Economic & Public Policy Research

Our Staff

Mark Melnik

Director, Economic & Public Policy Research

Mark Melnik

Mark Melnik, Ph.D. specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues. Before joining the Institute, Dr. Melnik worked as deputy director for research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority 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 Boston Redevelopment Authority (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. He also has extensive teaching experience in urban sociology, statistics, and research methods.

Dr. Melnik holds a doctorate of philosophy in sociology from Northeastern University. His dissertation explored skill and credential mismatches in the greater Boston labor market. He received his master's of arts from Northeastern University and his bachelor's of arts from Youngstown State University, both in sociology.

(617) 287-3988

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Shannon Bernacchia

Finance & Administration Manager

Shannon Bernacchia

Shannon Bernacchia has worked at multiple higher education institutions over the past six years. Her past work experience includes maintaining departmental budgets, creating and processing contracts, and she has strong knowledge of federal and state regulations gained from working within the office of financial aid.

Ms. Bernacchia received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bay Path University.

(413) 577-2415

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Carrie Bernstein

State Data Center Manager/Lead Research Analyst

Carrie Bernstein

Carrie Bernstein, M.P.P.A. is an analyst whose work encompasses both quantitative analysis and qualitative research methodologies. She specializes in writing, gathering data, and synthesis of complex information. She has over a decade of experience in nonprofit and government sectors, including work in policy research, data management, and research design. She has studied federal grants, economic inequality, housing affordability, labor markets, and educational attainment.

Ms. Bernstein received her master’s of public policy and administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College.

(413) 545-3450

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Meghan Flanagan

Research Analyst

Meghan Flanagan

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.

(413) 545-6613

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Andrew Hall

Research Analyst

Andrew Hall

Andrew Hall, M.P.A., M.A. focuses his work on a combination of social science research methods and public policy analysis. Mr. Hall has a background in synthesizing data from a variety of sources and methodological approaches as well as practical experience working with non-profit organizations on housing and poverty issues. While his primary research interest is in urban economic development, he has considerable research experience in public health, energy and foreign affairs.

Mr. Hall received his master's of public affairs and master of arts degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington, where he focused on economic development and policy analysis. He also holds a bachelor's of arts degree in history from Drew University.

(413) 577-3021

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Chris Jurek

Senior Research Analyst

Chris Jurek

Chris Jurek, MCP focuses on economic and demographic data and the use of new technologies and software to map and visualize these analyses. Prior to the Institute, Mr. Jurek served as a transportation planning manager at Stockton University. Before this, he worked at CHANCE Management Advisors, where he led transportation and parking planning and demand projection, data analysis, and visualization efforts.

Mr. Jurek received his master’s of city planning from the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in community and economic development, and his bachelor’s of arts in anthropology from Beloit College. Mr. Jurek also has a professional certification, AICP, from the American Institute of Certified Planners.

(617) 287-3451

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Rebecca Loveland

Senior Research Manager

Rebecca Loveland

Rebecca Loveland, M.R.P. specializes in industry analysis and economic development projects, managing research activities for MassBenchmarks, and leading a variety of industry and regional studies. Ms Loveland has considerable economic and community development experience in public and private settings.

Ms. Loveland received her master's in regional planning in economic and community development planning from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her bachelor's of arts in anthropology from Smith College.

(413) 545-0332

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Michael McNally

Research Analyst

Michael McNally

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.

(413) 545-3435

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Rod Motamedi

Research Manager

Rod Motamedi

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.

Mr. Motamedi received his bachelor's of arts in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

(413) 545-6612

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Thomas Peake

Research Analyst

Thomas Peake

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.

(413) 545-6655

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Matthew Schlaikjer

Research Analyst

Matthew Schlaikjer

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.

(413) 545-3458

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Branner Stewart

Senior Research Manager

Branner Stewart

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. 

(617) 287-3942

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Susan Strate

Senior Program Manager, Population Estimates Program

Susan Strate

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.

(413) 577-0753

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Catherine Tumber

Research Manager

Catherine Tumber

Catherine Tumber offers expertise in local and regional economic development, state and federal low-carbon initiatives, and legacy (or “Gateway”) cities. Before joining the Institute, she was a visiting scholar with the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and a senior research associate with the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, both at Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, she co-authored reports on Greater Boston’s housing market and infrastructure needs, the Commonwealth’s vocational education system, and the importance of public transit in the state’s Gateway Cities, and directed the Dukakis Center’s Economic Development Self-Assessment Tool (EDSAT) program.

Dr. Tumber is the author of Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World (MIT Press, 2012), and has published on a variety of subjects in publications ranging from the Washington Post and the American Prospect to the Boston Review, Raritan, and the Architectural Record. She is a scholar with the Penn Institute for Urban Research and a fellow with MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute.

She earned master's and Ph.D. degrees in U.S. history from the University of Rochester and a bachelor's of arts in social thought and political economy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

(617) 287-3480

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Elizabeth Williams

Research Analyst

Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth Williams specializes in urban public policy research and analysis, focusing on issues related to housing, transportation, and economic development. Prior to joining the Donahue Institute, Dr. Williams was a research associate with the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. 

Dr. Williams received her Ph.D in sociology from Northeasten University, her masters degree in sociology from George Washington Universityand her bachelors degree in sociology from Clark University.

(617) 287-3450

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Pauline Zaldonis

Research Analyst

Pauline Zaldonis

Pauline Zaldonis, M.S. specializes in public policy analysis and social science research methods. Before joining the Institute, she worked primarily in the non-profit sector, where she gained experience in program management and evaluation. Her background includes a focus on social policy issues, with a particular focus on food system issues and urban policy.

Ms. Zaldonis received her master’s of science in urban policy analysis and management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy. She also holds a bachelor’s of arts degree in history and Latin American studies from Oberlin College.

(413) 545-3492

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The UMass Donahue Institute is pre-approved to offer a variety of options for streamlined, simplified contracting both within Massachusetts and at the federal level.

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UMass Donahue Institute

University of Massachusetts

Office of the President

100 Venture Way, Suite 9

Hadley, Massachusetts 01035

(413) 545-0001

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