As director of the Economic, Human Services & Workforce (EHSW) Division, Waits oversees research, policy analysis, technical assistance, and resource development for the division. The EHSW Division works with states to identify, share and implement best practices on issues such as: preparing strategies to support innovation; fostering cluster-based economic development; facilitating innovative entrepreneurship; preparing comprehensive strategies to transition to a green economy; fostering a skilled workforce; reducing poverty and unemployment; ensuring the well-being of children and older adults; improving public safety; and combating identity theft.
The EHSW Division’s work includes the 2011 National Governors Association Chair’s Initiative Growing State Economies, which provides governors and other state policymakers with options to assess the economic environment in their state and strategies designed to foster business growth. The division also prepares reports and provides technical assistance on policy options states can use to foster innovation-driven economic growth; link workforce and economic development strategies; align universities and community colleges with state economic development goals; reduce the number of children in foster care; and reduce poverty.
Previous Positions: Center Director and Project Director, Pew Center on the States, a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts; President, Mary Jo Waits and Associates; Senior Fellow, Center for the Future of Arizona; Associate Director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University; Director of Development, Major Gifts, College of Business, Arizona State University; Assistant Director for the Arizona Governor’s Office of Policy Development and Planning during the Babbitt Administration; member of the Economic Development Quarterly's editorial board.
Education: MPA, University of Southern California; advance studies for Ph.D., University of Michigan; B.A. in Political Science, Drew University with semesters at the London School of Economics and Georgetown University.
- Waits, Mary Jo et al (2011) Degrees for What Jobs? Raising Expectations for Universities and Colleges in a Global Economy, National Governors Association.
- Waits, Mary Jo et. al. (2010) A Sharper Focus on Technical Workers: How to Educate and Train for the Global Economy, National Governors Association.
- Waits, Mary Jo et. al. (2007) Investing in Innovation, National Governors Association and Pew Center on the States.
- Waits, Mary Jo et. al. (2006) Why Some Schools with Latino Children Beat the Odds… and Others Don’t, Center for the Future of Arizona.
- Waits, Mary Jo et. al. (2005). Meds and Eds: The Key to Arizona Leapfrogging Ahead in the 21st Century, Arizona Board of Regents.
- Waits, Mary Jo et. al. (2001). Five Shoes Waiting to Drop on Arizona’s Future, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University.
- Waits, Mary Jo (2001). "The Downtowns of the Future: Opportunities for Regional Stewards." Monograph Series: Alliance for Regional Stewardship.
- Waits, Mary Jo (2000). "Economic Development Strategies in the American States," International Journal of Public Administration, 23 (9), pp. 1541-1571.
- Waits, Mary Jo. (2000). "The Added Value of the Industry Cluster Approach to Economic Analysis, Strategy Development, and Service Delivery." Economic Development Quarterly, 14(1).
- Waits, Mary Jo et. al.(1999). The New Economy: A Guide for Arizona, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University.