Ford Foundation appoints John Irons as director of Inclusive Economies

New York, 18 May 2016 – The Ford Foundation today announced the appointment of John Irons as director of Inclusive Economies. In this role he will oversee two lines of work: 'Quality Work and Economic Security' and 'Impact Investing.' As director, he will advance Ford’s work in addressing inequality to pave the way for economic opportunity and inclusive growth.

Irons joins the foundation from the Rockefeller Foundation where he served as managing director for Global Markets. An economist by training, Irons led work on U.S. employment, including employment in a green economy, and a project on state and metropolitan innovation in partnership with the Brookings Institution. He also helped guide Rockefeller's program-related investments.

“We are thrilled to welcome John to the foundation as we work to address inequality in all its forms,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “He brings an academic’s heft but also the wisdom of practice and a social justice perspective. He will be an incredible addition to our global inclusive economies team.”

Irons has had a distinguished career as a researcher, teacher, policy analyst, advocate, and grant maker. Before joining Rockefeller, he served as research and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. In addition, he has worked as director of Tax and Budget Policy at Center for American Progress, and as a senior economic analyst and staff economist at OMB Watch, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting government accountability and citizen participation. Irons was also an assistant professor of economics at Amherst College.

“John is joining at an extraordinary time at the foundation and in the larger economy, when we are seeing new debates and new approaches to transform markets, communities, and lives,” said Xavier de Souza Briggs, vice president of Economic Opportunity and Markets. “It’s an honor to have him join, and I look forward to our work together to help ensure that market economies promote shared prosperity and respect human dignity.”

Over his tenure as an energetic analyst and communicator of economic ideas, Irons has published articles and reports on a wide range of economic topics, including macroeconomic policy, tax and budget policy, and labor markets. His work has been published in leading scholarly journals, and he is co‐editor of Testing Exogeneity, a volume on advanced modeling published by Oxford University Press.

Irons has been a guest lecturer and presented research at many colleges and universities. He has also served on a number of boards, including the nonprofit Coalition on Human Needs, the Committee on Electronic Publishing of the American Economic Association, and the National Economists Club. John is also on the advisory board for the Solutions for Youth Employment, a coalition convened by the World Bank to address economic opportunity for young people around the globe.

"I look forward to working with the Ford Foundation, their talented and committed teams, and their partners across the globe who are truly on the forefront of social change,” said Irons. “Making economies more inclusive is central to reducing inequalities. I truly believe that now is the time to work together to create more opportunities, to improve living standards, and to ensure widely shared prosperity."

Irons earned a BA in economics from Swarthmore College and a PhD in economics from MIT, where he was a National Science Foundation graduate fellow.

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The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.