Amelia Warren Tyagi is the co-author of two best-selling books about middle-class economics, but she never gets top billing. The California business executive and sometimes commentator for a nationally syndicated radio show, “Marketplace,” is better known as “the daughter of Elizabeth Warren.”
It’s rare for Tyagi to upstage her media-savvy mother, now a Democratic candidate for US Senate. But last week, the daughter leapt into an uncomfortable spotlight when US Senator Scott Brown accused her of meddling in a voter registration issue to benefit her mother’s campaign.
As chairman of the board of Demos, a liberal think tank, Tyagi was tied to a lawsuit filed against the state for failing to comply with the National Voter Registration Act. The resulting settlement, reached in July, called for the mailing of voter registration forms to welfare recipients — a move Brown contended was designed to get more Democrats on the rolls before the November election.
Warren’s campaign and Demos staffers say Tyagi was not involved in the lawsuit and that it had nothing to do with her mother’s Senate race. The Warren campaign declined to make Tyagi available for an interview, and provided only selective answers via e-mail to questions from the Globe about her biography.
Tyagi, 40, joined the Demos board in 2006. Both the Warren campaign and Demos said it was the publication of the mother-daughter team’s first book, “The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke,” that spurred the relationship with the organization, despite having been released three years earlier.
Tyagi had no national political background of note, but the 2003 book, they said, dealt with economic issues that were of similar concern to those that Demos was highlighting. She was later asked to sit on the board of The American Prospect, a liberal publication affiliated with Demos.
The older of two children Warren had with her first husband, Tyagi said she has a very close relationship with her mother. Tyagi’s early years were defined in part by her mother’s ambitions. In a 2003 article in Wharton Alumni Magazine, Tyagi said she had attended nine public schools between kindergarten and 12th grade, as Warren and her second husband, Bruce Mann, a fellow law professor, moved up the academic ladder. “My mom says I resisted from the very first move when I was 5,” Tyagi was quoted as saying.
She earned a bachelor’s in history from Brown University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there she met her husband, Sushil Tyagi, a former management consultant and later a film producer in the United States and India, who is now working for a craft beer company. The couple has three children: Octavia, 11; Lavinia, 7; and Atticus, 1½.
Amelia Warren Tyagi spent three years working in management consulting at McKinsey & Company, before she and other McKinsey alumni founded a health benefits firmcalled HealthAllies, with its Web operation headquartered in the guest cottage of her Los Angeles beach house.
That start-up worked to get favorable health care rates for patients by negotiating on their behalf directly with doctors. (The company has since been absorbed by UnitedHealth.)
It was after the birth of her first child that Tyagi began collaborating with her mother on research, she wrote Friday in e-mailed answers to questions from the Globe. Warren went to stay with her for a month, and they discussed her research as they cared for the baby, Tyagi said.
“The book was born over a zillion hours of chatting as one or the other of us rocked the baby,” Tyagi wrote. “A month or so later, Mom asked my help on some analysis (I’m something of a closet numbers geek). But it soon hatched into a giant book project.”
The research and writing took over a year, with Warren writing in the morning on the East Coast and Tyagi jumping in later, after her baby-sitter arrived, she wrote.
That work evolved into “The Two-Income Trap,” which made the bold statement that a woman’s best predictor of financial collapse is having children. The book cemented Warren’s public profile as an authority on middle-class bankruptcyand made her research more widely known outside of academic circles.
Together, Warren and Tyagi wrote a second book, “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan,” a financial guide that came out in spring 2005, when Tyagi was pregnant with her second child.
The consumer-friendly publications helped make Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, an increasingly visible public figure, with appearances on national media, a stint on the “Dr. Phil” show, and later a nomination by President Obama.
But her daughter said she does not mind ceding the spotlight to her mother.
“The only reason I’ve ever been out there publicly is to talk about issues I really care about, in the hope that I might have a chance to spark a few ideas or change a few minds,” Tyagi said. “I’m a private person.”
Tyagi has often been viewed by colleagues as analytical and even-tempered.
“Anytime in a controversy, Amelia is not one to get emotional,” said Todd Hoddick, who worked with her at a health benefits start-up company she cofounded, “although she’s fantastic in considering the emotions of others.”
After several years working independently as as consultant, Tyagi joined forces with another consultant, Jody Miller, a former official in the Clinton administration, to create a search firm for executives.
Together, they formed the Business Talent Group, a firm that places independent “supertemps” — high-level consultants and managers — in Fortune 500 companies to help with interim projects such as the launch of new products and market testing.
The company advertises on its website that it can provide independent, “skilled management consultants trained at the best firms, such as McKinsey, Bain, or Accenture,” at a fraction of the cost.