David Cooper, Director
David Cooper is director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a national network of nearly 60 state- and local-level policy research and advocacy organizations coordinated by the Economic Policy Institute. He assumed the leadership of EARN in October 2021, after serving as a senior economic analyst and EARN deputy director. As EARN director, Cooper works to expand the network’s reach and deepen its impact by strengthening partnerships between EARN groups and grassroots organizations, labor unions, and community advocates. He also expands EARN groups’ ability to provide rigorous analysis that centers people of color and is grounded in the real-world experiences of workers and families.
Cooper has been a member of the EARN team at EPI since 2011, serving as an economic analyst before becoming senior analyst and deputy director.
In his time with EARN, Cooper has overseen a vast expansion in the program’s research and analytical capacities—building up the data, research, and policy resources available to support EARN groups’ worker, racial, and gender justice work. He has guided EARN’s creation of new training programs, workshop series, state-level data tools, and a robust technical assistance infrastructure to assist policy researchers and advocates throughout the country. With support from the EARN team at EPI, EARN groups have shaped numerous state and local policy debates, providing timely and credible analyses that have helped secure critical pro-worker, equity-promoting policy reforms, such as higher minimum wages, expanded access to overtime, paid leave benefits, fair scheduling protections, and stronger collective bargaining rights.
As part of EPI’s research team, Cooper worked on the minimum wage, wage theft, social insurance, and state labor markets, and his findings have been used by policymakers in city halls and statehouses across the country, as well as in Congress and the White House. His analyses on the impact of minimum wage laws have been instrumental in dozens of state and local minimum wage debates since 2011. He has testified in many states and cities on the challenges low-wage workers and low-income families face.
Cooper has been interviewed and cited by numerous media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on many local and national news programs, including the Public Broadcasting Service’s “NewsHour,” CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and American Public Media’s ”Marketplace.”
Chandra Childers, Senior Policy and Economic Analyst
Chandra Childers is a Senior Policy and Economic Analyst with the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI. Her work with EARN is primarily focused on supporting our state and local policy research and advocacy network in the Southern United States. She is committed to economic justice and ensuring that all workers have a voice in their workplaces and that they experience real economic security independent of race, sex, or economic status. Using an intersectional lens, her research focuses on employment, earnings, job quality, and worker power.
Before joining the EARN team at EPI, Chandra was a Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research where her work focused on occupational segregation, the gender wage gap, and Black, Hispanic, and Native American women’s access to good jobs that pay well, provide benefits, and ensure economic security for them, their families, and their communities.
Michael Schoettle, Deputy Director
Michael is Deputy Director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). As EARN Deputy Director, he crafts the vision, strategies, and plans that help EARN’s network of research, policy, and advocacy groups achieve state and local policy reforms that build power for working people, improve workers’ economic conditions, and advance racial and gender equity.
Prior to joining EPI, Schoettle was a field manager for the National Education Association’s Center for Organizing and Affiliate Support, where he led a team of national organizers that supported the development and implementation of issue-based organizing campaigns in NEA’s state and local affiliates. During his tenure at NEA, Schoettle’s team led successful organizing campaigns to improve wages and benefits, increase funding for public education, improve student learning conditions, and ensure affordable health care for teachers and school support staff.
As an NEA field manager, Schoettle also coordinated the creation of organizing trainings, toolkits, and materials to support organizing efforts by union leaders and rank-and-file members. He oversaw NEA’s New Local Presidents Training Program in partnership with NEA governance leaders and served as a management liaison to NEA’s National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA), an organizational body within NEA comprising NEA’s largest urban and suburban local affiliates. Before becoming a field manager, Michael coordinated NEA’s education and organizing efforts on student debt.
Before joining NEA, Michael worked as a strategic researcher at UNITE HERE’s Local 226 (Culinary Union) supporting organizing efforts by hospitality workers in Las Vegas, Nevada; as a researcher at the Equal Rights Center supporting efforts to address housing discrimination; and as a fellow at the AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work researching best practices to improve collective bargaining agreements for LGBTQ workers.
Sebastian Martinez Hickey, Research Assistant
Sebastian Martinez Hickey joined the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team at EPI as a research assistant in 2021. Hickey supports the EARN team through data collection and analysis for reports, blogs, and testimony. In addition, he provides technical support to the state-level policy research and advocacy organizations that make up EARN. Prior to joining EPI, Hickey worked as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow to increase access to affordable housing and mental health services for people with low incomes. Hickey received his B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University.
Dave Kamper, Senior State Policy Coordinator
Dave Kamper is senior state policy coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI. He believes that worker power and racial equity are necessary components to a healthy democracy. His work focuses on the Midwest, helping to bring together policy thinkers and grassroots leaders to build collaborative relationships that empower communities in America’s heartland to obtain the justice they deserve.
Prior to joining EPI in 2021, Kamper worked for 20 years in the labor movement in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Minnesota, most recently for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE). He is Board Chair of the New Brookwood Labor College and is part of the editorial collective of The Forge, a journal of organizing strategy and practice. He writes regularly on labor issues for progressive publications.
Kamper lives in Minnesota with his wife, Joanne, a veterinarian who sometimes operates on lions and tigers.
Nina Mast, Economic Analyst
Nina Mast is an economic analyst for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI. Mast is a recent graduate of the Master of Public Policy program at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School, where she served as a researcher for the UC Berkeley Labor Center and represented academic student employees as a union steward with UAW-2865.
Before graduate school, Mast worked as a researcher in the labor movement and at issue advocacy organizations focused on health care and the economy. At SEIU Local 32BJ, she conducted research to support fast-food workers in Connecticut and commercial cleaning workers in New York. Prior to 32BJ, she worked on issue campaigns at The Hub Project and efforts to advance a progressive economic worldview at the Groundwork Collaborative.
Daniel Perez, Economic Analyst
Daniel Perez joined the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team at EPI as State Economic Analyst in 2022. He provides technical assistance to the state-level policy research and advocacy organizations that make up EARN and conducts research into the historical causes of poverty and inequality. Perez is particularly interested in the role of unions and collective bargaining as means for working people to build economic and political power.
Perez first joined EPI as a research assistant in 2019. He has worked in a variety of industries, and prior to becoming a researcher, held roles as a pizza maker, dishwasher, forklift driver, and bookkeeper. He learned the power of collectively bargaining for better working conditions when he joined AFT Local 6109. He is currently a proud member of NPEU/IFPTE Local 70 and co-president of the EPI staff union.
Perez lives on an island in the Chesapeake with his fiancée, Emily, and their Australian-Pyrenees dog, Rey.
Jasmine Payne, Senior State Policy Coordinator
Jasmine joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2023 as a Senior State Policy Coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). She is a friend, advocate, scholar, and servant leader. An advocate for removing systemic barriers, she seeks to identify opportunities to combat intergenerational poverty, bolster socioeconomic mobility and increase equity. Her key focus areas are economic empowerment, worker’s rights, housing, and social determinants of health.
She has experience conducting research and advocating at the local, state, and federal level holding positions at a plethora of nonprofits, government agencies, and campaigns. Previously she worked in the United States House of Representatives, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, CARE, the Atlanta Community Food Bank as well as several other community-centered organizations. Committed to community involvement, Payne has served on various boards including the Swinney Foundation as the Public Policy chair and as president of her homeowner’s association. Believing that everyone can be a catalyst for change, she believes that “we are the ones that we have been waiting for.”
Jennifer Sherer, Senior State Policy Coordinator, Worker Power Project
Jennifer Sherer is senior state policy coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) Worker Power Project. Her work focuses on expanding the ability of working people to achieve racial, gender, and economic justice through organizing, collective bargaining, and public policies that promote worker voice.
Prior to joining EPI in 2021, Sherer served as director of the University of Iowa Labor Center, leading statewide worker outreach, education, and leadership development programming in close partnership with labor unions and community organizations. As director, she coordinated interdisciplinary research and engagement; taught on a range of worker rights, gender and racial justice, and labor policy subjects; and led initiatives to extend labor education to new audiences. Her published work includes articles on wage theft, public-sector collective bargaining, women’s labor education, and working-class voters. While at the Labor Center, Sherer also directed the Iowa Labor History Oral Project, helped found the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, co-coordinated the Midwest School for Women Workers, and served on the boards of the Labor and Working Class History Society and Labor Studies Journal.
Sherer first became active in the labor movement over 20 years ago as a local union officer, a project staff organizer for United Electrical Workers Local 896-COGS, and a leader of student anti-sweatshop campaigns while earning her PhD. She has since served as a local labor council delegate, volunteered in dozens of issue campaigns, and walked many picket lines. She is a board member of Common Good Iowa (formerly the Iowa Policy Project).