Canada) chains, as well as in independently owned and chain restaurants in urban and rural Washington state. In another study, she is investigating the relationships of the location of employment, residence, and dependent care and timing of work and dependent care on the work-life balance of urban professionals. Ms. Haley-Lock teaches social policy, organizational theory and behavior and management in the Schools of Social Work and Business. She completed her graduate work at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

Julia R. Henly, PhD
Julia R. Henly is an Associate Professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and faculty affiliate of the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Ms. Henly is also a research affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. Her fields of interest include family poverty, child care and welfare policy, work-family strategies of low-wage workers, and informal support networks. Ms. Henly is a Co-Principal Investigator (with Susan Lambert) of the Scheduling Intervention Study, a randomized experimental study targeted at making work more predictable and flexible for workers, with the goal of reducing work-family conflict and improving key outcomes in the areas of child care, parenting practices, and parental stress and well-being. Ms. Henly is also the Principal Investigator of the Study of Work-Child Care Fit, a qualitative investigation of the work-family management strategies and child care arrangements of low-wage retail workers. From the perspective of child care providers, the study also considers the demands that parents' jobs place on child care providers and the responses of providers (across child care sectors) to irregular and unpredictable parental work schedules. In other work, Ms. Henly is using longitudinal survey data to investigate the predictors of child care subsidy use and the relationship between subsidy use and child care arrangements. Ms. Henly's work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, such as Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Work Research, Children and Youth Services Review, and Journal of Social Issues as well as several edited book volumes.

Heather Hill, PhD
Heather Hill is an Assistant Professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her research examines the effects of welfare and other social policies on low-income workers and their children. Ms. Hill is involved in the Next Generation Project, collaboration between researchers at MDRC and several academic institutions to explore how experimental welfare programs implemented in the 1990s affected the wellbeing of the participants’ children. In current work, she is using that experimental data to explore the effects of maternal employment and job loss on children’s behavioral and health outcomes. She is also beginning a research program to more closely examine the effects of job characteristics, such as health insurance coverage and paid sick leave, on family functioning and children’s health. Ms. Hill holds a MPP degree from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.

Roberta Rehner Iversen, PhD
Roberta Rehner-Iversen is an Associate Professor and former Associate Dean for academic affairs (2000-2005) at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice. Her research area is broadly poverty and employment study: specifically, low-income families and economic mobility, which also involves study of welfare and workforce development programs and policies. She engages primarily in ethnographic and other forms of qualitative research. Her recent 5-year, 5-city ethnography on low-income families and economic mobility received independent grant funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and resulted in a highly-reviewed book in 2006 (Iversen, R.R. & Armstrong, A.L. Jobs Aren’t Enough: Toward a New Economic Mobility for Low-Income Families, Philadelphia, Temple University Press). Earlier, Ms. Iversen examined the role of social work in labor market institutions and proposed a reformulation of occupational social work oriented to the employment needs of low-income families. This strand of her research was published in Social Work and International Social Work.

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr. PhD

Anne Ladky
Anne Ladky is a founding member of Women Employed, an organization dedicated to improving women’s economic status and removing barriers to economic equity. She joined the staff in 1977 and was named Executive Director in 1985. She is a nationally recognized expert on equal opportunity, career development, and the problems of low-wage work. Anne has directed national policy programs on equal opportunity enforcement. In addition, she has developed advocacy programs aimed at reducing female poverty, and designed model pre-employment training programs for low-income women and girls. She is also on the Illinois Workforce Investment Board, which oversees all state workforce development activity. She is a member of the Chicago Network and the Community Advisory Board of the Junior League of Chicago. She is also the past president of the Chicago Jobs Council. Anne holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University.

Susan Lambert, PhD
Susan Lambert is one of a handful of researchers in the work-family field who studies hourly jobs and low-income workers. Over the past twenty years, Ms. Lambert has conducted a series of studies revealing the hidden realities of hourly jobs that make it difficult for workers to earn an adequate living and to effectively manage their caregiving responsibilities. Most recently, Ms. Lambert completed a study of 88 hourly jobs housed in Chicago-area corporations in the retail, hospitality, transportation, and financial services industries. The study examined how opportunities for wage growth, benefit access, sustained employment, and an adequate income are shaped by practices found on the front-lines of today’s firms. Currently, Ms. Lambert co-directs, with Julia R. Henly, a workplace experiment that examines the causal effects of improved scheduling practices on sales associates’ work performance, family practices, and well-being. Ms. Lambert’s research has contributed to the “business case” for progressive employer practices by providing hard evidence that family-responsive policies and practices can benefit both employees and employers.

Laura Lein, PhD
Laura Lein is Dean at the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. Her work has concentrated on the interface between families in poverty and the institutions that serve them. She received her doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University in 1973. Her research on families in poverty has extended over three decades. She recently co-authored (with Ronald Angel and Jane Henrici) Poor Families in America’s Health Care Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Life After Welfare (with Deanna Schexnadyer, University of Texas Press, 2007). She is the author, with Kathryn Edin, of Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1997). She is completing work on the family and financial lives of low-income, non-residential fathers. She is also continuing work on Katrina evacuees in the Austin, Texas area.

Virginia Parks, PhD
Virginia Parks is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. A geographer, Ms. Parks specializes in urban labor markets, residential segregation, immigration, and racial, ethnic, and gender patterns in low-wage employment. Ms. Parks is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation where she is working on a project with Dorian Warren (Columbia University) that examines local political responses by communities of color to economic inequality and the plight of low-wage work through a comparative case study of two anti-Wal-Mart campaigns in Chicago and Los Angeles. Other current research includes a cross-city examination of the racial, ethnic, and gender division of labor, especially in low-wage employment. Ms. Parks received her PhD in Geography (2002) and MA in Urban Planning (1997) from UCLA. Before her life as an academic, Ms. Parks worked as a community organizer.

David J. Pate, Jr., PhD
David J. Pate, Jr. is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Professor Pate’s research projects involve the use of qualitative research methods to examine the relationship of non-custodial fathers of children on welfare and their interaction with their children, the child support enforcement system, the mothers of their children, and the incarceration system. He has over twenty years of direct service, management, and policy experience in the field of social work. Prior to his appointment at UWM, he was the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, and held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a faculty affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for the Study of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Pate received a BSW degree from the University of Detroit, an AM in Social Work from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration and earned a PhD in Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jennifer Romich, PhD
Jennifer Romich is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Washington and a founding affiliate of the federally-funded West Coast Poverty Center. Ms. Romich studies resources and economics in families, with a particular emphasis on family budgets and interactions with public policy. Her past work has focused on how families view and use the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); the Chicago Extra Credit Savings Program, which linked EITC and tax returns with a matched savings incentive program; and child and family well-being as experienced by families in the Milwaukee New Hope anti-poverty demonstration program. In collaboration with the Seattle Housing Authority and several UW Social Work graduate students, Ms. Romich is currently launching a one-year ethnographic study of Seattle Housing Authority residents who are participating in the Seattle Asset Building Initiative. Ms. Romich holds a BA and master’s degrees in Economics and earned a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.

H. Luke Shaefer, PhD
H. Luke Shaefer is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. His work focuses on the effectiveness of the U.S. social safety net in serving low-wage workers and economically disadvantaged families. His research on low-wage work, social policy, and social service administration has appeared in Social Service Review, Journal of Poverty, and Administration in Social Work. His recent work explores the effects of nonstandard work characteristics on workers' access to social benefits such as health insurance coverage and unemployment insurance. Mr. Shaefer is currently co-principal investigator on a study of the financial and medical effects associated with expansions of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Mr. Shaefer received his PhD from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration in 2008.

Margaret C. Simms, PhD
Margaret C. Simms is an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., where she directs the Low Income Working Families project. Prior to joining the Urban Institute in July 2007, she was a Vice President at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Margaret has held academic appointments at Atlanta University and the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has edited many books and monographs on black economic well-being, and has written extensively on issues of employment and training, education, income and poverty, and minority business development. Margaret served as editor of the Review of Black Political Economy from 1983 to 1988. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the National Research Council Committee on the Fiscal Future of the United States. Margaret received her PhD in Economics from Stanford University.

Jennifer E. Swanberg, PhD
Jennifer E. Swanberg is an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work with joint appointments in the Colleges of Business, Medicine, and Public Health. An internationally recognized scholar, she studies quality workplaces as a business and work-life effectiveness strategy. Ms. Swanberg serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Workplace Innovation at the University of Kentucky. Her research has been published in top-tier journals, and she has appeared as a work-family expert on television and radio. She has been recognized by Alliance of Work-Life Progress as one of the profession’s Rising Stars, and her research has been recognized as among the top research articles by the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research. She holds a PhD in Social Policy and a master’s in Human Services Management from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University and a BS in occupational therapy from the University of New Hampshire.

Carrie Thomas, JD
Carrie Thomas joined the Chicago Jobs Council (CJC) as Associate Director in March 2008. In this role, Ms. Thomas provides oversight and leadership for CJC’s program and policy work and represents CJC in various workforce development initiatives. Prior to joining CJC, Ms. Thomas spent ten years advocating on behalf of low-wage, un- and underemployed, and dislocated workers in Minnesota, most recently as Policy Director for the St. Paul-based JOBS NOW Coalition. While in Minnesota she served as vice-chair of the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board, co-chair of the Board of Directors of Child Care WORKS, and as a member of the state’s Unemployment Insurance Advisory Committee. After several years working in programs for children and families in Chicago, Ms. Thomas attended and graduated in 1997 from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.

Elaine Waxman, AM
Elaine Waxman is a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, working with Professors Susan Lambert, PhD and Julia R. Henly, PhD. Her dissertation research explores the nature of opportunity associated with lower-level retail jobs in the Chicago area. Ms. Waxman has worked on a number of research projects related to low-wage employment, including studies of employer scheduling practices, organizational stratification, the work and child care strategies of low-income mothers with young children, and the public benefit problems encountered by former welfare recipients. Ms. Waxman has over 20 years of experience in policy analysis, research and consulting. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

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Julia Henly

Julia Henly

Susan Lambert

Susan Lambert