Naomi Walker, Director of EARN
Naomi Walker joined EPI in 2018 as director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a national network of almost 60 state-level policy research and advocacy organizations coordinated by EPI. Prior to joining EPI, Naomi Walker served as assistant to the president at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the nation’s largest and fastest-growing public services employees union, with more than 1.6 million active and retired members. In her role on the executive team of the union, she was responsible for coordinating AFSCME’s partnerships with allies and coalitions in order to build power for working families.
Prior to joining AFSCME in 2012, Walker served as director of state government relations and deputy director of the government affairs department for the AFL-CIO, where she worked with national unions, state federations, state legislators, and allies to coordinate state legislative campaigns around the country, providing guidance on strategy, message, member mobilization, and research, as well as writing model legislation. Walker has coordinated state issue campaigns on a variety of issues, including fighting so-called “right-to-work” legislation and attacks on working families; exposing profitable corporations like Walmart that shift their health care costs onto state taxpayers; stopping the export of American jobs; and providing affordable health care for working families.
While at the AFL-CIO, Walker also served as assistant director of the AFL-CIO politics and field department, leading labor’s field campaign for the 2006 election cycle. She managed staff across the country as they coordinated labor’s political program to educate, mobilize, and turn out union members to vote.
In 2009, Walker was appointed associate deputy secretary of labor under the Obama administration, serving as a liaison between the Department of Labor and the labor movement before she rejoined the AFL-CIO in 2010.
Before joining the AFL-CIO in 1997, Walker served as field director of the Preamble Center for Public Policy, where she helped coordinate both press and field work on progressive policy issues like corporate accountability and fair trade. From 1993 until 1996, she was the Midwest regional organizer for the Children’s Defense Fund.
David Cooper, Deputy Director of EARN, Senior Economic Analyst
David Cooper helps to coordinate EARN, and leads EPI’s technical and analytical support for the network. As a researcher at the Economic Policy Institute, he conducts both national and state-level research, with a focus on the minimum wage, wage theft, employment and unemployment, poverty, and wage and income trends.
David’s analyses on the impact of minimum wage laws have been used by policymakers and advocates in city halls and statehouses across the country, as well as in Congress and the White House. He has testified in many states and cities on the challenges facing low-wage workers and their families, and has been interviewed and cited by numerous local and national media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and NPR.
Angel Henry, Executive Assistant
Angel Henry joined the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team at EPI in 2021 as executive assistant to the EARN director. Within this capacity, she manages broad administrative support for the EARN director and the entire EARN team. Prior to joining EPI, Henry worked as a senior administrative assistant at Marriott International headquarters.
Anu Kumar, Communications Specialist
Anu Kumar is the Communications Specialist for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team at EPI. She supports communications efforts to connect the network and highlight efforts from the state-level policy research and advocacy organizations that make up EARN. Kumar has supported communications and editorial work at several think tanks in Washington, D.C., including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute, and New America.
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.
Jaimie Worker, Senior State Policy Coordinator
Jaimie K. Worker is the senior state policy coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI. She is committed to ensuring that racial and gender equity is a public policy priority and that the leaders of communities impacted by structural racism and oppression are key collaborators in developing public policy.
Prior to joining EPI, Worker was a senior policy analyst at Community Change, where for more than six years she worked on racial and economic justice campaigns focused on jobs and public investment in partnership with grassroots organizations. Previously, she worked with the New Organizing Institute, as well as the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan, supporting workplace organizing and policy campaigns to win improved working conditions in the restaurant industry.
Worker is the proud daughter of immigrants and hails from Detroit, Michigan.
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).
Julia Wolfe, State Economic Analyst
Julia Wolfe joined the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team at EPI as an economic analyst in 2019. In addition to conducting national and state-level research on labor market trends, inequality, and collective bargaining, she provides technical support to the state-level policy research and advocacy organizations that make up EARN. Julia first joined EPI as a research assistant in 2017. Prior to joining EPI, Julia worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the retail and manufacturing employment analyst for the Current Employment Statistics program. She is a proud union member, Chicagoan, and Truman State graduate.
Lea Woods, Learning Community Organizer
Lea Woods joined the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) at EPI in 2021 as a learning community organizer, coordinating conferences and convenings for state-level advocacy groups. Woods previously worked in fundraising and communications at nonprofits that promote women’s economic security and political power, including the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the Center for Women’s Leadership. Additional political experience includes interning in a congressional office and working on a gubernatorial reelection campaign. Woods received her B.A. in Philosophy from Portland State University.
Marokey Sawo, State Economic Analyst
Marokey Sawo joined EPI’s Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) team as an economic analyst in 2021. She focuses on EARN-related research that is simultaneously informed by and seeks to address racial and gender disparities. Sawo was most recently a researcher at the Groundwork Collaborative, where she worked on a variety of economic and data analysis projects. She primarily focused on the economics of anti-austerity at the federal level as well as varying unemployment insurance issues and broader labor market conditions. Sawo previously worked at Futures and Options, a New York-based non-profit, under several roles. As a project manager, she spearheaded an organization-wide project to build a robust new Salesforce CRM database and develop processes to increase efficiency and capacity. As a data associate, she worked closely with the program director to audit existing data evaluation systems to better capture the organization’s impact in providing internship and career-readiness opportunities for New York City youth.
Sebastian 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.