CLASP Executive Director Olivia Golden To Step Down in 2022 After Almost a Decade

Washington, DC, July 12, 2021—The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) today announced that Olivia Golden, who has led the 52-year-old organization as executive director since 2013, will step down in early 2022.

Under Golden’s leadership, CLASP brought boldness, deep expertise, innovation, and persistence to advancing a powerful vision for people with low incomes and communities of color. The organization has fought back successfully against devastating threats during the Trump years and responded to the immediate economic devastation of the COVID pandemic while shaping and implementing a longer-term agenda. CLASP in these years has helped achieve major national and state policy wins for people with low incomes and created new and powerful coalitions. The organization has also sustained its effective work across the range of income-support, child care, youth, jobs, and postsecondary policies while also expanding its reach to address health and mental health, criminal justice, and immigrant family issues.

During this time, CLASP strengthened its longstanding commitment to racial equity internally and in partnerships, collaborations, advocacy, and technical assistance. In addition, CLASP expanded to meet the vital need for its work and expertise, almost doubling its annual budget and staffing, and diversifying its funding sources.

“It has been truly an honor to lead CLASP at a time of such urgency, when the nation has faced the greatest threats to economic and racial justice in my lifetime—yet also potentially the greatest opportunities,” said Olivia Golden. “I’ve chosen to leave at this moment because the organization is so strong, in terms of its terrific staff, its effectiveness, and its fiscal health. During such rapid change, this is the right moment for the next leader to take CLASP through the next decade. I’m proud to have worked with so many talented people on the staff and Board to meet the moment by defeating terrible threats. At the same time, we have advanced a powerful policy agenda that may come to fruition this year after decades in the making and created deep partnerships across the racial and economic justice landscape with national and state advocates, people with lived experience, and on-the-ground leaders.”

“Olivia’s multifaceted visionary leadership has transformed CLASP into a powerhouse policy leader. She has built coalitions to strengthen the power of people of color, immigrants, and young people who have been marginalized to influence the nation’s anti-poverty policy agenda with policy solutions that work for people with low incomes,” said CLASP Board Chair LaVeeda Battle, Esq. “She remade CLASP to reflect the demographics of those served and championed racial equity and immigrant rights, all while deepening the bench of young leaders in policy and advocacy. It has been an honor, privilege, and delight for this Board to support Olivia’s great work as executive director. It goes without saying that Olivia has been a preeminent leader at CLASP, and we will miss her.”

With Golden at the helm since 2013, CLASP:

  • Achieved significant state and national policy wins for people with low incomes on issues that CLASP has been involved in for many years. These include child care, paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), refundable tax credits, workforce training, effective delivery of core safety net programs, and postsecondary access for students with low incomes.
  • Actively worked in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession to respond to the immediate devastation and seize the moment for largescale change on behalf of people with low incomes.
  • Created and shared with the Biden-Harris Administration a series of far-reaching policy proposals to promote economic and racial justice. Many of these have been enacted through the American Rescue Plan or implemented by executive action and others are included in the American Families Plan and American Jobs Act proposals.
  • Broadened the organization’s portfolio of issues to include expanded work in immigration and immigrant families, criminal justice reform, and health and mental health.
  • Aggressively fought, delayed, and defeated deeply damaging efforts by the Trump administration and others to weaponize executive actions and laws. These attempted to put up barriers to the economic security and wellbeing of people with low incomes, immigrants and their families, and communities of color.
  • Created and led many significant coalitions. These include the 500+ organization Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) campaign, which brings together a broad network of anti-poverty, health, economic justice, faith-based, immigrant justice, and civil rights organizations to protect and expand access by immigrants and their families to core public services and supports. Others include the Children Thrive Action Network and the Child Care for Every Family Network.
  • Strengthened and broadened the organization’s racial equity work. This has included creating a racial equity steering committee, hiring CLASP’s first-ever racial equity director, significantly diversifying the staff and board, expanding CLASP’s partnerships and coalitions, and advocating for changes to address the systemic roots of white supremacy and racism in public policies.
  • Engaged in innovative efforts to partner with people with lived experience in the policymaking process, including through the New Deal for Youth and Community Partnership Group.
  • Celebrated CLASP’s 50th anniversary in 2019 with a series of events and activities that both honored the organization’s history and looked ahead to its future.
  • Strengthened and expanded organizational capacity by building up CLASP’s communications capacity, legislative affairs team, human resources function, development team, and more.

The Board of Trustees will announce plans for its nationwide search process soon.