Institute Staff

Robert Megna

Robert Megna

President

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 the 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 the 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 MS in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London and received both his BA in Economics and MPA from Fordham University.

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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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Patrick Schumacher

Patrick Schumacher

Policy Analyst

Patrick Schumacher serves as a policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute, focusing on health and fiscal policies in New York State. He has contributed to various projects, including examining the balance of payments between states and the federal government and several economic impact analyses. Schumacher holds a master’s degree in public health from the University at Albany’s School of Public Health and brings experience from an internship with the federal government. He is pursuing a PhD in public administration at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

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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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Jaclyn Schildkraut

Jaclyn Schildkraut

Executive Director, Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium

Jaclyn Schildkraut, PhD, is the executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium and an associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. A national expert on school and mass shootings, 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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Rachel Frascella

Rachel Frascella

Conference Manager/Staff Assistant

Rachel Frascella is the main point of contact for events and conferences that are hosted by the Rockefeller Institute. She serves as an administrative assistant for the Institute president and senior staff.

Rachel graduated with a BA in theatre production from Ramapo College and is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Union.

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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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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.

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Katie Zuber

Katie Zuber

Fellow

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.

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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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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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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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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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Sarah Rogerson

Sarah Rogerson

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Sarah Rogerson directs The Justice Center at Albany Law School. She is also the faculty director of the Immigration Law Clinic, in which students represent immigrant victims of crime, including child abuse and neglect, persecution, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Under her supervision, her students also represent wrongfully detained immigrants and regularly participate in legislative advocacy and community outreach initiatives. Before joining the faculty, Rogerson worked as a housing and immigrant rights public interest attorney in Newark, New Jersey, and in Dallas, Texas. Her scholarship addresses flaws in the administration of immigration law and policy, including intersections with domestic violence and international law. She has also been published on current issues such as crisis lawyering, education policy and gun safety, having direct lived experience with each of those topics. She is a New York State Municipal Police Instructor and is a regular panelist on WAMC Public Radio’s “The Roundtable.” In 2020, Rogerson was elected to a three-year term on the Niskayuna Central School District Board of Education, on which she serves as Vice President.

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Fiscal Analysis

Laura Schultz

Laura Schultz

Fellow

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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Patrick Schumacher

Patrick Schumacher

Policy Analyst

Patrick Schumacher serves as a policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute, focusing on health and fiscal policies in New York State. He has contributed to various projects, including examining the balance of payments between states and the federal government and several economic impact analyses. Schumacher holds a master’s degree in public health from the University at Albany’s School of Public Health and brings experience from an internship with the federal government. He is pursuing a PhD in public administration at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

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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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Rahul Pathak

Rahul Pathak

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Rahul Pathak is an assistant professor of public budgeting and financial management in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at the Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY). He previously worked at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University where he also received a PhD in public policy. His primary research interests lie at the intersection of public finance and social policy, with a particular focus on strengthening the functioning of subnational governments. He examines related issues in the domestic as well as international contexts. His research has appeared in journals such as Public Administration ReviewRegional Science and Urban Economics, and State Tax Notes. His recent research on the fiscal impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been published in the Journal of Public Budgeting Accounting and Financial Management and the Municipal Finance Journal.

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Health

Nina Agrawal

Nina Agrawal

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. Nina Agrawal is a pediatrician, with expertise in child abuse pediatrics. She has over 25 years of experience in providing trauma-informed pediatric care. She is a thought leader in children’s exposure to community gun violence, family violence, and other adversities. Throughout her career, she has been a steadfast advocate for minoritized children and families. She was formerly an assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia Medical Center, where she conducted child abuse medical evaluations in collaboration with special victims’ detectives and child protective services. She provides expert testimony in criminal and family court in the New York metropolitan area. Agrawal holds leadership positions in several medical organizations. On a national level, she chairs the Gun Violence Solutions committee for the American Medical Women’s Association and the Child Abuse Prevention Committee of the Helfer Society. At the state level, in New York, she chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Gun Safety Committee and the Community Access to Children’s Health Grant Program. On a local level, she chairs the NYS-AAP, Injury and Violence Prevention Committee and the Child Sex Trafficking Action Team. She is a writer and has authored OpEds in the New York Times, the NY Daily News, and STAT. She has been covered in print and broadcast outlets around the world, including CNNBBC, and the Washington Post. Agrawal holds a medical degree from Rutgers University. She completed residency in pediatrics at Cornell University and a fellowship in Academic Pediatrics at New York University. She is currently an MS Candidate in the Health Communications for Social Change Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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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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Patricia Born

Patricia Born

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. Patricia Born is Midyette eminent scholar and full professor in the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate and Legal Studies at Florida State University. She received her MA and PhD from Duke University and her BA from the University of Michigan. Born teaches courses in risk management, insurance, and data analytics at all academic levels. Her research publications address issues in insurance regulation, medical malpractice liability, health insurance, catastrophe modeling, and insurance market development. She has served as an expert witness and provided consulting services on a wide range of cases relating to insurance and liability issues. Born currently serves on the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology and has held leadership roles in several academic organizations including the American Risk and Insurance Association and the Risk Theory Society. She is editor of the Risk Management and Insurance Review and currently serves as chair of the Florida Panhandle District Long Term Care Ombudsman Council.

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Courtney Burke

Courtney Burke

Senior Fellow for Health Policy

Courtney E. Burke has served in a number of high-ranking positions in state government, healthcare organizations, and boards. Her positions have included chief operating and innovation officer at the Healthcare Association of New York State, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Albany Medical Center, New York State’s deputy secretary for health, commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and director of the Rockefeller Institute’s Health Policy Research Center.

Her accomplishments include helping hospitals across the state manage the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine roll out, obtaining grant funding to promote health equity efforts, securing a multi-billion dollar federal Medicaid waiver, obtaining significant federal funding to support people with disabilities to live in the community, and overseeing the development and implementation of strategic plans at several organizations. She currently serves on the boards of the State University of New York, The New York Health Foundation, the Center for Technology in Government’s Global Advisory Board, and she chairs New York State Autism Spectrum Advisory Board.

She has written research articles, book chapters and reviews, and op-eds on health policy matters. In 2010, she was honored as a “40 Under 40” from the Albany Business Review. She was also awarded as the “Public Official of the Year” from the New York State Rehabilitation Association in 2013, and as the “Health Consumer Champion” in 2015 from Health Care for All New Yorkers. She holds a master of science in health policy and management from the University at Albany and a BA in political science and journalism from the University of Connecticut.

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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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Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Kaitlin Stack Whitney is an assistant professor of science, technology and society at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Part of her research portfolio focuses on how science informs state and local environmental policy, in topics such as pollinator protection and food waste. She previously worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Pesticide Programs and Office of International and Tribal Affairs.

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Immigrant Integration

Dina Refki

Dina Refki

Executive Director, Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy

Dina Refki is the director of the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society (CWGCS) at the University at Albany. Refki studies and researches the interplay of gender with institutional structures in the US and international context. She applies gender mainstreaming and budgeting analysis from transnational perspectives. Prior to assuming leadership at CWGCS in 2009, she held different positions at the Center, including as director of the Immigrant Women & State Policy Program, which facilitated interagency collaboration, promoted dialogues with civil society and immigrant women at the state level, and worked to identify and address barriers to the integration of immigrant women in the social, economic, and political fabric of local communities. Refki studies the challenges of migration, the barriers facing immigrant women and their families, and the structural changes needed to better respond to the needs of immigrant women.

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Guillermo Martinez

Guillermo Martinez

Deputy Director & Intergovernmental Liaison, Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy

Guillermo Martinez is the deputy director and intergovernmental liaison for the Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy. He brings over 20 years of significant leadership, management, and communications experience in both the nonprofit and government sectors. During his time in the New York State Legislature, he served as the director of policy development for the New York State Assembly Task Force on New Americans and legislative and communications director for the New York State Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, having served in that role as the longest tenured staffer in the organizations 35-year history. In those capacities, he helped research, draft, and negotiate over 200 pieces of legislation that are now state law, including programs such as the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute, the SUNY Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, the codifying of the Office of New Americans, the Immigration Services Fraud Prevention Act, the Idle-Free School Zone Act, Geriatric Mental Health Act, the Undocumented Immigrant In-State-Tuition Act, the School Energy Efficiency Collaborative Act, the establishing of the New York Latino Research and Resources Network (NYLARNet), and dozens of other laws, including consumer protection measures addressing online privacy, disaster preparedness, protecting children with disabilities, and the elderly. Prior to his time in the legislature, Martinez served as director of communications and legislative affairs for the Council of Community Services of New York State and worked at SUNY Oneonta’s migrant education program (ESCORT) assisting migrant farmworkers with the educational needs of their children in a region covering 23 states.

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Local Government

Matthew Adams

Matthew Adams

Fellow

Matthew Adams is an associate professor and co-director of the materials and structures (MatSLab) at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey. His research focuses on the sustainability, resiliency, and long-term durability of innovative cement-based materials. He also studies how governmental policy both supports and hinders the adoption of sustainable practices in construction. He is a fellow of the American Concrete Institute, where he is currently chairman of the Committee on Recycled Materials in Concrete; and he is also a member of ASTM, International where he chairs the Subcommittee on Testing for Strength of Concrete. He was named a Richard P. Nathan Policy fellow at the Rockefeller Institute for Government in 2020. Adams has received research funding from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Transportation, the American Concrete Institute Foundation, and the US Department of Transportation.

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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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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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Lisa Parshall

Lisa Parshall

Fellow

Dr. Parshall is a professor of political science at Daemen University 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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Lemir Teron

Lemir Teron

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. Lemir Teron is a faculty member at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). His research focuses on urban sustainability, energy policy, and environmental justice.  He received his PhD from the University of Delaware and completed a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) supported postdoc at the Environmental Cooperative Science Center at Florida A&M University. He currently serves on the energy working group of the forthcoming New York State Climate Impacts Assessment. Teron was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Member for Teaching Excellence Award by the SUNY ESF Undergraduate Student Association and he received a 2020 Unsung Hero Award at the 35th Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Syracuse, New York, for his commitment to racial and environmental justice.

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Staci Zavattaro

Staci Zavattaro

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Dr. Staci M. Zavattaro is a professor of public administration at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Her latest research focuses on understanding the public service aspect of death management. Her book City Sextons: Tales from Municipal Leaders focuses on public sector cemetery management. Her work has been featured in The ConversationEngaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL), and The Orlando Sentinel. She was recently named a UCF Luminary in recognition of her outstanding research contributions.

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2023-24 Nathan Fellows

Pauline Hoffmann

Pauline Hoffmann

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Pauline Hoffmann, PhD, is an associate professor in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University, a New York State senior public health fellow with the Cattaraugus County Health Department, and an entrepreneur. She owns Wild Mountain Organics, an all-natural body care company, and Data Doyenne, for the data nerd and the data nervous. As part of Data Doyenne, she has a LinkedIn newsletter and an upcoming podcast titled, “WTF? (What the Facts?),” which delves into all things misinformation and disinformation.

She received her doctorate and master’s degrees in communication from the University at Buffalo and her bachelor of science in biology from St. Bonaventure University. Additionally, she completed the World Health Organization Infodemic Manager Training Program. Her research and teaching focus on infodemics, conflict management, conflict resolution, and corporate communication and strategy. Before going into academia, Hoffmann worked in creative services for Catholic Health. She also recently served as the Jandoli School of Communication and Graduate Studies dean.

Her role as a senior health fellow includes strategic and communication planning. She also recently finished a book tentatively titled, WTF? (What the Facts?) An Infodemiologist’s Guide to the Truth, which will be published in May 2024 through Broad Book Press. As part of her fellowship, Hoffmann will study and work with people in rural communities to understand how to develop messaging to counteract the infodemic (pandemic of disinformation) of health-related messages.

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Elizabeth A. Jach

Elizabeth A. Jach

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Elizabeth A. Jach (she/her), PhD, is an educational policy and leadership assistant professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Jach studies higher education experiences and outcomes; specifically, her research has examined the experiences of undocumented students, attitudes toward undocumented students’ pursuit of higher education, and allyship with undocumented students. Her research has appeared in journals such as New Directions for Higher Education, Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity, and Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. Jach has ten years of professional experience in higher education administration, including institutional research and effectiveness, human research protections, assessment of student learning, and student affairs. She has worked at various institutional types, including extensive research universities, a community college, and a liberal arts college. As part of her fellowship, Jach will examine allyship and advocacy with undocumented students, with particular attention to undocumented students’ pursuit and completion of higher education and how policies at the federal, state, and higher education policies can support that pursuit.

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Daniel J. Mallinson

Daniel J. Mallinson

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Daniel J. Mallinson is an associate professor of public policy and administration and professor-in-charge of the masters in public administration program in the School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg (PSH). He received his PhD in political science from Penn State. His research focuses on policy process theory, cannabis policy, and energy policy. Mallinson directs the PSH Policy Lab, bringing doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate students together around issues of stigma and the policy process. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles on policy and the policy process in journals such as Public Administration Review, Policy Studies Journal, American Review of Public Administration, Administration & Society, Public Administration Quarterly, Policy & Politics, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, and State and Local Government Review, among others. Mallinson also has three forthcoming books on state cannabis policy and education policy co-authored with A. Lee Hannah and Darrell Lovell, respectively. Additionally, he cares deeply about graduate education and co-edited the volume Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond, published by the American Political Science Association. Mallinson currently serves as an associate editor of Evidence & Policy. As part of his fellowship, Mallinson will study state cannabis social equity programs and the implementation of adult-use recreational cannabis in New York.

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Jennifer Manganello

Jennifer Manganello

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Jennifer Manganello is a professor in the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. She received a master’s in public health from Boston University and a PhD from the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She also completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in health communication at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Her research focuses on health literacy and the effects of media and technology on attitudes, behaviors, and policies that impact health; much of her work focuses on children, adolescents, young adults, and parents. She has published her research in academic journals such as Pediatrics, Public Health Management and Practice, Journal of Children and Media, and Public Health Nutrition. She has been quoted in several news outlets.

Manganello serves on the editorial board of four health communication journals and is a senior editor at the Journal of Health Communication. She also currently serves on several work groups and committees for various state agencies and organizations. In addition, she regularly provides trainings for healthcare providers and public health professionals in topics related to health literacy and health communication. More recently, she has focused on applying her expertise to reduce health inequities for people with disabilities through research and practice. As part of her fellowship, Manganello will examine challenges related to accessing information, services, and support for families who have children with disabilities or special healthcare needs.

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Shihyun Noh

Shihyun Noh

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Shihyun Noh, PhD, is an associate professor of public administration at the State University of New York College at Brockport. He received his PhD from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his MA and BA from Yonsei University. His research interests include health policy and administration, intergovernmental implementation of federal programs, and state and local government administration.

Noh’s recent research covers various pertinent subjects, including how contracted health services affect health outcomes, such as quality of life and life expectancy, the factors affecting state operation of all-payer claims databases (APCDs), the impact of Medicaid expansion on county health spending, and the relationship between contracting out and local financial condition. As part of his fellowship, he will investigate how state and local governments can effectively address public health challenges, focusing on state public health governance and price transparency.

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Samuel Workman

Samuel Workman

Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow

Samuel Workman is a professor of political science and director of the Institute for Policy Research and Public Affairs in the John D. “Jay” Rockefeller School of Policy and Politics at West Virginia University. The Institute provides non-partisan research and analysis to state, county, and municipal officials in the Appalachian region. The Institute’s initiatives seek to build data infrastructure and information systems in the region to help facilitate data-driven decision-making in public policy and good governance, and aid in economic development.

His previous work has addressed public policy, regulation, and how governments use information. Current projects examine how policymaking systems generate and use information and how this relates to community resilience and development. His work emphasizes text-as-data, machine learning, and statistical modeling, especially classification. His area of expertise is constructing large data infrastructures to answer fundamental questions about public policy across time and space. He is a member of the West Virginia Economic Development Council. He writes on practical applications of data science and statistics at Towards Data Science and is a founding editor of 3Streams. In addition to editorial duty, he writes on rural politics and policy, including public policy in Appalachia. As part of his fellowship, he will examine spatial and temporal patterns of county and municipal spending in West Virginia and New York, and connect these to community well-being and resilience.

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