The Economics of Early Childhood Development: Lessons for Economic Policy Conference Speakers


Jim Lyon, first vice president and chief operating officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He joined the Bank in 1977 as an attorney and has been in his current position since 2000.

Rip Rapson, president of the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, a position he has held since 1999. Prior to joining the foundation, he was a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Design Center for American Urban Landscape, and a consultant with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore-based philanthropic organization known for its work with children, families and communities. Previously, he served as deputy mayor of Minneapolis and was an attorney at a Minneapolis law firm.

Art Rolnick, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and an associate economist with the Federal Open Market Committee. His research interests include the economics of early childhood development, banking and financial economics, monetary policy, monetary history and the economics of federalism. His annual report essays on such public policy issues as “Congress Should End the Economic War Among the States” and “A Plan to Address the Too-Big-To-Fail Problem” have gained national attention. He serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Minnesota Council on Economic Education, the Center for Economic Progress and Ready 4K.

Jack P. Shonkoff, Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold professor of human development, and dean of the Heller School at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. Prior to becoming the dean of the school in 1994, he was an academic pediatrician. His primary research interests focus on early childhood policy, particularly as related to vulnerable children and families. He recently chaired the Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development, under the auspices of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and co-authored its widely acclaimed report, From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development.

W. Steven Barnett, director, National Institute for Early Education Research and professor of education economics and public policy, and director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. His work includes research on early education and child care policy, the educational opportunities and experiences of young children in low-income urban areas, the long term effects of preschool programs on children’s learning and development, and benefit-cost analysis of preschool programs and their long-term effects. Recent publications include Lives in the Balance, a benefit-cost analysis of preschool education based on a 25 year study, and, with co-editor Sarane Spence Boocock, Early Care and Education for Children in Poverty.

Robert Michael, the Eliakim Hastings Moore distinguished service professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Previously, he taught economics at Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles. In the area of family economics, he has written on the causes of divorce, the reasons for the growth of one-person households, the impact of inflation on families and the consequences of the rise in women’s employment for the family, especially children.

Janet Currie, professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her recent work focuses on the effects of public programs on poor children. In particular, she has studied the Head Start program and Medicaid. She is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Faculty Associate at the Chicago/Northwestern Poverty Center and at the Institute for Poverty Research.

Pedro Carneiro, professor of economics at University College London. He has published papers in the Economic Journal, International Economic Review and Swedish Economic Policy Review. His current research focuses on the study of skill formation over the life-cycle. He is a research fellow at IZA, a private, independent research institute, which conducts nationally and internationally oriented labor market research.

Fraser Mustard, companion of the order of Canada, founding president and fellow, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He has been a leader in Canada about the socioeconomic determinants of human development and health. A particular emphasis has been on early childhood and the role of communities. He co-chaired a report, The Early Years Study, for the Government of Ontario on early learning, with specific community recommendations. Recognition of this has led Dr. Mustard and his colleagues to emphasize to all sectors of society the crucial nature of the early years to provide a healthy and competent population.

James Heckman, the Henry Schultz distinguished service professor of economics at the University of Chicago. He holds a parallel appointment as director of social program evaluation at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and is also a senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation. His research combines both methodological and empirical interests in evaluating the impact of a variety of social programs on the economy and on the society at large. He has received numerous honors for his research. He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences. He received the John Bates Clark Award of the American Economic Association in 1983 and the Nobel prize in economics in 2000.

John Laitner, professor of economics at the University of Michigan. His research falls primarily in the area of economic theory, in particular, factors influencing long-run growth and the distribution of wealth.

Scott McConnell, director of the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota and a professor of educational psychology. He serves as co-director of the Early Childhood Research Institute on Measuring Growth and Development, a five-year research, development and dissemination effort to build procedures for describing young children’s growth and development over time, and to design interventions that support optimal rates of development.

David Jennings, interim superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools. Since joining the Minneapolis Schools, he has worked to ensure that the district’s limited resources are used to support initiatives and programs that have the greatest and most immediate impact on accelerating achievement for the diverse student population.

Charles Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. The CED is an independent, nonpartisan organization of 250 business and education leaders dedicated to economic and social policy research and the implementation of its recommendations by the public and private sectors.