Kathleen E. Christensen

Program Director

  • Kathleen Christensen directs the Foundation’s Working Longer program designed to deepening scholarly and public understanding of aging Americans’ work patterns. The goal is to recognize employer practices by industry and sector, to identify obstacles to continued employment, and to understand the economic consequences for both individuals and the federal budget.

    In 1994, while a professor of psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, Dr. Christensen was recruited to join the Sloan Foundation. Dr. Christensen established and spearheaded what would become its Workplace, Work Force and Working Families program. Under her leadership, the foundation has been credited with pioneering the field of work-family research and helping create a national movement to create more flexible workplaces that effectively meet the needs of employees while also supporting business productivity.

    Recognized for her expertise on work-family issues and workplace flexibility, Dr. Christensen planned and participated in the 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, as well as participating in the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

    In 2010, Dr. Christensen was named by Working Mother magazine as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Work-Life Field,” which identified her as the “foremost strategic supporter of work-life research and practices.” In 2004, she was awarded the inaugural Work-Life Legacy Award by the Families and Work Institute for her role in founding the work-life field. Her academic honors include recognition with Danforth, Mellon, Rockefeller and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. She is a widely quoted expert whose editorials have appeared on the Op Ed pages of the Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Atlanta Constitution.

    Dr. Christensen has published extensively on the changing nature of work and family. Her books include Workplace Flexibility: Realigning 20th Century Jobs for a 21st Century Workforce (Cornell University Press, 2010); Contingent Work: American Employment Relations in Transition (Cornell University Press, 1998); Turbulence in the American Workplace (Oxford University Press, 1991); Women and Home-based Work: The Unspoken Contract (Henry Holt, 1988); and The New Era of Home-based Work: Directions and Policies (Westview Press, 1988).

    Christensen earned her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. She began her professional career as a policy analyst at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., and later joined the faculty of the City University of New York as a professor of psychology at its Graduate Center.