Staff: Population Estimates Program
The Population Estimates Program is a specialized program within the UMass Donahue Institute’s Economic & Public Policy Research group (EPPR) dedicated to supporting accurate Census counts and estimates for Massachusetts. To this end, PEP team members specialize in primary data collection, geospatial analysis, and demographic analysis.
The EPPR group provides unbiased analyses on economic, demographic, workforce, and other public policy issues in Massachusetts, New England, and beyond. As a leading provider of applied economic and public policy research, we help our clients make informed decisions about strategic policy, planning, and investment issues. We produce in-depth studies that help clients build credibility, quantify impacts, gain visibility, educate constituents, prioritize investment, and plan economic development initiatives. Learn more about the full EPPR staff here.
Director, Economic & Public Policy Research
Dr. Mark Melnik specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues and leads a 15-person team working on a variety of economic and public policy research projects informing clients in government, private industry, and the non-profit sectors. In his time at the Institute, Dr. Melnik has served as the principal-in-charge on projects with such clients as the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, the City of Cambridge, MassDOT, the New England Foundation for the Arts, MassEcon, MassDevelopment, the Boston Private Industry Council, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and the MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Dr. Melnik serves as the Senior Managing Editor of MassBenchmarks, the journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Before joining the Institute, Dr. Melnik worked as Deputy Director for Research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) where he led research teams on demographic and economic research studies as well as analyses used for public policy advisement and decision making with the BRA and the City of Boston. Before joining the BRA, Dr. Melnik worked as a research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. As a leading expert in demographic and socioeconomic issues in the Commonwealth, Dr. Melnik is quoted extensively in the media and was appointed to Governor Charlie Baker’s Future of Transportation Commission and the Massachusetts Economic Development Council Board of Directors.
He holds a doctorate in sociology from Northeastern University. His dissertation explored skill and credential mismatches in the greater Boston labor market. He received his master of arts from Northeastern University and his bachelor of arts from Youngstown State University, both in sociology.
Senior Program Manager, Population Estimates Program
Susan Strate specializes in demographic analysis and population estimates and projections modeling. She has served as the Massachusetts liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Federal-State Cooperative for Population Estimates since 2008 and has worked on a number of Census preparation and review activities, including the development and practice of geospatial and statistical analysis methods. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Strate worked for 11 years in program development, contract management, and developing systems for data collection and reporting in anti-poverty agencies in western Massachusetts, including health care and housing programs.
Ms. Strate received her bachelor's of arts in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Christopher Diaz specializes in economic impact analysis and quantitative research. Prior to joining the institute, Chris worked as a research assistant for the UMass Amherst Department of Economics. His research ranged from regional impact studies of New England small businesses to macroeconomic analyses of international GDP growth.
Chris received his bachelor’s degree in economics, minor in history and certificate in applied economic research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Senior Research Analyst
Meghan Flanagan’s work focuses on geographic and population data analysis. Ms. Flanagan was an environmental engineer supporting municipal and university infrastructure planning efforts and conducted spatial studies on watershed issues. Previously, she was an engineering student in Tufts University’s interdisciplinary Water Diplomacy IGERT Program where she studied water scarcity and allocation and environmental policy.
Meghan received her masters of science in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Minnesota and her bachelor's of science in engineering science from the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College.
Michael McNally focuses on qualitative economic research with strong quantitative underpinnings. Mr. McNally has extensive experience gathering panel data from different public and private data sources. He has also gathered data first-hand through survey administration and worked directly with employers and community leaders as part of public policy research. His main research interest is in economic inequality and he has approached this subject through the study of topic areas ranging from education, immigration, and pay equity.
Michael McNally received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. There he also studied computer science and has used that knowledge to support his economic and social science research.
Matthew Schlaikjer specializes in data analysis and regional planning. His background includes data management and GIS analysis for the federal government and environmental consulting firms. He was also a geographic specialist for the 2010 decennial census and assisted in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Mr. Schlaikjer received his bachelor’s of science in geography with a concentration in regional development and planning from Salem State University.