Miller Center

Miller Center Fellows 2003 – 2004

Nancy Banks

The Struggle over Affirmative Action in the New York City Building Trades, 1961–1976

Nancy A. Banks, Columbia University
Mentor: Thomas Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

Nancy Banks is the Dean of Student Affairs at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. 

Banks received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 2006. While much scholarly work has been devoted to federal civil rights policy in the 1960s – including several studies on the growing commitment by the civil rights movement and the federal government in that decade to Affirmative Action – Banks believed there had been scant attention paid to Affirmative Action as it relates to the building trades unions, nor to the bitter and lengthy conflicts between civil rights activists, minority workers, and union members. Drawing upon a number of sources – including government documents and court records; the correspondence of political leaders, union officials, and civil rights organizations; and personal interviews with workers, politicians, and labor activists – Banks dissertation explored how Affirmative Action conflicts played out in New York City between 1961 and 1976, and analyzed the impact that they had on the development, implementation, and evolution of the nation's union-targeted affirmative action policies.


Rebecca Bohrman

Sifting Immigrants: The Political and Historical Roots of Administrative Failure in the I.N.S.

Rebecca Bohrman, Yale University
Mentor: Daniel Tichenor, Rutgers University

Rebecca Bohrman is the Senior Analyst for the Halverson Group in Oak Park, Illinois. 

Bohrman was a doctoral fellow in Political Science at Yale University. She has over seven years of corporate research experience, in which she has used her qualitative and quantitative research skills to help clients with benchmarking, media strategies, corporate social responsibility campaigns, media monitoring, corporate crises, internal and external communications, and executive transitions.

In her dissertation, she argued that the INS's problems can be traced to its institutional design, and that these problems are perpetuated by the particular alignment of political conflict over immigration issues. Immigration administration is at the center of American politics, affecting everyone from legal and undocumented immigrants to workers and employers, yet Immigration and Naturalization Service has been troubled since its inception. Bohrman's dissertation explained why the INS has been an agency in disarray, by answering the question: why has Congress so rarely tried and even more rarely succeeded in giving the INS greater administrative capacity?


Kimberly Phillips Fein

Top-Down Revolution: The Birth of Free Market Politics in America and the Backlash Against the New Deal

Kimberly Phillips-Fein, Columbia University
Mentor: Bruce Schulman, Boston University

Kimberly Fein is Associate Professor of Economic Thought and History at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She teaches courses in American political history, business history and the history of labor and economic thought. She is also a contributing editor for Labor: Studies in Working-Class History in the Americas. Phillips-Fein received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 2005.

Fein's dissertation considered the origins of the conservative free-market politics that dominates our country today. She explained how it is that a conservative politics so skewed toward helping the wealthy managed to triumph in our democracy, and described the political role of business in American life. She argued that important parts of the American business community never fully accepted key aspects of the New Deal. They never accepted the role of organized labor in American life, and they never believed in or embraced the idea that the state should play a significant role in regulating the economy. Fein traced these developments throughout the postwar period, starting in the 1950s and ending with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times.

Recent Publications:
Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009)


Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo

A Theory of Drug Control Policy in the Twentieth Century and the Success of Drug Law Reform in the 1990s

Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo, University of Virginia
Mentor: Marc Landy, Boston College

Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo is Associate Professor of Political Science at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

She teaches courses on American Politics, public policy and research methods. Her research interests include the use of direct democracy in American states, state legislators' attitudes about the initiative process and behavior in response to successful initiatives, morality policy, and education policy. Ferraiolo holds M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the University of Virginia.

Ferraiolo's dissertation explained the success of medical marijuana initiatives and the willingness of a majority of Americans to reject an important component of federal drug policy. She began by placing the medical marijuana movement in the historical context of twentieth century federal drug control policy. Ferraiolo argued that the institutional locus of control over policy, the way the drug issue was framed, and the formulators and administrators of policy created a federal drug control regime that was highly resistant to fundamental reform. Further, she proposed that changes in these factors – a shift in institutional venue from the federal government to the states and the direct democracy process, a new way of framing drug policy debates that emphasized patient rights and compassion, and an alliance between marijuana activists and political campaign professionals who had the resources to challenge the federal government – helped bring about policy change.

Recent Publications:

"Selective Media Exposure and Partisan Differences about Sarah Palin's Candidacy.” With David A. Jones and Jennifer Byrne, Politics & Policy, (2011)

“From Killer Weed to Popular Medicine: The Evolution of American Drug Control Policy, 1937–2000.” Journal of Policy History, (2007)


Lori Fritz

Weaving the Safety Net, Strand by Strand: State Health Care Regimes

Lori Fritz, University of Virginia
Mentor: Chris Howard, College of William and Mary

Lori Fritz is an analyst with the Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C.

She received her doctorate from the University of Virginia, and previously worked as research assistant in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Fritz's dissertation examined health care policy at the state level in light of previous work on the historical development of the "private welfare state" in health care. As with earlier studies focusing on national politics, she found that the fragmentation of the health care system into private and public sectors posed significant obstacles to policies intended to increase access to health care. However, state governments were being driven to find new ways to overcome this fragmentation and ensure better health care for their citizens, often through innovative institutional arrangements such as commissions and task forces that are outside the usual realm of politics. Fritz's study included case analyses of Florida and Pennsylvania – two states that took different approaches toward health system reform.


Derek S. Hoff

Are We Too Many?: The Political Economy of Population in the Twentieth-Century United States

Derek S. Hoff, University of Virginia
Mentor: Michael Bernstein, University of California, San Diego

Derek S. Hoff is Associate Professor of History at Kansas State University.

He teaches classes in American political development and contemporary U.S. history. Hoff's research interests include the role of natural monopoly theory in the rise of the regulation of the telephone industry in the 19th century, development of inheritance tax, and the history of income inequality across industrialized nations.

Hoff's dissertation discussed a history of the population debate in the modern United States. In particular, it focused on the subset of that debate that focuses on the interrelationship between demography and the economy. Most histories of "population" in America center on cultural and ethnic questions such as the early-century eugenics movement and the nation's recurrent anti-immigrationism. Hoff's study returned the economic-demographic debate to the center of not only the course of population thought and policy, but also the larger American political economy. 

Recent Publications:
The State and the Stork: The Population Debate and Policy Making in US History (University of Chicago Press, 2012)
Fighting Foreclosure: The Blaisdell Case, the Contract Clause, and the Great Depression, with John A. Fliter (University Press of Kansas, 2012)


Shelley L. Hurt

Institutionalizing Food Power: U.S. Foreign Policy, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Industry, 1972–1994

Shelley L. Hurt, The New School for Social Research
Mentor: Ronnie Lipschutz, University of California, Santa Cruz

Shelley L. Hurt is Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. She teaches courses on Biological and Chemical Arms Control and Development, Security Studies in Global Perspective, Science, Technology, Power and Politics, War, Trade, and American Political development. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the New School for Social Research in New York. Hurt's research interests include U.S. foreign policy, science and technology policy, security studies, international law and organizations, globalization, and American political development. In 2007, she won the Carl Beck Award from the International Studies Association for her paper, "Patent Law, Biodefense, and the National Security State, 1945–1972."

Hurt's dissertation investigated U.S. policymakers' use of the market and law, domestically and internationally, to foster a favorable climate for the agricultural biotechnology industry. She hypothesized that this state strategy evolved in response to declining U.S. hegemony in the early 1970s when the pressure of international competition became a paramount concern for U.S. officials. Subsequently, food came to be seen as a fundamental national resource with the potential to propel the U.S. back into an undisputed hegemonic position. She argued that in response to this geopolitical pressure, U.S. policymakers and courts enacted a complex set of legal rules and regulations to create the conditions for this industry to flourish. The culmination of these domestic policies led to U.S. insistence on incorporating the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Recent Publications:
“‘Seed Wars:’ The Promises and Pitfalls of Agricultural Biotechnology for a Hungry World,” Miller Center Report, (Spring/Summer 2004)
“U.S. can aid world’s hungriest people by relaxing patents on biotech seeds.” Columbus Dispatch, 10 September 2003. 


Alethia Jones

Bootstraps and Beltways: The State's Role in Immigrant Self-Help

Alethia Jones, Yale University
Mentor: Mark Stern, University of Pennsylvania

Alethia Jones serves as Research Associate at the Center for Policy Research in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany State University of New York. 

She teaches courses on policy analysis, bureaucratic politics and immigrant policy. Jones' primary teaching and research interests are in the fields of policymaking process and American political development. She has previously served as lead policy staff to a member of the New York City Council, and managed a policy portfolio that included health, housing, transportation and welfare policy initiatives. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University.

Jones' dissertation examined the politics surrounding informal immigrant financial practices to understand the relationship between state power and self-help in immigrant incorporation. The three cases Jones studied come from the two periods of highest immigration and permit us to see continuities from the past as well as account for different racial and political contexts. She additionally added an institutional dimension to the story of how politics affects the incorporation of immigrants. Unlike other studies that reinforce the classic "up by their bootstraps" immigrant, self-help story, this project specified the structure of the relationship between informal and formal institutions and the state.

Recent Publications:
“Social Facts versus Social Realities in the New Millenium.” Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, (2007)


Christopher Schmidt

Postwar Liberalism and the Origins of Brown v. Board of Education

Christopher Schmidt, Harvard University
Mentor: Michael Klarman, University of Virginia

Christopher Schmidt is Assistant Professor of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Schmidt graduated from Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Schmidt received his Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University in 2004. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2007.

Schmidt's dissertation followed the genesis of the 20th century American Civil Rights movement. Prior to the 1940s, the United States government had done little to promote racial equality for well over half a century, and within the federal government the courts had proven themselves particularly unreceptive to progressive social views. Yet by the mid-1950s this situation was transformed, and this transformation created the foundations on which the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s would be built. Schmidt's dissertation explained the dramatic policy shift by analyzing the origins of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 school desegregation opinion. His project's central motivating question: why did the nine justices of the Supreme Court, whose political and ideological affinities varied considerably, decide to make, at this time and place, a statement against blatant legalized racial discrimination? His answer to this question drew on the context of liberal thought and culture in early postwar America as well as the particular legal issues confronted by the justices. Currently, Schmidt is revising his dissertation, "Creating Brown v. Board of Education: Ideology and Constitutional Change, 1945-1955," for publication.


Tracy Steffes

A New Education for a Modern Age: National Reform, State-building, and the Transformation of American Schooling, 1890-1933

Tracy Steffes, University of Chicago
Mentor: Jonathan Zimmerman, New York University

Tracy Steffes is Assistant Professor of Education and History at Brown University.

She teaches courses on American educational history. Her research interests include the development of American education system, citizenship, social and democratic theory and practice, state-building and social movements. Steffes received her M.A. and Ph.D. in United States History from the University of Chicago.

Steffe's dissertation examined the national systematization of American education as public schooling was standardized across the United States from 1880 to 1930 and formulated into a single, hierarchical system. She argued that the expansion of state authority over schooling and the growth of state-level educational administration from 1880 to 1930 enabled a national-level coordination and systematization of schooling which amounted to the origins of a national education system. While the federal government played a role in creating this system, national systematization emerged through a complicated process of cooperation and competition between private and public actors at local, state, and national levels. As states assumed greater regulatory and oversight powers over local schools, they looked to one another and to national structures for guidance in shaping their school systems, cooperating in some respects and competing in others. American schooling, like American governance more generally, was powerfully shaped by traditions of federalism and private power and thus looked and operated very differently than national systems abroad.

Recent Publications:

School, Society, and State: A New Education to Govern Modern America, 1890-1940 (University of Chicago Press, 2012)

“Solving the “Rural School Problem”: New State Aid, Standards, and Supervision of Local Schools, 1900-1933.”" History of Education Quarterly, (Spring 2008)