Welcome to the author site for Stephen Goldsmith and Kate Coleman.

Experts in urban policy, civic engagement, and data-driven decisionmaking, their newest book Growing Fairly: How to Build Opportunity and Equity in Workforce Development is available now. A joint publication from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School and Brookings Institution Press, this book offers practical, actionable ideas on 21st century workforce development that meets the current and future skills and needs of workers and employers.

"The labor market in the United States faces seemingly contradictory challenges: Many employers have trouble finding qualified applicants for current and future jobs, while millions of Americans are out of work or are underemployed—their paths to living-wage jobs blocked by systemic barriers or lack of adequate skills.

Growing Fairly offers workforce development reforms that meet the needs of both workers and employers. Based on the experiences of hundreds of leaders and workers, the authors set out ten principles for designing a more effective and equitable system that helps workers obtain the skills necessary for economic mobility.

Between them, the authors have spent decades searching out and supporting effective practices. Even more critically, they have learned how to knit competing agencies and organizations into cohesive systems with coordinated missions. Their practical ideas will benefit a wide range of readers, from practitioners in the field to students and scholars of the American labor system."


Praise for Growing Fairly

“Few issues are as important to the success of cities as equitable growth. Even in a city such as San Diego, fortunate to have a strong economy and a national model for workforce development, upward mobility remains elusive for many. Growing Fairly presents a uniquely valuable set of principles that can help cities make progress toward a brighter future for all residents, leaving no one behind.”
— Todd Gloria, Mayor, city of San Diego

“Stephen Goldsmith and Kate Markin Coleman not only establish the indisputable case that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential elements of a stable and robust economy, they also have designed a model for effective collaboration among the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Their clear-eyed, rational approach is rooted in years of practical experience, authoritative research, and a profound respect for the dignity of work.”
— Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League

“In today’s labor market, we paradoxically have millions of people searching for their next paycheck and millions more job postings. In Growing Fairly, Goldsmith and Markin Coleman distill the nation’s leading workforce development prototypes and pilots and how to expand proven approaches. Communities need to convene partners—public and private, for profit and nonprofit—to design skills-focused solutions. Together, we can do this. It’s time. Past time.”
— Wendi Copeland, Chief Strategic Partnership Activation Officer, Goodwill Industries International

Growing Fairly presents an actionable framework for reimagining regional skills-based workforce systems through cross-sector collaboration. A must-read for all education and workforce stakeholders.”
— Maria Flynn, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future

Listen to Growing Fairly Interviews


We acknowledge with appreciation the many people who made this book possible.

For many years the Smith Richardson Foundation has played an important role in supporting practical research that guides the work of state and local officials and we thank the foundation for its support of our project. We particularly appreciate the guidance of Mark Stein­meyer, Smith Richardson’s senior program officer for domestic public policy, who has for so long provided wise counsel not only to us but to so many others as well.

In this book we synthesize the ideas and activities of those in­volved in workforce efforts. Over the two years we conducted our research, before and after the first COVID-19 outbreak, we met hun­dreds of wonderful public servants, in government and nonprofits. We spoke with farsighted business leaders and dedicated academ­ics. And we spoke with scores of individuals who have participated in skill-building programs of all types and who have used what they have learned to build better futures. In many cases we use their voices in the stories we relate. We thank all of the people who generously took the time to share the narratives and ideas that eventually found their way into this book.

We also wish to thank the institutions associated with the publi­cation of this book. First, we thank Bill Finan, director of the Brook­ings Institution Press, and his staff for their wonderful support. Tony Saich, director of the Ash Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School, sup­ports the work we do there with city officials as well as joining with Brookings for this publication. We thank him for both.

Numerous people played critical roles as our book developed. Two individuals in particular were indispensable in our interviews for this book. Bonita Stowell helped us think through and conduct the quali­tative research that is the backbone of this book. We feel lucky to have her on our team.

In addition, AEI supported the project and provided the research and interview talents of Caleb Seibert, who, along with Ryan Streeter, director of domestic policy studies, provided invaluable help.

Our thanks to Kate Murphy, faculty assistant at the Ash Center, who provided a broad range of services, including helping us maintain communications with dozens of individuals over a two-year period while we made sure we were accurately chronicling their stories.

Elizabeth Goldsmith spent many hours researching the journals that make up much of the scholarly content for the book.

Doug Richardson contributed original interviewing, reporting and editing and we  thank Ed Finkel for his editing support.

This book is indeed a synthesis. It uses the words of others to illus­trate important points. In gathering these words, we had the support of institutions like Smith Richardson, Ash/HKS, Brookings, and AEI. We benefitted from the talents of individuals who helped us with re­search and interviews. We are indebted to all of them.