Christine Owens

Christine Owens

Former Executive Director, National Employment Law Project, Economic Opportunities Program

Advisory Council, Economic Opportunities Program

NELP’s executive director since 2008, Christine Owens has devoted her career to fighting for the rights of America’s workers, and to expanding opportunities for women, people of color, and low-wage earners.

In 1997, Chris joined the national AFL-CIO as a senior policy analyst specializing in workplace equity issues, and in 2001, she was appointed Director of Public Policy. In those roles, she worked closely with NELP and other national and grassroots economic policy and worker advocacy groups, along with national unions and state labor federations, to promote minimum and living wage hikes, pay equity for working women, and state UI coverage expansions, among other reforms.

Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Chris founded the Workers Options Resource Center, where she helped to coordinate a broad-based coalition of national and community organizations to win the 1996 federal minimum wage increase.

Under her leadership, NELP and its partners have helped to secure more historic minimum wage increases throughout the country, crucial protections for millions of home-care workers, and ban-the-box hiring policies in dozens of states and localities.

In addition to her work at NELP, she is a member of the board for the Coalition on Human Needs, an alliance of national organizations that serve low-income and other vulnerable populations. She was also recently appointed to the board of the Union Community Fund, a national charity funder of the AFL-CIO.

An outspoken and respected voice among workers’ rights advocates, Chris has written for the Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Hill, and other outlets, and she has been quoted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, New York Magazine, and more.

Chris is a member of the Advisory Council of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Learn more at