Track: Economic Opportunity
Commitment: Innovating with Enterprise
North Star: Commitment to Outcomes; Capacity for Innovation

Level of Learning: Learner

New discoveries in brain science are transforming human service delivery and increasing personal mobility from poverty. This session will present what emerging science is telling us about how the stressors of poverty can affect behavior and decision making. Presenters will share concrete examples of ways to apply this learning to modify environment and process designs as well as considerations for service delivery approaches and tools to generate transformative outcomes. Further, the session will share ways to create broader policy change by engaging and raising the voice of people impacted by poverty, as well as engaging a network of organizations committed to creating economic mobility pathways.  

Learning Objectives

  • How poverty and stress can challenge brain functions essential for economic mobility
  • Ways to incorporate modifications to environmental design and service delivery to address challenges
  • Ways to engage others in public policy transformation  


  • Jennifer Lowe, vice president of shared learning and member networks, Economic Mobility Pathways (@DisruptPoverty)
  • Chelsea Sedani, director of advocacy, Economic Mobility Pathways (@DisruptPoverty)

Jennifer Lowe
Vice President of Shared Learning and Member Networks
Economic Mobility Pathways

Jennifer Lowe serves as the vice president of shared learning and member networks at Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) in Boston. In this role, she leads the organization’s Economic Mobility Exchange, a global member-based learning network of over eighty nonprofits and government agencies. Lowe previously provided oversight and strategic direction of EMPath’s outcomes initiative and research projects. She authored Social Networks as an Anti-Poverty Strategy (2012), and co-authored From Opportunity to Burden: Profiles of Low-Income Households Caught in the Credit Trap (2014) and Massachusetts Economic Independence Index (2013).

Prior to joining EMPath, Lowe served as the associate director of the Boston-based civil rights organization and has years of experience in project management and direct service working with homeless families. Additionally, she taught undergraduate courses in sociology at Northeastern University and Bryant University. In 2010, she was presented with the annual Sociologist of the Year award from the New England Sociological Association (NESA). Lowe has served on the NESA Executive Council and is a board member for The Midas Collaborative. She earned her doctorate in sociology from Northeastern University, specializing in social inequalities and urban sociology.

Chelsea Sedani
Director of Advocacy
Economic Mobility Pathways

Chelsea Sedani has worked at Economic Mobility Pathways since August 2008. In her current role as director of advocacy, she engages families and staff in the organization’s advocacy efforts and helps them to find their voice in order to speak up for change. She also spends much of her time lobbying public officials to support policies that help women move economic independence. Sedani brings valuable perspective to this position from her previous experiences in community organizing, legislative lobbying, research, and nonprofit development and administration. She is also a certified yoga teacher and has volunteered with organizations like Yoga Hope, where she helped women in shelters and rehabilitation centers to deal with trauma though yoga. She holds a master’s in social work from Boston College and a bachelor’s from the University of Maryland in criminal justice and family studies.