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Michal Grinstein-Weiss, PhD, MA, MSW, is the Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Policy Initiatives at the Brown School. She serves as director of the universitywide Social Policy Institute at Washington University and as a Nonresident Senior Fellow in Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution.

As a leading expert and researcher in social mobility, Dr. Grinstein-Weiss is an influential voice in the design of innovative social policies to promote household financial security, both in the United States and internationally.


Currently, she is leading several large-scale research initiatives focused on developing savings policies, promoting financial inclusion among low- and moderate-income households, and applying behavioral insights to healthcare delivery. Her work helps develop evidence-based programs that make healthcare more intuitive for low-income populations through a unique industry-academic partnership.

Dr. Grinstein-Weiss’ research crosses disciplines, informing policy makers, scholars in diverse fields, industry leaders, and practitioners. Her extensive record of publications includes both popular press and numerous top-tier scholarly journals, including the American Economic Journal, Social Service Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, Housing Policy Debate, Social Work Research, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Future of Children, among others. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, CNBC, C-SPAN, CNN, NBS, National Public Radio, Forbes, Chicago Policy Review, and Daily Finance. She has also presented to a broad range of audiences, including high-level academic conferences, congressional briefings and testimonies, TEDx events, practitioner convenings, and media interviews.

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The importance and relevance of Dr. Grinstein-Weiss’ research is reflected in the agencies and foundations that support her cutting-edge work. For example, her research has been supported by the U.S. Department of Treasury, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

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In addition, her research has won the support of numerous philanthropic foundations dedicated to improving the lives of individuals, families, and children, such as the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She also works closely in path-breaking collaborations with multiple industry partners, including Fortune-500 partners Intuit Inc. and Centene Corporation.

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Dr. Grinstein-Weiss’ work has garnered many prestigious awards, including the Academy for Social Work and Social Welfare Fellowship and the Society for Social Work and Research Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award. Dr. Grinstein-Weiss was also invited to serve as advisor for the Financial Inclusion Working Group for the Clinton Global Initiative-America.

Dr. Grinstein-Weiss received her Ph.D. in social work from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, a master’s in economics from the University of Missouri—St. Louis, and her master’s in social work and a bachelor’s of arts from Haifa University, Israel.

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