Miller Center

Gretchen Crosby Sims

Political Science, Stanford University

Social Responsibility and the Political Power of American Business

Crosby Sims photo

Gretchen Crosby Sims is a Director at Social Finance UK.

She is focused on expanding Social Finance’s advocacy and policy efforts to support and encourage those seeking to redesign public services through outcomes-based commissioning. She is also engaged in supporting specific projects in children, family, and education related areas.

Gretchen’s career prior to Social Finance focused on identifying and scaling social interventions to improve people’s lives and to promoting supportive public policies.  Most recently, she was the chief program executive at The Joyce Foundation, where she oversaw strategy and impact evaluation process for seven grantmaking programs – education, environment, employment, gun violence prevention, democracy, culture, and special opportunities – and helped win evidence-based social policy changes in numerous issue areas. In earlier roles, Gretchen led Joyce’s K-12 education grant making and served as Director of Strategic Initiatives. Gretchen has also worked at the Council on Foreign Relations, CNN, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and as a policy adviser to presidential candidate Bill Bradley. She holds PhD and MA degrees in political science from Stanford University and a BA in government from Harvard University.

Sims's dissertation examined the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) among America's most powerful companies as a source of political power. In recent years, many companies have embraced the notion of CSR and invested significant resources in strengthening their communities, supporting their employees, protecting the environment, and making philanthropic contributions. She argued that many of the things firms do in the name of CSR represent the provision of public goods, the practice of self-regulation, or the giving of politically valuable philanthropic gifts. These activities can give firms special standing with three groups of political actors: legislators, regulators, and other interest groups.

Fellowship year: 2003

Mentor: Cathie Martin, Boston University

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