Foundation executive and academic administrator Cecilia Conrad was born on January 4, 1955 in St. Louis, Missouri to Dr. Emmett James Conrad and Eleanor Nelson Conrad. She moved with her family to Dallas, Texas after her father was hired at St. Paul’s Hospital. Conrad went on to receive her B.A. degree in economics from Wellesley College in 1976 and her Ph.D. degree in economics from Stanford University in 1982.
Conrad began her career in academia in 1981 when she was hired as an assistant professor of economics at Duke University. From there, she taught at Barnard College and then Pomona College as a Stedman-Sumner professor of economics. In 2002, Conrad was named California’s Carnegie Professor of the Year. Two years later, she became associate dean of Pomona College. During her time as a college administrator, Conrad continued to publish on the issue of race and gender on economic status. After taking a two year hiatus to serve as interim vice president and dean of the faculty at Scripps College, Conrad returned to Pomona College as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. In 2013, Conrad left Pomona to join the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as the vice president of the MacArthur Fellows Program. After two years at the foundation, Conrad became the managing director of both the MacArthur Fellows Program and 100&Change. In 2019, Conrad became chief executive officer of Lever for Change, an affiliate of the MacArthur Foundation focused on high impact philanthropic opportunities.
Conrad served as editor of The Review of Black Political Economy and an associate editor of Feminist Economics. She has published articles on economics, liberal arts education, and philanthropy in peer-reviewed journals and popular media. While working at Pomona College, Conrad also directed the American Economic Association’s “Pipeline Mentoring Program,” matching students enrolled in a Ph.D. program in economics with mentors in the field. In 2007, Conrad became the president of the International Association for Feminist Economics. She is on the board of trustees at Muhlenberg College, Bryn Mawr College, the Poetry Foundation, and the National Academy of Social Insurance.
Conrad has received numerous awards for her work. Her co-edited collection of essays, African Americans in the US Economy, was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title of 2005. Three years later, she received the National Urban League’s 2008 Woman of Power Award. She has also received honorary doctorates from Claremont Graduate University and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Conrad and her husband, Llewellyn Miller, have one child: Conrad Miller.
Cecilia Conrad was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 12, 2019.