MEET
OUR TEAM

Leadership

Lindsay Owens

Lindsay Owens, Ph.D.

Executive Director

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Jasmin Johansen-Hickman

Chief of Staff

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Rakeen Mabud, Ph.D.

Chief Economist and Managing Director of Policy and Research

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Our Team

Jae Aron

Director of Communications

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Stacy Cervantes

Event Manager

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Q Chaghtai

Senior Digital Manager

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Jin Woo Chung

Senior Economist

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Emily Erfani

Director of Operations

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Claire Guzdar

Managing Director of Campaigns and Partnerships

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Finn Storer

Communications Associate

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Michael Mitchell

Director of Policy and Research

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Maria Taylor

Executive Assistant to the Executive Director

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Grace Western

Policy Analyst

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Clara Wilson

Policy Analyst

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Lindsay Owens

Executive Director

Lindsay Owens, Ph.D.

Lindsay Owens is the Executive Director of the Groundwork Collaborative. Lindsay has worked in academia, government, and the non-profit sector for nearly 15 years. Most recently, she served as a senior economic policy adviser to Senator Elizabeth Warren and as deputy chief of staff and legislative director to Reps. Keith Ellison and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal. In these roles, Lindsay was instrumental in crafting and passing legislation to expand the social safety net, increase power for workers, and build a more inclusive economy for all. She has also served as a policy adviser to candidates for state, local, and national office, including several presidential campaigns.

Lindsay is a highly-cited sociologist with deep expertise in economic inequality, poverty, housing policy, and recessions. Her work is published in leading social science journals including Brookings Papers on Economic ActivityThe Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Social Forces. Her award-winning dissertation examined the federal policy response to the housing crash of the Great Recession. She teaches a popular undergraduate course on poverty and inequality at Georgetown University and is the co-creator and co-instructor of America’s Poverty Course online at Stanford University.

Lindsay is a frequent author of opinion editorials and white papers. Her recent writing and policy proposals have appeared in outlets including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, CNN.comand The San Jose Mercury News. Lindsay holds a Ph.D. and Master’s degree in sociology from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., with her partner Jay.

Chief of Staff

Jasmin Johansen-Hickman

Jasmin Johansen-Hickman is the Chief of Staff at the Groundwork Collaborative. She has management experiences working in the corporate, early education, and non-profit sectors. Her professional interests focus on strategic planning, programmatic processes, operations, and organizational management.

Prior to joining the Groundwork Collaborative, she worked as a Program Evaluator for Smart Start & the North Carolina Partnership for Children where she managed all program evaluation, monitoring, and resource development for its early education service programs. Prior to Smart Start, Jasmin served as a Family Service Center Director for Action for Boston of Community Development, Inc. where she oversaw its programs, facility operations, fiscal planning, and a team of personnel, volunteers, and interns. Throughout her career, Jasmin has spearheaded a number of projects that include strategic implementation initiatives, operational systems, personnel trainings, and event planning.

Jasmin holds an Executive Masters of Business Administration from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and a B.A. in Economics from Spelman College. She is from Boston, MA and currently lives in Maryland where she enjoys exploring local attractions with her family and dog, Sonny.

Chief Economist and Managing Director of Policy and Research

Rakeen Mabud, Ph.D.

Dr. Rakeen Mabud is the Chief Economist and Managing Director of Policy and Research at the Groundwork Collaborative. A nationally respected policy expert, Rakeen is a leading thinker on the economy with a unique ability to communicate complex economic concepts in an accessible way. She played a key role in Groundwork’s pioneering effort to expose the role of corporate profiteering in inflation and serves as a leading policy expert and spokesperson on how economic trends impact people’s everyday lives, with a particular attention to structural disparities by race and gender.

Rakeen frequently testifies before Congress to help lawmakers understand how workers and small businesses are experiencing disruptions like inflation and the pandemic. In addition, she is a core member of Groundwork’s executive team, helping guide the organization’s strategy and managing its policy and research portfolio. She also serves as a board member for the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Rakeen’s work is regularly published in many of the most prominent publications in the nation, and her views on how to ensure the economy works for all have been quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR, among others. She is also a frequent commentator on TV, appearing on outlets including NBC Nightly News and Yahoo Finance.  

Prior to joining Groundwork, Rakeen developed deep experience in economics and policy as a Special Assistant in the Office of Economic Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, serving as a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, leading the research portfolio at Time’s Up Foundation, and conducting research at Harvard Business School. She holds a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Wellesley College in Economics & Political Science.

Director of Communications

Jae Aron

Jae Aron is the Director of Communications at the Groundwork Collaborative. Jae leads our press and media operations, identifying key strategic opportunities to shift the media narrative towards a more progressive economic worldview. 

Jae is a communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience driving issue advocacy, storytelling, and media efforts for progressive non-profits, foundations, and political campaigns. Most recently, Jae was the Senior Communications Manager at TIME’S UP, where she led press and messaging strategies to advance safety and gender equity in the workplace. 

Originally from Williamsburg, Virginia, Jae received her Bachelors of Arts in American Studies from Wesleyan University and a Masters of Science in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner and cat (who thinks she’s a dog).

Event Manager

Stacy Cervantes

Stacy Cervantes is the Event Manager at the Groundwork Collaborative. Stacy manages all Groundwork events, including webinars and online event productions, virtual and in-person convenings and community gatherings. Stacy brings more than 15 years of experience in public relations and event management, primarily in academia and the non-profit sector, to the Groundwork team.  

Originally from Southern California and growing up all over North America, Stacy is a power reader, eternal learner, master knitter and avid traveler to the Carribean and Bermuda. Stacy has a Bachelor of Journalism degree in advertising & public relations  from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Master of Tourism Administration degree in Sustainable Tourism and Event Management from The George Washington University.

Senior Digital Manager

Q Chaghtai

Q Chaghtai is a Senior Digital Manager at the Groundwork Collaborative.

Before joining Groundwork, Q worked as a Digital Brand Manager at the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), where he led outgoing communications, branding, and graphic design for both digital communications and out-of-home spaces. With a penchant for strong design, Q’s work has been featured on billboards across the country and notably on the iconic digital billboards in Times Square NYC. Prior to OAAA, Q worked at a boutique advertising agency.

Q originally hails from Virginia and has a B.A in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. Typically, you can catch Q talking about his latest fitness obsession, making obscure television references, or perfecting a charcuterie board.

Senior Economist

Jin Woo Chung

Jin Woo Chung is the Senior Economist at the Groundwork Collaborative. Jin Woo is an expert on public policy, and he conducts qualitative and quantitative economic analysis supporting Groundwork’s mission.

Before joining the team, he worked on issues of economic and racial justice at the Open Society Foundations and New York City Mayor’s Office. He also served as a Harold Rosenthal Fellow in the U.S. Treasury Department and as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in New York.

Jin Woo has a Master in International Affairs from Columbia University and majored in history as an undergraduate at CUNY Hunter College. Originally from South Korea, he currently lives in New York City and enjoys birdwatching in Central Park, a hobby he picked up during the lockdown.

Director of Operations

Emily Erfani

Emily Erfani is the Director of Operations at the Groundwork Collaborative, where she leads the financial management, operational, and administrative functions of the organization.   

Emily brings more than 15 years of strategic operational leadership, having developed and supported teams in a variety of international and domestic non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Groundwork, she was Director of Operations and Budget at UnidosUS. Her professional interests include strategic planning, process streamlining, and financial transparency.

Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and almost anything outdoors; provided the mosquitoes aren’t too ferocious.

Managing Director of Campaigns and Partnerships

Claire Guzdar

Claire Guzdar is the Managing Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at the Groundwork Collaborative, working to advance a cross-cutting economic narrative for the progressive movement.

Prior to joining Groundwork in 2019, Claire was Associate Director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, where she designed and executed advocacy and communications strategies to ensure progressive victories on economic justice, healthcare, religious liberty, and other issues. Previously, Claire was Field Associate and minimum wage lobbyist at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

Before discovering a passion for progressive public policy, Claire was a high school teacher and college campus minister. She earned degrees in Theology from Boston College and Catholic Theological Union, where she was a Bernardin Scholar.

Communications Associate

Finn Storer

Finn Storer is the Communications Associate at the Groundwork Collaborative. 

Prior to joining Groundwork, Finn served as a Fellow with the Office of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), where he worked on environmental policy, appropriations, and communications. He also worked as a field organizer for the One Campaign in Michigan, the coordinated campaign to elect President Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters. 

Originally from Houghton, Michigan, Finn graduated from the Ford School at the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy. He is an alumni of The Michigan Daily newspaper in Ann Arbor. He currently lives in Washington, D.C., and enjoys soccer, cooking, hiking, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Director of Policy and Research

Michael Mitchell

Mike Mitchell is the Director of Policy and Research at the Groundwork Collaborative.

Previously, Michael was the Senior Director and Counselor, Equity and Inclusion with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he led the organization’s efforts to incorporate a greater equity and inclusion lens into its research and analysis. Before that he served as a Senior Policy Analyst with the Center’s State Fiscal Policy team, focusing on state higher education policy and state-level tax policy.

Mitchell holds a B.A. in economics and political science from the University of Connecticut and an MPA from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Mike loves taking walks with his wife, Leah, and newborn daughter, Ruby.

Executive Assistant to the Executive Director

Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor is the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director at the Groundwork Collaborative. Maria brings decades of executive and administrative experience to support Groundwork’s objectives. 

Maria attended Peabody College/Vanderbilt University. A lifelong resident of the Greater Nashville area, Maria plans to relocate to Washington, DC, later this year.

Being a Sudoku addict, she takes her puzzle book to bed with her every night and finds it hard to pull herself away to go to sleep. Maria considers herself a huge sci-fi buff and is a self-proclaimed “trekkie” who loves singing, reading, and spirituality. Still, nothing lights up her and her husband’s world more than their 5 amazing children and 7 adorable grandchildren.

Policy Analyst

Grace Western

Grace Western is a Policy Analyst at the Groundwork Collaborative, where she provides research support on a variety of economic justice issues.

Previously, Grace was a Policy and Research Manager at The Hub Project, where she provided policy analysis and research support for various issue advocacy campaigns, notably for health care and economic issues. She also worked in the Office of Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand and on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.Grace has a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s Studies from Colgate University. Originally from Syracuse, New York, Grace is a lover of reading nooks and dancing to live music in the park.

Policy Analyst

Clara Wilson

Clara Wilson is a Policy Analyst at the Groundwork Collaborative. 

Previously, Clara interned at the Center for the Study of Social Policy focusing on child welfare reform policy, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research, where she studied the economic impacts of improving the care infrastructure. Prior to that, she was the Legislative Aide for Michigan House Democratic Leader Christine Greig. 

Clara is a proud Michigander who received her B.A. from Michigan State University’s James Madison College in Social Relations and Policy and her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. In her free time, Clara enjoys reality TV shows, audiobooks, walks, and karaoke.