John L. Palmer is a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, and served as its President between 1997 and 1999. He now serves on its Board of Directors and is Co-Chair of the upcoming NASI conference, “In Search of Retirement Security: The Changing Mix of Social Insurance, Employee Benefits, and Personal Responsibility.”

Recently, after stepping down from his 15-year position as Dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Palmer was named University Professor, the highest faculty rank.

Palmer was a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute between 1981-1988 and at the Brookings Institution between 1975-1979, and an Adjunct Professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard between 1982-1984. His think tank experience complemented his government service, as Professor Palmer was Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1979 to 1981, and a Director of the Office of Income Security Policy, at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare between 1971-1975.

He has also been a consultant to various government agencies and private foundations, and served on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences, and, since 1994, is a member of the Research Committee of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. In late 2000 he was appointed to a four-year term as public trustee for Medicare and Social Security.

Throughout his career Palmer has written extensively and engaged in a variety of other professional activities. His publications include twelve books, the most recent being “Who Cares for America’s Children: Day Care Policy for the 1990’s,” which he co-edited with Cheryl Hayes and Martha Zaslow, published in 1990, and “The Vulnerable,” co-edited with Timothy Smeeding and Barbara Torrey, published in 1988. He also published dozens of professional and popular articles in newspapers such as The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times on such topics as economic and budget policy, as well as various domestic social concerns. He has also testified before Congress on many occasions, both as expert and as public official, on issues concerning Social Security, Medicare, health care, and employment. He has been a consultant to numerous government agencies and private foundations and an officer of several national professional associations, and served on various committees of the National Academy of Sciences and the Social Science Research Council.

“John Palmer brings broad and deep experience to the subject of fashioning retirement income security — as a scholar, Social Security trustee, government official, and academic administrator. Based on his experience and judgment and that of the other planning committee members, I look forward to a conference that is both intellectually challenging and lively,” said Henry Aaron, Chair of the NASI Board of Directors.

He received his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University, received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, the National Defense Education Fellowship and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare’s Superior Service Award when he served as that agency’s Office of Income Security Policy Director.


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