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A Conversation about Economic Mobility in the United States and Texas

November 30, 2012 Dallas

Has the climb up the economic ladder really become more difficult? Have more families in the middle class fallen downward? What can funders do to increase economic security and create opportunities for upward mobility for families across Texas? These and other questions were addressed by panelists Diana Elliott from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Don Baylor from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, and Ray Boshara from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis as they offered perspectives and addressed myths and misconceptions about economic mobility, wealth, and poverty in Texas and across America.

About the Panelists

Diana Elliott is research manager for the Economic Mobility Project at the Pew Center on the States. She supports Pew’s efforts to build broad and nonpartisan agreement on the facts and figures related to mobility and to spark an active debate on how best to improve opportunity in America. As a lead researcher on Pew’s ongoing investigation of the status of the American Dream, Elliott communicates and collaborates with outside experts to develop and fine tune methodological approaches; reviews original research from external partners; and works with the project team to publicize findings and generate new knowledge, press coverage, and discourse in the area of economic mobility.

Before coming to Pew, Elliott was a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau where she conducted research on marriage, divorce, and family living arrangements. She has also worked at the University of Massachusetts—Boston Survey Research Center and at the research firm Belden & Russonello, where she assisted with developing questions and content, managed the progress of surveys in the field, and analyzed survey findings. Elliott completed her PhD in sociology at the University of Maryland—College Park.


Don Baylor Jr. is senior policy analyst, Economic Opportunity, at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. An eighth-generation Texan, Don Baylor joined the center in 2004 and focuses on asset building, postsecondary success and labor markets to expand economic opportunity and mobility in Texas. He directs OpportunityTexas, a statewide campaign to increase financial stability, create pathways to good jobs and promote savings.

Before coming to the center, he crafted and advocated for living wage, antipredatory lending and affordable housing legislation before the New York City Council and New York State Legislature. Before that, he was a public sector consultant who co-led strategic planning and performance audit contracts for several public entities in California, Oregon and Hawaii. He earned a BA from Georgetown University in 1994 and an MA with honors in African American and Southern history from The University of Wisconsin—Madison in 1997. He was recently appointed to the new Consumer Advisory Board of the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and also serves on the Board of Directors of CFED, RAISE Texas and the Texas Match the Promise Foundation. He serves in an advisory role for CLASP, United Way Capital Area, and Texas C-Bar.


Ray Boshara is senior advisor and policy officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Boshara is leading a research-based project to promote household financial stability, with an emphasis on strengthening the balance sheets of American families and how that contributes to economic growth.

Prior to joining the Fed in April 2011, Boshara was vice president of the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, where he launched and directed programs promoting asset development, college savings and a new social contract.

Over the past 20 years, Boshara has advised presidential candidates; the Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations; and leading policymakers worldwide. He has testified before the U.S. Congress several times, most recently before the Senate Banking Committee in October 2011. He has written for the Washington Post, New York Times, and Atlantic Monthly, and is the co-author (with Phillip Longman) of The Next Progressive Era. Boshara is a graduate of Ohio State University, Yale Divinity School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.