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MDC mourns the passing of Dr. William Spriggs, renowned economist, and Vice Chair of MDC’s Board of Directors

The entire MDC community mourns the passing of our friend and long-serving board member, Dr. William Spriggs. Bill was an effective and powerful voice who brilliantly championed the causes of equity, racial justice, and worker’s rights. He used economics as a dynamic tool to highlight systemic injustices and push back against the field’s basic assumptions about discrimination. Our work at MDC and the communities we serve are immeasurably better because of Bill’s insight, generosity, and wisdom.

Dr. William Spriggs was a professor in, and former chair of, the Department of Economics at Howard University and served as chief economist to the AFL-CIO. In his capacity with the AFL-CIO, he served as chair of the Economic Policy Working Group of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD, and on the board of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He also served on the Advisory Board to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute and was on the editorial board for the Public Administration Review.

From 2009 to 2012, he served as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy at the Department of Labor, having been appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At the time of his appointment, he also served as chairman of the Health Care Trust for UAW Retirees of the Ford Motor Co.; chairman of the UAW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Health and Welfare Trust; vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute; on the joint National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Public Administration’s Committee on the Fiscal Future for the United States; senior fellow of the Community Service Society of New York; and served on the boards of the National Employment Law Project.

He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts and earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Bill was a public intellectual with a common touch, capable of translating the effects of complex economic systems and conditions on the lives of everyday Americans,” said MDC President John Simpkins. “MDC was lucky to have the benefit of his wisdom and, along with all whom Bill touched, now shares the responsibility of carrying on his work.”

As a member and vice-chair of MDC’s board of directors, Bill not only was a valuable resource to our staff and programs, he also shared funny, compelling, and relevant stories about the real-world impact of economic policies. Bill contributed to MDC’s research and analysis, helping to frame and ground our economic mobility work. He also frequently participated in MDC panel discussions and webinars, including a recent discussion about labor and economic systems following a performance of Rhiannon Giddens’ Pulitzer prize-winning opera, Omar.

We can’t begin to express our gratitude for Bill’s service to MDC and the many lives he touched and the careers he inspired in our community and beyond.  We will honor Bill’s life and legacy as we look to live the values he espoused and the commitment to true equality and genuine possibility for which he tirelessly advocated with a keen mind and caring heart.