Our Team

The Rockefeller Institute of Government brings together world-class researchers united in the goal of promoting better public policy with objective, evidence-based analysis.

Institute Staff

Jim Malatras

Jim Malatras

President

Jim Malatras is president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, where he is leading the Institute’s modernization effort to offer policymakers evidence-based policy analysis and recommendations on timely topics. Prior to becoming president, Dr. Malatras held several high-ranking positions in New York State government. Most recently, he served as director of state operations to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, where he managed the day-to-day operation of state government and served as the administration’s point person on policy. He previously served as deputy secretary for policy management to Governor Cuomo and as deputy director of policy on Governor Cuomo’s successful campaign for governor. An education policy expert, Dr. Malatras served as the executive director of the governor’s New NY Education Reform Commission from 2012-2014. Dr. Malatras also previously served as executive directive of legislative affairs and state policy to Attorney General Cuomo and legislative director to former assemblyman and current Rockefeller Institute board member, Richard L. Brodsky. Dr. Malatras received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University at Albany.

jim.malatras@rockinst.suny.edu

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Patricia Strach

Patricia Strach

Director of Policy and Research

Patricia Strach is the director of policy and research at the Institute and an associate professor in the departments of Political Science and Public Administration and Policy at the University at Albany. Her research examines the relationship between social and political institutions in American public policy. She is the author of “Hiding Politics in Plain Sight: Cause Marketing, Corporate Influence, and Breast Cancer Policymaking” (Oxford 2016), “All in the Family: The Private Roots of American Public Policy” (Stanford 2007) and articles appearing in Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Policy History, Polity, and American Politics Research. In 2008-2010 she was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University. Strach received her doctorate in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004.

pstrach@albany.edu

(518) 443-5922

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Heather Trela

Heather Trela

Chief of Staff, Fellow

Heather Trela oversees the day-to-day operations of the Rockefeller Institute and serves as the president’s primary liaison with management, staff, and other stakeholders. She was a doctoral candidate at, and holds a master’s degree in political science from, the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy as well as a bachelor’s in economics and political science from Hartwick College.

heather.trela@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5831

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Kyle Adams

Kyle Adams

Director of Communications

Kyle Adams oversees communications at the Rockefeller Institute to help bring relevant, evidence-based policy analysis into the public decision-making process. He previously worked in communications at SUNY Cobleskill and SUNY Delhi, as a news reporter, and served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer. He holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and anthropology from Syracuse University.

kyle.adams@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5835

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Katie Zuber

Katie Zuber

Assistant Director for Policy and Research, Executive Director of the Center for Law & Policy Solutions

Katie Zuber’s research examines the role of law in collective struggle, with an emphasis on legal advocacy among sexual and gender minorities. She has worked on several collaborative projects featured in Law & Society Review, Justice System Journal, Political Communication, and Journal of Political Marketing. Most recently, she has taught as a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science at Skidmore College, as well as at Union College and Vassar College. Zuber received her doctorate in political science from the University at Albany in 2017.

katie.zuber@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5285

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Nicholas Simons

Nicholas Simons

Project Coordinator, Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium

Nicholas Simons leads the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, which aims to reduce violence involving firearms through research and analysis. He is an MPA student at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy studying education policy. He previously worked in the Government Relations office at SUNY System Administration and in the President’s office at the University at Albany. Nicholas holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University at Albany.

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Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués

Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués

Research Assistant

Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués is a research assistant at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University at Albany. At the Rockefeller Institute, Pérez-Chiqués is part of the Stories from Sullivan research team studying the opioid epidemic in New York’s rural Sullivan County. She is trained in qualitative methods and ethnography. Pérez-Chiqués is the co-founder of ABRE Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization that specializes in government transparency and civic technology. Prior to returning to graduate school, she was the deputy administrator for prevention and community services in Puerto Rico. She earned a bachelor of arts and master of public policy from the University of Chicago.

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Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper

Director of Publications

Michael Cooper supervises all stages of the publication process, handles desktop publishing, and exercises editorial supervision of the website operations of the Institute. Prior to joining the Institute in 1988, he was a production editor at Ziff-Davis Publications, the Association for Computing Machinery, and Simon & Schuster. Cooper is a graduate of the University at Albany.

michael.cooper@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5257

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Michele Charbonneau

Michele Charbonneau

Staff Assistant for Publications

Michele Charbonneau assists in the various stages of publishing the Institute’s reports and publications including the New York State Statistical Yearbook. Michele received her bachelor’s degree at the University at Albany.

michele.charbonneau@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5285

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Heather Stone

Heather Stone

Senior Staff Assistant for Finance and Administration

Heather Stone is responsible for the daily management and processing of state financial transactions as well as managing personnel functions for the institute’s full-time, part-time, and temporary staff. She also serves as the institute’s facilities coordinator. Heather holds an associate degree in business administration from Hudson Valley Community College.

heather.stone@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5259

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Urška Klančnik

Urška Klančnik

Research Scholar

Urška Klančnik is a research scholar at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany. She holds a Master of Arts in Intercultural Communication and European Studies from Hochschule Fulda – University of Applied Sciences, Germany, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies from University of Salzburg, Austria. In the course of her bachelor studies, she spent a year at the Bowling Green State University, Ohio as an exchange student.

uklancnik@albany.edu

(518) 443-5014

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Alexander Morse

Alexander Morse

Graduate Research Assistant

Alexander Morse is a graduate research assistant at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He is pursuing his master of public administration in policy analysis and public finance from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and holds a bachelor of arts in history from the University at Albany. He previously served as a communications coordinator for the New York State Assembly, assisting various Assembly members across the state, preparing and implementing comprehensive legislative curricula and strategic communications plans.

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Nicolle Otty

Nicolle Otty

Administrative Staff Assistant

Nicolle Otty is an Administrative Staff Assistant for the Rockefeller Institute of Government. She has been engaged in varying degrees of administrative and event coordination for more than 18 years focusing primarily on higher education and nonprofits. Nicolle has her Associates Degree in Applied Science from Hudson Valley Community College and her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from SUNY’s Empire State College. Nicolle resides, with her family, in Guilderland, NY.

nicolle.otty@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5522

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Malvin Lumpkin

Malvin Lumpkin

General Mechanic

Malvin Lumpkin is responsible for the daily maintenance of the Institute’s three historic buildings. Prior to his appointment at the Institute, Lumpkin developed skills serving as a locksmith, driver, and carpenter during his decades of service at SUNY System Administration.

malvin.lumpkin@suny.edu

(518) 443-5690

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Nilesh Chakraborty

Nilesh Chakraborty

Graduate Assistant

Nilesh Chakraborty is a graduate assistant at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He is pursuing a master of science in computer science at the University at Albany. He has completed his master of computer application from University at Mumbai, India. He works on development and maintenance of web applications at the Rockefeller Institute. 

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Apoorva Kshirsagar

Apoorva Kshirsagar

Student Assistant

Apoorva Kshirsagar is a student assistant at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, where she works with the Communications team to maintain and develop new features for the Institute website. She is a computer science graduate student at the University at Albany, and has worked as research assistant in software engineering at the Center for Technology in Government.

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Center for Law & Policy Solutions

Katie Zuber

Katie Zuber

Assistant Director for Policy and Research, Executive Director of the Center for Law & Policy Solutions

Katie Zuber’s research examines the role of law in collective struggle, with an emphasis on legal advocacy among sexual and gender minorities. She has worked on several collaborative projects featured in Law & Society Review, Justice System Journal, Political Communication, and Journal of Political Marketing. Most recently, she has taught as a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science at Skidmore College, as well as at Union College and Vassar College. Zuber received her doctorate in political science from the University at Albany in 2017.

katie.zuber@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5285

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Swati Desai

Swati Desai

Senior Fellow

Senior Fellow Swati Desai is also an affiliated scholar with the Urban Institute. She has previously been associate professor of practice at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, and executive deputy commissioner for the Office of Evaluation and Research and Data Reporting at New York City’s Human Resources Administration. During her extensive service at the HRA, she developed its performance management system, the first in social services, particularly for the city’s Job Centers and employment contracts. Her research and evaluation have covered topics related to low-income programs, and how data on those programs is used, especially in New York City.

sdesai2@albany.edu

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Jeremy Creelan

Jeremy Creelan

Visiting Fellow

As a visiting fellow of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Jeremy M. Creelan focuses on reform and social justice issues. Creelan is currently a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block, where he focuses on complex commercial litigation and government controversies and public policy litigation practices. In 2014, he was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as co-chair of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice to develop recommendations and plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York State and implement additional reforms to the juvenile justice system. Prior to rejoining Jenner & Block, he served as special counsel for public integrity and ethics reform and then as special counsel to Governor Cuomo, as well as deputy director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Creelan has authored significant reform legislation for the State of New York, prosecuted numerous voting rights cases and co-authored a landmark, comprehensive study of New York State’s legislative process. In addition, Creelan has served as an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law from 2005 to 2007, where he taught election law. He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

jcreelan@gmail.com

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Jeffrey M. Wice

Jeffrey M. Wice

Fellow

Jeffrey M. Wice leads the Rockefeller Institute’s NY Counts program, a 2020 census and redistricting information center. “Of counsel” to Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C., he  has more than 35 years of experience working in redistricting, voting rights and census law. A long time counsel in the  New York State Legislature, Wice has worked for several Assembly speakers and Senate Democratic leaders. He is considered a national expert on redistricting and has been included by Roll Call in its list of the top 50 Washington policy insiders.
Wice has assisted many state legislative leaders, members of Congress, and other state and local government officials on redistricting and voting rights matters across the nation. As the staff co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Redistricting & Elections Committee, he  works with legislators and staff on redistricting issues and is a co-editor of  NCSL’s forthcoming 2020 Redistricting Redbook, a handbook on census, redistricting, and voting rights for legislators.
During the 2000 census cycle, Wice served as counsel to President Bill Clinton’s members of the 2000 Census Monitoring Board. He is also the co-author of “These Seats May Not Be Saved,” a chapter taking a critical and in-depth view of New York’s redistricting process, in “New York’s Broken Constitution” (SUNY Press, 2016).
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Rus Sykes

Rus Sykes

Visiting Fellow

Russell Sykes is currently the director of the Center for Employment and Economic Well-Being (CEEWB) at the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA). In that role he has developed, in concert with the APHSA membership, a number of policy documents on various health and human service issues and testified before Congress on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Sykes has worked in the human services field since 1972 when he started his career in a four-county rural Pennsylvania anti-poverty program. He has worked in government as well as both the non-profit and for-profit sectors at the local, state and federal level.

From 1978-1984, Sykes was the fieldwork coordinator for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) in Washington, D.C., a national organization dealing with hunger issues. From 1984-2004 Sykes was vice president of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (SCAA) a non-profit public policy and research organization in Albany, New York where he was the architect of New York State’s $1.0 billion Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) legislation in 1994, reaching 1.4 million taxpayers.

From 2004-2011, Sykes was the deputy commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), where he was responsible for overseeing the SNAP, TANF, Welfare to Work, SSI State Supplement, LIHEAP and multiple other programs and benefit systems. He was also a member of the APHSA Board and Chair of APHSA’s Affinity Group, the National Association of State TANF Administrators (NASTA).

After his seven-year appointment in New York, Sykes was a senior fellow from 2011-2012 with the Empire Center on Public Policy and the Manhattan Institute in New York. From 2012-2015, Sykes worked as a private consultant for multiple organizations, including America Works of NYS, Abt Associates, Mathematica Policy Research, SEEDCO, PHI, and the United Way of New York State.

Sykes was appointed in 2014 as one of 10 members of National Commission on Hunger and was instrumental in authoring its final report, Freedom From Hunger: An Achievable Goal for the United States of America, in January 2016.  Sykes was also the author of “Viewing the Food Stamp Program through a 44 Year Lens” a chapter in a recent book “A Safety Net That Works” released in February 2017 by the American Enterprise Institute. He has written research papers on Medicaid, Child Support, Child Care, TANF Cash Assistance, Child Care and Low-Income Tax Policy.

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Joe Popcun

Joe Popcun

Visiting Fellow

Joe Popcun oversees the New York State’s criminal justice, corrections and victim assistance agencies. He also contributes to the development of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s public safety agenda, maintains contact with stakeholder and constituency groups, and participates in budget negotiations.

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Center for Education & Social Systems Change

Nancy L. Zimpher

Nancy L. Zimpher

Senior Fellow, Director of the Center for Education Pipeline Systems Change

Nancy L. Zimpher is among the most in-demand thought-leaders in higher education in the United States and around the world.

From 2009 to 2017, Dr. Zimpher served as the twelfth chancellor of The State University of New York, the nation’s largest comprehensive system of public higher education. Prior to SUNY, she served as president of the University of Cincinnati, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and executive dean of the Professional Colleges and dean of the College of Education at The Ohio State University. She is a senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and chancellor emeritus of The State University of New York.

Throughout a career that began in a one-room schoolhouse, Dr. Zimpher has formed a paradigm-shifting vision that rises to meet the expansive responsibilities of public higher education in the 21st century. “To educate more people and to educate them better” is the mantra at the center of her collective-impact theory of action, which she exercises in several key areas, including building on university strengths to drive regional and local economic development; creating seamless cradle-to-career education pipelines in every community; and systemically transforming teacher education into a rigorous practice that reliably creates great teachers for every classroom and student.

Dr. Zimpher is co-founder and current chair of StriveTogether, a national network of innovative partnerships that holistically address challenges across the education pipeline. Concurrent with her role as SUNY chancellor, she served as chair of the National Association of System Heads from 2014–2017, the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences from 2011–2016, and CEOs for Cities from 2012–2013, and led the national Coalition of Urban Serving Universities from 2005–2011.

In Dr. Zimpher’s eight years at the helm of SUNY, she developed and led a diverse set of initiatives that transformed the vast institution from a loose constellation of 64 campuses into a focused, cohesive whole. Through the disciplined cultivation of the university’s “systemness” under Zimpher’s vision and leadership, SUNY implemented groundbreaking new policies that expand college access and affordability, improve completion, promote diversity, ensure equity, and support world-class teaching, research, and innovation. Her professional practice remains focused on creating policy that revolutionizes teacher education and builds seamless education pipelines in underserved communities.

Dr. Zimpher holds a bachelor’s degree in English Education and Speech, a master’s degree in English Literature, and a Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Higher Education Administration, all from The Ohio State University. She has authored or co-authored numerous books, monographs, and academic journal articles on teacher education, urban education, academic leadership, and university-community engagement.

With each institution and initiative she leads, Dr. Zimpher challenges her colleagues and partners to aspire to the “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals” that might seem out of reach. Her major initiatives demonstrate her uncanny ability to transcend traditional boundaries between town and gown; public, private, and nonprofit sectors; and across all levels of education systems—garnering transformative results that change universities and communities for the better. Undergirding all of Dr. Zimpher’s work is her unwavering commitment to improving education access and success so that all Americans have the chance to meet their full potential.

Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 320-1365
Email: Nancy.Zimpher@suny.edu

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Alan Wagner

Alan Wagner

Deputy Director of Education Studies

In addition to serving as Director of Education at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, Dr. Alan P. Wagner is a professor in the Department of Educational Policy & Leadership at the University at Albany. An economist with broad interests in education policy in the U.S. and abroad, Wagner’s most recent work concerns higher education and workforce development. Professor Wagner previously held a senior position in the Directorate for Education, Employment, Labor and Social Affairs at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and was on the faculty at Purdue University. Wagner currently serves on the boards of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems and the Greater Capital Region Principals’ Center. He received his A.B. from the University of Michigan and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, all in economics.

awagner@albany.edu

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Brian Backstrom

Brian Backstrom

Senior Project Advisor

Brian Backstrom is the president of Great Schools for All Children and an independent consultant on K-12 education reform issues involving innovation, accountability, and choice. Mr. Backstrom previously served as president of the Albany-based Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability, a privately funded nonprofit policy research organization that investigated, crafted, and advocated for bold changes in the education landscape such as mayoral control of cities’ public schools, school-choice vouchers and innovative scholarship programs, state and parent takeovers of failing schools, and education tax credits. He is one of the founders and chief architects of New York’s early charter school movement, and is a principal player in some of the unique charter school efforts in the state. Mr. Backstrom is an alumnus of the University of Rochester with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Master of Science in Public Policy Analysis.

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Tom Gais

Tom Gais

Senior Fellow

Since coming to the Rockefeller Institute in 1994, Gais has served as director, co-director, senior fellow, and fellow. His research focuses include:

  • American federalism, particularly the implementation of national social and health initiatives by state governments
  • the dynamics of state spending on social programs and relationships to changing needs
  • the role of analysis and experimentation in the routine operations of government
  • the comparative effectiveness of faith-based social service organizations
  • performance measurement and management
  • nonprofit social service organizations and their relations with governments
  • campaign finance reforms and their effects
  • state constitutional reforms
  • interest group formation, maintenance, and strategies

Gais has taught at Barnard College, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan. He received his doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

thomas.gais@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5238

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Teniell Trolian

Teniell Trolian

Faculty Fellow

Dr. Teniell L. Trolian is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership at the University at Albany. Dr. Trolian’s research focuses on the educational experiences that influence college choice and college outcomes, with an emphasis on two primary areas: students’ higher education experiences and outcomes, and the influence of K-12 experiences on students’ college choice decisions and experiences in higher education. Her recent work has investigated the relationship between student-faculty interactions and college outcomes and the influence of students’ high school experiences on their aspirations to earn a college degree. She has earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in Sociology, a master’s from Bowling Green State University in College Student Personnel, a master’s from the University of Iowa in Sociology, and a doctorate from the University of Iowa in Higher Education and Student Affairs.

ttrolian@albany.edu

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Ruirui Sun

Ruirui Sun

Graduate Research Assistant

Ruirui Sun is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies at the University at Albany. Her research examines the relationship between higher education policies and student experiences, on the one hand, and academic and labor market outcomes on the other. She is a recipient of the AERA Dissertation Grant sponsored by the National Science Foundation for 2016-2017 and was a David L. Clark Scholar co-sponsored by AERA, UCEA and Sage Publications in 2014. She received her master’s in Economics of Education and Public Administration from Peking University in 2010.

ruiruisungse@gmail.com

(518) 443-4480

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Hal Lawson

Hal Lawson

Visiting Fellow

Dr. Hal Lawson is a professor of Educational Policy and Leadership and a professor of Social Welfare at the University at Albany. This joint appointment reflects his interests in partnerships among schools, families, community agencies, neighborhood organizations, governments, businesses, and higher education institutions with a particular focus on partnerships formed to meet the needs of vulnerable populations and their communities and those involving laypersons’ leadership and expertise. These interests span nearly 40 years of teaching, research, consultation, and service in five universities in the United States and Canada.

Lawson is a Leadership Associate in the National Network for Educational Renewal. He has served on the International Advisory Board for the Dutch National Institute for Education and Youth Care. He currently serves on the National Advisory Board for the US National Center for Mental Health in Schools. His international experience includes work in Indonesia, Brazil, Iran, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Denmark, England, Belgium, Australia, Germany, Romania, and Canada. He holds a master’s and doctorate from the University of Michigan.

hlawson@albany.edu

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Lucy Sorenson

Lucy Sorenson

Faculty Fellow

Lucy C. Sorensen is a faculty fellow at the Rockefeller Institute and an assistant professor in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany. Her research explores public education and its interaction with human capital development, with a focus on how policy interventions can reduce educational inequality. She uses causal econometric methods with large administrative datasets to evaluate K-12 school policies and examine the determinants of individuals’ academic, social-emotional, and health trajectories. Sorensen recently received a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation and William T. Grant Foundation on Improving Education and Reducing Inequality in the United States, and won the dissertation award from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) for her dissertation titled, Can a Broader Education Narrow the Gap? Evidence on Non-Academic Features of Schooling. Before joining the faculty at University at Albany, she received her doctorate in Public Policy Studies from Duke University, master’s in Economics from Duke University, and bachelor’s in Economics and East Asian Studies from Yale University.

lsorenson@albany.edu

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Bruce Johnstone

Bruce Johnstone

Senior Fellow

D. Bruce Johnstone is Distinguished Service Professor of Higher and Comparative Education Emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo, former director of the International Comparative Higher Education Finance and Accessibility Project, and an associate of the Rockefeller Institute of Government. His principal scholarship is in higher education finance, governance, and policy formation in domestic and international contexts. He has led World Bank studies in Morocco, Romania, Kenya, and the East Caribbean Sates and has conducted conferences on cost-sharing in Tanzania, Kenya, the Czech Republic, Russia, and China. Johnstone has held posts of vice president for administration at the University of Pennsylvania, president of the State University College at Buffalo, and chancellor of the State University of New York system, the latter from 1988 to 1994. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota.

dbj@buffalo.edu

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Hamilton Lankford

Hamilton Lankford

Senior Fellow

Hamilton (Hamp) Lankford is professor of educational administration, policy studies and economics at the University at Albany. He is also a research fellow with the American Statistical Association. Dr. Lankford is a part of the CALDER New York team. He served as a consultant to the New York State Special Commission on Educational Structure, Policies, and Practices (1993-94) and as a member of the NYS Board of Regents Technical Study Groups concerned with Cost-Effectiveness in Education (1995) and the Generation of Revenues for Education (1994).

Dr. Lankford is author and co-author of numerous publications in education, particularly concerned with teacher labor market issues, teacher quality and student outcomes, the allocation of educational resources, the determinants of school choice, and the effects of enhanced school choice.

He received his doctorate in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

hlankford@albany.edu

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Jonathan Gagliardi

Jonathan Gagliardi

Visiting Fellow

Jonathan S. Gagliardi serves as associate director for ACE’s Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy, where he aids in the development and execution of the center’s research agenda which focuses on issues of diversity and equity in 21st century higher education, public finance and higher education systems, and transformational leadership.

His career began in enrollment management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and then at Yale University. Following this, Gagliardi served the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education as a senior associate focusing on research, economic, and community development; efficiency and innovation; and data governance and stewardship. Most recently, Gagliardi served as the Chancellor’s Fellow for Completion for the State University of New York, and as Deputy Director of the National Association of System Heads, where he co-created and co-led Taking Student Success to Scale, a completion initiative focused on harnessing higher education systems to scale and implement evidence-based innovations nationwide. He has contributed opinion and scholarly works to peer-reviewed journals, academic volumes and higher education conferences on a variety of subjects.

Gagliardi holds a master’s and doctorate in higher education and policy studies; and a BA from the State University of New York at Albany.

jgagliardi@acenet.edu

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Brian Stenson

Brian Stenson

Visiting Fellow

Brian Stenson has extensive senior-level executive experience with New York State, supplemented by recent work in public policy research and consulting. He has broad experience in financial management, capital and debt financing, program management and performance measurement.

Currently an independent management consultant, Stenson has worked with New York state agencies, the United States Treasury, the National Association of State Budget Officers and other groups. Before that, as Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, Stenson wrote numerous reports on state government finances and addressed groups of state government leaders in New York and other states. He also served as a fiscal and budget advisor on a gubernatorial transition team.

Previously, Stenson was Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business for the State University of New York and, before that, Deputy Director for Fiscal Planning, Management and Authorities in the New York State Division of the Budget. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and master’s in Public Administration from the University at Albany.

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Jaekyung Lee

Jaekyung Lee

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. Lee is a professor and former Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo. He has a doctorate in education from the University of Chicago. He is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Lee is the author of the book, “The Testing Gap: Scientific Trials of Test-Driven School Accountability Systems for Excellence and Equity.” His work at the Rockefeller Institute will focus on the alignment, or misalignment, of state policies, school goals, and classroom practices in public education in New York State.

jaekyung.lee@rockinst.suny.edu

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Patrick McGuinn

Patrick McGuinn

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. McGuinn is a professor of political science and education at Drew University and a senior research specialist at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education. He holds a doctorate in government and a Master of Education in Education Policy from the University of Virginia. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University, and the Miller Center for Public Affairs. His first book, “No Child Left Behind and the Transformation of Federal Education Policy,” was honored as a Choice outstanding academic title. He is a regular commentator on education policy and politics in media outlets and was recognized as one of the nation’s top Edu-Scholars by Education Week for the past seven years. His work at the Rockefeller Institute will focus on the intersection of politics, governance, and public policy in K-12 and higher education.

patrick.mcguinn@rockinst.suny.edu

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Health

Tom Gais

Tom Gais

Senior Fellow

Since coming to the Rockefeller Institute in 1994, Gais has served as director, co-director, senior fellow, and fellow. His research focuses include:

  • American federalism, particularly the implementation of national social and health initiatives by state governments
  • the dynamics of state spending on social programs and relationships to changing needs
  • the role of analysis and experimentation in the routine operations of government
  • the comparative effectiveness of faith-based social service organizations
  • performance measurement and management
  • nonprofit social service organizations and their relations with governments
  • campaign finance reforms and their effects
  • state constitutional reforms
  • interest group formation, maintenance, and strategies

Gais has taught at Barnard College, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan. He received his doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

thomas.gais@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5238

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Richard Nathan

Richard Nathan

Senior Fellow

Richard Nathan served as director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government from 1989 until 2009. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Policy at the University at Albany. He previously worked as a professor at Princeton University and a researcher at the Brookings Institution, served as a key official in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of Health, and advised Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller.

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John Kaelin

John Kaelin

Visiting Fellow

John J. Kaelin has diverse executive-level experience in the health care industry spanning government, academia, U.S.-based health insurers, and health systems in the Middle East. He has held senior executive positions in three major health insurers (UnitedHealthcare, CareFirst, and currently Centene Corporation) and has worked closely with states and the federal government on the implementation of risk adjusted payments in publicly financed insurance programs, Medicaid financing, and state health reform initiatives. In addition, John has been focused on the intersection of health financing and public policy including extensive work with states on Medicaid and the coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2014, he spent the year living in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, where he served as a special adviser to the government on the implementation of a mandatory health insurance system.

From 1998 to 2003, Kaelin served as the executive director of a health policy and research institute at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he supported the state of Maryland’s policy development for health finance and public health, as well as research for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Kaelin has held senior positions in New York State government in both the Budget Division and Health Department, where as director of Managed Care Financing, he led the team that developed the financing models for the state’s first Medicaid managed care waiver in 1997.

john.kaelin@rockinst.suny.edu

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Michael K. Gusmano

Michael K. Gusmano

Visiting Fellow

Michael K. Gusmano is a visiting fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and an associate professor in the Department of Health Systems and Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Dr. Gusmano is also a research scholar at the Hastings Center. His research examines the politics of health and social policy in the U.S. In addition, he co-directs the World Cities Project, which compares large city health systems across the world. He is the author of “Health Care in World Cities: New York, London and Paris” (With Victor G. Rodwin and Daniel Weisz; Johns Hopkins University Press 2010), “Healthy Voices/Unhealthy Silence” (with Colleen Grogan; Georgetown University Press 2007), and “Growing Older in World Cities” (with Victor G. Rodwin; Vanderbilt University Press, 2006). In 1995-1997 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Yale University. Gusmano received his doctorate in political science from the University of Maryland College Park in 1995.

mkg93@sph.rutgers.edu

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Fiscal Analysis

Laura Schultz

Laura Schultz

Director of Fiscal Analysis & Senior Economist

Dr. Laura Schultz’s research is based on investment in innovation. While at the Bureau of Economic analysis she took part in developing the BEA/NSF R&D Satellite Accounts. The project measured national investment in R&D intangible capital. Her research continues in that vein, examining the returns to investment in intangible capital. She has examined the rates of return to R&D investment in the manufacturing sector and continues her work by examining the differences in industrial and government investment.

She also is interested in the role R&D spillovers play in the national innovation system. Often firms invest in the creation of knowledge that eventually becomes publicly available, which benefits competitors. Dr. Schultz’s research examines how firms work together to maximize the benefits received from spillovers. Working within CNSE provides an excellent opportunity to view firsthand the collaborations between firms designed to increase the returns to R&D through joint research efforts. Her work on R&D collaborations will develop a model to allow firms to identify the profit maximizing research alliances.

lschultz@sunypoly.edu

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Yimeng Yin

Yimeng Yin

Policy Analyst

Yimeng Yin works as a programmer with extensive research responsibilities on the Rockefeller Institute’s pension simulation project. Prior to joining the Institute, he was an assistant researcher at the Center for Human and Economic Development Studies, Peking University from 2009 to 2010, and conducted various research projects on health policy issues in China, including health system reform, government health expenditure, and projection of health human resource. Yin is pursuing his doctoral degree in Economics at the University at Albany. His research interests include economic forecasting, public economics, and econometrics.

yimeng.yin@rockinst.suny.edu

(518) 443-5243

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Jim DeWan

Jim DeWan

Visiting Fellow

Jim DeWan is the Assistant Director of the Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning Unit of the Employee Benefits Division at the New York State Department of Civil Service. At the Department of Civil Service, he develops policy alternatives for the New York State Health Insurance Program to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and improve health outcomes for the program’s 1.2 million enrollees. Prior to joining the Department of Civil Service, Jim worked for the New York State Executive Chamber and the Division of the Budget. In those positions, he worked on the publication of the February 2013 Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission Report and the enactment of various pieces of legislation, including the “Tier 5” and “Tier 6” pension reform bills and the New York State real property tax cap law. Jim holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University.

jimdewan@gmail.com

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Gang Chen

Gang Chen

Visiting Fellow

Gang Chen is Assistant Professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany. Chen’s research interests include state and local budgeting and finance, public pension management, fiscal stress management, and comparative public administration. He received a doctorate in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2013. Chen’s work has been published in several English and Chinese academic journals, including Public Budgeting & Finance, Administration & Society, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Municipal Finance Journal, and Journal of Public Administration (China). Before coming to the U.S., Chen studied at Sun Yat-sen University, China, where he received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Public Administration.

gchen3@albany.edu

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Local Government

Greg Rabb

Greg Rabb

Executive Director, New York Municipal Clerks Institute

In addition to serving as executive director of the New York Municipal Clerks Institute, Dr. Greg Rabb is currently the chair of the City of Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, chair of the city Planning Commission, and the former president of the Jamestown City Council.

Dr. Rabb is the coordinator of International Studies and Study Abroad and a professor of political science at Jamestown Community College of SUNY. He is also a former national mentor and current consultant to the college in Advance Placement U.S. and Comparative Government and Politics. Rabb also is an adjunct lecturer in political science at Buffalo State College.

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Bill Finch

Bill Finch

Visiting Climate Fellow

Bill Finch expands the Rockefeller Institute’s energy and environment portfolio, with a focus on local government sustainability. Finch recently served as the Acting Executive Director of the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation. Prior to leading the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation, he served as mayor of Connecticut’s largest city, Bridgeport, from 2007 until 2015. Finch also served as a Connecticut State Senator from 2000 until 2007, where he held the positions of Majority Whip, Chair of the Environment Committee, and Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee.

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Lisa Parshall

Lisa Parshall

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. Parshall is an associate professor of political science at Daemen College in Amherst, New York, specializing in American politics, public law, and public policy. She currently serves as the chair of the State and Local Politics Section of the New York State Political Science Association and as second vice president of the Northeastern Political Science Association. Dr. Parshall’s research interest is in municipal development and reorganization in New York State. Her work with the Rockefeller Institute will focus on the fiscal stressors underlying the village dissolution movement, the effects of state processes and incentives, the role of evidence-based studies in the statewide dissolution debate, and an analysis of the post-dissolution fiscal impact for the merged communities.

lisa.parshall@rockinst.suny.edu

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Manas Chatterji

Manas Chatterji

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. Chatterji is a professor of management and adjunct professor of economics in the Asian and Asian-American Studies Program at Binghamton University, a guest professor at Peking University, visiting professor at Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, and distinguished professor at Poznan University in Poland. He is an elected member of the Polish Academy of Science – Committee on Regional Planning and a fellow of the international organization Economists for Peace and Security. He holds a doctorate from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s and bachelor’s in statistics from Calcutta University. His work at the Rockefeller Institute will focus on social, political, economic, and environmental issues confronting small towns and cities in New York State.

manas.chatterji@rockinst.suny.edu

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Board Members

Richard Brodsky

Chair

Senior Fellow - Demos and NYU Wagner

Richard Brodsky is a senior fellow at Demos and NYU Wagner. He previously served 14 terms in the New York State Assembly where he chaired the Committee on Environmental Conservation and the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions.

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Gerald Benjamin

Secretary

Director - The Benjamin Center

Gerald Benjamin is the associate vice president for regional engagement and director of The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz. Dr. Benjamin also served as chair of the Department of Political Science and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He has written and commented extensively on state and local government and regional governance with a special emphasis on New York. He is also former director of NY State and Local Studies at the Rockefeller Institute.

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Doug Bauer

Executive Director - The Clark Foundation

Doug Bauer is the executive director of the Clark Foundation. Mr. Bauer was previously a senior vice president with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisor, a vice president at Goldman Sachs and president of the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and The Business School of Columbia University.

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Stephen Berger

Investment Partner - Odyssey Investment Partners LLC

Stephen Berger is the chairman and one of the founders of Odyssey Investment Partners, LLC. Prior to joining Odyssey Partners in 1993, he was executive vice president of GE Capital Corporation and executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Mr. Berger served as chairman of the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, executive director of the New York State Emergency Control Board for the City of New York and chairman of the Board of the United States Railway Association.

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Donald Blinken

President - Brooklyn Academy of Music

Donald Blinken served as chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees from 1978 to 1990, and as the U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 1994 to 1998. Ambassador Blinken was formerly president of the Mark Rothko Foundation, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and served on the Board of the New York Public Library. He co-founded the investment and venture capital firm of E.M. Warbug, Pincus & Co.

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Mark Bodden

Adjunct Faculty Member - Wagner Graduate School of Public Services at NYU

Mark Bodden is an adjunct faculty member at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. Previously, he served as the vice president and program director for the Rudin Foundations and managing director of Binder and Binder. He, additionally, led the corporate giving program at Philip Morris Companies (presently Altria) and has more than 15 years of public policy experience in Washington, D.C., and Albany. He is a fellow at the Public Affairs Institute in Washington and currently serves on the Board of Philanthropy New York.

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Gavin J. Donohue

President and CEO - Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. (IPPNY)

Gavin J. Donohue is the president and chief executive officer of the Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. (IPPNY), a statewide energy trade association. Before joining the association, he served as executive deputy commissioner for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Prior to that, he served as assistant secretary to Governor George E. Pataki and as campaign director for the successful 1996 $1.75 billion Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act.

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Dall Forsythe

Adjunct Professor of Finance - NYU Wagner

Dall Forsythe is an adjunct professor of finance at NYU Wagner. He previously held faculty positions at Columbia University, the Kennedy School at Harvard, the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College (CUNY), and the University of Albany (when he was also a senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government). Dr. Forsythe served as the budget director for the State of New York and for the New York City . Board of Education as well as the managing director in Lehman Brother’s public finance department.

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Karin Goldmark

Former Executive Director for New Initiatives - New York City Department of Education

Karin Goldmark is a consultant on education policy. Ms. Goldmark previously was the executive director for new initiatives at the New York City Department of Education and was the executive director of College Summit New York. She was also vice president at the New York City Leadership Academy.

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Kathryn Haslanger

CEO - Jewish Association Serving the Aging

Kathryn Haslanger is the chief executive officer of the Jewish Association Serving the Aging. Ms. Haslanger has served previously as a senior vice president, community benefit and external affairs, of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and as vice president for health policy at the United Hospital Fund. She was the deputy commissioner at the Human Resources Administration in New York City.

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Karl Rethemeyer

Interim Dean - Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany

Karl Rethemeyer is interim dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany. Dr. Rethemeyer’s research interests include social networks, their impact on social, political, and policy processes, and the methods used to study such networks. Dr. Rethemeyer received his doctorate in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. At the University at Albany, he has also served as chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy.

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James R. Tallon, Jr.

Former President - United Hospital Fund of New York

James R. Tallon, Jr., a nationally recognized health care policy leader, was president of the United Hospital Fund of New York from 1993-2017. He previously served as a member of the New York State Board of Regents, headed the Health Care Policy Advisory Committee during the gubernatorial transition period in 2006, and is a former member of the boards of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Center for Health Policy Development. He has held visiting lecturer appointments at the Columbia University and Harvard University schools of public health. Mr. Tallon represented Binghamton and parts of Broome County in the New York State Assembly for 19 years beginning in 1975.

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Henry Louis Taylor, Jr.

Founding Director - University at Buffalo Center for Urban Studies

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., is the founding director of the University at Buffalo Center for Urban Studies and is a full professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the School of Architecture and Planning. Dr. Taylor is also the coordinator of the department Community Development and Urban Management Specialization.

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Paul Tonko

State Representative - New York’s 20th Congressional District

Paul Tonko is the representative for New York’s 20th Congressional District and former member of the New York State Assembly. He is serving his fifth term, after first being sworn into Congress in 2009. Congressman Tonko serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the oldest standing committee in the House, created in December of 1795. He is the first upstate New York Democratic member to serve on the committee since Leo O’Brien, who resigned the post in October 1966. As a member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, Congressman Tonko also serves on the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, which has jurisdiction over nondefense federal scientific research and development.

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Randolph F. Treece

Magistrate Judge - United States District Court for the Northern District of New York

Randolph F. Treece was appointed magistrate judge to the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York in 2001. Mr. Treece is the first African-American to be appointed to the federal judiciary in the Northern District of New York and the first person of color to be appointed or elected to the judiciary at any level, state or federal, in 104 years in eastern, upstate New York. Prior to his appointment as magistrate judge, Mr. Treece served as counsel to the Office of the State Comptroller in H. Carl McCall’s administration and directed and coordinated all aspects of the Division of Legal Services in accordance with the comptroller’s overall goals, objectives, and philosophy. He earned a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School in 1976 and promptly commenced a private practice, specializing in criminal law and litigation. Mr. Treece will also serve as an advisory member of the Institute’s (yet to be announced) new Center for Law and Policy.

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Cynthia Rivera Weissblum

President and CEO - Edwin Gould Foundation

Cynthia Rivera Weissblum is the president and CEO of the Edwin Gould Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Rivera Weissblum served as CEO of Results Collaborative Group, Ltd., a consulting firm dedicated to effective philanthropy and program development. She served as CEO of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), one of New York City’s first mentoring and college preparatory programs for underserved high school students and as director of the New York State Mentoring Program.

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James Wetzler

Consultant - Deloitte Tax LLP

James Wetzler is currently a consultant to Deloitte Tax LLP, New York City and an adjunct professor of Law at NYU. From 1988 to 1994, he was commissioner of Taxation and Finance for New York State. He served as president of the North Eastern States Tax Officials Association (NESTOA) and the Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA). Dr. Wetzler is a graduate of Harvard University and received a Ph.D. in Economics in 1973.

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Elizabeth Bringsjord

Advisory Member

Vice Provost and Vice Chancellor - Academic Affairs at the State University of New York,

Elizabeth Bringsjord is vice provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the State University of New York, System Administration. Dr. Bringsjord also served as interim provost at SUNY. As vice provost, she leads the office responsible for system-wide academic planning and policy development, program review and assessment, and campus accreditation support. Dr. Bringsjord leads transformational work underway across SUNY in the areas of academic excellence, strategic enrollment planning, mobility, diversity, teacher preparation, and more.

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