October 18, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) — George Callas, a nationally recognized expert in tax and budget policy who served as a senior tax counsel to former House Speaker Paul Ryan, joins Arnold Ventures to lead its public finance work.
As executive vice president of Public Finance, Callas will deepen and expand upon Arnold Ventures’ commitment to reforming the public finance system. In this role, he will catalyze data and research to drive effective, evidence-based, nonpartisan solutions to ensure fiscal sustainability and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
“George is a leader in the public finance ecosystem and has played an integral role in some of the most historic tax policy achievements in recent history, making him the ideal person to guide and shape our strategy in this space,” said Kelli Rhee, President and CEO of Arnold Ventures. “He joins our team at a pivotal moment in the national debate on public financing and will strategically work with partners across the public finance landscape to address some of the most pressing problems in taxation, budgeting, pensions, fiscal policy, and capital finance.”
In his most recent role at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Callas advised some of the world’s largest corporations on tax policy matters, helping them navigate the complexity of tax reform legislation.
Prior to that, Callas served for 15 years on Capitol Hill as a senior tax counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives — first for the Ways and Means Committee and then to former Speaker Ryan. He is well-known for his work as a lead negotiator on three major federal tax reforms, including the Protecting Americans against Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, which provided taxpayers with certainty while also improving tax administration, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the most substantial overhaul of the U.S. tax code in over 30 years, and the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018, which increased federal spending caps while making numerous changes to tax, pension, and retirement policies.
“Some of the most significant policy achievements of the last three decades would not have been possible without George,” former Speaker Ryan said. “He is a problem-solver, relentless, and quite simply, the best tax policy mind I’ve ever encountered.”
Callas’s tenure on the Hill yielded a depth of knowledge and experience in working across the aisle to shepherd bipartisan reforms through a divided government, providing him not only strong bipartisan relationships but also unique insights into the legislative process and the procedure and hard work needed to transform data and evidence into real-world policy change.
“George is a deeply thoughtful leader who is unafraid to follow the evidence in pursuit of meaningful policy reform,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “He understands the value of approaching the work free from partisan-driven agendas, bridging divides when necessary to nurture and grow the best ideas into solutions that forge a stronger public finance system.”
"George will bring his fierce intelligence and unflinching honesty to help Arnold Ventures continue and build on its leading role in supporting evidence-based policymaking on tax policy and the budget more broadly," said Jason Furman, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for President Obama.
As EVP of Public Finance at Arnold Ventures, Callas will expand upon Arnold Ventures’ long-held strategy to inject efficiency, transparency and sustainability into government fiscal practices. He will focus on strengthening Arnold Ventures commitment to collaborate with other leaders in the field to provide technical assistance, evaluate the impacts of tax and budgeting policies, and support improvement plans for economically distressed communities. In addition, he will aim to further develop the evidence and analysis needed to drive tax, fiscal, and budget policies to ensure a more equitable public finance system that is both sustainable and provides an adequate safety net without burdening future generations with debt.
“We look forward to George harnessing his wealth of legislative experience, his deep understanding of the inner workings of budget and finance policy, and his dedication to nonpartisan, evidence-based reform to reshape the future of Arnold Ventures’ public finance agenda as we strive to solve some of the most intractable and systemic issues in our country,” Rhee said.
Callas earned bachelor of arts, juris doctor, and master of laws in taxation degrees from the University of Florida, where he also served as senior managing editor for the school’s scholarly legal publication, the Florida Journal of International Law. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, where he is raising his two children, a son and a daughter.