ATLANTA — Alex Camardelle (M.P.A. ’16, Ph.D. ’21) uses policy analysis and research to advocate for more equitable economic systems for people of color through implementing public policies and agendas in local, state and federal law structures.
Camardelle is the vice president of policy and research at the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI), which creates shared prosperity by supporting the engagement, capacity and leadership necessary to address Atlanta’s racial wealth divide. He develops and oversees advocacy and research agendas based on AWBI’s mission to actively reimagine economic realities to produce an opportunity-rich future for all. He joined AWBI in January 2023.
Prior to joining AWBI, Camardelle was the director of workforce policy for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, an American public policy think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.
There, he led a policy program that centers Black workers in policy debates concerning the future of work, workforce development and access to good jobs. He also published a series of economic studies, including one that explains how President Joe Biden’s budget would support Black workers and families and where it falls short.
“I supported an exceptional team of policy analysts to have the highest impact to make the world a better place for Black people,” he said.
For the last 10 years, most of the research and policy work Camardelle’s done has been focused on creating career pathways for people of color, ensuring that workers are protected and have sufficient wages to care for themselves and their families. Additionally, providing benefits like paid leave and childcare are all things he’s advocated for as a researcher, analyst and advocate of African Americans.
His passion for advocacy was formed on his identity, family, friends and neighbors, who, as African Americans he believes have faced the same implications of oppression. This problem fueled his passion to examine, unpack and change policy in underrepresented groups with which he and his loved ones identify.
“I would not do all of this if I were not personally invested in this movement to make sure that Black people are free in this country,” he said.
As a student, Camardelle initially wanted to pursue law. He was under the impression he could only create structural change by becoming a lawyer. So, he relocated to Atlanta in 2012 to pursue the Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration dual-degree program at Georgia State University.
The campus’ close proximity to the Georgia Legislature, downtown location and diversity on campus attracted him to the university.
“There were ways for me to plug into public policy conversations as a student,” he said.
While in the dual-degree program, Camardelle discovered the public policy and research discipline. That discovery led him to solely pursue the M.P.A. He realized he wanted to evaluate laws and make recommendations to improve them.
He navigated through various roles as a student, first as a research assistant at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and later as an external affairs intern with Atlanta Public Schools.
“I was able to apply my education in real time,” Camardelle said. “I was in school learning technical writing, then I was sitting in on hearings at the Georgia Capitol and writing summaries of legislation.”
While continuing to work in policy roles at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, he completed a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies in 2021. After earning the doctorate, he began his role at the Joint Center.
Camardelle is unapologetically committed to Black liberation and has built his career around the sentiment. He has organized, protested and funded movements dedicated to a better world for Black people in America. He believes there is a place for Black intellectual thought and Black-led research and analysis to help shape an agenda ultimately leading to Black liberation.
He compares the fight for Black liberation to a tapestry or quilt.
“There are many thousands of threads that go into the quilt,” he said. “The little thread I’m pulling on to unravel the quilt is research and policy analysis. That is my contribution to the work behind the movement. I firmly believe there is a better tomorrow, which requires analysis. I found my lane, and Georgia State made it possible to do that.”
– By Ashley Thompson, M.A. in Communication candidate