Christine Owens

21th April 2016 - Washington, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez participates in a press conference with congressional leaders to discuss the importance of raising the federal minimum wage and urging Congress to pass the Murray-Scott Raise the Wage legislation. Christine Owens, NELP, Jessica Wynter Martin, Worker, Sec. Perez, Senator Dick Durbin, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Congressman Bobby Scott

Former Executive Director, National Employment Law Project

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Christine Owens is the former executive director of left-leaning pro-labor union think tank National Employment Law Project (NELP), a position she held from 2008 until 2019. She was previously a senior policy analyst for “workplace equity issues” and the director of public policy for left-leaning labor federation the American Federation of Labor-Council of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Owens is a longtime advocate for minimum wage hikes and previously founded the Workers Options Resource Center. She has sat on the board of several left-leaning advocacy organizations including the Union Community Fund, a national charity funder of the AFL-CIO. 1


Christine Owens attended the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia Law School. Early in her career, Owens founded a labor activist group called the Workers Options Resource Center, which according to her biography provided labor organizing support for the 1996 federal minimum wage increase. 2

In 1997 Owens joined left-leaning labor federation the AFL-CIO as a senior policy analyst and in 2001 was promoted to director of public policy for the AFL-CIO. While at the AFL-CIO, Owens worked closely with pro-labor organizations including the National Employment Law Project and other union activist groups and state labor federations. Her tenure at the AFL-CIO included supporting left-leaning labor priorities such as minimum wage hikes, pay equity for women, and supporting expansion of state unemployment insurance. 3

National Employment Law Project

In 2008, Christine Owens was named executive director of the National Employment Law Project, a left-leaning New York City-based think tank which advocates for liberal labor and employment legislation. The union-backed group, formed in 1974, advocates for steep increases in the minimum wage and other restrictions on employers. 4 During Owens’s 12-year tenure as CEO, NELP was a member of the Fight for $15 campaign and received financial backing from the campaign’s sponsor the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). 5 The NELP was also deemed a recommended organization by the Democracy Alliance and gave funds to labor activist groups such as the Working Families OrganizationOhio Organizing Collaborative, and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada while Owens ran the organization. 6

In 2014, Owens was awarded a “Champion of Change” award by the Obama White House in recognition of her and NELP’s work in promoting the administration’s proposed minimum wage increase to $10 an hour as well as her history of supporting minimum wage hikes in her prior roles. 7

In 2019, Owens departed the NELP and was replaced by Rebecca Dixon, who was previously the director of programs on the organization’s management team. 8


Christine Owens is a current or former board member of the Coalition on Human Needs, the Union Community Fund, and the Workers Defense Action Fund. 9 10


  1. “Christine Owens.” Aspen Institute. Accessed July 15, 2021.
  2. “Christine Owens.” Aspen Institute. Accessed July 15, 2021.
  3. “Christine Owens.” Aspen Institute. Accessed July 15, 2021.
  4. “Campaigns.” National Employment Law Project. Accessed April 06, 2017.
  5. Service Employees International Union, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2015, Schedules 15, 16, and 17
  6. “IRS Form 990.” National Employment Law Project. Accessed July 15, 2021.
  7. “White House Honors NELP’s Christine Owens For Efforts to Raise Wages.” National Employment Law Project. July 21 2014. Accessed July 15, 2021.
  8. “Crowning Its 50th Year NELP Announces New Executive Director.” National Employment Law Project. July 21 2014. Accessed July 15, 2021.
  9. “Meet Our Team.” Workers Defense Action Fund. Accessed July 15, 2021.
  10. “Christine Owens.” Aspen Institute. Accessed July 15, 2021.
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