January 11, 2024, Washington, D.C. – The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality announced that Lelaine Bigelow—a changemaker and advocate for racial, gender, and economic justice—will serve as the next Executive Director. Lelaine has dedicated her career to turning ambitious policy ideas into long-term change, helping to pass paid leave laws, expand access to housing and caregiving, and increase job opportunities for women and people of color.
“As movements across our country—from fights for racial justice, equal pay, to domestic workers rights—call for change, I’m thrilled to join the GCPI as Executive Director,” said Bigelow. “GCPI’s bold ideas for racial and economic justice, backed by evidence and data and rooted in the lived experiences of people affected by poverty, are ready to meet the moment. Now is the time for progress that puts people first .”
As a first-generation Filipina-American, Lelaine grew up in a neighborhood where the entrance wasn’t marked with a sign, but with a junkyard. Motivated by lived experience, she is ready to fight back against our nation’s legacies of racism and build a country where all of us have the chance to create a better life.
Lelaine brings together research, policy, and advocacy to address the most pressing problems facing people experiencing poverty, women, and people of color. She joins GCPI from the National Partnership for Women and Families as Vice President of Social Impact and Congressional Relations. Lelaine has extensive experience working in government and effecting change as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama Administration and in Congress, including roles with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL), and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
“We’re thrilled to announce that Lelaine Bigelow will lead our center,” said Peter Edelman, GCPI Faculty Director and Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy. “Nearly sixty years after The Great Society, people are demanding more from our government. The programs initiated back then to eliminate poverty and inequality transformed our country, but the work is unfinished. With Lelaine at the helm, GCPI is poised to translate our research into even greater impact that builds an inclusive economy and power for people experiencing poverty, especially women of color.”
For ten years, GCPI has advanced bold ideas for racial and economic justice. GCPI’s research and policy analysis have played a role in expanding unemployment assistance, increasing college financial aid, establishing progressive paid leave policies, and ensuring that the government counts everyone fairly in the census. GCPI’s work bridges academia and policy to equip policymakers and advocates with rigorous research, trusted analysis, and innovative policy solutions needed to make change.
“Lelaine is a champion for communities of color,” said Julián Castro, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “Amidst deep legal and legislative attacks to anti-racist efforts, centering voices of color in policy is more important than ever. I’m confident that under her leadership, GCPI will lift up bold policy ideas and ensure that all communities have a say in government and the decisions that affect us.”
“Women of color are leading powerful movements for change. Whether in government or as an advocate, Lelaine’s track record of delivering change for women and the AAPI community is evident,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY). “I’m excited to see Lelaine harness her expertise and passion to lead the Center and strengthen opportunities for women and people of color.”
“Ideas from the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality shape policy conversations and make a difference in the lives of workers, particularly women and workers of color,” said Ai-Jen Poo, president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and executive director of Caring Across Generations. “I am excited that Lelaine—a changemaker who fights for and wins bold policy changes for justice—will lead the Center, which has been a trusted NDWA and Caring Across partner over the years. I am confident that under her leadership, GCPI will be a driving force in expanding economic opportunity for everyone in the U.S.”
“During her time at the National Partnership, Lelaine has been a critical part of our efforts to shape policy on Capitol Hill and with leaders in the business community,” said Jocelyn C. Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “She is a true champion for gender, racial, and economic justice– a leader who persists through long-term battles to create the social change she believes in. Lelaine will be an excellent leader at GCPI and is sure to continue centering the needs of women of color in research, policy, and advocacy, to build an economy that puts working people first. We are excited by this new opportunity for Lelaine and are looking forward to the contributions that her leadership will bring.”
Lelaine graduated from the University of Florida and the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University. She is the daughter of Filipino immigrants and has called many places home, but considers Pensacola, Florida her hometown.
Lelaine will begin her work as Executive Director of GCPI in February 2024.