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Economist Cecilia Conrad to Present 2024 UMass Amherst Gamble Memorial Lecture on ‘Philanthropy, Wealth Redistribution and Equity’

The founder and CEO of Lever for Change and senior advisor at the MacArthur Foundation will speak in Bowker Auditorium at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 18
Cecilia Conrad
Cecilia Conrad

Economist Cecilia Conrad, the founder and chief executive officer of Lever for Change and senior advisor at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will present the annual Philip Gamble Memorial Lecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Thursday, April 18, at 5 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In her lecture, “Philanthropy, Wealth Redistribution and Equity,” Conrad will interrogate philanthropic practices that reinforce racialized inequality and explore evolving practices in the field of philanthropy to make giving more equitable. She will draw on her experience as an economist in academia and philanthropy to examine how race and gender impact economic status.

Conrad founded Lever for Change as a nonprofit affiliate of the MacArthur Foundation in 2019 to assist donors in finding high-impact philanthropic opportunities. To date, it has helped distribute more than $1.7 billion for social good, supporting some 145 organizations and tackling issues such as racial inequity, gender inequality, access to economic opportunity and climate change. Before founding Lever for Change, Conrad led the MacArthur Fellows program. In 2023, The Nonprofit Times named her to its Top 50 Power & Influence List and Inside Philanthropy named her one of the 50 most powerful women in philanthropy.

Conrad is an emerita professor of economics at Pomona College in Claremont, California, joining the faculty in 1995 and retiring in 2013. At Pomona, she also served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college and later as acting president. In recognition of her academic research and advocacy around racial and gender equity, Conrad received the National Economic Association’s Samuel V. Westerfield Award and the National Urban League’s Women of Power Award. 

Before joining the faculty at Pomona, Conrad served on the faculties of Barnard College and Duke University. She was also an economist at the Federal Trade Commission and a visiting scholar at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Conrad earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, where she also received the 2023 Alumnae Achievement Award, and a doctorate in economics from Stanford University.

Sponsored by the UMass Amherst Department of Economics, the Philip Gamble Memorial Lectureship Endowment was established by alumnus Israel Rogosa and other family and friends in memory of Philip Gamble, a member of the economics faculty from 1935-71 and chair of the department from 1942-65. The fund supports an annual lecture series featuring a prominent economist, and, since its inauguration in 1995, Gamble lecturers have included Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and former U.S. Ambassador to India and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient John Kenneth Galbraith. In total, 10 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics have presented the Gamble Lecture.

More information on the department of economics and the 2024 Gamble Lecture by Cecilia Conrad, as well as a complete list of previous Gamble lecturers with video of all speeches since 2008, can be found on the economics department website. More information about Conrad can be found on the Lever for Change website.