Maria Fitzpatrick is an expert in child and family policy. She has been elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance at what the organization calls "a pivotal time for social insurance policy."

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Maria Fitzpatrick named to the National Academy of Social Insurance

The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) has approved the election of Maria Fitzpatrick in recognition of her national prominence as a scholar in the areas of child and family policy, the economics of education, and retirement policy.

Fitzpatrick is the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. She is one of 52 experts elected by NASI and the only Cornell University scholar in this year’s group of honorees. Brooks School Dean Colleen Barry was elected in 2022.

The national nonprofit organization advances solutions to challenges facing the nation by increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security. This mission encompasses established social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation, and Unemployment Insurance – as well as related policy areas, including Medicaid, long-term services and supports, paid leave, other social assistance programs, and private employee benefits.

“We welcome our 2023 Members at a pivotal time for social insurance policy. We will count on our newest Members to contribute their expertise in building a more robust social insurance policy ecosystem that supports economic security opportunities for all and to collaborate with current Academy Members in pursuit of the same,” said Chief Executive Officer William Arnone.

New members are nominated by current members in recognition of their professional contributions, such as improving the quality of research, administration, or policymaking in an area of social insurance. Members make significant contributions to NASI research, education, and leadership development initiatives.

Fitzpatrick’s research has focused on early childhood education policies, higher education, teacher compensation, benefits and labor supply, teacher pensions and retirement, child maltreatment, incarceration’s effects on children and mothers, and the effects of retirement on the health of older Americans.

For example, she recently published research demonstrating the impact of pandemic-forced school closures on the maltreatment of children. Fitzpatrick was called an “academic hero” for helping develop a Cornell course that helps underserved high school students prepare for college.

In addition to her leadership role at the Brooks School, Fitzpatrick is a professor in the Economics Department and Associate Vice Provost for Social Sciences in the Cornell Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. Fitzpatrick is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, as well as an affiliate in the CESifo Research Network, the Cornell Population Center, and the Center for the Study of Inequality.

That research was one of the factors cited in Fitzpatrick’s NASI nomination: “She continues to conduct high quality research in the areas of retirement policies and Social Security. She actively mentors future leaders and researchers as a dissertation committee member for many students. In her senior administrative roles at Cornell, she has been instrumental in building and shaping educational programs that train students in public policy at the undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels.” 

Before arriving at Cornell, Fitzpatrick was a Searle Freedom Trust postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University. After receiving an undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she earned her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia, where she was both an Institute for Education Sciences and Spencer Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow.

Jim Hanchett is assistant dean for communications for the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.

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