Since 2019, Megan Nestor has worked in a variety of roles at Fourth Economy + Steer. She joined the team as a Data Analytics and Research Strategist after earning a Masters in Public Policy from University of Michigan. In March 2023, she returned to Fourth Economy after a year serving as Deputy Director of Allegheny County’s Department of Children Initiatives.
We asked Megan about her new role, how it builds on her past professional experiences, and what she’s excited to accomplish at Fourth Economy in 2024. We also asked Megan her best tip for keeping the whole family entertained while spending time in the great outdoors.
You are Fourth Economy’s Working Families Supports Advisor. What does that entail? What does your work look like on any given day?
My job is to ensure that policies and programs that support families are a part of all the work Fourth Economy does. I help our staff and clients think about how to consider and implement strategies that will support families – whether that’s related to child care, elder care, paid family leave, or health care access. The economy can’t function in a healthy, equitable way without first supporting its workforce and their needs.
You spent seven years working at The Opportunity Network, which works with underrepresented students on their paths to and through college and careers. How did running programs for the organization help you understand how to support communities so they can thrive?
I was so lucky to start my career with OppNet – the students and families I worked with there were incredible! I learned the most about what those families and communities needed to thrive by talking with and listening to the youth who were a part of the program. I would sometimes help young adults and their families navigate challenges that were created by the very systems meant to support them. It really opened my eyes to the inequities present in so many of our policies and programs.
What are the greatest challenges facing working families, and what are the top policy solutions that you think can make an impact on the lives of caregivers?
It’s no secret that child care is one of the biggest challenges facing working families right now. COVID really opened people’s eyes to the critical need for stable, quality child care. By some estimates, child care issues cost the economy $122 BILLION every year! There are some interesting, innovative solutions out there right now to increase support for child care workers and to improve access to affordable care for families, like the Michigan Tri-Share model and the Johnson County Child Care Wage Enhancement Program.
Supports for the workforce to care for aging adults is becoming more and more critical as well, especially as the “sandwich generation” – those of us caring for children and aging parents at the same time – becomes a larger share of the workforce. Paid family leave, which supports both families with young children and those needing time to care for a sick or aging loved one, is also a really important policy that could ultimately lead to more stability in the workforce. Besides being good for businesses, tax revenue, and workforce stability, these policies are just good examples of taking care of the PEOPLE behind the economy.
What do you hope to accomplish with Fourth Economy this year?
I hope to keep doing what I’m doing – working with the amazing team and the amazing clients that make Fourth Economy so special! I will continue lifting up promising practices to support working families and helping to engage folks in conversations around those practices. And I’m committed to ensuring working family supports are embedded in every project Fourth Economy embarks on in 2024!
You like to spend your free time outdoors with your family! What are the best activities you have found to keep both adult parents and toddlers entertained when out in nature?
One of the things I like about being in nature with kids is that it’s generally a “no ‘no’ zone,” where kids can smell the smells, touch everything (pretty much!), and run wild. When I’m outside with my little boy, we like to look for wildlife, run races, and listen to the different noises. It’s simple, but it keeps us entertained!