Terra Lawson-Remer is founder and managing partner of Catalyst Project, specializing in the development of innovative public policies, social change strategies, and high-impact organizations. She is also a faculty fellow at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy, and a fellow the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.
Dr. Lawson-Remer served as senior advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the Obama Administration. At Treasury she worked for Undersecretary Lael Brainard, leading on emerging economies and fragile states. She joined Treasury while on leave from The New School for Social Research, where she was assistant professor of international affairs and founding chair of the university’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, implementing one of the nation’s first institutional climate change divestment policies.
Previously she was legal and campaign director at the global advocacy organization Avaaz, legal fellow at Amnesty International, summer associate at the ACLU of New York, and non-resident fellow in Global Economy & Development at the Brookings Institution. Prior to that, she was fellow for Civil Society, Markets & Democracy at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she directed the Council's initiative on democratic transitions and wrote and advised on international economic law, inequality, and global development.
Lawson-Remer began her career as an organizer, working in political campaigns, as a direct action coordinator in the global justice movement, and as co-founder and co-director of the national student organization Students Transforming And Resisting Corporations (STARC). She led campaigns to democratize the world trade organization and international financial institutions, stop the war in Iraq, and win fair contracts for farmworkers.
She has authored numerous articles and books on fairness and sustainability within and across generations, and her scholarship was recognized in 2019 with the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. Her research addresses property rights, poverty and inequality, international trade and investment, environmental justice, discrimination, collective action and collective ownership, extractive industries, sustainable development, ethical investing and impact investing, and human rights. The American Political Science Association awarded her most recent book, Fulfilling Economic & Social Rights (Oxford University Press), 2016 Best Book in Human Rights Scholarship.
Her current work addresses fairness in the future economy, specifically political and policy responses to artificial intelligence and automation. Her interests include: distributional outcomes and structural assert inequality; monopoly rents, anti-trust regulation, big data agglomeration, and natural monopoly information firms; universal portable benefits; data dividends and data as a common pool resource; organizing strategies for gig economy workers; algorithmic transparency and unstructured machine learning; and international economic policy in the context of new technologies impacting supply chains.
She also recently served as founding co-chair and chief strategist for the innovative community political organizing program in CA-49 that catapulted Democrat Mike Levin to a 12-point victory in the longstanding Republican stronghold district. Flip the 49th! Neighbors in Action was designed as a scalable model to build community power and mobilize nascent voters through leadership development and neighbor-to-neighbor organizing.
Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Economist, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, and CNN, among other outlets.
A Dean’s Merit Scholar, she earned degrees in law, ethics, politics, and economics from Yale University (B.A.), New York University (Ph.D.), and New York University School of Law (J.D.).