As a Research Associate with ILSR’s Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, Olivia produces reports and articles that reach wide audiences, spur grassroots action, and influence policy-making.
Her research and writing on concentrated economic power and locally rooted alternatives have had impacts nationwide, such as her investigation into a new tactic big-box retailers are using to slash their property tax assessments, which helped spur state legislative proposals. Olivia has written a guide to community ownership of commercial buildings that inspired grassroots initiatives in New York City and elsewhere, and she has co-authored a report on North Dakota’s Pharmacy Ownership Law that contributed to a victory for local ownership in a Walmart-funded referendum to overturn the law. A vocal critic of Amazon, Olivia’s work on the company includes an op-ed she penned for the Minneapolis Star Tribune that urged public officials to reject Amazon’s request for tax breaks for a proposed warehouse in the area, which sparked debate and action that led to Amazon withdrawing its request for direct tax incentives on the project.
Previously, Olivia worked as a staff writer at City Pages, the alt-weekly paper of the Twin Cities, where her feature stories ranged from the barriers an undocumented woman faced when reporting a crime to life as a live-aboard in the Mississippi River’s houseboat communities. Before joining ILSR, she delved deeper into food systems and public policy as an intern with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
Olivia comes to ILSR with a passion for connecting the dots between public policy and people’s daily lives. She holds a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, and her reporting and writing have won national recognition, including the 2014 “Media for a Just Society” award.
When she’s not in the office, she can be found riding her bike or working at her neighborhood’s volunteer-run bookstore. Reach Olivia on Twitter at @olavecchia, or by email at olivia [at] ilsr [dot] org.