Top Wonks is your single-source directory for locating knowledgeable authorities actively involved in a broad range of public policy issues. Journalists, researchers, public officials and conference planners find it to be an indispensable guide for locating just the policy wonk they need at a moment’s notice.

Press & Media:

Top Wonks’ Communications Department runs a full-service media relations shop, ready to assist reporters, editors and producers 365 days a year. To arrange an interview, call us at (202)446-0489 or send us an email.



Erica Payne, Editor In Chief

In addition to the Agenda Project, Payne is also the founder of the Tesseract Group, a boutique consulting firm that provides strategy and communications expertise to select public policy and political organizations.

Past Tesseract clients include: the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, Roosevelt Institute, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Center for Independent Media, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and America Votes.

Prior to founding the Agenda Project and the Tesseract Group, Payne co-founded the Democracy Alliance, a donor collaborative whose partners have invested over $100 million in progressive organizations.

Her early career included serving as Deputy National Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee during the 1996 presidential re-election campaign and as a consultant to a number of campaigns and political organizations. In addition to her public sector work, Payne has held senior marketing positions in the private sector.

Payne is the author of The Practical Progressive: How to Build a 21st Century Political Movement, which Jonathan Alter of Newsweek called “a blueprint for a progressive conspiracy to help save the country.”

She is on the Board of Advisors of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

Payne has a MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (2000) and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1991).

Morris B. Pearl, Managing Director 

Morris B. Pearl is a board member of the Agenda Project and the Managing Director of Top Wonks.

Prior to joining the Agenda Project, Morris B. Pearl worked as a Managing Director at BlackRock, one of the largest investment firms in the world. While at BlackRock (2005-2014), Mr. Pearl was a member of the Financial Markets Advisory Group where he focused on risk management and the evaluation of consumer credit for central banks and regulators as well as for private investors. Mr. Pearl worked on the Maiden Lane transactions and assessing the government’s potential losses from the bail outs of CitiBank and AIG.  He also advised Her Majesty’s treasury on the bailout of Lloyds and RBS, as well as similar projects for the Central Bank of Ireland and the Bank of Greece. Formerly, Mr. Pearl was a member of BlackRock’s Aladdin group where he was responsible for developing BlackRock’s mortgage database.

Prior to BlackRock, Mr. Pearl worked on research for security of on-line commerce at Columbia University (2003-2004). Before this, Mr. Pearl enjoyed a long tenure on Wall Street where he invented some of the securitization technology connecting America’s capital markets to consumers in need of credit. He served as a Managing Director at PaineWebber/UBS (1995-2003) where he led the Fixed Income Research Department. Prior to this, he served as a Vice President of the predecessor firm Kidder Peabody (1992-1994), at Salomon Brothers (1991-1992) and at Prudential Bache (1986-1991).

He is a CFA Charter Holder, a member of the CFA Institute and the New York Society of Securities Analysts.  Mr. Pearl holds both a Bachelor of Science in Economics degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania (1982).

Hannah Hendler, Assistant Editor

A proud Pacific Northwest native, Hannah first came to New York five years ago to spend her time translating Latin at New York University where she graduated with a BA in History and Classics. Since then, she has worked as a research assistant on numerous book projects and served on the editorial board for the country’s oldest undergraduate historical journal, all while  perfecting her favorite yoga pose: The Bird of Paradise.  In addition to working on Top Wonks, Hannah currently edits Practical Progress, the Agenda Project Action Fund’s actually ‘brief’ briefing on the most Important news from the Progressive Movement.