News Release

The Hamilton Project at Brookings Announces New Leadership Team

September 18, 2013

Washington, DC – The Hamilton Project has announced that Professor Melissa Kearney of the University of Maryland will succeed Michael Greenstone as director of The Hamilton Project, and Benjamin H. Harris, currently affiliated with the Urban Institute, will succeed Adam Looney as policy director. Karen Anderson will remain as managing director of the Project, overseeing the daily operations of the Project, as well as outreach and communications. The Hamilton Project is an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution.

“Melissa is an exceptionally talented economist whose research and writing focuses on economic problems, such as poverty, social mobility and income inequality, that rank highest among our nation’s economic challenges and The Hamilton Project’s priorities,” said Robert E. Rubin, one of the Project’s founders and the nation’s 70th Treasury Secretary.

Kearney, who received her PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her research, which focuses on issues of social policy, poverty, and inequality, is widely recognized by academic economists and policy experts on both sides of the political aisle and reflects the Project’s concerns about broad-based participation in our nation’s economic growth. She will split her time between The Hamilton Project and the economics faculty at the University of Maryland, where she serves as a tenured associate professor. Kearney will also serve as a senior fellow in Brookings’ Economic Studies program.

“I am honored and delighted to be joining the Hamilton Project,” said Kearney. “The Hamilton Project occupies a unique position in the public intellectual sphere—it is committed to sound policy, not ideology, and offers innovative, practical, and evidence-based proposals from leading economic scholars. I look forward to working with the Advisory Council and staff to continue building on the Project’s important work.”

Praise for Kearney’s appointment was offered by James Poterba, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, who said: “Melissa Kearney is a distinguished economist and an expert on social policy. Her research has helped to explain the rising inequality in the U.S. labor market and has explored how transfer programs affect the economic well-being of disadvantaged households. Melissa is passionate about using economic analysis to improve public policy; she will be an outstanding leader of The Hamilton Project.”

Benjamin H. Harris, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, has joined The Hamilton Project’s leadership team as policy director and a Brookings fellow. Harris previously served as senior economist with the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, a research economist with the Brookings Institution, and a senior economist with the House Budget Committee.

Karen Anderson, the Project’s managing director, joined The Hamilton Project in 2006 and returned in 2010, following a leave to serve as Chief of Staff for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Roger Altman, also a co-founder of The Hamilton Project and a Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, added his praise for the new leadership team. “Melissa Kearney’s reputation for academic excellence makes her an ideal fit to lead the Hamilton Project,” Altman said. “The combined talents of Kearney, Anderson and Harris will be a powerful force in driving the work of the Project.”

Brookings’ Vice President for Economic Studies, Ted Gayer, expressed his support for the appointments of Kearney and Harris: “We are delighted to welcome Melissa back to Brookings and Economic Studies. She continues The Hamilton Project tradition of bringing a strong academic background to the policy world, and we look forward to working with her again as she continues her focus on social policy. We are also very happy to have Ben Harris rejoin Brookings.”

Launched in 2006, The Hamilton Project offers a strategic vision and produces innovative policy proposals on how to create a growing economy that benefits more Americans. Over the last seven years, The Hamilton Project has put forward a series of innovative ideas in the form of papers and books. The Project has hosted also events on a wide range of issues that reached a broad audience and had both immediate and lasting impacts on policymakers at the federal level and among state and local governments.

Kearney exemplifies a tradition of excellence started by founding Hamilton Project director Peter Orszag, continued by Jason Furman and Doug Elmendorf, and most recently upheld by Michael Greenstone, the 3M Professor of Environmental Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Greenstone’s appointment as director at The Hamilton Project in 2010 was predicated on his ability to return to full-time teaching and research this fall.

“Melissa has established herself as an innovative thinker and leading researcher on many crucial public policy questions, including poverty and inequality,” said Orszag. “I am thrilled that she will lead The Hamilton Project in the next phase of its important work.”

Ben Harris succeeds Adam Looney, previously an economist with the Federal Reserve Board and the senior economist for public finance and tax policy with the Council of Economic Advisers. Looney will remain a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at Brookings and focus on his academic research.

Rubin offered his appreciation for the work of Greenstone and Looney: “Under Michael’s leadership, The Hamilton Project has sponsored research, hosted events, and disseminated cutting edge analysis of our nation’s unemployment problems to help policymakers advance economic growth, wide participation in that growth, and increased economic security in a transforming global economy. Michael and Adam, together, brought tremendous thoughtfulness, energy and creativity to the work of The Hamilton Project.”

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.