CAMBRIDGE, MA—Harvard Kennedy School has received a $5 million gift to establish the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality, and Social Policy at the School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. The new Stone Program, which builds on the success of the Stone PhD Scholars, will unite faculty, students, and researchers from across Harvard University and beyond to better understand and address the causes and consequences of wealth inequalities in different populations around the world. The announcement of this gift coincides with this evening’s James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Lecture in Economic Inequality featuring economist and Nobel Memorial Prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz in conversation with economist David Autor.

Funded by the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation, the program will include the work of the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy and add new components, including a consortium of doctoral students in the social sciences whose research focuses on income and wealth inequality; policy-relevant and public-facing research that speaks to real-world problems; and public events to communicate research and engage members of the broader community. 

“Income inequality and concentrated wealth can leave many people at economic and social disadvantage,” said Douglas Elmendorf, dean and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. “Appropriate public policy to create a fairer economic system can provide economic opportunity and mobility for people currently deprived of such prospects. The establishment of this program by Jim and Cathy Stone will allow the Kennedy School to build a critical mass of scholars creating evidence-based approaches to this crucial challenge.”

Beyond its core components, the Stone Program will expand the reach and impact of its research with a rotating mix of high-profile visiting scholars and a nimble grant program to enable researchers to start projects quickly and efficiently.

“We are delighted to help Harvard Kennedy School expand its work on the causes and consequences of increasing wealth inequality. Taken to its extreme, the trend toward excessive wealth concentration can carry society away from meritocracy, productivity, empathy, mobility, and democratic ideals,” said Jim Stone. Cathy Stone added, “The Kennedy School, with its distinguished interdisciplinary faculty, has a special opportunity and role to play in addressing this issue.”

“The new Stone Program will position Harvard to be at the forefront of studying and researching inequality,” said Maya Sen, faculty director of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality, and Social Policy. “We are thrilled to be able to build on our existing strengths while also helping push the boundaries of research and scholarship with the exciting new opportunities afforded by the Stone Program.”


About the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy
The Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy’s teaching and research focus on how greater equality and opportunity can be achieved for all citizens, especially in the realms of health care, criminal justice, education, immigration, job mobility, and labor markets. Understanding social challenges and alleviating inequality are among the goals that the Center faculty, staff, students, and fellows address through scholarship, teaching, and engagement in order to improve public policy and practice—and people’s lives.   

About the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation
The mission of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation is to promote a more knowledgeable and inclusive society, with an emphasis on education, science, environmental sustainability, and the mitigation of economic inequality.

About Jim and Cathleen Stone
Jim Stone is the founder, chair, and CEO of the Plymouth Rock group of companies. He began his career teaching economics after earning a PhD at Harvard University. From 1975 to 1979, he served as the insurance commissioner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and then served as chair and commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He is a member of the Executive Committee of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a member of the board of ProPublica, a former member of the board of the Boston Globe, former vice chair of Global Post, chair emeritus of Management Sciences for Health, and chair of EdVestors’ School on the Move Panel. He is the author of the bestselling book, Five Easy Theses: Commonsense Solutions to America’s Greatest Economic Challenges, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cathleen Douglas Stone is president of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Boston Harbor NOW, the Museum of African American History Boston and Nantucket, the Supreme Court Historical Society, WBUR Boston, the Wilderness Society, and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. She received her undergraduate degree from American University, her law degree from the Washington College of Law, and her Master’s in administrative law from Georgetown University. In 1994, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino appointed her as the city’s first chief of environmental services. Before serving in this role, she was a partner in the Boston law firm Foley, Hoag & Eliot. In 2017, she received the Norman B. Leventhal Excellence in City Building Award.

Media Contact
Isabella Roden
Director of Communications and Outreach,
Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy