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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.

Kristin Butcher, Senior Fellow and Director, Center on Children and Families

Kristin is the director of the Center on Children and Families, the Cabot Family Chair, and a senior fellow in Economic Studies. She is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and is the inaugural holder of the Marshall I. Goldman Chair in Economics at Wellesley College, where she chaired the economics department for six years. Butcher earned her doctorate in economics at Princeton University and holds master’s degrees in economics from Princeton and the London School of Economics. She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at Wellesley College.

Jonathan Deng, Research Assistant

Jonathan is a public policy researcher whose interests include time use and gender, unemployment and unemployment insurance, and social and economic capital among queer populations. He graduated from Williams College with a BA in Economics and Mathematics, where he wrote a thesis on the gendered nature of home production in relation to unemployment shocks. He previously interned with Rice University’s Baker Institute studying health care policy and conducted economic research at Williams College and the University of Oxford.

Tiffany Ford, Postdoctoral Fellow

Tiffany is a mixed methods public policy and public health researcher and advocate whose research focuses on race-gender-class inequality in public health and well-being in the United States. She is also a postdoctoral associate with the Cornell University Department of Government 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 University of Miami and she also earned her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ariel Gelrud Shiro, Senior Research Assistant

Ariel joined Brookings after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Economics and Cognitive Science. Prior to joining Brookings, he interned at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in South Asia and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. While at Penn, he wrote a thesis on the effects of collaborative and competitive interactions on trust among children. His research focuses on race disparities in the American middle class and intragenerational mobility.

Christopher Pulliam, Research Analyst

Chris’s work and research interests include income and wealth inequality, economic mobility, and tax and social policy. Previously, he interned on Capital Hill and was a research assistant for several of his professors. He holds an M.P.A. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and a B.A. in economics and political science, also from Syracuse University.

Sarah Reber, Rubenstein Fellow, Future of the Middle Class Initiative

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, Senior Research Assistant

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 Brookings Mountain West focusing on state health policy, automation, and economic mobility. Ember currently authors the center’s twice-monthly newsletter, Class Notes, and researches gender and education policy.

Hannah Van Drie, Senior Center Coordinator

Hannah manages the projects and operations for the Center and the Future of the Middle Class Initiative, including communications, research, and development. Her research interests include economic mobility, social capital, and respect. Previously, she worked at the YMCA of Greater New Orleans as a Brand Specialist and Membership and Marketing Director and was a University of Pennsylvania Fox Leadership Program Non-Profit Management Fellow. Hannah received her B.A. in International Relations, with minors in History and Hispanic Studies, from Penn.

Morgan Welch, Senior Research Assistant and 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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