Thinking Bigger: New Fellows Expand the Scope of Roosevelt Institute’s Economic Policy Work

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Damon Silvers, Susan Holmberg, and J.W. Mason will focus their research on macroeconomic policy and the financialization of the economy.

Roosevelt Institute

When Franklin D. Roosevelt put his team together to craft the New Deal, he sought out thinkers and doers who could rise to the challenges of their time. As the Roosevelt Institute works to carry on that legacy and build a New Deal for the 21st century, the nation’s challenges remain daunting: a growing concentration of wealth and power, a labor force struggling against exploitative working conditions, and a compromised democracy that favors the few over the many. To aid in developing policy ideas that match the scale of these problems, the Institute is pleased to announce three new additions to its Four Freedoms Center think tank: Senior Fellow Damon Silvers and Fellows Susan Holmberg and J.W. Mason.

“Inequality in the United States is disturbingly on the rise, and Americans are eager to pursue bold and meaningful solutions,” said Felicia Wong, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute. “Activists, policymakers, and everyday workers are fighting for progress across the country, and these new additions to our roster of fellows will make the Roosevelt Institute an even stronger thought partner to allies.”

Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel for the AFL-CIO, plans to focus his work at the Roosevelt Institute on policies and practical strategies that can revive the social vision of the New Deal. Holmberg, who also serves as the Roosevelt Institute’s Director of Research, will continue her ongoing investigation of executive pay and corporate governance structures as drivers of economic inequality. Mason, an assistant professor of economics at John Jay College, CUNY, will work with Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal to examine the financialization of the economy. Supporting Konczal and Mason will be Nell Abernathy, a Program Manager at the Roosevelt Institute who also works with Senior Fellow W. Bowman Cutter on the Next American Economy Project.

“Each of these new fellows is working on a distinct and important part of the overall puzzle, which is the shifting relationship among capital, labor, and democracy in the U.S.,” said David Palmer, Director of the Four Freedoms Center at the Roosevelt Institute. “Alongside existing Roosevelt Institute initiatives like the Future of Work, Women and Girls Rising, and the Next American Economy, this financialization and macroeconomic policy work will help set an ambitious agenda for reform.”

In addition to his work with the Roosevelt Institute and the AFL-CIO, Silvers serves on a pro bono basis as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York. He is also a member of the Investor Advisory Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department’s Financial Research Advisory Committee, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s Standing Advisory Group and Investor Advisory Group. He received his J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, an M.B.A. with high honors from Harvard Business School, and is a Baker Scholar.

Holmberg holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the premier center for research and teaching in heterodox economics. Prior to coming to the Roosevelt Institute, she worked with Econ4 and the Center for Popular Economics, organizations that work to foster economic literacy in the civic space and reform economics education in the classroom. She has also worked at the Political Economy Research Institute and as a Research Analyst and Community Organizer at the Center for Rural Studies in Vermont.

Mason did his graduate work at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago. In addition to his scholarly work, he has done policy work for the New York Working Families Party, the New York City Independent Budget Office, and the AFL-CIO, and has published popular articles in The Nation, In These Times, The American Prospect, The Baffler, Jacobin, and The New Inquiry, among other venues. He blogs on economics and politics at

Abernathy previously worked as an economics journalist in emerging markets including Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, and China, and at the Clinton Global Initiative, where her focus was advanced manufacturing. She has a Master's Degree in International Finance and Economic Policy from Columbia University's School of International and Political Affairs and a B.A. from Brown University.

For a full list of Roosevelt Institute Fellows, click here.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Tim Price.

About the Roosevelt Institute

The Roosevelt Institute is an ideas and leadership organization founded in the belief that America should offer opportunity to all. To develop a new social contract for the 21st century, we advance the work of progressive economists and social policy thinkers and support an emerging generation of leaders as they design solutions to the nation’s most pressing issues. For more information, visit us at or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tim Price
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