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Project

State Fiscal Policy

Sections

Meet the Team

Fiscal 50

Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro, Ph.D. Manager

Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro is a manager with Pew’s Fiscal 50 interactive platform. She tracks and explains demographic, economic, and fiscal trends to help policymakers address challenges to their states’ long-term fiscal health. She also leads updates for Fiscal 50 indicators, including population change, fiscal balance, and long-term obligations. Previously, Biernacka-Lievestro conducted research at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Tischner European University; a master’s in European integration from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland; and a doctorate in public policy from George Mason University.

Alexandre Fall Senior Associate

Alexandre Fall is a senior associate with Pew’s Fiscal 50 interactive platform. He conducts research to help policymakers understand fiscal, economic, and demographic trends affecting their states by tracking tax revenue, reserves, employment rates, Medicaid spending, and other issues important to long-term fiscal health. Fall, who began his career at Pew in 2019, holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs and economics and a master’s in public policy from the University of Virginia.

Liz Farmer Officer

Liz Farmer helps lead Pew’s Fiscal 50 interactive platform, focusing on budgets, fiscal distress, tax policy, and pensions. Before joining Pew, Farmer worked as a fiscal policy journalist, writing for a national audience about the ways state and local governments spend taxpayer dollars. Following her time at Governing magazine, she was a regular contributor to Forbes and Route Fifty, and has been published in other major publications. Farmer was a research fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s Future of Labor Research Center and worked with former Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser at Funkhouser & Associates. Farmer holds a bachelor’s degree in American history, film, and television production from the George Washington University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Page Forrest Senior Associate

Page Forrest is a senior associate with Pew’s Fiscal 50 interactive platform. She writes and conducts research to help policymakers understand fiscal, economic, and demographic trends affecting their states by tracking tax revenue, reserves, employment rates, Medicaid spending, and other issues important to long-term fiscal health. Before joining Pew, Forrest was a budget analyst for the state of Tennessee. Forrest holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from Sewanee: The University of the South and a master’s in public policy and administration from the University of Tennessee.

Riley Judd Associate

Riley Judd is an associate with Pew’s Fiscal 50 interactive platform. She conducts research and analysis to help policymakers understand fiscal, economic, and demographic trends affecting their states by tracking tax revenue, reserves, employment rates, Medicaid spending, and other issues important to long-term fiscal health. Previously, Judd worked for the Colorado General Assembly and interned for the National Conference of State Legislatures. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public policy from the University of Denver.

Melissa Maynard Project Director

Melissa Maynard oversees Pew’s Fiscal 50 interactive platform. The resource helps policymakers understand fiscal, economic, and demographic trends affecting their states by tracking tax revenue, reserves, employment rates, Medicaid spending, and other issues important to long-term fiscal health.

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Justin Theal Officer

Justin Theal is an officer with Pew’s Fiscal 50 interactive platform. He manages research on key fiscal trends for Fiscal 50, including revenue, spending, and reserves. Theal, who has been with Pew since 2013, previously led efforts to illuminate how federal spending and tax policy choices affect states. Before joining Pew, Theal conducted research at Taxpayers for Common Sense. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Arcadia University and a master’s in public management and finance from the University of Maryland.

Pensions and Infrastructure

Susan Banta Project Director

Susan Banta directs a team of researchers analyzing infrastructure and public pensions, focused on helping states and localities ensure that their retirement plans are affordable and sustainable and that needed infrastructure investments are identified and met.

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Stephanie Connolly Principal Associate

Stephanie Connolly leads the public sector retirement systems project’s efforts to track state and federal legislation and other public policy proposals, and she contributes research and technical assistance. Before joining Pew in 2019, she was an analyst at the American Academy of Actuaries, responsible for managing legislative tracking and engagement as well as developing public policy materials designed to educate stakeholders on issues related to insurance and pensions. Connolly holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College, Maryland.

David Draine Principal Officer

David Draine serves as a principal investigator and methodologist for Pew’s research on public sector retirement systems. His research has looked at pension plan design, risk and uncertainty, and disclosure and transparency. Based on this work, Draine has advised state and local task forces considering public sector retirement system reforms.

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Maria Garnett Officer

Maria Garnett is an officer with Pew’s public sector retirement systems project, where she is responsible for identifying and executing opportunities to engage with states and provide technical assistance to policymakers working to improve public pension systems. Before joining Pew, Garnett served as a policy adviser with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, a senior legislative analyst for the Virginia General Assembly, and a data analyst focused on economic and tax policy research in the Texas comptroller’s office. Garnett holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public service and administration from Texas A&M University.

Corryn Hall Manager

Corryn Hall leads the project’s technical assistance efforts, overseeing relationships with policymakers and stakeholders, and managing a team that develops high-quality data analysis and evidence-based policy options for decision-makers. Before joining Pew in 2019, Hall spent 10 years as a financial adviser, serving clients responsible for public sector retirement plans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Illinois State University and a master’s in business administration from Roosevelt University.

Claire Lee Associate

Claire Lee is an associate with Pew’s public sector retirement systems project, where she researches funding and investment practices of public pension systems. Her work also includes researching the budgetary impacts of underinvestment in public infrastructure and examining equitable infrastructure investment. Before joining Pew in 2023, Lee worked as a graduate research assistant for various faculty and research teams at Georgetown University. She graduated from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies with a bachelor’s degree in law and is pursuing a Ph.D. in government at Georgetown University.

Gerald Lindrew Senior Officer

Gerald Lindrew is an expert on fiduciary issues and oversees the project’s legislative drafting and review efforts. Before joining Pew in 2013, he served as the deputy director of policy and research for the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, and he was the general counsel and staff director for the labor subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, now known as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Lindrew holds a bachelor’s degree in American history, a master’s in industrial relations, and a Juris Doctor, all from the University of Wisconsin.

Mollie Mills Principal Associate

Mollie Mills manages the project’s financial analysis and financial modeling work, and she provides quantitative and technical analyses on project research deliverables. She also helps lead research and technical assistance initiatives on retirement security and retirement readiness. Before joining Pew in 2017, Mills researched policies affecting low-income Americans at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and worked with valuation actuaries at a life insurance and annuity firm. Mills holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s in economics from the University of Kansas.

Aleena Oberthur Project Director

Aleena Oberthur directs research for the public sector retirement systems project. This work includes 50-state research on a range of topics related to state pension and retiree funding, plan design, and investment and governance policies.

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Christine Pulfrey Officer

Christine Pulfrey supports the project’s editorial needs by drafting and editing publications and communications with policymakers. Before joining Pew in 2021, Pulfrey was a writer-editor at Bloomberg Tax, where she covered federal, state, and local wage and hour developments. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature with a writing specialty from New York University and a master’s degree in literature from American University.

Keith Sliwa Principal Associate

Keith Sliwa leads the project’s research on state employee retiree health benefits and contributes to 50-state research on pension funding and investments. Before joining Pew in 2013, he interned with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Office of Tax Policy Analysis, working on the state’s Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program and tax expenditure budget. Sliwa holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and Chinese studies from Grand Valley State University.

Andrea Wales Principal Associate

Andrea Wales oversees internal processes for the project’s technical assistance efforts, including the production of fiscal analyses, as well as ensuring that advocacy and technical assistance work complies with federal, state, and local rules. Before joining Pew in 2012, Wales worked in federal government affairs, representing Pacific Northwest clients—including cities, counties, and private industry—on matters related to federal appropriations, environment, defense, and trade. Wales holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Dakota State University.

Emma Wei Associate Manager

Emma Wei is the lead researcher and data analyst for the public sector retirement systems project. Before joining Pew in 2019, she worked for nonprofit organizations on a range of fiscal policy issues, including taxation, government spending, and intergovernmental transfers. Wei holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Shanghai Normal University. She also holds a master’s degree in public administration, and a master’s and doctorate in urban planning from Virginia Tech.

Fatima Yousofi Senior Officer

Fatima Yousofi leads the state fiscal policy project’s work examining additional long-term liabilities to state and local governments budgets, including the accumulated deferred maintenance of public infrastructure. Her research also explores emerging financial risks to public pension funds and infrastructure from the enduring effects of climate change, and the potential costs of failing infrastructure.

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State Fiscal Health

Jeff Chapman Director

Jeff Chapman directs Pew’s state fiscal health initiative. Through cutting-edge research and customized technical assistance, he and his team help states maintain a balanced budget, prepare for downturns, invest in long-term economic growth, and strengthen local governments.

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Josh Goodman Senior Officer

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and long-term budget sustainability as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. He has also served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.

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Sheanna Gomes Associate Manager

Sheanna Gomes is an associate manager with Pew’s state fiscal health project. She researches and analyzes state fiscal policy and provides policymakers with informed analysis and guidance on best practices from across the country. Before joining Pew, Gomes provided budget and policy analysis for the commonwealth of Virginia. Previously, she provided research support at Old Dominion University. Gomes holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration from Old Dominion University.

John Hamman Principal Associate

John Hamman is a researcher for Pew’s state fiscal health project. He helps to improve state economic and fiscal policy by providing policymakers with informed analysis and guidance on best practices from across the country. Before joining Pew, Hamman worked for the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor and for the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Hamman holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University and a master’s in public administration from American University.

Airlie Loiaconi Associate Manager

Airlie Loiaconi is an associate manager with Pew’s state fiscal health project. She and her team help states establish policies that can strengthen the finances of state and local governments and improve their long-term outlook. Since joining Pew in 2013, her work has included providing research and support to various Pew projects. Loiaconi holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Jim McCabe Officer

Jim McCabe is an officer with Pew’s state fiscal health project. He provides engagement and partnership support and helps to ensure that the work of the state fiscal health project is coordinated and collaborative. Before joining Pew, McCabe was a business consultant and supported state legislative issue monitoring at Stateside Associates. Previously, he served as legislative director for a member of the New Jersey General Assembly. McCabe holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from Seton Hall University.

Angela Oh Project Director

Angela Oh leads research for Pew’s state fiscal health project. She and her team focus on efforts to address persistent imbalances, severe downturns, and emerging fiscal risks. Oh also directs the team’s technical assistance engagements in areas such as revenue and expenditure forecasting, and budget stress testing to help states advance data-driven policies and practices that build long-term fiscal resilience.

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Chaaron Pearson Senior Manager

Chaaron Pearson is a senior manager with Pew’s economic development project. She works with policy leaders to identify ways to manage and assess economic development policies and practices, improve data collection and reporting, and develop national standards and best practices that states can adopt. Pearson also provides technical assistance to lawmakers and state analysts working on tax incentive evaluations. Before joining Pew, Pearson worked with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and the Alliance for Regional Stewardship. Pearson holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Nebraska and a master’s in public administration from George Mason University.

Mark Robyn Senior Officer

Mark Robyn is a senior officer with Pew’s state fiscal health project. His work focuses on economic methods and tools that can help states evaluate their tax incentive programs and improve their long-term fiscal outlook. Before coming to Pew in 2012, Robyn worked at the Tax Foundation, researching federal, state, and local tax policy issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Geneva College and a master’s in economics from George Mason University.

Logan Timmerhoff Principal Associate

Logan Timmerhoff is a principal associate with Pew’s state fiscal health project. He researches and analyzes state and local efforts to target economic development programs and develop sound budgetary policies. Previously, Timmerhoff was an assistant tax analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. Timmerhoff holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Montana and a master’s in business administration from Georgetown University.

Sariah Toze Associate

Sariah Toze is an associate with Pew’s state fiscal policy project. She researches and analyzes state fiscal policy and works with the team to provide technical assistance and informed analysis on best practices for state fiscal management throughout the country. Before joining Pew, Toze worked at Ascend at the Aspen Institute managing a learning community for organizations implementing a two-generation approach for family economic mobility. Toze holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in social development and sustainable livelihoods from University of Reading.

Gayathri Venu Associate

Gayathri Venu is an associate with Pew’s state fiscal health project. She researches and analyzes state fiscal policy and provides policymakers with informed analysis and guidance on best practices from across the country. Before joining Pew, Venu completed her master’s thesis on fiscal consolidation and income inequality. Previously, she worked as a research analyst for Ipsos. Venu holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University and a dual master’s from the University of Nottingham in economics and econometrics and the University of Tübingen in international economics.

Alison Wakefield Manager

Alison Wakefield leads Pew’s work on economic development. Her team helps states establish processes to evaluate tax incentives, provides technical assistance to state evaluators tasked with assessing these programs, and works with policymakers to improve incentive performance. Before joining Pew, Wakefield worked with local and state governments on various aspects of workforce and economic development policy and management. She holds bachelor’s degrees in American studies and French and a master’s in community planning from the University of Maryland. 

Managing Fiscal Risks

Meet the managing fiscal risks team.