President and CEO, Lumina Foundation

“The opportunity that we have here to actually prepare human workers for this work of the future is upon us. It's been forced upon us now because of the pandemic, because of the racial injustice, because of the high levels of unemployment, but the opportunity is here and we've got to seize this moment.”
- Jamie Merisotis

Emily Hanford of American Public Media Interviews Jamie Merisotis






His research shows how the acquisition and nurturing of talent provides the US with a qualitative strategic advantage , and the indispensable value of “human work” in an age of smart machines.


Credentialing of skills, development of talent, and the complementary value of “human work”, especially critical thinking, ethical judgement, and empathy as AI and automation increasingly define the future of work.


Bachelor’s (B.S.) in Political Science and Government from Bates College


Before joining Lumina in 2008, Merisotis was the founding President of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nonprofit that aims to increase access to higher education through public policy research. He was also the executive director of the National Commission on Responsibilities for Financing Postsecondary Education, a bipartisan group appointed by the president and leaders in Congress to address college affordability. He also helped create the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps). He’s contributed articles to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico related to higher education issues. He’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served as an adviser and consultant in southern Africa and Europe. He currently lives in Indianapolis.


His new book, Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines, will be published in October. He argues that even though the nature of work is being transformed by automation and artificial intelligence, human workers will always be necessary to work alongside smart machines because of their critical thinking skills, ethical reasoning, and empathy. He offers a vision for how to redesign higher education and training to prepare humans to work alongside machines.

MAJOR PUBLICATIONS “The Gap Year Fantasy,” Lumina Foundation, May 2020 Merisotis writes that despite the increased interest in gap years right now, that option remains a fantasy for most students. “A Time to Reflect on What College Should Be,” Inside Higher Ed, May 2020 Merisotis argues that the pandemic presents the opportunity to restructure higher education to teach people the skills they need to fill in-demand jobs that will survive the recession. He suggests investing in technology-enabled business models and training faculty on competency-based learning. Books: Merisotis’ 2016 book America Needs Talent was named a Top Business Book of 2016 by Booklist. He argues for the creation of a U.S. Department of Talent and suggests processing visa applications as though applicants are assets to America’s talent pool, tailoring higher education toward the skills most relevant for people’s future jobs, and encouraging private sector innovation.


“Higher Education and Talent,” Insider Higher Ed, October 2015 Merisotis muses on how to rethink higher education and immigration policy to fix America's talent pool problem. He suggests creating a Department of Talent, which would absorb the U.S. Department of Education. “We must ensure the postsecondary education system -- and the policies surrounding it -- are in sync with the needs of students today so that we can maximize the number of people with talent,” he writes. “Lumina Stays Focused On Attainment: A Q&A With CEO Jamie Merisotis,” Forbes, November 2019 Merisotis reflects on the Lumina Foundation’s nearly two decades of higher-education policy work and says that although the goal of increasing postsecondary attainment hasn’t changed, Lumina has adapted to focus more on racial equity and justice.


“Talking About Talent: Jamie Merisotis on the Role of Higher Education and Governance,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 2015 Merisotis advocates for a skills-based immigration model that aims to bolster talent in the American workforce rather than viewing immigration as a problem that needs to be fixed. “Why the school-college-job pathway is about to go extinct | Jamie Merisotis,” Big Think, February 2019 Merisotis explains why the transition from the industrial age to the knowledge age is more challenging than the one from farming to factory work was. He says recently laid-off GM workers, for instance, can’t immediately fill coding jobs because of the different skillsets each position requires. He says higher-education institutions need to match the credentials people attain with the skills they’ll actually use in their future workplaces.