Ph.D candidate Industrial Relations Human Resources at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, IFTF Equitable Enterprise Initiative Fellow
Phela Townsend is a scholar-activist committed to advancing racial, social, and economic justice. Currently completing her doctoral studies in Industrial Relations/ Human Resources at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, Phela’s research areas touch several issues, including healthcare labor and employment relations; income and wealth inequality; newer forms of worker organization, and technology’s broader impacts on workers and on today’s labor and employment systems. From 2019-2021, she was a Fellow at Next100,?a think-and-do policy tank launched by The Century Foundation, where she focused on issues at the intersection of technology and labor policy and workers’ rights, and advancing solutions to improve economic opportunities in our most marginalized and underserved communities. She has written several articles and reports, exploring topics such as workers’ data rights; how the digital divide harms workers; the technology lessons that workers have learned through recent crises; the risks that artificial intelligence poses to workers and society; and why we must empower our most impacted communities to create lasting policy change.
Prior to pursuing her PhD, she worked in different capacities, in the private and public sector, with labor and employment-focused roles in a variety of industries, including Healthcare, Consumer Goods and Aerospace Manufacturing. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell University, and a Master of Business Administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management. While born in New York, Phela identifies as a native of the “DMV” (D.C.- Maryland-Virginia) area, where she spent most of her youth.