Groundwork Collaborative names Lindsay Owens, PhD, new executive director

June 10, 2021

Economic policy expert and political veteran will lead and advance progressive economic agenda

Selection hailed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, Labor Leader Sara Nelson, and others

Washington, D.C. (June 10, 2021) Groundwork Collaborative announced today that Lindsay Owens, Ph.D., has been named the organization’s second executive director. Owens, a highly-cited economic sociologist and longtime policy advisor to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, had served as the interim executive director since January 20th. Owens is the first woman to lead the progressive nonprofit.

“I am incredibly honored to lead the outstanding team at Groundwork in our work to advance a progressive economic worldview,” said Owens. “Centering the most marginalized in our economy is more important than ever as we emerge from a massive economic crisis and fight for vital investments to support the workers, families, and communities who drive our economy. I look forward to working with Groundwork’s network of incredible partners to achieve these shared goals.”

Owens brings deep expertise in economic inequality, poverty, housing policy, and labor markets to the role, having spent her career across academia, government, and the nonprofit sector. In addition to serving as a senior economic policy adviser to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Owens worked as deputy chief of staff and legislative director to then Congressman Keith Ellison and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal. 

“Now, more than ever, we need to fight back against the failed trickle-down economics that has driven federal policymaking for far too long and show people across the country that our economy works best when it works for everyone,” said Sen. Warren. “Lindsay worked every day on my team to unrig our economy and make sure it worked for all families, not just the wealthy and well-connected. She is a fantastic choice to lead Groundwork in this critical moment.” 

“I’ve worked with Lindsay closely and been so impressed by her talent and dedication. I can think of no one better to lead and strengthen Groundwork Collaborative’s mission of economic justice and inclusion,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “During this era of wage stagnation for American workers, Lindsay’s deep well of knowledge, experience, and commitment to economic opportunity for all is just what the organization and this nation need.”

“Lindsay has spent her career studying, advancing, and fighting for a new economic paradigm that holds the rich and powerful accountable while building new forms of collective and grassroots power,” said Rep. Jayapal. “I’ve seen Lindsay’s passion, creativity, and intelligence up close, and I look forward to working with her to build a more inclusive economy that finally centers the workers, consumers, and caregivers who power America — instead of the wealthy and well-connected. Lindsay is uniquely qualified to lead Groundwork at this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”

Owens, who received her doctorate from Stanford University, has been published in leading social science journals including Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, The 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 during the Great Recession. She has taught a popular undergraduate course on poverty and inequality at Georgetown University and co-created America’s Poverty Course at Stanford University.

“Lindsay Owens is a champion for working people, and one of the smartest, most effective economic policy experts I know,” said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flights Attendants-CWA. “Her experience inside and outside government, shaping the progressive agenda and building coalitions, makes her an ideal leader for the Groundwork Collaborative at this critical moment. We need leaders who will ensure that workers and families, of every race and background, are centered in our policy. I’m excited to see Lindsay in this role and to fight alongside her for the workers-first recovery that America needs and deserves.”

Owens’ tenure follows Michael Linden, the first executive director at Groundwork. Launched in 2018, the Groundwork Collaborative is driven by one core guiding principle: we are the economy. In concert with economic policy experts, movement leaders, and activists, Groundwork aims to:

Groundwork also convenes ProsperUS, a new coalition of more than 80 progressive groups, working “to ensure government at all levels hears the demands of the people, meets the historic nature of the crises we face with bold ideas, and fearlessly commits the public resources needed to implement them.”

“We could not be more fortunate to have Lindsay’s strategic vision and economic expertise at the helm at Groundwork,” said Rakeen Mabud, chief economist and managing director of policy and research at Groundwork. “Under Lindsay’s leadership, Groundwork will continue to fight for an economy that works for everyone — and the deeply needed policy investments we need to get there.” 


About Groundwork 

The Groundwork Collaborative’s mission is to advance an economic vision for strong, broadly shared prosperity and true opportunity for all. Learn more at