Celine McNicholas

Director of Policy and Government Affairs | General Counsel

With the current administration and Congress, we have a major opportunity to build power for working people and advance economic and racial justice—but only if we get the policy right. Now is the time for Congress to pass the PRO Act, a $15 minimum wage, and the Build Back Better agenda, which makes vital investments in child care, home health care, climate, and more.”


Celine McNicholas is the director of policy and government affairs/general counsel at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that uses the power of its research on economic trends and the impact of economic policies to advance reforms that serve working people, deliver racial justice, and guarantee gender equity. McNicholas assumed the policy director position in October 2021. She has served as EPI’s director of government affairs and labor counsel since 2017.


An attorney, McNicholas leads EPI’s legislative efforts on a wide range of workers’ rights issues, including labor law reform, collective bargaining, and union organizing. Her research has informed policymakers, advocates, and journalists on why unions are good for workers, how current labor law fails to protect the right to unionize, and why workers need legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to restore the right to unionize. 

Before joining EPI, McNicholas served as director of congressional and public affairs and as special counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). At the NLRB, she counseled presidential nominees to the board and the general counsel throughout the Senate confirmation process. In addition, McNicholas was responsible for the agency’s congressional affairs work including all agency oversight matters.

From 2009 to 2013, she served as senior labor counsel to Ranking Member George Miller (D-Calif.) for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. In that role, she advised Rep. Miller on legal issues surrounding the Fair Labor Standards Act, National Labor Relations Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Davis– Bacon Act, Service Contract Act, and project labor agreements. Before working for the committee, McNicholas was a legislative staffer for both U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas from Massachusetts.

J.D., Villanova University School of Law
B.A., Mount Holyoke College

Areas of expertise
Labor and employment law • Collective bargaining • Union organizing • Regulatory policy