Research Director

Tim Essenburg

Tim leads EdAllies’ research efforts to ensure our policy advocacy is grounded in research, data, and best practices—from public outreach to legislative campaigns. Working at the intersection of social science and inclusion energizes Tim most. As a professor of economics and resident of East Phillips in Minneapolis for 30-plus years, Tim knows the impact of systemic inequities on people, communities, and the economy. He’s learned that systems do not work well for most of his neighbors—including people of color, Indigenous people, immigrants, and low-income families; education tops the list.

Born and raised in Tokyo (leaving at 12-years-old), Tim comes from a family of educators, teachers, and administrators. He brings years of experience as an academic economist and developing anti-racism curriculum and training, with research interests in urban revitalization and community development. In 1998 he co-founded the Banyan Community, a researched-informed organization that focuses on youth development, families, and creating community. Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance from Covenant College and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Tennessee.

What inspires you to work in education advocacy?

My vision for life is shalom—peace, justice, and the enjoyment of all relationships. Peace includes the internal serenity we can cultivate even in the midst of external conflicts. Justice goes beyond the meting out what the law requires. Justice is a condition in which a person’s dignity, and the group’s to which they belong, is upheld according to the best of a society’s values and capabilities. The pursuit of this kind of justice is best grounded in love—encompassing long-suffering, forgiveness, mercy, inclusion, and kindness—so that we might have a kind of joy in our relationships. At its best, a great education makes a significant contribution to a person’s and society’s ability to pursue shalom.