WHO WE ARE
The time has come to consider new, bold ways to make our economy work again for all Americans.
We live in a time of historic economic uncertainty. The dramatic increase in unreliable work and the concentration of wealth in too few hands threatens to undermine the foundation of the modern social contract: the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead in America.
The Economic Security Project challenges this status quo by catalyzing ideas that build economic power for all Americans. We serve as convener, strategist and funder. We disburse grants, identify gaps, develop communications research to inform the movements and coordinate events and convenings to encourage investment and action from others. We aim to support the emerging leaders in the economic justice field and ensure they have the networks, know-how, and money to succeed.
We’ve identified two fights we think we can win: a guaranteed income that would provide an income floor for all Americans and anti-monopoly action to rein in the unprecedented concentration of corporate power.
Economic Security Project Team
Natalie is the co-chair and co-founder of the Economic Security Project, a network to support exploration and experimentation of a guaranteed income, and a senior fellow at the The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative....
In 2013, Natalie was founding CEO of Peers.org to support people who work in the gig economy. Prior, she was the CEO and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for people–driven economic change, with Van Jones.
Previously, Natalie served as digital director for President Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) and the Democratic National Committee. Natalie built the first digital department at the Sierra Club and served as the deputy organizing director for MoveOn.org.
She’s been awarded fellowships at Institute for the Future, Rockwood Leadership Institute and New America California, and is a board member of the California Budget and Policy Center, the Change.org global foundation, and Liberation in a Generation, a project to close the racial wealth gap.
In addition to his work at the Economic Security Project, Chris is a Senior Advisor at the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank working to reimagine the rules of the economy. He has led the Economic Security Project’s work to rewrite federal and
state tax codes to create a monthly tax credit for Americans most in need, a policy which would create a guaranteed income for working people in the United States. In 2018, he published his first book, Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn.
Before he began his work on economic issues, Hughes co-founded Facebook as a student at Harvard and later led Barack Obama’s digital organizing campaign for President. He was the owner and publisher of The New Republic magazine from 2012 to 2016 and a trustee of the Knight Foundation from 2011 to 2018. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and graduated from Harvard magna cum laude with a degree in History and Literature.
Dorian T. Warren is President of Community Change and Vice-President of Community Change Action. He is also Co-Chair of the Economic Security Project and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. A progressive scholar, organizer and media personality, Warren has worked to advance ... racial, economic and social justice for over two decades. He previously taught for over a decade at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, where he was Co-Director of the Columbia University Program on Labor Law and Policy. After growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Warren received his B.A. from the University of Illinois and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.
TAYLOR JO ISENBERG
Taylor Jo Isenberg is the Executive Director of the Economic Security Project. She was previously the Senior Advisor to the CEO & President and Vice President of the National Network at the Roosevelt Institute, an organization working to redefine the ... rules that guide our social and economic realities. She serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for Scalawag Magazine, a publication advancing social justice through the South’s diverse thinkers, writers and activists. She was a Forbes 30 under 30 for Law and Policy in 2015 and Fusion 30 under 30 Women Shaping Politics in 2016. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Chief of Staff
Leydy leads the organizational and programmatic operations at the Economic Security Project. Leydy’s identity as a black Latina immigrant from a low-income neighborhood in New York City ... fuels her passion for working towards equity and justice for communities that have historically experienced marginalization and oppression in the United States and around the world. She has spent the last decade in the nonprofit education sector, and most recently worked at Teach For All, where she supported social entrepreneurs in Latin America to launch and scale high impact organizations in order to catalyze systemic change in their local contexts. Leydy holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in international development.
Anti-Monopoly Fund Manager
Becky Chao is the Anti-Monopoly Fund Manager at the Economic Security Project. She was previously a Fellow and policy analyst at New America's Open Technology Institute ... where her research and advocacy focused on antitrust and tech/telecom issues, privacy, and broadband competition. Prior to joining New America, she worked on antitrust cases and merger review across a variety of sectors as an honors paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public policy and linguistics from Duke University. Originally from New York City, she is currently based in Washington, D.C.
Program and Operations Associate
Ebony is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. A social justice activist throughout college, she went on to provide operational support to nonprofits serving low-income and marginalized communities. Her current interests ... are the intersection of tech and economic justice, and how identity perception shapes our views on policy and society.
Michael Conti is a photographer and digital artist creating online media and communications strategies at the Economic Security Project. Previously, he used advanced meme technology to improve the public dialogue around issues of immigration and American identity at Define American ... . Michael is based in the Bay Area, and is always looking for new ways to use humor to explore new ideas and create positive connections.
CARA ROSE DEFABIO
Special Initiatives Director
Cara Rose DeFabio is a writer, artist and producer working at the intersection of culture and technology, who believes that the future should not be a privilege, but a universal right. Her tech-integrated theater shows have garnered critical acclaim in ... the Bay Area, examining such issues as mourning on Facebook, and AI and intimacy. Working at Fusion Media she brought her love of live events to journalism, creating the Real Future Fair, a conference focused on technology and social justice. Cara lives and works in her hometown of San Francisco and is thrilled to bring her storytelling skills to the fight for economic equality.
Director of Resources and Evaluation
Guen Han is the Director of Development & Operations at the Economic Security Project. Previously, she served as the Director of Development at Welcoming America, where she led the organization’s fundraising efforts and played a key role in its communications ... activities. Prior to Welcoming America, Guen worked at Amnesty International USA, where she supported Amnesty’s community organizing efforts in the South and Midwest on issues such as death penalty abolition, immigrants’ rights, prisoners of conscience, and women’s rights. Guen is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University, and she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Comparative Studies and a Certificate in Policy Journalism and Media Studies from Duke University. She is based in the metro Atlanta area.
Lindsey Hallingquest is the Development Associate at the Economic Security Project. Previously, he served as a Development Research Analyst in the Office of University Development at Duke University ... A native of Barnwell, SC, Lindsey graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in political science in 2017. An advocate for radical inclusion, Lindsey has dedicated much of his work and volunteer experience advocating on behalf of those who are not often invited to the table.
Saadia comes to the Economic Security Project with more than a decade of television reporting and advocacy communications experience. She was most recently on the external relations team at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and previously ran storytelling ... and communications operations for Define American, a nonprofit that works to shift the national conversation around undocumented immigrants. She was also a reporter and producer at Bloomberg News, as well as communications director at Malaria No More and Economic Fairness Oregon. Her work highlighting the stories of refugees and immigrants as well as her own background as an immigrant inspired Saadia to write a forthcoming historical fiction novel that contrasts the 1947 partition of India with the Trump Administration’s 2017 immigration ban.
Director of Guaranteed Income
Madeline Neighly is the Director of Guaranteed Income at the Economic Security Project. Prior to joining ESP, she was a Director of Advocacy and Policy at the Roosevelt Institute where she focused on ... corporate power issues. Madeline previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor on criminal records at the Council of State Governments Justice Center, where she developed the Clean Slate Clearinghouse, as an attorney at Columbia Legal Services representing prisoners, and as a staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project working to expand fair employment opportunities for people with criminal records. Madeline has a JD from the University of California, Berkeley Law.
Adam Ruben has two decades of experience at the leading edge of online campaigning and fundraising, grassroots organizing, communications, and progressive political campaigns. He was the architect behind MoveOn’s successful campaigns to take over the House, Senate, and White House ... creating a tech-enabled model of scalable field organizing that has spread throughout the progressive movement. He spent more than four years growing the Fight for $15, melding traditional communications with digital strategy, and has consulted with organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Working Families Party, Voter Participation Center, Run Warren Run, PCCC, and Global Zero.
Federal Campaign Director
Anna Aurilio has fought for the public interest for nearly three decades. As the DC director for Environment America and, prior to that, as the Legislative Director for U.S. PIRG, Anna led a team of advocates and mobilized grassroots members ... and state networks to win policies to cut pollution, protect public lands, and boost renewable energy and auto fuel economy. She helped create the Climate Action Campaign, a coalition of national environmental groups working to win national climate action, and the Green Scissors campaign which recruited bi-partisan support to cut billions of dollars in government spending for wasteful, harmful programs. She has testified in Congress numerous times, been quoted in major news outlets, and was annually named a top grassroots lobbyist by The Hill for nearly a decade. Anna is on the board of directors of Voices for Progress and the National Environmental Law Center.
Sachin Chheda has worked for more than 25 years as a grassroots advocate and campaign strategist, in the reproductive freedom, fair trade, international human rights, voting rights, and public education movements. He moves candidate, issue, and referendum campaigns from launch to ... victory, and as director of the Fair Elections Project, helped organize and launch the Whitford case to limit partisan gerrymandering, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. Sachin now helps manage the Economic Security Project’s work in states across the country. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and their four children, and currently serves on the board of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He previously served as national chairperson of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Contact info: 414-412-6099
State Campaigns Director
Pedro Morillas has spent the past 15 years directing issue advocacy campaigns at every level of government. From local ordinances on solar power, to national efforts focused on reducing gun violence, his experience spans a wide array of progressive issues, ... campaign strategies and tactics. He helped design and implement Everytown for Gun Safety’s state legislative advocacy program, which helped reshape the political landscape on what used to be considered a third rail political issue. Prior to that he directed the immigration reform efforts at Organizing for Action. Pedro got his start in state legislative advocacy in California as the legislative director of the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) where he spent five years in Sacramento working to advance consumer protection and good government reforms.
California Campaign Director
Teri Olle is the California Campaign Director for Economic Security Project Action. Beginning her career as an attorney, Teri soon moved into policy and issue advocacy, working on state and local efforts to ban toxic chemicals and pesticides, decrease food ... insecurity and hunger, increase gender representation in politics. She is a founding member of a political action committee dedicated to inserting parent voice into local politics and served as the president of the board of Emerge California. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two daughters.
Campaign Research Director
Kelli Smith is the Campaign Research Director for the Economic Security Project. Before joining the ESP team, she led efforts in Washington state to improve economic well-being through a more ... equitable tax code, spearheading the campaign to modernize the state Earned Income Tax Credit. Her research and policy expertise spans an array of issues affecting economic security, including progressive revenue, equitable state budgeting, economic mobility, and K-12 and higher education funding. Kelli started her career as an attorney and holds a J.D. from University of California, Davis School of Law.
President Emeritus of SEIU
Andy Stern is the President Emeritus of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Stern has been featured on The Colbert Show, 60 Minutes, CNN, Charlie Rose, and on the covers of the New York Times Magazine, Fortune, and ... on the covers of the New York Times Magazine, Fortune, and BusinessWeek. Mr. Stern was a Presidential Appointee on the Simpson- Bowles Commission and is now a Senior Fellow at The Economic Security Project. His new book –Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Restore the American Dream calls for America to take bold action to prepare for the massive potential of job disruption.
Senior Fellow, Economic Security Project
Mia Birdsong is a family and community visionary who has spent more than 20 years fighting for the self-determination, and pointing out the brilliant adaptations, of everyday people. As Co-Director of Family Story, she is updating this nation’s outdated picture ... of the family in America (hint: rarely 2.5 kids and two heterosexual parents living behind a white picket fence). She is a Senior Fellow at the Economic Security Project, where she is expanding the current universal basic income movement to include perspectives and leadership from communities experiencing economic and racial injustice. Previously, Mia was the Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative, an organization that leverages the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives. Mia’s 2015 TED talk, “The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True,” has been viewed over 1.6 million times already. She publishes widely, including her occasional cult-favorite column #advicefromagrownandsexyblackwoman, and speaks at universities and conferences across the country. Mia is also a modern Renaissance woman. She has spent time organizing to abolish prisons, teaching teenagers about sex and drugs, interviewing literary luminaries like Edwidge Danticat, David Foster Wallace, and John Irving, and attending births as a midwifery apprentice. Mia is a graduate of Oberlin College, an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute, and a New America California Fellow. She sits on the Board of Directors of Forward Together and the North Oakland Community Charter School. She lives and dreams big in Oakland, California.
Senior Fellow, Economic Security Project
Ameya Pawar is the former alderman of Chicago’s 47th Ward and the first Asian and Indian American elected to the Chicago City Council and major office in Illinois. While in office, Ameya focused legislative efforts around social justice, worker rights, ... and economic justice. To this end, Ameya led most all labor policy and worker rights legislation passed in Chicago over the last eight years, including raising the minimum wage to $13/hr, guaranteeing paid sick leave, combating wage theft, and preserving housing for Chicago’s most vulnerable. Ameya has a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Missouri Valley College, a master’s degree in public administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and is a two-time graduate from the University of Chicago with master’s degrees in threat and response management and social service administration. Ameya was a US State Department Critical Language Program alum, a 2012 University of Illinois Edgar Fellow, and was named to Crain’s Chicago 40 under 40 in 2011. Most recently, he was named a 2018 McCormick Foundation Executive Fellow. Prior to leaving office, Ameya chaired the Chicago Resilient Families Task Force. The task force made recommendations on a city-run basic income pilot, the expansion and modernization of the EITC, and the need for narrative change public policy.