Rachael Stephens Parker

Program Director – Workforce Development & Economic Policy
NGA Center for Best Practices

Rachael Stephens Parker serves as the director of the Workforce Development & Economic Policy program in the NGA Center for Best Practices. Rachael oversees research, policy guidance, and technical assistance provision to Governors and state leaders on expanding equitable access to economic opportunity by reducing barriers to economic participation; fostering economic dynamism and job growth; and providing training and employment opportunities that support employers’ talent needs and lead to family-sustaining careers. Current areas of focus include workforce and economic development innovations for a more equitable economic recovery; cross-system alignment to facilitate lifelong learning; scaling proven training strategies including apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship; streamlining business regulations and fostering entrepreneurship; and advancing place-based economic development strategies.

Before joining the NGA Center for Best Practices, Rachael was an economic policy fellow at Third Way, where her research and policy work with Congress focused on workforce development, infrastructure, automation and the future of work. Prior to that, she managed career-mentoring and job-connection programs for low-income adults in the New York City and D.C. metro areas at a nonprofit founded on the understanding that talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not, and that we all have a role in redistributing opportunity, a belief that has been foundational to Rachael’s work throughout her career.

Rachael has published opinions in Real Clear Policy and The Hill, and her research has been featured in Bloomberg Business Week, Forbes, Philanthropy Daily, and Inside Higher Ed. She has also appeared as a guest on Federal News Network and Information Security Media Group.

Rachael holds a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a bachelor of arts in economics from Bryn Mawr College, where she graduated magna cum laude as the sole recipient of the Jeanne Quistgaard Memorial Prize for Excellence in Economics. Rachael originally hails from Maryland.