Policy Matters staff – April 2014

Left to right: Shanelle Smith, Zach Schiller, Kalitha Williams, Pam Rosado, Amanda Woodrum (center front), Ruth Clevenger (board, center back), Amy Hanauer, Wendy Patton, Piet van Lier, Mike Shields (intern). Not pictured: Sybille Schomerus, Hannah Halbert, Emily Phillis, Sean Darby. Archived staff photos.

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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 comes 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, as well as interning 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. 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 on the board of directors and the executive committee of the national think tank Dēmos, the steering committee for Emerald Cities Cleveland, and the advisory committee to the national Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). Read her piece on Ohio in a 2011 edition of The Nation magazine, this profile about her that ran in the Plain Dealer, or her piece for Belt Magazine on starting a movement (with a bonus reference to bicycles!).

Click play to watch Amy discuss the Policy Matters mission:

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Contact Amy.

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.




Pam Rosado is our outreach coordinator, organizing conferences, spearheading our presentation schedule and representing us in coalitions in greater Cleveland such as Jobs with Justice, Senior Voice and The Greater Cleveland Voter Coalition. Pam brings powerful experience fighting for workers’ rights and economic justice as political director and secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 47, which represented public and private sector workers in Ohio. Pam currently serves on the board of directors of Greater Cleveland Community Shares, was appointed by Governor Strickland to the Senior Civic Engagement Council, and leads Policy Matters’ work with the national think tank Demos in helping Ohioans understand the role that government and the economy play in our lives.

Click play to watch Pam talk about her job:

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Contact Pam.


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.

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.



Shanelle L. Smith is the local director of Emerald Cities Cleveland. Shanelle is currently managing innovative partnership between Cuyahoga County Council and others are partnering with EC Cleveland to develop a finance program to support energy upgrades in the building stock of 53 cities and municipalities within the county. 

In October 2011, she was named “One to Watch” by the Ohio Environmental Council for her work as a “consensus-builder, bringing environmental, labor, and business leaders together with the African-American community.” Shanelle has a B.A. in Political Science from Kent State University and a M.A. from the University of Toledo. Click play to watch Shanelle’s story about what this work means to her.


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Contact Shanelle.

Piet van Lier is communications director at Policy Matters Ohio. He has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia, and a bachelor’s in journalism and political science. In the 1990s, Piet worked as a freelance journalist and human rights activist. He then spent seven years covering education for Catalyst magazine before joining Policy Matters in 2007 as education researcher. He continues working on education issues, and has studied charter schools and vouchers, teacher training, school improvement, and job training for the green economy, among other issues. He is currently participating in the Education Policy Fellowship Program run by the Center for Educational Leadership at Cleveland State University and the D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership. Piet serves on the board of directors of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland.

Contact Piet.

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.

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


Current Interns:

Cleveland Office – Mike Shields (University of Akron)

Columbus Office – Sean Darby (Ohio State), Emily Phillis (Ohio State)

Meet our interns
Previous interns
Internship opportunities at Policy Matters Ohio