By Stan Paul
For Randall Akee, conducting research with restricted-use U.S. Census data has meant time-consuming travel back and forth across the country to Washington.
But a two-year residence in the nation’s capital as a Brookings Institution Fellow starting in September 2017 will allow the assistant professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to spend more time working on issues of income inequality across racial and ethnic categories. While there, he will also collaborate with a number of Washington-based American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians.
“It will also, hopefully, foster additional collaboration with agencies that collect data on these populations,” said Akee, citing the Indian Health Service and the Department of the Interior.
Akee, who also holds an appointment in American Indian Studies at UCLA, is among 10 outstanding early- and mid-career scholars and experts selected for the inaugural class of the Brooking Institution’s David M. Rubenstein Fellows. The new fellows will focus on one or more of Brookings’ five research programs. These include economic studies, where Akee will be positioned, as well as governance studies, foreign policy, metropolitan policy, and global economy and development.
The program is funded by a multimillion-dollar gift from Rubenstein, co-chair of the Brookings board of trustees, and co-founder and chief executive officer of the Carlyle Group.
“I believe strongly not just in Brookings’ work to improve governance locally, nationally and globally, but in the Institution’s commitment to fostering diverse thinking in the ranks of public policy researchers and practitioners,” Rubenstein said in announcing the new fellowship program in March 2017. “Finding solutions to the complex challenges we face requires new and innovative thinking that reflects a variety of perspectives, disciplines and experiences.”
In addition to conducting in-depth research and analysis, fellows will have the opportunity to learn about advanced communication tools designed to maximize both the reach and impact of their scholarship. Akee said he is looking forward to working with the century-old nonprofit public policy organization’s experts and staff on research dissemination techniques and methods.
“Overall, I expect it to be a very productive time,” said Akee, who is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, as well as a number of organizations and institutes focused on his interests in labor economics, economic development and migration.