The New Jersey Policy Perspective board of trustees didn’t have to look far to find a leader who “lives and breathes” the research institution’s values. The Trenton-based think tank – whose goal is to drive policy change to advance economic, social and racial justice – announced May 17 that current Research Director Nicole Rodriguez will take the helm, effective June 1.
Rodriguez, who has guided the organization’s policy agenda and supervised its research staff since 2019, will succeed Brandon McKoy, who joined the leadership team of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities last fall.
“Nicole lives and breathes the values that have guided NJPP’s mission since our founding 25 years ago,” Marcia Marley, NJPP board chair and head of the search committee, said in a statement. “No other candidate matched her knowledge, commitment, and dedication to the work NJPP does.”
In the announcement, NJPP highlighted state policy changes that Rodriguez’s team has helped come to fruition, such as:
- New Jersey’s millionaire’s tax, which was approved in September 2019 and raised the income tax from 8.97% to 10.75% for every dollar earned above $1 million.
- A bill Gov. Phil Murphy signed in December 2019 that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses
- A state fund providing relief for those who had been excluded from other forms of pandemic assistance
“I’m honored to take on the role of president of NJPP, an organization with a legacy of not only getting things done but doing so in a way that puts people first in the policy-making process,” Rodriguez said. “With democratic institutions and basic freedoms under attack in our nation’s halls of power, the need for community-driven policy has never been greater. We have a lot of work to do in building a state and economy that works for everyone, and I know that with this team we can get it done.”
Rodriguez previously served in the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, starting as a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities fellow, where she was a researcher and policy advocate on issues related to workers’ rights and economic security, including a campaign to raise Massachusetts’ minimum wage to $15 an hour and enact paid family and sick leave. Before joining NJPP, Rodriguez was a senior researcher at Community Labor United.
She earned a master’s degree in public policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Villanova University.