Advisory Committees

The Harkin Institute’s advisory committees are comprised of experts in their key policy areas. These diverse groups will help define the institute’s research agendas and focus as they relate to wellness and nutrition, retirement security, labor and employment, and people with disabilities.

Labor and Employment Core Advisory Committee

The Harkin Institute is in the process of establishing its Core Advisory Committee on Labor and Employment, which will provide direction and guidance on the types of research and events pursued in this area.

Working in collaboration with Senator Harkin, the Labor and Employment Core Advisory Committee works to identify and define the research agenda that will drive The Harkin Institute’s public policy initiatives in labor and employment.

The committee is tasked with selecting timely and relevant topics that align with the Senator’s previous work in the area; relate to social justice, fairness, or opportunity; are nonpolitical; and require additional examination for the public good. The plans developed by the group will be implemented by an associate director of public policy for labor and employment and overseen by a policy director and larger National Advisory Council.

Jared Bernstein
Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Milken Institute; former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden

Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a senior fellow. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Bernstein’s areas of expertise include federal and state economic and fiscal policies, income inequality and mobility, trends in employment and earnings, international comparisons, and the analysis of financial and housing markets. Bernstein has published extensively in various venues and is an on-air commentator for the cable stations CNBC and MSNBC. He holds a Ph.D. in social welfare from Columbia University.

Laphonza Butler
President, SEIU Local 2015; Vice President, SEIU California State Council; SEIU International, Vice President

Butler is the President of SEIU Local 2015 – the statewide long term care union that has united the voices of more than 325,000 SEIU nursing home and home care workers throughout California. It is the largest union in California and the largest long term care local in the country. Since its formation on June 2, 2015, Local 2015 members have celebrated historic victories – including the passage of the nation’s first $15 statewide minimum wage. Butler also serves as an SEIU International Vice President and President of the SEIU California State Council. Butler is a graduate of Jackson State University, in Jackson, MS.

Heidi Shierholz
Senior Economist and Director of Policy at Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Shierholz leads EPI’s policy team, which monitors wage and employment policies coming out of Congress and the administration and advances a worker-first policy agenda. Her research and insights on labor and employment policy, the effects of automation on the labor market, wage stagnation, inequality, and many other topics routinely shape policy proposals and inform economic news coverage. Shierholz received her Bachelor’s in Mathematics at Grinnell College. She has a Master of Science in Statistics from Iowa State University, and a Master of Arts in Economics from University of Michigan. Shierholz holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan.

David Weil
Dean and Professor, Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

Weil is an internationally recognized expert in employment and labor market policy. He co-founded and co-directed the Transparency Policy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and has advised international organizations as well as government agencies at the state and federal levels. He is also the author of more than 100 articles and five books. Prior to joining the Heller School, Weil served as the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the United States Department of Labor under President Obama. Weil earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a master’s in public policy from the Kennedy School and a PhD in public policy from Harvard.

People with Disabilities Core Advisory Committee

The Harkin Institute is in the process of establishing its Core Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities, which will provide direction and guidance on the types of research and events pursued in this area.

In 2018, The Harkin Institute established a disability policy committee to provide input and help direct the Institute’s research and programming in the area of people with disabilities and disability employment.

Kelly Buckland
Executive Director, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)

Candace Cable
Nine-time Paralympian and leader in the adaptive sports movement

Caroline Casey
Founder of Binc, social entrepreneur, and speaker

Sean Fitzsimons
Project Lead, Department for Communities

Michael Gamel-McCormick
Disability Policy Director, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging

Claudia Gordon
Director of Government and Compliance, Sprint Accessibility

Bob Kafka
Disability activist and organizer for ADAPT

Leah Katz-Hernandez
Communications Manager, CEO Office, Microsoft

Charlotte McClain-Nhalpo
Global Disability Advisor in the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience (GP SURR) Global Practice of the World Bank Group

Daniel Tallon
Administrator, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Susan Sygall
CEO and co-founder, Mobility International USA

Alex Watters
City Council, Sioux City, IA; Adviser, Morningside College

Terry Wilding
Superintendent, Minnesota State Academies

Andy Imparato (Ex-officio member)
Executive Director, Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Amy Hebert-Knopf (Ex-officio member)
Harkin Institute disability policy research fellow; associate professor and program coordinator, St. Cloud State University

Xuan Zheng (Ex-officio member)
Harkin Institute disability policy research fellow; associate professor, Chongqing Normal University in Chongqing, China; visiting professor, St. Cloud State University

Retirement Security Core Advisory Committee

In collaboration with Senator Harkin, the institute’s Retirement Security Core Advisory Committee is working to identify and define the research agenda that will drive The Harkin Institute’s public policy initiatives in retirement security.

The Retirement Security Core Advisory Committee comprises these four esteemed professionals who are national leaders in the field of retirement security.

Michael Kreps
Principal, Groom Law Group

Prior to his work at Groom Law Group, Kreps served as the Senior Pensions and Employment Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. There, he managed the committee’s retirement agenda and was responsible for pension legislation and oversight of regulatory activities involving employee benefit plans. Kreps is a member of both the Alexandria Commissions on Aging and Human Rights and the Sorensen Institute Political Leaders Program. He received a J.D., with honors, from The George Washington University Law School.

Donna Mueller
Retired CEO, Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS)

Mueller came to IPERS in 2003 from the Boston Retirement Board, where she served as CEO. Prior to that, she worked for the Boston Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. Mueller started her career as an attorney for Wisconsin Judicare, Inc., and later became the organization’s deputy director. She is the past president of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. Mueller earned a J.D. from Washington and Lee University and is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s program for senior executives at Harvard University. She is also certified by the Institute of Chartered Pension Professionals.

Andrew Eschtruth
Associate Director for External Relations, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Before joining the Center in 1999, Eschtruth was a senior research analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) specializing in Social Security, federal fiscal policy, and the economic implications of an aging population. He has a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in public policy from Duke University. Eschtruth is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and is a co-author (with Charles D. Ellis and Alicia H. Munnell) of Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Larry Zimpleman
Retired Board Chairman, Principal

Though he retired from his formal role at Principal in 2016, Zimpleman continues to serve the board of directors as an advisor. He joined the company in 1971 as an actuarial intern, and over the course of more than 40 years, served Principal in various management and leadership positions, including CEO, executive vice president, and president of retirement and investor services. Zimpleman has served as the chair of the board of trustees for the Employee Benefit Research Institute and was a two-time delegate to the National Summit on Retirement Savings. He holds an MBA from Drake University.

Wellness and Nutrition Core Advisory Committee

Working in collaboration with Senator Harkin, the Wellness and Nutrition Core Advisory Committee has identified and defined the research agenda that drives The Harkin Institute’s public policy initiatives in wellness and nutrition. The committee began meeting early in 2017.

The committee comprises five esteemed professionals who are national leaders in the fields of wellness and nutrition.

Bill Dietz
Director, Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University

For 15 years Dietz was director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity in the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has served as president of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. He has received numerous awards for his advocacy in the areas of obesity, nutrition, physical fitness, and pediatrics. Dietz holds a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
Former President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Prior to her work at the foundation, Lavizzo-Mourey served as the Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems, director of the Institute on Aging, and chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and the President’s Council for Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. She was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes in 2008. She received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and an MBA from Wharton School.

Dean Ornish
Founder and President, Preventative Medicine Research Institute; Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California San Francisco

Ornish is the author of six national best-sellers on health and the creator of Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which is the first comprehensive lifestyle program to be covered by Medicare. He serves on the board of directors of the J. Craig Venter Institute and on the White House Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. Ornish has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named one of the most influential members of his generation by Life magazine. Ornish holds an M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine.

Michael T. Roberts
Founding Executive Director, Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law

In addition to teaching food law at UCLA, Roberts is a research fellow at the Center for Coordination and Innovation for Food Safety at Beijing’s Renmin University, as well as an adjunct professor of law at both East China University of Science and Technology and Michigan State University. He recently authored the first major treatise on food law, Food Law in the United States, in addition to serving as the co-editor of the casebook Food Law & Policy. Roberts previously served as a consultant to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Andrew Weil
Founder and Program Director, University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine

In addition to leading the Center for Integrative Medicine, Weil serves the University of Arizona as both the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Rheumatology and clinical professor of medicine and professor of public health. He is the author of 14 books, such as The Natural Mind, as well as many articles, including a monthly column in Prevention magazine. He has been recognized by Time as one of the 25 most influential Americans (1997) and 100 most influential people in the world (2005). He was inducted into the Academy of Achievement in 1998. Weil received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

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