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button.gif (899 bytes) CEJ's Mission
button.gif (899 bytes) Who We Are
button.gif (899 bytes) Accomplishments
button.gif (899 bytes) Publications
button.gif (899 bytes) How You Can Help
button.gif (899 bytes) Press Resources
button.gif (899 bytes) Tort Reform
button.gif (899 bytes) Insurance Regulation
button.gif (899 bytes) Credit Insurance
button.gif (899 bytes) Insurance Credit Scoring
button.gif (899 bytes) Redlining
button.gif (899 bytes) Health Insurance
button.gif (899 bytes) Telephone Availability
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1701A S. 2nd Street
Austin TX 78704
(512) 912 1327
(Fax) 912 1375

Who We Are

Welcome to The Center for Economic Justice. CEJ is a 501(c)(3) advocacy and education center dedicated to representing the interests of low-income and minority consumers as a class on economic justice issues. Most of our work is in administrative advocacy on insurance, utilities, and credit; the tools necessary for the poor to pull themselves out of poverty.

The poor do pay more; higher rates for automobile insurance, higher interest rates for credit, and higher telephone rates for piecemeal utility services. Rather than providing direct services to the poor, CEJ attacks the root causes of poverty by addressing the affordability and availability of these goods and services.

Regulated industries spend enormous amounts of money and resources to affect the outcome of agency decisions. Yet, consumers, especially poor and minority consumers, are not represented in agency proceedings. CEJ's goal is to ensure that regulators not only recognize the interests of low-income and minority consumers, but act to further those interests. Regulatory agencies are supposed to be protecting the interests of their citizens.

In a tumultuous time of deregulation, elimination of many government programs, and increasingly anti-consumer behavior by regulated industries, low-income consumers need a strong advocate on their side. CEJ advocates through an attorney, economist and executive director with the unique credentials, experience, technical knowledge and commitment necessary to succeed on behalf of low-income consumers. All have spent the last six years working to increase the availability and affordability of basic goods and services, particularly insurance. In short, they have the tools and passion necessary to make CEJ an effective voice for low-income consumers.

Birny Birnbaum, CEJ's Executive Director, is a nationally acclaimed expert on insurance availability, data, and ratemaking issues. Birnbaum has a long history of working on behalf on consumers on energy, economic development, and insurance issues. Before his work for CEJ, Birnbaum was the Associate Commissioner for Policy and Research and Chief Economist at the Texas Department of Insurance and Chief Economist at the Office of Public Insurance Counsel. In those capacities, he provided expert testimony in numerous proceedings regarding insurance rates and availability.

Birnbaum has been an expert witness in dozens of administrative and judicial proceedings on both economic and actuarial issues. In addition to his expertise in insurance rates and risk classification, Birnbaum holds special knowledge of insurance data collection and public access to the data necessary for consumers to hold insurers accountable for their market practices. Birnbaum holds Masters Degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in both Management and Urban Studies and Planning. Birnbaum servied a designated consumer representative and member of the Consumer Board of Trustees of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) for over a decade. The NAIC adopts model laws and regulations that many states then adopt as the law for their state.

Board Members

Lucy Gorham, President Ms. Gorham is an independent public policy analyst and advocate with a particular focus on labor markets and income distribution. She has worked for US. Congressional committees and economic development agencies in North Carolina.

Steve Cohen Mr. Cohen taught high school history for twenty years and is in his sixth year as a Lecturer in Education at Tufts University. He edited and wrote anthologies to accompany the public television documentaries Vietnam A Television History and Eyes On The Prize.

Patty Grossman Ms. Grossman works with community organizations on community development finance and related strategies to promote community development. Under her leadership as the Executive Director, the Cascadia Revolving Loan became a model for a successful community development loan fund.

Clare Hinrichs Ms. Hinrichs works as a rural sociologist at Penn State University. Her research, teaching and outreach activities center on sustainable agriculture, environmental change and community development.