Center Team

jeffrey wenger, jeffrey wenger

Jeffrey B. Wenger

Director, RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center

Jeffrey B. Wenger (he/his) is a senior policy researcher and director of the RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center (MCPC). As director of the Middle-Class Pathways Center he works with RAND researchers and other scholars documenting the challenges of remaining in the middle class and focusing on the most pressing needs to expand growth opportunities for the middle class. His current research examines the effects of working conditions on remaining in the labor force, and helping military personnel transition into the civilian labor force. He is currently working with Indeed.com to examine the costs of providing flexible work arrangements and better working conditions to workers. He is also investigating the proportion of unemployed who have a criminal history record. He is a nationally known expert in unemployment insurance. From 2003 to 2015 he was an assistant and then associate professor at the University of Georgia. He received his Ph.D. in policy analysis from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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melanie zaber

Melanie A. Zaber

Codirector, RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center

Melanie A. Zaber (she/her) is a full economist and codirector of the RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center. As codirector of the center, she has built partnerships with postsecondary education institutions, workforce boards, and service providers across the U.S. Her research has examined household transitions (coresidence, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy), analyzed workforce pipelines (principals, military linguists, building tradespeople), and explored postsecondary finance (market power, state grant aid, student debt). Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Civil Justice, and the Social Security Administration. Current projects include an exploration of the persistence of women in STEM careers and an analysis of the longer-term education and career outcomes of participants in a high school youth development program. She received her Ph.D. in economics and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

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rafiq dossani, lindsay daugherty

Lindsay Daugherty

Core Researcher

Lindsay Daugherty (she/her) is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her work focuses on building effective education and training pathways in order to support student academic success and improve employment outcomes. She is currently leading research in partnership with the Ohio Department of Higher Education that examines how students are progressing through “stackable credential” programs in health care, manufacturing, and information technology and the employment outcomes they experience after stacking postsecondary education credentials. Other recent work has examined applied baccalaureate programs at community colleges, workforce programs offered through adult education, and transitions of servicemembers and veterans into education and employment. She is a member of several groups that are focused on research around postsecondary pathways, including the Institute of Education Science’s College Completion Network and the Knowledge Development Steering Committee for the Texas Success Center’s Guided Pathways work. She received her Ph.D. in public policy from Pardee RAND Graduate School.

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Christine Mulhern

Core Researcher

Christine Mulhern (she/her) is an associate policy researcher at the RAND Corporation who focuses on the economics of education. Her research studies how students choose whether and where to enroll in postsecondary education and how social networks, school resources, and technology influence these choices. She is also interested in how school and community resources can address inequality in postsecondary education and the labor market. She has studied the effects of high school counselors on educational attainment, siblings' influence on college choices, and the impacts of personalized postsecondary guidance provided by the technology Naviance. More recently, she has examined inequality in the use of online resources during COVID-19. She also has work examining the impact of online learning technologies on course performance in higher education. She received her Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University.

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Lisa Abraham

Lisa Abraham

Core Researcher

Lisa Abraham (she/her) is an associate economist at the RAND Corporation. Her research examines the causes and consequences of labor market inefficiencies, with a particular focus on minorities and underrepresented groups. She has examined barriers to the recruitment, retention, and earnings equality of women in high-skill jobs, and has experience partnering with technology companies to acquire novel datasets and operate large-scale field experiments. She was previously the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department and an investment banking analyst at J.P. Morgan. Prior to her Ph.D., she obtained an MSc in Economics and Management from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Wellesley College. She completed her Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University in May 2020.

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Benjamin Master

Benjamin Master

Core Researcher

Benjamin Master (he/his) is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. He is based in the economics, sociology, and statistics department. His research has focused on the area of human capital development, particularly for staff and students in K-12 school settings. He has led a variety of research projects studying programs designed to develop the professional and leadership skills of educators, as well as research on programs aimed at teaching entrepreneurial skills to high school students. He also has prior professional experience in the financial services sector. He has methodological expertise in longitudinal data analyses, quasi-experimental and experimental methods, value-added modeling, network analyses, and survey methods and analyses. He earned a Ph.D. in education policy and organization studies at Stanford University.

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susan gates

Susan Gates

Core Researcher

Susan M. Gates (she/her) is a senior economist and director of the Office of Research Quality Assurance at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research applies insights from the economics of organizations, industrial organization, and labor economics to several policy areas including entrepreneurship and innovation, school leadership, and workforce management. From 2004 to 2014 she served as the director of the Kauffman-RAND Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy, where she conducted and managed research about how policy supports and deters entrepreneurship and the role of entrepreneurship in addressing critical social problems. More recently, her research has focused on workforce management and professional development in public sector organizations including the U.S. Department of Defense and school systems. Her published research appears in numerous RAND reports as well as in external publications such as the Economics of Education Review, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Risk and Insurance, Public Administration Review, Managerial and Decision Economics, and Armed Forces and Society. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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nigh karla

Nidhi Kalra

Core Researcher

Nidhi Kalra (she/her) is a senior information scientist at the RAND Corporation. She has previously served as director of RAND's San Francisco Bay Area office and co-director of RAND's Center for Decision Making Under Uncertainty. Her research interests are broad and include autonomous vehicle policy, criminology and employment, climate change adaptation, and tools and methods that help people and organizations make better decisions amid deep uncertainty. She spearheads RAND's autonomous vehicle policy work in particular, including its impact on transportation safety, energy efficiency, and the future of work. She has also testified on autonomous vehicle policy at three congressional hearings. She also helps organizations improve how they make robust decisions, particularly in the face of climate change. In 2018, she served as senior technology policy adviser to U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris. In 2013, she served as a senior decision scientist in the Office of the Chief Economist of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, where she helped launch the World Bank's portfolio in robust decision making. She developed educational technology tools to promote literacy among blind children in India, a project that went on to receive the Louis Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation. She received her Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.

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Tobias Sytsma

Tobias Sytsma

Core Researcher

Tobias (Toby) Sytsma (he/him) is an associate economist at the RAND Corporation. In his research, he uses economy-wide modeling, quasi-experimental methods, and machine learning techniques to study a wide range of topics at the intersection of globalization, labor market competition, transportation, and climate change. Recently, he is working on projects analyzing the economic impact of data privacy laws, identifying customs fraud risks using data mining techniques, and estimating the costs and benefits of implementing new energy production technologies. His research has been published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Contemporary Economic Policy, and Economics of Disasters and Climate Change. Before his Ph.D., he received an MS in International Economics from the University of San Francisco and a BS in Economics from Portland State University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oregon.

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Éder Sousa

Éder Sousa

Core Researcher

Éder Sousa (he/him) is an engineer at the RAND Corporation. Prior to joining RAND, he was a computational scientist contractor for the Air Force Research Laboratory (Rocket lab) at Edwards AFB. At RAND his research has spanned space policy, acquisition policy, modeling and simulations, as well as application of artificial intelligence algorithms for policy analysis. His research interests in the future of work focus on how automation and AI will influence the workforce. Éder was born and raised in the Cape Verde Islands and is fluent in Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole. He received his Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from the University of Washington, and both a B.S. and M.S. in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

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Cary Greif

Cary Greif

Center Administrator

Cary Greif (she/her) is a research operations and financial administrator at the RAND Corporation and is the program administrator for the RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center. She manages the budget, supports the center’s team, coordinates communication, and monitors MCPC activities to ensure effective outcomes. Prior to RAND she was an executive assistant to the CEO of a start-up venture in Seattle, and executive assistant to the director of the Pacific Health Summit, a global health event convening science, policy, industry, and public health decisionmakers. She has been fortunate to call ten countries home and is pleased to have found a home at RAND. She received her B.A. in history from Vassar College.