The Knowledge to Act



Sandra Polaski

Senior Fellow

Sandra Polaski was the Deputy Director-General for Policy of the International Labor Organization (ILO) from 2012 to 2016. In that capacity, she provided leadership to the ILO staff and departments responsible for research, statistics, policy analysis and policy advice for the ILO’s 185 member states. She served as the ILO Sherpa to the G20 and led ILO’s work in the G20 Employment Working Group and in the BRICS.   

Prior to joining the ILO, Ms. Polaski served as U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Labor in charge of the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), where she led bilateral and regional policy dialogues with other governments and was responsible for labour issues in the context of trade and trade agreements. She supervised staff who allocated U.S. government grants to groups working to eliminate child and forced labour and to improve working conditions and livelihoods for workers in trading partner countries. Earlier she directed a research and policy program focusing on development, trade and income distribution at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a global think tank. She served as Special Representative of the Secretary of State for International Labor Affairs in the Clinton administration. Before that, she was the Director of Research at the secretariat supporting the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).

She is the author of numerous reports, book chapters, policy briefs and blogs covering issues of employment and social policy, trade policy and development. She has testified before committees on foreign affairs, trade, finance and employment of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, European Parliament and Canadian Senate and spoken in a wide variety of multilateral forums.

She was educated at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the University of Wisconsin and University of Dayton and holds an honorary doctorate from Middlesex University.

All Publications