Aaron Melaas is associate director of the Center for Regional Economics at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, where he is responsible for programming on regional economic development, innovation and knowledge-based growth, and international trade. He leads CRE efforts to bridge research and policy engagement, building on his experience with econometric impact evaluation and mixed-methods research to help translate complex economic and political insights for business leaders and policy makers.
Prior to joining the Institute, Aaron worked with McLarty Associates, a strategic advisory firm based in Washington, DC. As an international consultant, he helped corporate clients in multiple industries navigate complex foreign trade and investment challenges through commercial diplomacy. He also contributed to policy analysis and research by the Center for a New American Security, Inter-American Dialogue, World Resource Institute, and Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, as well as a consulting project for Oxfam on the impact of women’s savings groups for household incomes in Central America.
Aaron is concurrently a Ph.D. candidate in international relations at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where he is completing his dissertation on the effects of policy advocacy by industry associations in Latin America. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in International Politics and a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He has worked and studied in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico and is fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese.