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Employment and Jobs

A Job Quality Agenda to Build Back Better – An Action Platform for 2021 and Beyond

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Our economy doesn’t just need more jobs, it needs better jobs. The problem of eroding job quality long precedes, and now greatly exacerbates, our current extraordinary challenges of job and business losses, a rapidly spreading pandemic, racial injustice, and societal division. There is an urgent need for action and renewed opportunities for the new administration and Congress. How should policymakers and practitioners define job quality and make improved job quality their guiding principle? What ideas can help restore the ideal of work as the pathway to the American Dream?

In a shared statement, the Aspen Institute’s Job Quality Fellows drew on their diverse experiences and perspectives to develop a shared set of policy principles to improve job quality for working people across the US. This interactive event features Betsy Biemann (Chief Executive Officer, Coastal Enterprises Inc., Brunswick, Maine), Jose Corona (Vice President, Programs & Partnerships, Eat.Play.Learn Foundation, Oakland, California), Caryn York (Chief Executive Officer, Job Opportunities Task Force, Baltimore, Maryland), and moderator Maureen Conway (Vice President, The Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Economic Opportunities Program).


Many thanks to our participants for a vibrant and enlightening discussion. Participants uplifted a variety of resources throughout the conversation, including reports, tools, commentary, and more. We share a selection below.

Policy Agendas

Reports, Publications, and Briefs

Job Quality Tools

Fact Sheets, One-Pagers, and Organization Webpages


Betsy Biemann

Betsy Biemann
Chief Executive Officer, Coastal Enterprises Inc.

Betsy Biemann joined Coastal Enterprises Inc. in 2016 as its second chief executive officer. Prior to her appointment, Betsy led the Maine Food Cluster Project of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard University and advised businesses, nonprofit organizations, and social enterprises in Maine and nationally. From 2005 to 2012 she was president of the Maine Technology Institute, investing in Maine companies and initiatives seeking to grow high-potential sectors of Maine’s economy. Before her move to Maine, Betsy served as associate director at The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, where she managed a national grant and investment program aiming to increase employment in low-income communities. She joined Rockefeller’s staff in 1996 after working in international development, principally in Africa. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in biology and the history of science at Harvard University and her Master of Public Administration at Princeton University’s School of Public & International Affairs. Betsy serves on the board of the Opportunity Finance Network and as board member and treasurer of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation. In May 2020, she was appointed by Governor Janet Mills to Maine’s Economic Recovery Committee, tasked with recommending strategies to stabilize and grow the Maine economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jose Corona

Jose Corona
Vice President, Programs and Partnerships, Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation

José is a social entrepreneur who has built a reputation as a visionary leader, strong manager, innovator, and relationship-builder. He has been recognized for building mindful and creative organizational cultures and convening public, private, and community people and resources to solve complex community, business, and public sector problems.

Currently, Jose heads Programs & Partnerships for Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation – a new foundation the Currys launched that is becoming one of the country’s most innovative and impactful philanthropic organizations through its commitment to creating equal opportunities and bright futures for every child. In 2020, Eat. Learn. Play. was able to play a major role in the fight against rising hunger, helping to provide more than 14 million meals to children and families in the foundation’s hometown of Oakland. This strategy included engaging over 130 local restaurants who were able to rehire 850 of their employees in order to prepare and deliver over 2.5 million meals to those who needed meals during the pandemic.

Prior to joining the Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, José served as the director of equity and strategic partnerships under Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. In this role, José served as senior advisor to the Mayor, with the responsibility of creating, coordinating, and facilitating public, private, and philanthropic partnerships that foster equitable opportunities and benefits for the people of Oakland.

José also served as chief executive officer of ICA/FundGoodJobs from 2004 to 2015. He led ICA to become a nationally recognized, award-winning organization for its work on scaling small businesses and entrepreneurs as a way to create good jobs, especially for people with the highest need. In the ten years with ICA, he oversaw a portfolio of companies that created over 5,000 jobs, creating over $150 million in wealth for local residents and collectively generating over $300 million in revenue. He also created a platform for hundreds of professionals to participate by contributing over $25 million of total pro bono investments into the ICA mission. His innovative thinking led ICA to launch Fund Good Jobs – an investment fund focused on using capital to influence the creation and retention of quality jobs – and the Talent Management Group – an innovative approach that is reshaping the workforce development sector.

He is currently co-chair of the Oakland Economic Recovery Advisory Council, charged to safely open businesses in Oakland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caryn York

Caryn York
Chief Executive Officer, Job Opportunities Task Force

Caryn York is chief executive officer of the Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF), an independent, statewide nonprofit organization that promotes policies and programs to help low-wage workers advance to high-wage jobs. Caryn is JOTF’s youngest CEO and the first African American female to lead the 24-year organization.

Caryn is dedicated to improving conditions and outcomes for Maryland’s low-wage workers and jobseekers. As CEO, Caryn leads a team of passionate advocates, experts, and practitioners focused on policies and programs to eliminate educational and employment barriers and facilitate the successful entry, or re-entry, of low-skill, low-income workers into the labor market.

Caryn is well-known and widely respected for her leadership in numerous state and local policy reform efforts that include increasing access and affordability to postsecondary education options, expanding access to paid sick days, reform of punitive child support reform policies and practices, decriminalizing poverty and race, and reducing the impact of incarceration on working families. Notable policy achievements include successful passage of legislation to “Ban the Box” on college and job applications, the development, passage, and implementation of the Maryland Justice Reinvestment Act, landmark reforms to Maryland’s pretrial system regarding the use of cash bail, and efforts to decriminalize poverty and race.

Caryn received a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Washington College and has worked within state and local politics for over 10 years.


Maureen Conway

Maureen Conway
Vice President, The Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Economic Opportunities Program

Maureen Conway serves as vice president at the Aspen Institute and as executive director of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program (EOP). EOP works to expand individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity.


Webinar: “A Job Quality Agenda to Build Back Better.” Featuring @AspenInstitute’s #JobQuality Fellows Betsy Biemann (@CEIMaine), @jcorona44 (@eatlearnplay), and Caryn York (@jotfmaryland), with moderator @conway_maureen (@AspenWorkforce). Jan 22 at 2pm ET.

Our economy doesn’t just need more jobs. It needs better jobs. Join @AspenWorkforce and the @AspenInstitute’s #JobQuality Fellows for “A Job Quality Agenda to Build Back Better,” Jan 22 at 2pm ET.

This year we face continued economic losses, an ongoing pandemic, racial injustice, and societal division. How can we center #jobquality in our recovery? Join @AspenWorkforce in conversation with the @AspenInstitute’s #JobQuality Fellows, Jan 22 at 2pm ET.

The @AspenInstitute’s #JobQuality Fellows drew on their diverse experiences and perspectives to develop a shared set of policy principles to improve job quality for working people. Hear from three of the Fellows, Jan 22 at 2pm ET.

How should policymakers and practitioners define #jobquality? What ideas can help restore the ideal of work as the pathway to the American Dream? Join @AspenWorkforce Jan 22 at 2pm ET for their next webinar, “A Job Quality Agenda to Build Back Better.”

Read the Agenda

Employment and Jobs
A Job Quality Agenda for the Next Administration
December 18, 2020 • Job Quality Fellowship & 1 more

Job Quality in Practice

This webinar is the ninth in our Job Quality in Practice webinar series. The Job Quality in Practice series is designed to support practitioners across fields – including workforce development, economic development, investing and lending, policy, worker advocacy, and business – to address job quality in their work. Webinars share updates on current conditions and priorities as well as actionable tools and approaches. We also seek to highlight leading practitioners’ work and create connections across disciplines.

We are grateful to Prudential Financial for its support of our Job Quality in Practice webinar series and our ongoing efforts to advance a job quality field of practice. Other webinars in this series include:

Learn More

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay connected to our work, including events, publications, blog posts, and more.

Event information
Fri Jan 22, 2021
2:00pm - 3:15pm EDT