Alumnae News & Highlights

For Lily Roberts ’08, HB was “a place that always really pushed me to pursue all the things that I was curious about.” After leaving HB, Lily earned undergraduate degrees in English and military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before completing a master’s in social work at Case Western Reserve University. A woman of many talents, Lily brings them all to bear on the challenges facing American families today. Grounded in history with an eye to the future, Lily eschews pessimism, choosing to believe that for every problem, there is also a solution. 

The Impact of Educators 

“I think the quality of the teachers and the ability to create what felt like meaningful relationships with the teachers is something that I really cherish about HB in retrospect. Knowing that people really cared about my learning and cared about my engagement in that subject really changed what I could envision myself 

doing. There were moments where I would express interest – a topic would come up in Mr. Hoffman’s class – and I would go up afterward and ask what he thought about it. He would hand me a book to read or tell me to go and research something. I always had teachers who were able to take my teenage energy and direct it in interesting and new ways I wouldn’t have anticipated.” 

Making a Difference 

“I lead the inclusive economy team at the Center for American Progress (CAP). We’re not affiliated with the Democratic party, we’re just on the progressive side of issues. We do research and advocacy work, and we try to get laws passed. My job at CAP is to manage a big team of people who are working on improving the economy, particularly for people who have been left out of growth or investment over the past couple of centuries. We look at everything from gender to race to geography and education level, disability, immigration status – things that keep people from reaching their full participation in the economy.” 

Going on the Record 

“I got to testify before Congress a few months ago. You can write a longer testimony that goes into the Congressional record, but you can only speak for five minutes. You go into a beautiful building, there’s carved wood, you’re under oath, and all of that makes it feel really cool. Everything you say has to be accurate and true and something that you think you can stand by for the rest of your time on earth. It was really interesting because it was a subject that I'm not the world’s expert on. They needed someone to be able to connect a historical topic with contemporary economic issues. One of the other people testifying was a history professor, and he was just brimming with excitement. He said it was really meaningful because in his dissertation he’d actually used congressional testimony from the archives. Ninety-five percent of my job is about immediate wins, like can we extend unemployment supplements for another week? Small, meaningful differences in the immediate future. But policy making is a hundreds-of-years-long process, so that felt really meaningful.” 

An HB Memory 

“I spent a lot of time in the Writing Center. I did a ton of stuff with the school newspaper, and I did Writing Center tutoring. I’ve always been a little bossy, and I had a sheriff’s badge because I was appointed sheriff of the Writing Center. People were leaving bookbags in the Writing Center, and I was the bookbag sheriff!” 

Asking the Right Questions 

“There’s a whole world built around asking how to make society better. There are enormous academic and philosophical traditions around how you build a better world. You can approach it from political theory, economics, and religion. There are so many different ways you can talk about it, and I had studied a lot of history, but to learn about the questions people were asking along the way to force those changes was so valuable to me.” 

Advice for the Next HB Generation 

“I would say that if you’re a person who loves a lot of different things, you can make a career out of that. I have always had a lot of interests and passions and wanted to explore a lot of different topics, and I am lucky that HB encouraged me to do that and said it was an appropriate way to navigate the world. Being at a think tank, one of the reasons that I'm in my organization is that CAP is a big organization which means that we work on all kinds of policy issues – foreign policy, disability justice, and healthcare – and I get to learn from all of their perspectives. I get to partner with them, write papers, and hear about their experience getting laws passed. In some organizations you would focus on one particular issue, but there are also a lot of places where you don't have to commit to one way to improve the world.”

  • Alumnae Achievement Award