retreat picPolicy Matters staff – October 2015

Front row, from left: Michael Shields, Amanda Woodrum, Sybille Schomerus; Middle row: Zach Schiller, Amy Hanauer, Cynthia Connolly, Amelia Hayes; Back row: Harlan Spector, Hannah Halbert, Wendy Patton, Kalitha Williams.

Archived staff photos.

If you would like to have a Policy Matters staffer speak at your event, please fill out our speaker request form.


cynthia picCynthia Connolly is our resource development manager. Cynthia joined Policy Matters in 2015, after serving for four years as resource development and governance manager at Ohio City Incorporated. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and non-profit management from Cleveland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in American culture and Native American studies from the University of Michigan.

Cynthia has long been a social justice advocate, previously serving as a youth representative at the National Congress of American Indians, which advocates for government policies to help indigenous people. Cynthia represented her tribe, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, located in northern Michigan. Her commitment to helping underrepresented groups led Cynthia to study fundraising during her graduate work. She lives in Ohio City with her husband, Joseph, and two daughters.

Contact Cynthia in our Cleveland office.

Policy liaison Hannah Halbert is the face of Policy Matters to state lawmakers and others in Columbus as well as our lead workforce researcher. Hannah came to Policy Matters from the Equal Justice Foundation and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus – in both places she represented low-income consumers who had been victimized by predatory lenders of different types. Hannah has worked for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and clerked for the Appalachian Citizens Law Center; she interned for various judges, courts and legislators in Minnesota and Kentucky. Hannah has both a master’s in nonprofit management and a law degree from Hamline University. Her undergraduate degree is from Transylvania University.

Contact Hannah in our Columbus office.

Amy Hanauer is the founding executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, which creates a more equitable, vibrant and inclusive Ohio through research, coalition building and policy advocacy. She has a master’s of public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Cornell University. Before starting Policy Matters in 2000, Amy did research and policy work in Wisconsin, Colorado and Washington D.C. In addition to running Policy Matters, Amy does research on work, wages, tax policy, energy policy and other issues. Amy is vice chair of the board of directors of the national think tank Dēmos, and serves on governing bodies for the national Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), and the national State Priorities Partnership. She also helps steer some economic vitality efforts in Cleveland. In America’s most important swing state, Amy provides a passionate voice about how to make an economy that works for all.

Click play to watch Amy discuss the Policy Matters mission:

 Image courtesy of Phoebe Jones

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Contact Amy.


Daniel OrtizDaniel Ortiz is our outreach coordinator. Daniel joined Policy Matters in 2016 with a background in organizing, campaign strategy and education. Daniel is originally from Lorain, Ohio, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Latin American studies from Oberlin College. He combines a passionate commitment to social movements with a pragmatic approach toward what can be accomplished. Daniel has spent the better part of the past 11 years between the back of a campaign office and the front of a classroom. He has built relationships by working across industries throughout the Midwest and the South.

Daniel tries to find new ways to achieve success by laboring collaboratively in pursuit of social justice. He is dedicated to improving government and policy outcomes across Ohio.

Contact Daniel in our Cleveland office.


Wendy Patton is the senior project director for the State Fiscal Project. She has a B.A. from Kent State University and a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied regional economics. Wendy has worked for AFSCME International, the Ohio Department of Development, the Columbus Urban Growth Corporation and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center. At Policy Matters, Wendy works on budget and tax issues as part of the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative.

Contact Wendy in our Columbus office.



Zach Schiller is our research director. Prior to coming to Policy Matters in 2001, Zach worked for more than two decades researching and writing about the Ohio economy as a business reporter for The Plain Dealer and Business Week. His education includes a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. For Policy Matters, Zach has written about foreclosures, economic development, job growth, unemployment insurance, tax policy and other issues. He is a member of the board of managers of the Ohio Poverty Law Center.


Click play to watch Zach talk about taxes:

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Contact Zach in our Cleveland office.


Sybille Schomerus is the office manager. She has a master’s degree from the University of Freiburg, Germany, where she studied law and worked as an attorney in labor law and family law until 2008 when she moved to Cleveland. Sybille is also president of the International Women’s Group of Cleveland.

Contact Sybille in our Cleveland office.


Michael Shields is a researcher. His work focuses on wages and job quality, family resources and access to early childhood education.  Mike has also written about the economics of energy policy. Mike joined Policy Matters Ohio as a research intern after completing his bachelor’s degree in economics and history at the University of Akron, then served as our communications coordinator before becoming a researcher.

Contact Mike in our Cleveland office.


Harlan Spector is our communications director. Harlan joined Policy Matters in 2014, after decades of experience as a media professional. At the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he supervised news coverage as an assistant metro editor and worked 14 years as a reporter, providing in-depth coverage of health care, social services, higher education and local government. Harlan also was a long-time officer of Local 1, Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, and represented unionized Plain Dealer newsroom employees as Guild chairman. After leaving the newspaper business in 2013, he did media and communications work for numerous clients, as well as investigative research on shale drilling.

Contact Harlan in our Cleveland office.

Policy liaison Kalitha Williams is charged with engaging policymakers in efforts to spark new asset-building initiatives in Ohio. Kalitha began her career as a fellow at the Ohio Legislative Service Commission and has a strong background in advocacy, policy and leadership from her previous positions with the Ohio House of Representatives, the Columbus Urban League, and the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. She is a partner of The CHANGE Agency a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization charged with increasing the civic and political participation of young black professionals in Ohio. She is an inaugural member of the Columbus Young Professionals Commission, former Political Action Committee Chair of the Ohio Conference of the NAACP, and serves as a member of the African American Advisory Committee of  the Wexner Arts Center at The Ohio State University. Kalitha has a bachelor’s degree from Denison University and a master’s in public administration from Central Michigan University.

Contact Kalitha in our Columbus office.

Amanda Woodrum is a researcher who focuses primarily on energy issues. She has written reports examining the economic impact of Ohio’s advanced energy fund and clean energy standards, outlined strategies to make our transportation and manufacturing sectors more energy efficient and Ohio’s communities more sustainable, all while creating good jobs and building green pathways out of poverty in the process.  Amanda also convenes the statewide network Ohioans for Transportation Choice. Before joining our staff, she clerked for the Cleveland law department and the Summit County Council, where she received a commendation for commitment to public service. Amanda has a master’s in economics, a law degree from the University of Akron, and a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University.

Click play to watch Amanda talk about transit in Ohio.

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Contact Amanda in our Cleveland office.

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Gizmo Schomerus is our office dog. He specializes in begging for snacks. Gizmo is not on email.


Current Interns:

Cleveland office – Diana Granados (Escuela Columbiana de Ingenieria Julio Garavito, Bogota, Columbia)

Columbus office – Kenza Kamal (The Ohio State University)

Meet our interns

Previous interns
Internship opportunities at Policy Matters Ohio
Update June 2015