For Immediate Release | July 26, 2022


William Arnone,

The National Academy of Social Insurance (Academy) and The Policy Academies are pleased to announce the selection of the inaugural Kilolo Kijakazi Fellows.

The Kijakazi Fellowship was established this year in honor of Kilolo Kijakazi, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Prior to her appointment to lead the SSA, Dr. Kijakazi had been a Fellow at the Urban Institute and a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation. Her career has focused on building economic security for working families and incorporating the knowledge of people of color into all aspects of her work, including research, policy, and practice. The Fellowship seeks to continue that legacy and cultivate and accelerate the careers of emerging policy scholars whose work addresses the issues to which Kilolo Kijakazi has dedicated her stellar career. The program’s focus is on racial and gender wealth gaps and structural racism in U.S. social insurance and related policy areas.

Felipe Juan and Keandra Davis, both of whom are PhD students, are the two inaugural Fellows. Felipe is a third-year PhD candidate in economics at Howard University. His research focuses on racial disparities in the U.S. unemployment insurance system.  Keandra is a second-year PhD candidate in public policy and administration at the Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University. Keandra’s research focuses on homeowner foreclosures in red-lined neighborhood, wealth inequalities, and economic mobility during recessions.

Both Fellows are hosted at the offices of the Academy and participate in its weekly seminar program on social insurance and related programs held for its summer interns.

The Kijakazi Fellowship is advised by a committee consisting of: Cecelia Conrad, Chief Executive Officer of the MacArthur Foundation’s Lever For Change program and a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Social Insurance; Sheldon Danziger, President of the Russell Sage Foundation; Darrick Hamilton, Professor, Milano-The New School for Management and Urban Policy, and founding director of the New School’s Institute for the Study of Race, Power and Political Economy; Signe-Mary McKernan, Vice President, Labor, Human Services, and Population, and Codirector, Wealth and Financial Well-Being Initiative, Urban Institute; and William Spriggs, Professor of Economics, Howard University, and Chief Economist at the AFL-CIO.

The Kijakazi Fellowship’s initial funders are the Ford Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, The Policy Academies, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

“In partnership with The Policy Academies, the National Academy of Social Insurance is thrilled to add the Kijakazi Fellowship to our Leadership Development program,” said William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer of the Academy. “We are proud to invest in future social insurance leaders and diverse scholarship that explores ways to improve equity within the social insurance ecosystem.” For more information about the Academy’s programs for students, please visit the Academy’s website or contact Devin Cowens, Director of Leadership Development & Outreach at

“The Kijakazi Fellowship represents an ongoing joint commitment of our two organizations to promoting policy work and graduate students dedicated to addressing critical issues of racial justice and equity,” said Lynette Rawlings, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Policy Academies. “In my 35 years in Washington, Kilolo single handedly did more to change the diversity of the playing field in social insurance than anyone else,” said Advisory Committee Member William Spriggs. “It is really fitting to have a Fellowship in her honor.”

To contribute to the Kijakazi Fellowship, please visit the Academy’s website.

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Now comprised of over 1,200 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance will meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsuranceon Twitter. 

See related news: News About NASI

How can we help you?

Media Inquiries
Sponsorship Opportunities

Stay up-to-date on the latest research & policy updates.

Subscribe to our newsletter