Staff: Economic & Public Policy Research
The staff of Economic & Public Policy Research.
Director, Economic & Public Policy Research
Dr. Mark Melnik specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues and leads a 20-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.
Rod Motamedi primarily focuses on economic and policy impact analysis, economic development and regional competitiveness, and industry footprint studies. Prior to joining the Donahue Institute, Mr. Motamedi was a senior economic associate at Regional Economic Models, Inc. where, for over seven years, he led client training and support, business development, and consulting efforts. Examples of his previous work include the economic impact of casinos, immigration, energy and environmental policy, and fiscal policy. Rod serves on the board of the Association for University Business and Economic Research.
Mr. Motamedi received a master’s of business administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a focus in business analytics and a bachelor's of arts in economics also from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Annie Alexander, MPA, specializes in economic and community development research and has experience working in local government. Prior to joining the institute, she worked as a research manager for the Downtown Raleigh (NC) Alliance and as economic development research coordinator for the City of Raleigh. She has experience in quantitative and qualitative research methods focused on socioeconomic issues. She has expertise in GIS and data visualization.
Annie earned a master's of public administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She earned a bachelor's of arts in american studies and hispanic studies from the College of William & Mary.
Carrie Bernstein, M.P.P.A., leads and collaborates on innovative projects in economic inequality, labor markets, housing affordability, economic impact, businesses and economic development at national, state and local levels. She also manages the Massachusetts State Data Center. Ms. Bernstein's research encompasses both quantitative analysis and qualitative methodologies. She specializes in data analysis, writing and synthesis of complex information. She has decades of experience in policy research, survey methods, data management and research design at institutions including Harvard, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, and two organizations she co-founded.
Ms. Bernstein received her master’s of public policy and administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying policy and economics, with a capstone on Community Development Block Grants, and her bachelor’s from Hampshire College in inequality studies, with an undergraduate thesis on housing.
Research Analyst II
Ms. Breest focuses on empirical approaches to policy analysis featuring both qualitative and quantitative data. With a primary interest in organizational analytics, she is interested in analyzing and designing methodology for modeling and testing economic relationships. Prior to joining the institute, Kassie worked at the Umass Writing center, where she worked to help writers of all types to meet their communication purposes. Through report writing, synthesizing complex concepts and data visualization, Kassie works to reconsider academic writing and make data accessible to all readers.
Kassie received her bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in statistics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is currently pursuing a master's of science in data analytics and computational social science at Umass Amherst as well.
Research Analyst II
Christopher Diaz specializes in data analysis and applied research. Prior to joining the Donahue Institute, Chris worked as a research assistant for UMass Amherst and as a data specialist for Amherst College. His current work focuses on statewide demographic studies, housing survey administration and geographic analysis.
Chris received a master's of public policy, bachelor's of arts in economics with a minor in history, and a 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.
Research Analyst II
Jacob Harrington specializes in transportation and urban studies and has a background with mixed methods research. Prior to joining the institute, he worked at Boston University and took coursework in statistical analysis and geographic information systems.
Jacob earned a bachelor’s of arts in economics, a master’s of arts in economics, and a master’s of urban affairs, all from Boston University.
Senior Research Analyst
Lily Harris focuses on quantitative and qualitative data analysis with a background in applied microeconomic theory. She has experience with a variety of research methodologies, including survey design and implementation, and has expertise in statistical analysis in R and STATA. Ms. Harris previously worked as a research and teaching assistant at UMass Amherst and the University of New Hampshire for a wide variety of projects and classes in resource economics. Her previous research includes studying the New England local agriculture market and various topics in healthcare and public health.
Ms. Harris received her master's of science in resource economics with a focus in econometrics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her bachelor’s degree in environmental and resource economics with a minor in chemistry from the University of New Hampshire.
Ember Skye Kane-Lee
Ember Skye Kane-Lee has expertise in qualitative methodological research consulting and project management. She has previously focused on issues related to inequality within organizations and also has expertise in facilitating workshops and training organizations in a range of methodological data collection approaches including NVivo coding software, data analysis and Focus group interview. Previously, they were a researcher for the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE Institutional Transformation project at UMass Amherst, a multi-million dollar grant which implemented collaborative, mixed methods research to inform interventions aimed at improving the retention, diversity, equity and inclusion of faculty members across campus. In addition, she has worked for the Institute for Social Science Research as a qualitative methods consultant where she taught methodologically focused workshops and consulted with research groups.
She is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in the sociology department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she also earned her master's degree. They also hold a bachelor degree from Brooklyn College.
Senior Research Manager
Rebecca Loveland leads industry, economic development and workforce studies, utilizing a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Her expertise includes analysis of industries and industry clusters; economic development policy research including workforce analysis and the study of economic disparities across regions; industrial redevelopment and inner-city economic development; and business survey research and design. She collaborates with other staff on economic impact studies. While in graduate school she was employed by and managed projects for the Center for Economic Development (CED) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
She received a master's degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a concentration in economic and community development planning and a bachelor's of arts from Smith College.
Denis McAuliffe specializes in geographic and population data analysis. He began his career with the institute as an undergraduate research assistant working on projects related to housing, population estimates, and regional economic development. In addition, Mr. McAuliffe worked as a departmental assistant focusing on demographic analysis and visualization related to the 2020 decennial census.
Mr. McAuliffe received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a certificate in international relations and his master’s in business and analytics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Rye McKenzie, MPP, specializes in economic development and has a background in mixed methods research. Prior to joining the institute, Mr. McKenzie’s professional experience included working as a housing specialist at the New York Emergency Rental Assistance Program, as well as working as a research assistant for Refugee Council USA. Mr. McKenzie is particularly interested in economic and social equity issues, especially regarding affordable housing and immigration.
Rye earned a master’s of public policy and a bachelor’s of arts in economics, both from the University of Maryland.
Senior Research Analyst
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.
Senior Research Analyst
Thomas Peake specializes in economic impact modeling and data analysis. Prior to joining EPPR, Mr. Peake’s professional experience included working as an assistant economist for an economic modeling firm, as well as providing advisory services to the federal government for a large consulting company. Some of Mr. Peake’s interests include housing and labor markets, regional development, and industrial organization and concentration.
Mr. Peake received his bachelor's of arts in economics with a minor in mathematics and statistics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Research Analyst II
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.
Dr. Kerry Spitzer is a mixed-methods researcher with expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methods. She focuses on issues related to economic inequality and public policy including, housing and homelessness, incarceration, and military veterans. She also has expertise in healthcare delivery and implementation science research. Previously, she was a senior clinical research coordinator at UMass-Baystate’s Institute for Healthcare Delivery and Population Science. In addition, she has worked for New York City government as a budget and policy analyst at the Independent Budget Office and as a project manager at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. She has taught at UMass Amherst in the department of landscape architecture and regional planning.
She holds a doctorate in urban policy and planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s in public administration from New York University Wagner. She also holds a bachelor's of arts in government from Cornell University.
Senior Research Manager
Branner Stewart, AICP specializes in regional economic analysis, transportation planning, economic impact analysis, and strategic planning for economic development. Before joining the Institute, Mr. Stewart was employed by Cambridge Systematics, Inc, where he led economic and demographic work on state and regional projects, including assignments in California, New York, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado, and New England. Prior to this, Mr. Stewart served as the economic research manager for the Texas Department of Economic Development where his work focused on strengthening the state’s international linkages and improving its manufacturing capacity.
Mr. Stewart received his masters of science in community and regional planning from the University of Texas at Austin and his bachelor's of arts in Spanish from Colby College. He also has a professional certification, AICP, from the American Institute of Certified Planners.
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.