Institute Staff

Robert Megna

Robert Megna

President

Robert Megna is the president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Megna previously served as senior vice chancellor and chief operating officer of SUNY System Administration. In that role, he oversaw the operations of the chief information officer, the State University of New York (SUNY) Plaza business functions, capital facilities, campus energy management, and the Charter School Institute. He joined SUNY System Administration from Stony Brook University, where he served as senior vice president for finance and administration. Prior to joining Stony Brook, he served as executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Canal Corporation.

Megna served as budget director for New York State Division of the Budget (DOB), during which time the state achieved its highest financial rating in 40 years from three major credit rating agencies and passed four on-time budgets for the first time since the 1970s. He also chaired multiple governmental boards, including the Financial Restructuring Board, the New York Racing Association, and the Public Authorities Control Board. Megna has also served as commissioner for New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, director of the revenue and economics unit at DOB, assistant commissioner of the office of tax policy at the Virginia Department of Taxation, director of tax studies at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and deputy director of fiscal studies on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Megna earned an M.S. in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London and received both his B.A. in Economics and M.P.A. from Fordham University.

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Laura Schultz

Laura Schultz

Executive Director of Research

Dr. Laura Schultz has an extensive research portfolio studying how innovation creates economic opportunity. While at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, she developed measures used to assess levels of innovation in the US economy and their contribution to gross domestic product. As a faculty member at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, she worked with collegiate entrepreneurs as a commercialization adviser to guide them through the early stages of validation and venture formation. She has studied how university and state policies can foster or hinder an entrepreneurial ecosystem. At the Rockefeller Institute, she explores how state and local governments can support innovation and generate economic growth. As executive director of research, Dr. Schultz evaluates the fiscal and economic impacts of federal, state, and local policies and emerging economic trends. She is working to develop new channels to communicate her team’s research findings to a broader audience through blog posts, interactive data visualization tools, and podcasts.

[email protected]

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Heather Trela

Heather Trela

Director of Operations, 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. Her research focuses on federalism issues with an emphasis on marijuana policy. 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.

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Brian Backstrom

Brian Backstrom

Director of Education Policy Studies

Brian Backstrom is the Director of Education Policy Studies for the Rockefeller Institute. Among his work here, Brian has researched various aspects of the student debt crisis, policies regarding failing public schools, early childhood development issues, college access and affordability, high school graduation testing, and more. He previously served as president of a privately funded Albany-based policy research organization that investigated, crafted, and advocated for bold changes in the education landscape. Brian also serves as an independent consultant on K-12 education reform issues involving innovation, accountability, and choice.

[email protected]

 

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Laura Rabinow

Laura Rabinow

Deputy Director of Research

Dr. Laura Rabinow is the deputy director of research for the Rockefeller Institute of Government, supporting the broad array of research conducted at the Institute and focusing her own research on environmental policy issues. Her prior work has moved between public policy research and practice. Most recently, she worked in the New York State Legislature in various roles, including as a chief of staff in the Assembly and as the environmental conservation, agriculture, and cultural affairs policy analyst in the Senate. Prior to her legislative experience, she worked in agricultural microfinance and foreign policy research. Dr. Rabinow’s more recent research considers New York State and federal policies with respect to drinking water and chemical contaminants, with a particular focus on the ways that public policy, social movements, and public health cultures co-construct the production of knowledge and ignorance about contaminants.

[email protected]

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Leigh Wedenoja

Leigh Wedenoja

Senior Policy Analyst

Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, specializes in the economics of education, labor economics, behavioral economics, policy analysis, and demography. Dr. Wedenoja has served as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Education at Brown University since 2017. Prior to that, she served as administrator of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Federal Statistical Research Data Center at Cornell University. She has published “Labour Law Violations in Chile” in the journal International Labour Review as well as a series of working papers on education, labor, and behavioral economics. She holds a PhD in economics and a master’s in economics from Cornell University and a bachelor’s in economics, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan.

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Alexander Morse

Alexander Morse

Associate Director of Public Policy and Government Strategy

Alexander Morse is the associate director of public policy and government strategy at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, specializing in clean energy solutions designed to improve energy efficiency and mitigate the effects of climate change. He also serves as project manager for the Institute’s County-Wide Shared Services Initiative portfolio, working collaboratively with local governments to help improve shared services coordination and save taxpayer dollars. Morse is also the host of Policy Outsider, the Institute’s public policy podcast. He received 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. Morse previously served as a communications coordinator for the New York State Assembly, assisting various members across the state, preparing and implementing comprehensive legislative curricula and strategic communications plans.

[email protected]

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Michele Charbonneau

Michele Charbonneau

Senior 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.

[email protected]

(518) 445-4164

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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.

[email protected]

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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.

[email protected]

(518) 445-4165

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Joel Tirado

Joel Tirado

Director of Communications and Digital Media

Joel Tirado is the Institute’s point person for communications. He manages the Institute’s website and social media presence and develops and implements communication plans for the Institute’s research. Previously, he worked at ASBO New York where he oversaw web development and strategy and managed projects for the organization’s operations and research departments.

[email protected]

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Jaclyn Schildkraut

Jaclyn Schildkraut

Interim Executive Director - RGVRC

Jaclyn Schildkraut, PhD, is an associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. A national expert on school and mass shootings, Dr. Schildkraut’s work focuses on the effectiveness of policies aimed at prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery. Since 2018, she has conducted the largest study in the nation on the effects of lockdown drills on school participants and skill mastery, and she consults with school districts to help improve their emergency response plans. She has also conducted and published research examining the impacts of mass shootings on survivors and was consulted by Canada’s Mass Casualty Commission charged with investigating the April 2020 mass casualty event in Nova Scotia. Schildkraut recently published research examining law enforcement’s perspective of armed teacher policies and a case study of the Parkland school shooting using the Path to Intended Violence model to identify opportunities for intervention and new policy solutions.

Schildkraut is the co-author of Mass Shootings: Media, Myths and Realities (2016); Columbine, 20 Years Later and Beyond: Lessons from Tragedy (2019); and Lockdown Drills: Connecting Research and Best Practices for School Administrators, Teachers, and Parents (2022, forthcoming). She served as the editor on two additional volumes—Mass Shootings in America: Understanding the Debate, Causes, and Responses (2018) and Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law (3rd edition; 2022, forthcoming). She has also published more than 30 scholarly articles on topics related to mass and school shootings that appear in journals such as the American Journal of Criminal Justice, Homicide Studies, Journal of School Violence, Victims & Offenders, School Psychology Review, Educational Policy, Security Journal and Crime Prevention and Community Safety. Schildkraut’s research and expertise are regularly sought after by local, national, and international news outlets, including CNN, Fox News, The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Associated Press, Reuters, BBC News, and The Telegraph (UK).

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Center for Law & Policy Solutions

Laura Rabinow

Laura Rabinow

Deputy Director of Research

Dr. Laura Rabinow is the deputy director of research for the Rockefeller Institute of Government, supporting the broad array of research conducted at the Institute and focusing her own research on environmental policy issues. Her prior work has moved between public policy research and practice. Most recently, she worked in the New York State Legislature in various roles, including as a chief of staff in the Assembly and as the environmental conservation, agriculture, and cultural affairs policy analyst in the Senate. Prior to her legislative experience, she worked in agricultural microfinance and foreign policy research. Dr. Rabinow’s more recent research considers New York State and federal policies with respect to drinking water and chemical contaminants, with a particular focus on the ways that public policy, social movements, and public health cultures co-construct the production of knowledge and ignorance about contaminants.

[email protected]

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Patricia Strach

Patricia Strach

Fellow

Patricia Strach is a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute and principal investigator on the Institute’s Stories from Sullivan project, which examines how opioid use affects local communities and what local communities are doing to address it. Strach is a professor in the Departments of Political Science and Public Administration & Policy at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany. Her research examines public policy and mass politics. 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.

[email protected]

(518) 445-4183

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Katie Zuber

Katie Zuber

Fellow

Dr. Katie Zuber is a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute and a doctoral lecturer of political science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Her 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. Dr. Zuber received her doctorate in political science from the University at Albany in 2017.

[email protected]

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Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués

Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués

Fellow

Dr. Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués is fellow at the Rockefeller Institute and assistant professor of public administration at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE). Her research interests center on corruption and public personnel management. She 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’s Department of the Family. Dr. Pérez-Chiqués holds a doctorate in public administration and policy from the University at Albany, and a bachelor of arts and master of public policy from the University of Chicago.

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Scott Fein

Scott Fein

Fellow, Senior Advisor for the Center for Law & Policy Solutions

Scott Fein served as an assistant counsel to New York State Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo and before that as a prosecutor. He serves as vice chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Public Authority Reform, senior advisor to the Center for Law & Policy Solutions at the Rockefeller Institute, counsel to the New York State Archives Trust, chair of the State Bar Association’s annual program in Albany on Ethics and Civility, and formerly, as the Chief Judge’s appointment to the New York State Permanent Commission on Sentencing and Chair of the Government Law Center Board of Advisors of the Albany Law School. He was the statewide recipient of the 2021 New York State Bar Association’s Award for Pro Bono Service. He has contributed to and edited numerous publications about state government, including, Making of a Modern Constitution: The Prospects for Constitutional Reform in New York State, “Protections in the New York State Constitution Beyond the Federal Bill of Rights,” “Rural Justice in New York State: Challenges and Recommendations, New York: A Laboratory for Innovative Public Policy, and, Immigration: Key to the Future – The Benefits of Resettlement to Upstate New York. Scott received his law degree from Georgetown Law School and master’s in law degree from New York University Law School. He is a partner at Whiteman Osterman and Hanna.

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Jenifer Lee-Gonyea

Jenifer Lee-Gonyea

Fellow

Jenifer Lee-Gonyea is currently an associate professor of criminology at Mount Saint Mary College, where she was awarded the Mount Saint Mary College Faculty Award for the 2019-2020 academic year. Her research focuses on the teaching and use of restorative justice, with more recent interests centering on the availability of restorative justice to racial and ethnic minorities and women, as well as the applicability of restorative justice in addressing serious harms. Her research has been published in Deviant Behavior, International Journal of Crime, Criminal Justice, and Law, and the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice. She co-authored a chapter on the social and family influences on violent crime in Violent Crime: Clinical and Social Implications. Lee-Gonyea earned her doctorate in criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, focusing on hate crimes for her dissertation. She previously worked for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

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Jeremy Creelan

Jeremy Creelan

Fellow

As a fellow of the 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.

[email protected]

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Joseph Popcun

Joseph Popcun

Fellow

Joe Popcun is a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He previously served as executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium and executive director of the New York State Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration.

Before his time at the Rockefeller Institute, Popcun served as the deputy commissioner for policy and planning at the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. In this role, he oversaw the agency’s strategic and policy initiatives as well as administration and finance areas. Prior to being deputy commissioner, he served as assistant secretary for public safety and policy advisor for public safety in the Office of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo where he provided policy expertise and operations assistance for the state’s criminal justice, law enforcement, and homeland security agencies. Before state service, Popcun was a research analyst and academic fellow with the federal government as well as a research assistant with a nationally-recognized security research institute.

[email protected]

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Education

Brian Backstrom

Brian Backstrom

Director of Education Policy Studies

Brian Backstrom is the Director of Education Policy Studies for the Rockefeller Institute. Among his work here, Brian has researched various aspects of the student debt crisis, policies regarding failing public schools, early childhood development issues, college access and affordability, high school graduation testing, and more. He previously served as president of a privately funded Albany-based policy research organization that investigated, crafted, and advocated for bold changes in the education landscape. Brian also serves as an independent consultant on K-12 education reform issues involving innovation, accountability, and choice.

[email protected]

 

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Leigh Wedenoja

Leigh Wedenoja

Senior Policy Analyst

Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, specializes in the economics of education, labor economics, behavioral economics, policy analysis, and demography. Dr. Wedenoja has served as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Education at Brown University since 2017. Prior to that, she served as administrator of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Federal Statistical Research Data Center at Cornell University. She has published “Labour Law Violations in Chile” in the journal International Labour Review as well as a series of working papers on education, labor, and behavioral economics. She holds a PhD in economics and a master’s in economics from Cornell University and a bachelor’s in economics, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan.

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Jennifer Laursen

Jennifer Laursen

Senior Fellow for Arts and Humanities Policy

Jennifer Laursen is senior fellow for arts and humanities policy at the Rockefeller Institute, where she develops and implements SUNY system-wide arts initiatives. Prior to joining the Institute, Jennifer was co-founder and director of Chamber Music Abu Dhabi, a UAE-based organization which partners with universities and schools to present concerts and art collaborations. She co-founded the North Carolina-based Mallarmé Youth Chamber Orchestra (MYCO)  and was president of the board of the Durham Youth Orchestras in Durham, North Carolina. She has taught biology and developed science curriculum at the junior college and university levels and conducted research in ecology and molecular biology. She holds a bachelor’s in science education from Oregon State University and a master’s in biology from Cal State Hayward (East Bay).

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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.

[email protected]

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Darris R. Means

Darris R. Means

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Darris R. Means is an associate professor of higher education and dean’s faculty scholar in equity, justice, and rural education in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Means researches how economic, educational, and social conditions shape pathways to and through postsecondary education for rural students, Black students, and students from low-income backgrounds. Means’ research and scholarship have been supported with funding from the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Education, Spencer Foundation, and American College Personnel Association (ACPA): College Student Educators International. He currently serves as the American Educational Research Association’s chair of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee for the Rural Education Special Interest Group. Means earned his PhD in educational research and policy analysis with a concentration in higher education from North Carolina State University, an MEd in counseling education with a concentration in student affairs from Clemson University, and a BA in sociology and political science from Elon University. As part of his fellowship, Means will collaborate with rural college students to investigate how state policy related to postsecondary education retention, graduation, and attainment are inclusive (or not) of rural college students and how these policies promote and/or hinder educational equity for rural college students.

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Lisette Nieves

Lisette Nieves

Fellow

Lisette Nieves is currently the president of the Fund for the City of New York (FCNY), an institution charged with developing and helping to implement innovations in policy, programs, practices, and technology in order to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond. Key FCNY programs include the Cash Flow Loan Program, The Partnership Program, and the Sloan Public Service Awards. Prior to the Fund Lisette was the director of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and a full clinical professor at NYU Steinhardt where she co-led the design and implementation of a new doctoral program in educational leadership and innovation as well as taught organizational theory and behavior and educational policy analysis. Lisette remains an instructor with NYU, overseeing doctoral students and supporting research initiatives. Lisette holds a BA from Brooklyn College, a BA/MA from the University of Oxford, an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and a doctorate with distinction in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Truman scholar, Rhodes scholar, Aspen Pahara fellow, and a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

For over 25 years, Lisette has served in a variety of cross sector leadership positions. She is an experienced social entrepreneur, public sector leader and scholar. Lisette founded Lingo Ventures which is focused on growth, talent recruitment/retention, and change management. Lisette served as the Belle Zeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy at the City University of New York at Brooklyn College. Lisette has also held senior leadership positions in municipal and federal government. She most recently served as an Obama appointee on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where she co-chaired the higher education subcommittee and supported the production of two reports and convenings.

Lisette also served as the founding executive director of Year Up NY, an innovative workforce development program, where in the span of five years she grew the organization from a $250,000 seed grant to a $6 million operation with over 20 corporate partnerships. Her interest in workforce and education led to her dissertation on the relationship between student work and school roles, for which she received the 2016 Dissertation of the Year Award by the (NCSD – AACC). Her areas of interest include community colleges, college pathways, workforce and education partnerships which are all represented her co-authored new book: Working to Learn: Disrupting the Divide between College and Career Pathways for Young People. Her board affiliations include the Edwin Gould Foundation, AVID, The Education Trust, NewSchools Venture Fund, Jobs for the Future (JFF), and the Trustee of the New York Public Library.

As part of her fellowship, Dr. Nieves is exploring new career pathways that better match the needs of the workforce with the incorporation of skills development in secondary and postsecondary education for minority, low-income, first-generation, full-time community college students in New York State.

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René S. Parmar

René S. Parmar

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

René S. Parmar is professor of instructional leadership at St. John’s University, New York. Prior to this position, she was an associate professor at the University at Buffalo. Her research interests include curriculum, leadership, and school-parent relationships for students with disabilities. She is an active grant writer, researcher, and mentor to doctoral candidates. She has published and presented at numerous national and international research venues and serves on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Learning Disabilities. Dr. Parmar received her M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University and her Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. As part of her fellowship, Dr. Parmar will focus on expanding her research on diverse families of students with disabilities, including examining national, state, and regional data.

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Rebecca S. Natow

Rebecca S. Natow

Fellow

Rebecca Natow is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy at Hofstra University and a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Natow is an expert on higher education policy and has written extensively about the federal higher education rulemaking process in the US Department of Education. She has also researched and written about performance-based funding policies for higher education, technology use in postsecondary developmental education, and research utilization in the creation of federal higher education regulations. Her most recent book, Reexamining the Federal Role in Higher Education: Politics and Policymaking in the Postsecondary Sector, was published by Teachers College Press earlier this year. Natow received her EdD, EdM, and MA in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University and her JD from Georgetown University Law Center.

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Fiscal Analysis

Laura Schultz

Laura Schultz

Executive Director of Research

Dr. Laura Schultz has an extensive research portfolio studying how innovation creates economic opportunity. While at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, she developed measures used to assess levels of innovation in the US economy and their contribution to gross domestic product. As a faculty member at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, she worked with collegiate entrepreneurs as a commercialization adviser to guide them through the early stages of validation and venture formation. She has studied how university and state policies can foster or hinder an entrepreneurial ecosystem. At the Rockefeller Institute, she explores how state and local governments can support innovation and generate economic growth. As executive director of research, Dr. Schultz evaluates the fiscal and economic impacts of federal, state, and local policies and emerging economic trends. She is working to develop new channels to communicate her team’s research findings to a broader audience through blog posts, interactive data visualization tools, and podcasts.

[email protected]

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Liz Farmer

Liz Farmer

Future of Labor Research Center Fellow

Liz Farmer is a fiscal policy expert and journalist, writing for a national audience about the many ways state and local governments spend our taxpayer money. Her areas of expertise include budgets, fiscal distress, tax policy and pensions. She also writes about other topics like family-friendly government policy and the role of women in politics. Liz has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and televisions programs such as NPR’s 1A and CSPAN’s Washington Journal, and is a regular speaker and moderator at policy conferences.

Liz is best known for her work at GOVERNING magazine, where her writing broke down complicated public money issues in ways that everyone can understand. She was the driving force behind the magazine’s educational series, Finance 101, and also created the punchy and popular weekly newsletter, The Week in Public Finance.

Liz has also been a staff writer for newspapers in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., covering local politics, business and economic development. She received her B.A. from the George Washington University where she studied American history, film and television production. In 2007, she completed her Master of Journalism degree at the University of Maryland.

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Lynn Holland

Lynn Holland

Fellow

Lynn Holland previously served as chief budget examiner and director for economic studies with the Economic and Revenue Unit of the New York State Division of the Budget, where her primary responsibilities included forecasting national and state economic conditions for use in State Financial Plan development, developing forecasting and simulation models for taxes and other areas of policy analysis, and conducting economic research in support of State economic development and other policy initiatives. Prior to her employment with the Division of the Budget, she worked as principal economist for the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, where she developed forecasting and policy simulation models in the areas of Medicaid spending, income maintenance, and criminal justice.

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Health

Ricardo Azziz

Ricardo Azziz

Fellow

Ricardo Azziz is an educator-scientist-physician-executive with over 20 years of leadership experience in higher education, research, and academic healthcare. Dr. Azziz is an internationally recognized leader in academic health and clinical & translational science. He is also a recognized authority in mergers and other major organizational changes in higher education. He is a passionate long-term champion for faculty and leadership development, and enhanced diversity and inclusion, in academics.

In addition to serving as Fellow of the Rockefeller Institute for Government, Dr. Azziz is on the faculties of the University at Albany, SUNY, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and UCLA. He serves as CEO of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the largest international non-profit dedicated to furthering education, research and discovery in the field of reproductive sciences.

Previously he served as Chief Officer of Academic Health and Hospital Affairs for the State University of New York (SUNY) system administration, providing support, strategic oversight, guidance, and advocacy for the educational, research and clinical programs within the SUNY academic health and health professions portfolio. He also served as founding Director of the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute. Dr. Azziz previously also served as founding President of Georgia Regents University (GRU, now Augusta University), one of four comprehensive public research universities in Georgia, and founding CEO of the Georgia Regents Health System (GRHS, now Augusta University Health System). He also served as president of the Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) and was tasked then with creating the state’s only public academic health center, now including GRHS, and was subsequently tapped to lead the successful merger of GHSU and Augusta State University to create GRU.

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Joel Cantor

Joel Cantor

Fellow

Joel Cantor is a distinguished professor of public policy and the founding director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Dr. Cantor is a widely published scholar on effects of health insurance regulatory policy and innovative health service delivery and policy strategies for the Medicaid program. He serves frequently as an advisor on health policy matters to New Jersey State Government and is recipient of the Rutgers University President’s award for Research in Service to New Jersey. In 2019, Dr. Cantor was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance. Prior to joining Rutgers in 1999, Dr. Cantor was director of research at the United Hospital Fund of New York and director of evaluation research at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He earned his doctorate in health policy and management from the Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health.

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Auyon J. Ghosh

Auyon J. Ghosh

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Auyon J. Ghosh is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. After graduating from medical school at SUNY Upstate, Ghosh completed internal medicine residency training at Boston University Medical Center and pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He subsequently completed post-doctoral research training with Craig Hersh and Ed Silverman at the Channing Division of Network Medicine and completed a master’s in public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Ghosh is an active clinician, taking care of patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) and patients living with lung disease. He is also an active researcher, having co-authored several papers in the last year. His research interests include understanding subtypes of lung disease using large genetic and genomic datasets as well as the heterogeneous impact of the environment and climate change on lung health. As part of his fellowship, Ghosh will examine the lung health-related effects of highway placements within and between demographic groups.

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Michael K. Gusmano

Michael K. Gusmano

Fellow

Michael K. Gusmano is a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and an associate professor 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.

[email protected]

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John Kaelin

John Kaelin

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.

[email protected]

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Luke J. Nasta

Luke J. Nasta

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Luke J. Nasta is a chief executive officer and educator with extensive experience in the non-profit substance-abuse rehabilitation arena. He has been chief executive officer of Camelot Counseling Centers, the largest drug treatment program on Staten Island, since 1976. In 1987, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in community and human services at SUNY Empire State College. In 1991, he made the dean’s list while earning a Master of Science degree in public administration at Metropolitan College. Since 1990, he has been the public policy officer for the Coalition for Community Services, a lobbying group for drug treatment providers in the New York City region. Mr. Nasta was a former member of the New York State Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and Alcoholism, and the New York City Bureau of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner’s Advisory Group. In 2001, he received the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner’s Award for 25 years of Outstanding Service. He is the author of many chemical dependency articles which are published regularly in the Staten Island Advance and has been featured in numerous media outlets, including New York One and Al Jazeera America. As part of his fellowship, Mr. Nasta will explore disparities and inconsistencies in compensation of substance abuse treatment professionals.

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Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Kaitlin Stack Whitney is an assistant professor in the Science, Technology & Society Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. She holds a PhD in zoology with a minor in science and technology studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She previously worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency and a USAID Farmer-to-Farmer contractor. Her research uses insects as a lens to explore environmental decision-making and regulations in human-managed and novel ecosystems, such as roadsides. She is currently principal investigator on a federal contract examining how mowing and traffic levels impact insects along highways. As part of her fellowship, Stack Whitney will examine highway roadside design policies across the US, including an assessment of potential emerging uses (e.g. solar development, pollinator habitat, etc.) and possible conflicts.

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Local Government

Gerald Benjamin

Gerald Benjamin

Senior Visiting Fellow

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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Lisa Parshall

Lisa Parshall

Fellow

Dr. Parshall is a 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 is a past 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 focuses on municipal reorganization and local government reform.

[email protected]

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Jack Cunningham

Jack Cunningham

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Jack Cunningham enjoyed an extensive career in the banking and financial industry before entering the public sector in 2004 as an Albany County legislator representing the 34th legislative district. He left the private sector in 2007 to serve as supervisor for the Town of Bethlehem, focusing much of his effort on enhancing government access to the public through automation as well as developing capital planning to address aging infrastructure. Cunningham is currently employed by the Town of Colonie, the 15th largest town in New York by population, where he serves as the commissioner of public works. In addition to playing an instrumental role in developing and implementing policy initiatives for the town, Cunningham led the project to create a public-private partnership to improve landfill operation. This plan is estimated to provide net revenue for the the town in excess of $100 million during the life of the agreement. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts and recently earned his MA in political science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany, aiming much of his research on local government finance and policy. As part of his fellowship, Cunningham will focus on policy and politics in town government and explore representational disparity in town government structure.

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Matthew Adams

Matthew Adams

Fellow

Matthew P. Adams (he/him/his) is an assistant professor in the John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey. He is a fellow of the American Concrete Institute where he is currently secretary of Committee 555 on Recycled Materials in Concrete. He is a member of ASTM International committees on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates, and Cement. His main research focus is on the use of recycled concrete aggregates in new concrete, developing new understanding of cement based rapid repair materials, and improving concrete durability. His research has been funded by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, New Jersey Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and ACI Foundation. As part of his fellowship, Dr. Adam’s analyzes municipal incentives that can advance the use of sustainable and durable concrete materials in construction.

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