Vanessa Williamson

Vanessa Williamson

Senior Fellow – Governance Studies, Senior Fellow – Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

Vanessa Williamson is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings, and a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. She studies taxation, redistribution, and political participation.

She is the author of “Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes“, which brings together national survey data with in-depth interviews to explore why Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and moral obligation. She is also the author, with Harvard professor Theda Skocpol, of “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism“, which examines how the Tea Party pushed the Republican Party farther to the right. The book was named one of the ten best political books of the year in the New Yorker. Her current book project, Taxation for Representation, traces the role of tax policy in the advances and reversals of American democracy.

She has written on school segregation, tax opinion, and tax politics in the Washington Post; about the Tea Partyanti-union legislation and voter registration at income tax filing in the New York Times; about taxpayer citizenship in the Atlantic; about philanthropy and austerity and white supremacy in Dissent; and about democracy and organizing for Teen Vogue. She has discussed her research on NPR’s “Marketplace,” CSPAN’s “Washington Journal,” CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” and MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” She received her Ph.D. in social policy from Harvard University. She is a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Responsive Government.

  • Current Positions

    • Author, “Read My Lips: Why Americans are Proud to Pay Taxes”
  • Past Positions

    • Policy Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
  • Education

    • Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy, Harvard University, 2015
    • M.A. Institute of French Studies, high honors, New York University, 2004
    • B.A. in French Language and Literature, magna cum laude, New York University, 2003
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