Article

Remarks by:
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Panel featuring:
Moira Lenehan-Razzuri, Legislative Assistant, Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX)
Edwin Meléndez, Ph.D., Professor of Management and Urban Policy, The Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School
William M. Rodgers III, Ph.D., Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University and Chief Economist, John. J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development
Michael Yudin, Senior Counsel, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Moderated by:
Christian Weller Ph.D., Senior Economist, Center for American Progress
Introduction by:
Melody Barnes, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress

Since the end of the recession in November 2001, U.S. workers have experienced slow job growth, stagnant wages, and declining benefits, a fact that the President surely will not mention in his State of the Union address. These conditions have hurt the economic security of all Americans. Hispanics, the nation's fastest growing minority group, have been no exception. In recent years, Hispanics have had fewer jobs, lower wages, less health insurance coverage, and declining pension coverage. Instead of catching up to other groups, Hispanics have remained behind. Some Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, have fallen even further behind. A strong labor market is an important first step in allowing Hispanics to improve their living standards, but the evidence suggests that this first step would need to be supplemented by public policy measures. A panel of experts will discuss the evidence on the labor market experience of Hispanics in the current business cycle and present public policy options that could help to substantially improve the economic situation for the majority of Hispanics.

February 2, 2006
Program: 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Lunch will be served at 12:00 PM.
Admission is free.

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Biographies

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) was born on October 3, 1943, and was raised in Silver City, New Mexico. The son of educators, Bingaman attended Silver City public schools. After graduating from Western High School (now Silver High) in 1961, Bingaman attended Harvard University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government in 1965. He then entered the Stanford University School of Law, graduating in 1968. Bingaman served in the Army Reserves from 1968 to 1974. After one year as New Mexico Assistant Attorney General and eight years in private law practice, Bingaman was elected Attorney General of New Mexico in 1978, and in 1982 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Bingaman is married to Anne Kovacovich Bingaman. They have one son, John. Ms. Bingaman, a Stanford graduate and longtime New Mexico attorney, works in the private sector.

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri has extensive public policy experience in the field of education as well as working with non-profit organizations including the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the National Association for Migrant Education, and the Hispanic Education Coalition. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. Moira serves as the Congressman’s committee liaison on all education and workforce issues. She is also the staff liaison to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In addition to education and labor issues, Moira also covers immigration, welfare reform, childcare, and civil rights.

Edwin Meléndez, Ph.D. is Professor of Management and Urban Policy at The Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School in New York City. Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Meléndez came to United States in 1978 after receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of Puerto Rico. He earned a master's degree in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and in 1985 received his Ph.D. in that subject from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He began his teaching career at Fordham University in 1984, teaching economics and Puerto Rican studies. From 1999 to 2004 Dr. Melendez was the Director of the Community Development Research Center at the Milano Graduate School, and from 1992 to 1998 he was the Director of the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston as well as a faculty member in the Economics Department and the Ph.D. Program in Public Policy. Dr. Meléndez was also an Associate Professor of political economy and urban studies in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1986 to 1992. Dr. Meléndez has worked as a consultant on employment, economic development, job creation, and small business for numerous government, community, and philanthropic foundations. In his twenty years of experience as principal investigator, he has managed over 35 research, outreach or demonstration projects, and supervised or collaborated with over 60 researchers in projects that resulted in several edited books, special issues of academic journals, and other publications.

William Rodgers’ Ph.D. research examines issues in labor economics and the economics of social problems. Currently, he is identifying the causes of the current recovery’s historically weak job creation and its consequences for the earnings and employment of Americans. At the state level, Rodgers is conducting a comprehensive study of the status of New Jersey’s minorities for the State Employment Training Administration. He served as a member of the Acting Governor’s Benefits Review Task Force from May 2005 to December 2005. He has an appointment as a senior research affiliate at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He currently directs the American Economic Association’s Pipeline Project and recently served as Chair of the Association’s Committee on the Status of Minorities in the Economics Profession. He holds memberships on the Center for American Progress’ Academic Advisory Board, the National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality Advisory Board, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Council of Academic Advisors, the Economic Policy Institute’s Research Advisory Board, and the board of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Poverty Research. Locally, Rodgers serves on the Board of Directors for the Somerset County United Way. Professor Rodgers served as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor from 2000 to 2001. Additionally, he was the Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor of Economics at the College of William and Mary.

Michael Yudin, Senator Bingaman’s Senior Counsel, has been working on and off the Hill for more than five years. Michael currently works on issues related to education, labor and workforce development, disabilities, and children and families. He also assists the Senator with issues arising under the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee, including Social Security and welfare reform. Michael also served as a Senior Policy Advisor to The ARC of the United States and United Cerebral Palsy, focusing on issues related to employment and transportation. Prior to coming to the Hill, Michael served as an attorney with the federal government for ten years, at both the Social Security Administration and the Department of Labor. Michael also ran an after-school prevention program for at-risk youth.

Christian Weller, Ph.D. is a Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress, where he specializes in Social Security and retirement income, macroeconomics, the Federal Reserve, and international finance. Prior to joining American Progress, he was on the research staff at the Economic Policy Institute, where he remains a research associate. Dr. Weller has also worked at the Center for European Integration Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany, in the Department of Public Policy of the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.c=, and in universal banking in Germany, Belgium and Poland. His publications appear in publications ranging from the Cambridge Journal of Economics, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the International Review of Applied Economics, the Journal of Development Studies, and the Journal of International Business Studies to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, USA Today, Detroit News, Challenge, and the American Prospect. Dr. Weller is often cited in the press and he has been a frequent guest on news programs on ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg Television. Dr. Weller holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Melody Barnes is the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress where she coordinates and helps to integrate all of the Center’s policy work from the policy departments, fellows, and the Center's network of outside policy experts. From December 1995 until March 2003, Ms. Barnes served as Chief Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Senator Kennedy’s Chief Counsel, she shaped civil rights, women’s health and reproductive rights, commercial law, and religious liberties laws, as well as executive branch and judicial appointments. Ms. Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as Assistant Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. During her tenure with the Subcommittee, she worked closely with Members of Congress and their staffs to pass the Voting Rights Improvement Act of 1992, which was signed into law. Ms. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City and is a member of both the New York State Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of The Constitution Project, The Maya Angelou Public Charter School and The Moriah Fund. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan and her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history.

Date: 2/2/2006

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