Interview with Maureen Conway, VP at The Aspen Institute and Adria Scharf, Associate Director at Rutgers Institute

Mureen Conway serves as vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program (EOP). EOP works to expand individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity. Maureen founded EOP’s Workforce Strategies Initiative and has headed up workforce research at the Aspen Institute since 1999. Maureen also curates a public discussion series at the Aspen Institute, Opportunity in America, which brings together voices from business, labor, policy, human services, media, academia, and others to discuss the challenges experienced by many in today’s labor markets and new ideas for addressing these challenges. In addition, Maureen oversees EOP’s leadership development programs, which connect innovators, both within communities and from across the country, to peers working to help low- and moderate-income Americans access opportunity.

Maureen is the author of numerous publications including research reports, case studies, and policy briefs, including co-editing, together with Robert P. Giloth, the book Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies, a collection that brings perspectives from philanthropy, policy, research, and practice together. A featured speaker at national and regional conferences, she is a nationally recognized expert in workforce issues and has been quoted in a variety of news media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio and her writing has appeared in Fast Company, Politico, Quartz,, and other outlets.

Maureen’s previous experience includes consulting for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and work for the US Peace Corps, where she advised on the design, management, and evaluation of the organization’s economic development programs in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Maureen holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University, where she was a Samuel Bronfman Scholar, a master’s in regional planning from the University of North Carolina, and a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Holy Cross College.

Adria Scharf, PhD, is Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations. She leads research examining how employee ownership affects worker wealth and economic security, directs the Curriculum Library for Employee Ownership at, and coordinates numerous projects designed to advance understanding of employee ownership models.

Interview questions:

1. Maureen – Can you provide an introduction to the program and your role?

Adria – As the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University can you speak on your role?

Employee Ownership

2. The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and Rutgers University Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership held the 2024 Employee Ownership Ideas Forum.

Maureen – What innovative employee ownership ideas were shared at the Forum?

Adria – How was this year’s forum different from prior years?

Fast Company Op-Ed

3. Maureen – You recently co-authored an Op-Ed for Fast Company entitled “Can Employee Ownership Save Capitalism?” Please share some of your thoughts, especially on the potential role of ESOPs?

Career at Aspen Institute and Rutgers University

4. Maureen – You began as a research associate at the Aspen Institute in 1992. Please share some highlights from your career there?

Adria – Can you share more about your role with Rutgers University and the work that you are doing?

Equitable Economy

5. Maureen – Please both share your vision for an equitable society?


6. Adria – Can you share any data points related to inequity? How do you address race and gender in the workplace?


7. Maureen – What impact did COVID and the migration to virtual and hybrid work have on inequity?

Workforce Development

8. Maureen – What are some of the new ideas or initiatives in workforce development?

Labor Market Challenges

9. Maureen – Besides the skills gaps, what are the significant challenges in the labor market?


10. Maureen and Adria – Can you both share your vision for an equitable workforce?

Connect with Maureen and Adria on LinkedIn

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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