Alexander Hertel-Fernandez Headshot

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez Headshot

International Affairs Building, Room 1407

Personal Details

Focus areas: Political economy of the United States with a focus on organized interests, government and social policy

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez is associate professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and serves as Vice Dean for Curriculum and Instruction. His teaching and research focuses on understanding the intersection between politics and markets in the United States, the politics of policy design, and labor policy. He is co-director of Columbia's Labor Lab, which uses social science tools in partnership with labor organizations to build worker power.

Hertel-Fernandez recently returned to Columbia after serving in the Biden-Harris Administration in the U.S. Department of Labor and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. While at the Department of Labor, he led the Department's research and evaluation activities, including launching initiatives to study and address disparities in access to unemployment insurance and to better measure job quality. He also led the Department's implementation of President Biden's historic executive order on racial equity. At the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, he led efforts to expand public participation and community engagement in the regulatory process, reduce burdens in access to government benefits, and served as the lead handling White House review of regulations and forms related to nutrition and food assistance, support for underserved farmers, and rural development.

Hertel-Fernandez is the author or co-author of three books, including most recently The American Political Economy: Politics, Markets, and Power (Cambridge, 2021, with Jacob Hacker, Paul Pierson, and Kathleen Thelen), which lays out a new framework for assessing the evolution of distinctive political and economic institutions in the United States in comparative perspective. His previous book, State Capture (Oxford, 2019), examined how wealthy donors, businesses and trade associations, and political entrepreneurs built cross-state organizations to reshape policy across the United States—with implications for democracy, accountability, inequality, and political representation. His first book, Politics at Work (Oxford, 2018), examined changing patterns of political mobilization in the workplace. 


  • AM and PhD in Government and Social Policy, Harvard University
  • BA in Political Science, Northwestern University

Honors and Awards

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Member of the National Academy of Social Insurance Named to Pacific Standard Magazine's "30 under 30" Thinkers in 2016

Research And Publications

In The Media

Meet the SIPA Community

The work of these faculty members embodies our shared commitments to advancing research and scholarship, promoting inclusive excellence, and working together in service to the public good.

May 22 2024
Democratic Resilience

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez spoke about the plan to remove Claudine Gay from her position at Harvard, pointing out its similarities to conservative movements used to reshape state legislatures.

Jan 20 2024
The Guardian
Democratic Resilience

Civil society leaders joined officials from the Biden-Harris administration to discuss policy issues related to equity, democracy, and racial justice.

Dec 21 2023
Institute of Global Politics
Democratic Resilience

Professor Alexander Hertel-Fernandez says that campaigns to defang, defund, and demobilize public-sector labor unions are becoming more influential in shaping the nation's agenda.

Oct 24 2023
CBS News
Democratic Resilience

Legislative workplaces are often characterized by a “big imbalance of power,” says Professor Alexander Hertel-Fernandez.

Oct 05 2023