The Aspen Financial Security Program (FSP) announced this week that Rhett Buttle will be joining FSP as a Senior Fellow. Rhett will focus his efforts on advancing the innovative Reconnecting Work and Wealth Initiative – a cutting edge effort at the Aspen Institute led by FSP and the Economic Opportunities Program that engages a broad set of stakeholders in an ambitious re-visioning of the ways that 21st Century labor and financial markets can deliver inclusive growth and shared prosperity. Currently, Rhett is the Founder and Principal of Public Private Strategies. Before that, he served as Director of Business Engagement for Hillary for America, Director of Private Sector Engagement for the US Department of Health and Human Services, a member of The White House Business Council, and President of a national business association.
In anticipation of Rhett joining the team, he sat down with Ida Rademacher, vice president at the Aspen Institute, and executive director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program.
Ida Rademacher: We’re energized here at Aspen to have you join us as a Senior Fellow to advance the Reconnecting Work and Wealth Initiative. What attracted you to this role?
Rhett: In my opinion, the question of how we reconnect work and wealth and do so in a way that creates economic security for all Americans is quite possibly the most important question of our lifetime. In a day where some argue that the social contract of America is broken, it’s critical that we find new ways to make sure all Americans have access to opportunity. To accomplish this effectively, we need to bring together diverse leaders to seek solutions to these critical questions. The Aspen Institute provides the opportunity to do just that, and I can’t think of a better place to do this work. This conversation has already been started through the Financial Security Program and Economic Opportunity Program, but I look forward to working with colleagues to take it to the next level.
Can you share some of what you are planning to do as a Senior Fellow?
During my time as a Senior Fellow, I will focus my efforts on advancing the innovative Reconnecting Work and Wealth Initiative – a cutting edge effort that engages several of the Institute’s largest policy programs and their stakeholder networks in an ambitious re-visioning of the ways that 21st Century labor and financial markets can deliver inclusive growth and shared prosperity. As part of this effort, I hope my work will help to build out even more robust cross program collaboration at the Aspen Institute. Many of Aspen’s current policy programs address tenants of this important issue and are seeking solutions. Finding a way to create even more synergies among these solution-oriented programs will help us get to some answers more quickly. In addition, I hope to engage and activate a wider range of private sector leaders who care deeply about issues of economic opportunity, empowerment, and inclusion. Seeking good public policy will always be important and should be on the table. However, not every solution can be achieved by public policy. The private sector in America is stepping up in a new way and we must find the right ways to harness that. In addition to working with the corporate community, I hope we can bring new small employer voices to the table. Beyond the private sector, I hope we can bring an array of new actors into the conversation to make sure we are benefiting from the most innovative ideas. Last, I hope the work we are doing lays the foundation for a strong program that not only builds toward a tremendous Economic Security Summit this summer, but that helps re-shape the national dialogue on these critical issues.
What do you think it will take to make economic security a national policy priority that compels action?
Exactly what we are doing. At my core, I am an organizer. While most of my professional career has been spent organizing business, I know the power of bringing a diverse set of people together around a common cause. When you do this, you create true collective impact. I have been fortunate enough to see the power of Aspen’s work first hand, and I know that as we build this Initiative and bring the right players to the table, we will be an instrumental player in creating the space for both policy and market change.