Our committed, passionate staff bring far-reaching, interdisciplinary expertise to a broad range of policy issues all with one common goal: to inform policy, inspire change, and improve the lives of women, families, and communities. IWPR’s staff members have training in economics, sociology, psychology, international development, theology, public policy, and women’s studies, enabling us to utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to research.
Dr. C. Nicole Mason is the president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), a leading voice on pay equity, economic policies, and research impacting women. Having stepped into this role in November 2019, Dr. Mason is the youngest person currently leading one of the major inside-the-Beltway think tanks in Washington, D.C., and one of the few women of color to do so. She succeeded noted economist and MacArthur Fellow Heidi Hartmann, the Institute’s founding CEO.
As one of the nation’s foremost intersectional researchers and scholars, Dr. C. Nicole Mason brings a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. For the past two decades, Dr. Mason has spearheaded research on issues relating to economic security, poverty, women’s issues, and entitlement reforms; policy formation and political participation among women, communities of color, and youth; and racial equity. Prior to IWPR, Dr. Mason was the executive director of the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, the nation’s only research and policy center focused on women of color at a nationally ranked school of public administration. She is also an inaugural Ascend Fellow at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Mason is the author of Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America (St. Martin’s Press) and has written hundreds of articles on community development, women, poverty, and economic security. Her writing and commentary have been featured in the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, Real Clear Politics, Nation, Washington Post, Marie Claire, the Progressive, ESSENCE, Bustle, BIG THINK, Miami Herald, Democracy Now, and numerous NPR affiliates, among others.
Cynthia Hess is Chief Operating Officer (COO) at IWPR and Scholar in Residence at American University. In her role as COO, Cynthia oversees the operations of the Institute while working with program staff to support the execution of research and other projects. As COO, Cynthia serves as a member of the executive leadership team within the organization and works closely with the President and staff to develop and implement organizational systems and processes to maximize efficiency and support future growth.
Prior to her position as COO, Cynthia served as Associate Director of Research, directing IWPR’s research on numerous issues including projects on intimate partner violence, workforce development, and women’s leadership and activism. Under her tenure, IWPR expanded its longstanding Status of Women in States project and launched an accompanying website, statusofwomendata.org. Cynthia has been quoted in a number of media outlets including The Washington Post, Fortune, Governing magazine and, The Boston Globe.
Before joining the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Dr. Hess taught for two years as a visiting faculty member in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Ph.D. in Theology from Yale University and her A.B. from Davidson College.
Keri Potts a is 21-year corporate communications executive with stops at Nike, the NCAA and, for the past 17 years, ESPN, where she served as senior director, communications, leading strategy for the company’s largest content portfolio – college sports. During her tenure, she publicized properties ranging from Monday Night Football, NBA and WNBA, to ESPN Films and its 30 for 30 documentary series, The ESPYs, English Premier League, and the launch of espnW. In addition, she provided training and content guidance across the company on matters of gender-based violence.
Potts is an experienced anti-sexual violence speaker, victims advocate and non-profit leader for domestic and international gender-based violence crisis services. She serves as President of the Board for Pathways to Safety International, which provides comprehensive assistance and case management to Americans sexually assaulted or abused abroad. In addition, she is a certified rape crisis counselor and victims advocate, volunteering for the past seven years in the states of Connecticut and Georgia.
Potts was graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a B.S. in magazine journalism and a M.S. in organizational management and public relations. She was co-captain of Syracuse’s Division I volleyball team and was a first-team Academic All-American selection and a LetterWinner of Distinction. Professionally, she has won numerous industry awards for her work, has served on the board of the Naismith Award and as a member of the Atlanta Hawks Diversity & Inclusion Council, and has been recognized as a PRWeek ‘2020 Woman to Watch’ and ‘40 Under 40’ honoree (2016), and ESPN’s Volunteer of the Year (2017).
Potts hails from Long Island, New York
Office of the President
Heidi Hartmann is the President Emerita and Senior Research Economist at the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), a scientific research organization that she founded in 1987 to meet the need for women-centered, policy-oriented research. Dr. Hartmann is also a Distinguished Economist In-Residence for Gender and Economic Analysis at American University and serves as the Editor of the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy.
Dr. Hartmann lectures internationally on women, economics, and public policy; frequently testifies before the U.S. Congress; and is often cited as an authority in various media outlets, such as CNN, ABC News, The New York Times, and PBS NewsHour. She has published numerous articles in journals and books and her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. She is a co-author of several IWPR reports, including Women’s and Men’s Employment and Unemployment in the Great Recession; Still A Man’s Labor Market: The Long-Term Earnings Gap; Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave; Equal Pay for Working Families, and Strengthening Social Security for Women. She served as Chair of the Board of the American Academy of Political Science, and Treasurer of the National Council of Women’s Organizations.
Prior to founding IWPR, Dr. Hartmann was on the faculties of Rutgers University and the New School for Social Research and worked at the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1994, Dr. Hartmann was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship Award for her work in the field of women and economics. She is an economist with a B.A. from Swarthmore College and M. Phil and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University, all in economics. She is the recipient of two honorary degrees. She was named a Charlotte Perkins Gilman Fellow by the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2014, and in 2017 she received the Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociological Association.
Jeff Hayes is a sociologist and Scholar in Residence at American University and works on research examining women’s and men’s employment, job quality, and economic security over the life course, including retirement. He currently oversees IWPR’s work analyzing usage and cost of paid family and medical leave in the United States and provides technical assistance to several states and localities considering how they might improve workers’ access to paid leave for their own health needs or to care for family members. Dr. Hayes has been interviewed on paid leave, income security, and job quality issues in The Washington Post, MarketWatch, Huffington Post, CNN Money, CNBC, and other outlets around the country.
Dr. Hayes has testified on the costs of paid leave proposals before the New York City Council, the DC city council, and the Maryland House Economic Matters committee. He is currently serving on the Maryland Task Force to Study Family and Medical Leave Insurance. He served on the Commission to Modernize Social Security and has provided technical assistance to members of the US Congress on including credits for caregiving in Social Security. Dr. Hayes is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. As an experienced survey researcher, Dr. Hayes advises on IWPR’s survey work and conducts major surveys such as the IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security.
Prior to joining IWPR, Dr. Hayes worked at the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Harvard Project on Global Working Families, analyzing how labor conditions affect children’s health and development around the world, and taught research methods at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He holds Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Religious Studies from the University of Virginia.
Job Quality and Income Security
Shengwei Sun is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Before joining IWPR, Shengwei was a postdoctoral fellow at the Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied the prevalence and gendered consequences of pay secrecy practices in the contemporary workplace. Shengwei’s research generally seeks to understand how workplace policy and labor market contexts shape gender, race, and class inequalities. Her dissertation examines the intersecting inequalities in the expanding paid care work sector. One chapter, published in the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, examines changing patterns of racial disparity in accessing well-paying jobs in the care work sector as the labor market becomes more precarious and unequal. Another line of her research investigates the consequences of economic downturns for young adults in the U.S.
At IWPR, Shengwei will contribute to projects in the areas of Job Quality & Income Security. She seeks to develop research on how to promote inclusive and equitable growth of the care work sector, as well as how to improve labor market outcomes for young workers.
Shengwei received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has taught undergraduate statistics at the Washington University.
Adiam Tesfaselassie is the Mariam K Chamberlain Fellow for 2018-2019 at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Adiam works on projects related to the status of women in the states, women and wealth accumulation, and future of work, examining how these topics intersect with racial and economic disparities.
Adiam’s prior research focused on the experiences of first-generation students in comparison to continuing generation students at Colorado State University. She independently analyzed the overall engagement of first-generation students using the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) data. Adiam also served as a research assistant on a Ph.D. dissertation that examines the relationship between a student’s networks and their academic performance, retention rate, and overall college experience throughout the years.
Adiam received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Employment and Earnings
Ariane Hegewisch is Program Director of Employment and Earnings at IWPR and Scholar in Residence at American University; prior to that she spent two years at IWPR as a scholar-in-residence. She came to IWPR from the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings. She is responsible for IWPR’s research on workplace discrimination and is a specialist in comparative human resource management, with a focus on policies and legislative approaches to facilitate greater work life reconciliation and gender equality, in the US and internationally. Prior to coming to the USA she taught comparative European human resource management at Cranfield School of Management in the UK where she was a founding researcher of the Cranet Survey of International HRM, the largest independent survey of human resource management policies and practices, covering 25 countries worldwide. She started her career in local economic development, developing strategies for greater gender equality in employment and training in local government in the UK. She has published many papers and articles and co-edited several books, including ‘Women, work and inequality: The challenge of equal pay in a deregulated labour market”. She is German and has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and an MPhil in Development Studies from the IDS, Sussex.
Chandra Childers is a Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. An expert on social stratification and social and economic inequality by race and sex, Chandra examines issues related to women and girls of color and job quality.
In addition to being cited in the press, including The Nation and The Atlantic, Chandra has given presentations on the findings of IWPR research reports at various policy conferences.
Before joining IWPR Chandra taught multiple undergraduate courses in Sociology at Texas Tech University and the University of Washington. Courses taught include Social Problems, Poverty & Inequality, and Research Practicum. Chandra completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Washington. Her dissertation examined trends in racial occupational segregation by sex.
Eve Mefferd is a Research Assistant for Employment and Earnings at IWPR.
Eve served as an Intern at IWPR in 2019, during which time she assisted in the production of IWPR’s report, “Women, Automation, and the Future of Work.” Prior to her work with IWPR, Eve was employed as a Research Assistant at Bennington College. Her work with Deborah M. Warnock, focusing on the predictors of belonging and integration of first generation, low-income, and working class college students, was accepted for panel presentation at the 2020 American Sociological Association conference. Eve was also sponsored by the Lumina Foundation for a project on work integrated learning in higher education.
Eve received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Public Policy from Bennington College, with a focus on socioeconomic class, housing, and educational policy. She has also received a certificate in Public Policy Analysis from the London School of Economics. Her senior thesis, a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the impact of gentrification on educational outcomes in Los Angeles, was selected for presentation at the 2020 ASA Student Forum. Eve served as President of the Student Educational Policies Committee at Bennington College, and is a 2020 American Sociological Association honors recipient.
Student Parent Success Initiative
Lindsey Reichlin is a Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Lindsey manages IWPR’s grant-funded projects under the Student Parent Success Initiative (SPSI), which promotes access to and success in college for women who are parents of dependent children. She also contributes to IWPR’s research on global women’s issues, including conducting case studies for a study funded by the International Finance Corporation on private sector provision of child care supports.
Lindsey has presented IWPR research at numerous events and conferences, including serving as a panelist on private sector strategies to promote work-family balance at UNDP’s Third Global Forum on Business for Gender Equality in Panama City. An expert on access to postsecondary education, Lindsey has been quoted in several outlets including The Washington Post, the National Journal, and Market Watch.
Prior to joining IWPR, Lindsey held positions at the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health and at Global Policy Solutions in Washington, D.C. Lindsey has a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she studied human rights, and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Susana Contreras-Mendez is a Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), working on student parent success and other postsecondary education issues as part of IWPR’s Center on Equity in Higher Education. Susana came to IWPR with expertise in increasing equitable access, opportunities and success in early and postsecondary education.
Prior to joining IWPR, Susana was a Policy Intern at Lumina Foundation’s Washington, DC, office where she supported efforts to increase the attainment of high-quality credentials and postsecondary education. During graduate school, Susana worked to support the recruitment of diverse graduate students through Minority Serving Institutional partnership initiatives and the Summer Research Opportunity Program. For over three years, Susana was a program specialist at Denise Louie Education Center, a Head Start and Early Head Start program in Seattle, WA. As a former Head Start child, first-generation college student, and McNair Scholar she has first-hand knowledge on the impact of educational inequities and the benefits of a postsecondary education.
Susana holds a Master of Higher Education with a concentration in Diversity and Social Justice from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s dual degree from the University of Washington in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education, Learning and Society.
Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health
Anna Bernstein is a Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, with the Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health. Anna works on projects related to abortion, contraception, and access to reproductive health services, examining how those topics intersect with economic issues.
Anna brings to the Center a background in public health, with a focus on reproductive health. Prior to joining IWPR, Anna worked at the research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at UCSF, as part of a team studying the effects of domestic abortion restrictions. She also previously held positions with Planned Parenthood Global and the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health section of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Anna received her Master of Public Health degree, concentrating on Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and her B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University.
Mayra is a doctoral candidate in the department of economics at Texas A&M University. Her research is in applied microeconomics, with interests in gender, education and health. Before attending graduate school, she obtained a B.A. in Economics from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) and worked in Mexico’s Central Bank. During her fellowship she is collaborating on an analysis of the impacts of recent U.S. abortion restrictions on women’s economic outcomes.
Ryan Koch joined IWPR in 2007 as the Development Director. He earned his MS in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech he majored in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. His area of study and interest has been and remains focused on issues of race, class and gender. Ryan comes to the IWPR after several years successfully writing grant proposals for the City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development and the Memphis Housing Authority. He spent most of his time working with the Housing Authority’s Humans Services programs and the City’s homeless Continuum of Care. Ryan is responsible for ensuring the Development Department runs smoothly and is excited about helping IWPR identify new funding opportunities and expanding its support.
External Affairs and Communications
Lea joined IWPR as a Development Associate to manage individual giving and support the grant process. She previously worked in communications and development at LeaderSpring Center in Oakland, CA and the Center for Women’s Leadership in Portland, OR. She has also gained political experience as an intern in a congressional office and on a gubernatorial reelection campaign.
Lea studied Philosophy at Portland State University and the University College London. After graduating, she volunteered as a Witness for Peace Delegate in Cuba before moving to China to teach English. Her professional interests include conflict resolution and public policy.
Research and Action Hub
Andrea Flynn is the Director of IWPR’s Research and Action Hub. Prior to joining IWPR, she spent eight years at the Roosevelt Institute, where she was most recently the Director of Health Equity. She is the co-author of The Hidden Rules of Race (Cambridge University Press, 2017). She frequently writes and speaks about the race and gender dimensions of economic inequality, reproductive health and justice, and health equity. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Ms. Magazine, The New Republic, Time, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. Her research has examined the legacy and impact of gendered racism in our economy and the role of economic policy in driving racial and gender health disparities.
Andrea teaches courses on reproductive and sexual health, public policy and economic inequality at the Mailman School for Public Health at Columbia University. She received her MPA and MPH from Columbia University, and her BA in journalism and women’s studies from Syracuse University. You can follow Andrea on Twitter @dreaflynn.
Elyse Shaw is a Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Elyse directs IWPR’s projects on the Status of Women in the United States, women’s political participation, and those related to women and girls of color, which examines the intersectional nature of race and gender on women’s lives.
Elyse also works extensively on workforce development and job training initiatives and contributes to IWPR’s research on global women’s issues, including providing technical assistance to the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization on the establishment of a gender policy institute in Palestine. Elyse has presented IWPR research on numerous webinars, panels, and to visiting international thought leaders and has provided commentary on a broad range of research topics. She has been quoted in several local and national outlets including The Washington Post and Public Radio International. She authored or co-authored several publications, including Assets for Equity: Building Wealth for Women in Central Ohio; Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs; Closing the Gender Gap in Patenting, Innovation, and Commercialization: Programs Promoting Equity and Inclusion; and Undervalued and Underpaid in America: Women in Low-Wage, Female-Dominated Jobs.
Prior to joining IWPR in August of 2012, Elyse received her Masters of International Relations from American University’s School of International Service, where she studied peace and conflict. She was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College.
Dr. Federiga Bindi is a new Senior Fellow at IWPR. She is also a tenured Professor of Political Science and Jean Monnet Chair at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, where she founded and directed the “Jean Monnet EU Center of Excellence” (2004-2012). She is also a Non Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations. Professor Bindi, who has a PhD from the European University Institute, has been a Visiting Fellow in a number of prestigious international institutions, among which the Brookings Institution, the Institute d’Études Politiques in Paris, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, the University of Lisbon and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Professor Bindi served in a number of senior positions in government, among which Senior Advisor to the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs (2008-2011); Acting Director of International Affairs and Director of International Training of the Italian National School of Administration (2010-2012) and Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Brussels (2012-2014). She published seven volumes, among which The Foreign Policy of the European Union: Assessing Europe’s Role in the World (2010 & 2012); The Frontiers of Europe: A Transatlantic Problem? (2011); Italy and the EU (2011), Analyzing European Union Politics (2012).
Federiga is currently editing a book Women Leaders in Foreign Policy for Brookings Press.
At IWPR, Federiga directs the Foreign Policy Initiative promoting women leadership in foreign policy and a feminist foreign policy. The project, which is financially supported by the European Commission, follows a previous initiative Federiga created in Brussels, Women Leaders in International Relations. She also leads the THE STATE OF WOMEN: Mapping Women Leadership in the World project, with support from the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
Program on Race, Gender, Ethnicity, and Economy
Chelsea Crittle is a Senior Research and Policy Associate, Special Initiatives at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. At IWPR, Chelsea will contribute to projects in the areas of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and the Economy and the Research and Action Hub.
Prior to joining IWPR, Chelsea was an American Evaluation Association Graduate Education Diversity Intern (GEDI) at the Center of Creative Leadership. There, she supported initiatives to assess, evaluate, and improve equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the organization. In graduate school, Chelsea’s research examined racial and gender bias, diversity and inclusion, allyship, and bias confrontation. Her dissertation explored ways to address racial exclusion within collegiate STEM classrooms. Chelsea has also served as the Dalmas Taylor Policy fellow for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social issues and worked as a policy fellow for the Research-to-Policy Collaboration.
Chelsea earned her Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science in Social Psychology from Tufts University, as well as a Bachelor‘s in Psychology with a minor in Comparative Women’s Studies from Spelman College.
Theron Pickett is currently a Senior at Georgetown University majoring in Government. This semester she is working as an intern under Dr. Chelsea Crittle. As an intern, she will learn about the fundamentals of the non-profit sector and gain insight into policy research on intersectional issues that impact women’s economic justice.
Valerie is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. She conducts empirical analysis for research projects related to the Future of Work, entrepreneurship, and the Student Parent Success Initiative.
Prior to joining IWPR, Valerie had more than seven years of experience doing research and project implementation for development organizations, including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Organization of American States. Valerie has worked and lived in several countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and is fluent in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole. She has also been an Adjunct Instructor at American University, George Mason University and University of Mary Washington where she taught Economic Theory, Business and Society, and Gender Economics.
Valerie has a PhD in Economics from American University. Her dissertation combined quantitative and qualitative data to analyze immigrant labor outcomes while considering the intersectionality of gender, race, ethnicity and culture.
Catherine Hensly is an Economics PhD candidate at American University, where she also received her MA degree in Economics. Her current research is within the fields of gender and development microeconomics with an emphasis on women’s health outcomes and political participation. Her previous work includes equitable access and relative debt burden of college education by major and the interrelationship of female autonomy and HIV vulnerability. In addition to being a Doctoral Fellow at IWPR, she also is an Academic Affiliate at the Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) and a Contributing Scholar and Communications Team Member for the Care Work and the Economy (CWE-GAM) Project.
Halie Mariano is the 2020-2021 Mariam K. Chamberlain Fellow at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Prior to her time at IWPR, Halie served as a qualitative research assistant on a health inequality project sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation within Bucknell University’s Sociology department. This research focuses on linking electronic health records and in-depth interviews to uncover barriers to social mobility and health for women. Halie also conducted independent research comparing data on respondents’ religious denomination and their opinions on government spending using General Social Survey (GSS) data.
Halie received her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with an additional major in Anthropology from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. During her time at Bucknell, Halie was a four year letterwinner on the softball team and represented the student-athletes of the Patriot League on the Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).