Before founding IRFA, he served from 1992-2000 and 2002-2008 as Director of Social Policy Studies at the Center for Public Justice. He served in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in 2001-2002, and assisted with writing "Unlevel Playing Field: Barriers to Participation by Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Federal Social Service Programs" (August, 2001). In 2003, he created the Coalition to Preserve Religious Freedom, a multi-faith alliance of social-service, education, and religious freedom organizations that advocates to Congress, the administration, and the press for the preservation of the religious freedom of faith-based organizations.
Dr. Carlson-Thies currently serves on the Task Force on Reforming the Office, a task force of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This task force will recommend to the Council how to clarify the church-state rules that apply to federal funding of private social-service providers and how to improve the operations of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the 12 Centers for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that are located in major federal departments. The Advisory Council will make non-binding recommendations to the President.
He is a senior fellow with the Center for Public Justice, a US faith-based think tank, and with Cardus, a Canadian faith-based think tank. He is also on the advisory committee for the Faith & Organizations project, which is researching how faith communities work to maintain the faith identities of the nonprofit organizations they create.
Carlson-Thies has consulted with several federal agencies (the Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services; the Corporation for National and Community Services) and with several states, including Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. He consults widely with faith-based organizations.
He was named as one of twelve advocates who are "reinterpreting God and country" by the National Journal in May, 2004, and received the William Bentley Ball Life and Religious Liberty Defense Award from the Center for Law and Religious Freedom and the Christian Legal Society in October, 2004.
He holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Toronto. His dissertation is on the intersection of religion and political development in the Netherlands.
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