Mary Alice McCarthy

Director, Center on Education & Labor

Mary Alice McCarthy is the founder and director of the Center on Education & Labor. CELNA’s work spans the policy domains of education, labor, and workforce development and seeks to connect them in ways that enhance economic mobility and reduce inequality.

Mary Alice’s writing has been featured in a diverse set of media outlets including Washington Monthly, The Atlantic, Forbes, and the Journal on Community College Research and Practice. She serves on the board of directors of Achieving the Dream and the national advisory board of the John J. Heldrich Center on Workforce Development at Rutgers University. She participates in a wide variety of public engagement, technical assistance, and coalition-building efforts aimed at improving postsecondary education policy and practice.

Prior to joining New America, Mary Alice worked at both the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, where she drafted policy guidance and led a variety of technical assistance initiatives related to community colleges, career pathways, credentialing, and competency-based education. She has extensive international experience, including collaborations with the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills and the International Pathways Colloquium.

Mary Alice earned a PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina. Her doctoral research examined the impact of neoliberal economic reforms implemented during the Pinochet regime on the Chilean labor movement before, during, and after Chile’s transition to democracy. Mary Alice also has an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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