Gbenga Ajilore, Center for American Progress

Being part of the NEA for 20 years and then being able to become President of this great institution is just wonderful I mean it’s kind of the
culmination of annual presidential that had that address and to be able to get a
good address like that and get a standing ovation it’s incredible. So the
key is to stay strong. This is a tough field, and it’s not a welcoming field, but
there are good people there are good networks and that was what the NEA is.
NEA is that safe space is that’s and we’re not just like you know coddling
people. We are strong and try to push people to be better, but we know how
tough the field is and the NEA is a place for you to be able to kind of be
yourself and to also be inspired. So I was introduced to the NEA by my mentor Rhonda Sharpe. I went to the conference’s annual conference and she brought me to the NEA reception and I went to the NEA Presidential Address and there I saw a lot
of Black economists that I had never been exposed to before. And so I’ve been
coming every year and then learning more and more, developing my network and now a lot of those people have been helping me strive to get to where I am now. So I’m a senior economist at the Center for American Progress. I work on an economic policy team writing columns, issue briefs and reports. I would actually like to see
the NEA have a few more journals and then also to have actually a more
diverse group so more like a diverse membership so that’s not just a group of
Black economists but the group of economists who work on the issues that
are important for marginalized groups. The best part of being president is
to be able to kind of shape where this to know where the institution’s been
and to shape the future for us. So my term ends in four weeks
and then my biggest plan was to kind of recruit undergraduate students and
developing regional student chapters is going to help do that. So we’ve started
one in Atlanta right now and we’re gonna work on the DC area and hopefully have it
spread out for the next couple of years

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