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About the Center on Children and Families

The Center on Children and Families (CCF) studies policies that affect the well-being of America’s children and their parents, especially children in less advantaged families. The Center addresses the issues of poverty, inequality, and lack of opportunity in the United States and seeks to find more effective means of addressing these problems.

CCF also houses the Future of the Middle Class Initiative which seeks to improve the quality of life of America’s middle class and to increase the number of people rising to join its ranks.


Gary Burtless, Senior Fellow, Future of the Middle Class Initiative

Gary researches issues connected with the income distribution and poverty, public finance, aging, labor markets, social insurance, and the behavioral effects of government tax and transfer policy. Burtless graduated from Yale College in 1972 and received a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. Before coming to Brookings in 1981, he served as an economist in the policy and evaluation offices of the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Beyond Deng, Senior Research Assistant

Beyond is a public policy researcher whose work lies at the intersection of economic, gender and queer studies. He graduated from Williams College with a BA in Economics and Mathematics, where he wrote a thesis on gender and home production in relation to job displacements. He previously interned with Rice University’s Baker Institute studying health care policy. His current interests include better data collection among LGBTQ+ households, unemployment and unemployment insurance, and development of social capital.

Coura Fall, Center Coordinator

Coura joined Brookings after graduating from American University, where she studied Political Science and Sociology. Previously, she interned at Brookings with the Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative in Governance Studies, where she assisted in research related to Black male unemployment and increased broadband access in rural communities of color. Her research interests include accessibility to wellness and mental health programs for students of color in higher education and differences in social mobility for Black men and women.

Tiffany Ford, Postdoctoral Fellow

Tiffany is a mixed methods researcher and advocate whose work focuses on inequality in subjective well-being in the United States. She is also a postdoctoral research associate with Cornell University where she is working to build a racial equity framework for policy. Tiffany earned her PhD from the University of Maryland College Park School of Public Policy in May 2021. In undergrad, she studied Human and Social Development and Economics at the University of Miami. She earned her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Simran Kalkat, Research Assistant

Simran joined the Center on Children and Families after graduating from the University of California, Davis and completing her degree in Economics. During her time at UC Davis she wrote a senior thesis on library programming and safety net participation. Previously, she interned at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Her research interests lie in education policy, employment, and safety net programs.

Sarah Reber, Visiting Fellow

Sarah is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research focuses on school desegregation, elementary and secondary education finance policy, and college access. She is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a California Center for Population Research (CCPR) affiliate, and a California Policy Lab (CPL) affiliated expert. Previously, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at UC Berkeley and a Research Assistant and Staff Economist on the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). 

Richard Reeves, Senior Fellow and Director, Future of the Middle Class Initiative

Richard is a senior fellow in Economic Studies, where he holds the John C. and Nancy D. Whitehead Chair. Richard is also the Director of the Future of the Middle Class Initiative. His research focuses on the middle class, inequality and social mobility. His publications for Brookings include his latest book Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It (2017). Richard has a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Warwick University.

Isabel V. Sawhill, Senior Fellow

Belle’s research spans a wide array of economic and social issues, including fiscal policy, economic growth, poverty, social mobility, and inequality. Her latest book is The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation, published by Yale University Press in 2018. She served as vice president and director of the Economic Studies program from 2003 to 2006, and as co-director of the Center on Children and Families from 2006 to 2015. Belle attended Wellesley College and received her PhD from New York University.

Jenny Schuetz, Fellow, Future of the Middle Class Initiative

Jenny is an expert in urban economics and housing policy, focusing particularly on housing affordability. Jenny has written extensively on land use regulation, housing prices, urban amenities, and neighborhood change. Jenny earned a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, a Master’s in City Planning from M.I.T., and a B.A. in Economics and Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia.

Ember Smith, Research Analyst

Ember joined the Center on Children and Families after completing her B.A. in Economics at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she wrote a thesis on impact of automation on the 2016 presidential election in the Mountain West. Before joining the team, she worked as a research assistant at the Lincy Institute focusing on state health policy, automation, and economic mobility. Ember researches social mobility, gender, and education policy.

Tara Watson, Rubenstein Fellow

Tara is an economist focused on U.S. social policy, with interests in the safety net, health, and immigration. She is professor of economics at Williams College, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and a co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources. In 2015-16, Watson served as deputy assistant secretary for microeconomic analysis in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Economic Policy.

Morgan Welch, Senior Research Assistant and Senior Project Coordinator

Morgan supports research and project operations for Senior Fellow Isabel Sawhill. Her research interests are focused in the areas of paid leave, time use, gender equity, and child welfare. Morgan holds a B.A in Political Science, with a minor in Spanish, from the School of Public Affairs at American University. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Policy from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

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