Since 2000, Policy Matters Ohio has provided an essential voice in Ohio's legislative debate. The case for good jobs, strong neighborhoods and smart solutions to complex problems, that support communities and help working families get ahead, is advanced each and every day by this committed team.
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 Demos, 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.
Cynthia 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.
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.
Victoria Jackson joined Policy Matters as a state policy fellow in August 2016. Her research focuses on education and fiscal policy.
Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree in Pan-African Studies from Kent State University and a master’s of public administration from The Ohio State University. After college, she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with College Now Greater Cleveland, advising high school students at two Cleveland Metropolitan School District high schools on college access.
While in graduate school, Jackson worked as a graduate assistant for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, and for the Ohio Department of Education.
Born and raised in Ohio, Jackson is one of eight fellows selected nationally through a highly competitive process by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Daniel 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.
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.
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.
Sybille Schomerus is our 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.
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.
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.
Caitlin Johnson is our director of communications. Previously, she led environmental justice campaigns for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC). At OOC, Johnson formed Communities United for Responsible Energy and Clevelanders for Public Transit. Johnson also worked as a journalist for ABCNews.com, CBSNews.com, WCPN/ideastream and NOW on PBS. At NOW, she belonged to a team that produced “Taxing the Poor,” which won the 2008 Emmy Award for outstanding analysis of a business news story. She served as the 2011-2013 fellow at the George Gund Foundation. Johnson has an undergraduate degree in government and English from Cornell University, a master’s of science in journalism from Columbia University and a master’s of public administration from Cleveland State University.
Gizmo Schomerus is our office dog. He specializes in begging for snacks. Gizmo is not on email.
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