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Boshara joins CSD as senior policy advisor

Ray Boshara discusses the racial wealth gap with members of the Missouri Child Development Account Coalition in an assembly at the Deaconness Foundation in St. Louis, MO, on December 19, 2019. Photo by Mary Sue Gee.

Ray Boshara, a national expert on wealth inequality and household financial security, has joined the Center for Social Development (CSD) as a senior policy advisor. As part of this appointment, Boshara serves as a Legislative Fellow with the Office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey, where he is developing Senator Casey’s “401Kids” proposal. The proposal will create a progressively funded savings and investment account for every child in the United States.

Boshara’s appointment, which began on January 1, is a continuation of his work to develop strategies for building financial security in low- and moderate-income households. With extensive experience at the intersection between research and policy, he will collaborate on the use of CSD research evidence to inform design of policy related to financial capability and asset building.

“We are pleased to welcome Ray Boshara as a senior policy advisor. The CSD team and I have collaborated with him on numerous initiatives over the years – from partnerships on asset-based social policy to cooperation on household financial-security initiatives – and we are excited to do so again,” said Michael Sherraden, the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor at Washington University and founding director of the Center for Social Development.

Boshara and Sherraden first became acquainted in 1990. Then a staffer on the U.S. House Select Committee on Hunger, Boshara was intrigued by proposals to shift paradigms on poverty and inequality. Sherraden, early in his career, was just finishing the seminal “Assets and the Poor” and had written about the potential of assets to address hunger and poverty.

An initial conversation between the two blossomed into a working relationship that continues over 30 years later.

Ray Boshara (left), Malik Ahmed, Esther Shin, then St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Robert Friedman, and Michael Sherraden participated in a panel discussion on Friedman’s book “A Few Thousand Dollars,” at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis on October 22, 2019.

In 2011, Boshara came to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, where he founded the Center for Household Financial Stability. He directed the center until 2022, leading initiatives to broaden understanding of wealth inequality and the roles that demographic characteristics like race play in predicting a family’s wealth.

Prior to that, he held positions at New America, Prosperity Now (formerly CFED), the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, and Ernst & Young (formerly Ernst & Whitney). His work for the Select Committee led to a staff position in the office of its chair, Congressman Tony P. Hall.

As vice president of the DC-based think-tank New America, Boshara created numerous initiatives to build wealth for people with low and moderate incomes. While there, he founded and directed the Asset Building Program, Next Social Contract Initiative, Global Assets Project, Financial Services and Education Project, and College Savings Initiative.

An expert in strategies for developing wealth in financially vulnerable families, Boshara advised the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama Administrations. He played key roles in the passage of the Assets for Independence Act in 1998, the introduction of the ASPIRE Act in 2004, and other bipartisan legislation. He has testified before the U.S. Congress many times and given speeches around the world.

In Congressional testimony delivered in 2012, Boshara noted, “Policies that automatically create a savings account at birth for every child born in America, with greater resources available for lower-wealth families, hold promise to expand opportunity and build a stronger middle class over time.”

Boshara has been active on this policy idea – first developed by Michael Sherraden in “Assets and the Poor” – throughout his career.

In addition to advising leading policymakers worldwide, he served as a senior advisor at the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. While at the St. Louis Fed, he served as a senior fellow at the Financial Security Program of The Aspen Institute. Boshara also has held positions on advisory boards at the national and local level, including the positions on the boards of the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Peace and Justice Commission of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Beyond Housing, and U.S. Financial Health Pulse.

In partnership with The Aspen Institute, Boshara published “The Future of Building Wealth” in 2021. Previously, he and Phillip Longman coauthored “The Next Progressive Era,” which was published in 2009. Boshara has also written for the Washington Post, New York Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Atlantic Monthly, Brookings Institution, Esquire, and Democracy. He has made appearances on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, Bloomberg News, Marketplace, MSNBC, C-SPAN, and CNN.

Boshara is a first-generation graduate from The Ohio State University. He holds master’s degrees from Yale Divinity School and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Boshara’s pursuit of broader economic security for those most at risk aligns with CSD’s mission to build a fully inclusive society. With Boshara’s insight, the Center for Social Development will continue to work toward evidence-based policy structures that can enable all people to survive and thrive.