Elizabeth Gaines

  • Senior Fellow

Elizabeth helps policymakers improve youth outcomes around the country. Over the past decade she has developed and grown the Children’s Cabinet Network and is the nation’s leading expert on children’s cabinets and councils. Overseeing the Forum’s state and local policy efforts keeps her abreast of innovations around the country so she can share ideas with other local, state and national organizations. From this unique vantage point she has helped policy leaders develop tools and techniques to improve their use of data, increase their policy alignment, and more efficiently apply resources toward greater impact. Her publications include The Adding It Up Guide to Mapping Public Resources for Children, Youth and Families, the Forum papers on state children’s cabinets and councils; and How Public Policy Can Support Collective Impact, co-authored with FSG. Most recently, she developed the Children’s Funding Project to help local leaders find, align, generate, and evaluate funding to improve kid outcomes, including creating new local, dedicated funding streams.

When she joined the Forum in 2005, Elizabeth had already built a youth advocacy career; her commitment began with seven years leading after-school and community-based youth programs at the Atwood Community Center in Madison, Wis. She later served as youth policy analyst for Citizens for Missouri’s Children, where she lobbied state lawmakers, convened a youth development network, and led the “Invest in Missouri’s Children” campaign to secure tobacco settlement dollars for child and youth development activities.

A native of St. Louis, Mo., she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.