ISLG-Michael Jacobson

Michael P. Jacobson
Executive Director
T: 646-664-3481

Prior to joining CUNY in May 2013 to help create the Institute for State and Local Governance, Michael Jacobson was president of the Vera Institute of Justice, serving from 2005 to 2013. He is the author of Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration (New York University Press 2005). Holding a Ph.D. in sociology, he has had an ongoing academic career coupled with more than 20 years of government service. From 1998 to 2005 he was a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of CUNY. He was New York City correction commissioner from 1995 to 1998, New York City probation commissioner from 1992 to 1996, and worked in the New York City Office of Management and Budget from 1984 to 1992 where he was a deputy budget director. In 2010 to 2012, Michael served as the chair of Altus, a global alliance working across continents and from a multicultural perspective to improve public safety and justice.

Bennett Allen
Policy Associate

Bennett Allen works with ISLG’s policy team on the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force. Prior to joining ISLG, Bennett conducted qualitative and field-based research into substance use and overdose prevention, illicit and prescription drug markets, and novel medical technologies through the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as part of NYC RxStat, an intergovernmental public health and safety data-sharing initiative. He previously worked in substance use and behavioral health research at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute. He holds an M.A. in psychology from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. in comparative literature from New York University.

Kelsey Antle
Research Associate

Kelsey Antle works on a team identifying “frequent utilizers” of the criminal justice and mental health care systems. Before coming to ISLG, Kelsey was a criminologist for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. There, her team designed a 15-county fiscal analysis of criminal justice debt across the United States, the goal of which was to quantify resources spent by courts, police departments, jails, probation departments, and departments of motor vehicles related to the assessment and collection of fines and fees. She was responsible for gaining cooperation from potential jurisdictions, maintaining relationships with gatekeepers, submitting case-level and county-level data requests, interviewing relevant state and local officials, drafting interview guides for court and law enforcement personnel, and drafting national surveys of state court administrators. At the University of Florida, her dissertation examined changes in child behavior following paternal incarceration among at-risk families in 22 cities, focusing on the way a father’s incarceration influenced maternal depression, maternal parenting stress, father involvement, and use of spanking. She also conducted mixed-methods interviews with caregivers of children whose parents were incarcerated at Alachua County Jail, and she worked on a team that used hierarchical linear modeling to assess predictors of violent victimization among youth in different Chicago neighborhoods. Kelsey holds a B.A. summa cum laude in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and both an M.A. and Ph.D. in criminology from the University of Florida.

Julia Bowling
Research Analyst
T: 646-664-3477

Julia Bowling works on the Equality Indicators team to expand and implement the research framework for cities across the United States and internationally. Prior to joining ISLG, Julia provided research and communications assistance for States of Incarceration, a national public dialogue and traveling museum exhibition about local histories of incarceration. Previously, she worked as a research associate in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. At the Brennan Center, Julia researched the costs of mass incarceration and assisted with criminal justice policy research, analysis, and proposals. In 2015, she co-authored a report analyzing the impact of increasing incarceration rates and other factors on declining crime rates. Julia is pursuing an M.S. in urban policy analysis and management at The New School. Her graduate work has included policy analysis to improve access to reentry services for people leaving New York City’s Rikers Island jail. Julia holds a B.A. in economics and environmental studies from Oberlin College.

ISLG-Shawnda Chapman Brown

Shawnda Chapman Brown
Research Analyst
T: 646-664-3490

Shawnda Chapman Brown is working at the Institute for State and Local Governance while pursuing her M.S. in social research in the Sociology Department at Hunter College. Before joining the Institute, she spent several years working as a research assistant and survey field agent with the Social Justice Sexuality Initiative at the CUNY Graduate Center. She has also worked as a public opinion research and communications intern at the Opportunity Agenda, a progressive research and communications think tank dedicated to increasing opportunity for all in America. Her research interests include race, gender and class issues, and culture and the sociology of higher education.

Siobhán Carney
Policy Director
T: 646-664-3484

Siobhán Carney leads ISLG’s policy agenda. As policy director, she manages policy staff and all work within the Policy Department portfolio, including the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Prior to joining the Institute, she served as chief of staff and acting research director at the Vera Institute of Justice where she managed Vera’s research department and designed a performance levels system to inform staff development and promotion practices. She has also lectured on rural development and served as a consultant to the nonprofit sector in Ireland, as an evaluator for projects funded under the Peace and Reconciliation Program for Northern Ireland and the European Union LEADER program. She holds an M.A. in spatial analysis, a post-graduate diploma in education and a Ph.D. in geography from Trinity College.

ISLG Reagan Daly

Reagan Daly
Research Director
T: 646-664-3493

Reagan Daly is the research director at ISLG, with more than 10 years of experience developing and managing criminal justice research in applied settings. She has extensive experience in experimental and quasi-experimental evaluation design, implementation assessment, and performance measurement. Prior to joining the Institute, Reagan served as the assistant commissioner for research and planning at the New York City Department of Probation (DOP), and she was an associate research director at the Vera Institute of Justice. She has overseen the implementation of new risk-needs assessment instruments at DOP, including the development of a monitoring and validation plan, and, together with partners from the Center for Court Innovation, designed a quasi-experimental evaluation of DOP’s neighborhood-based model of probation supervision, called the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON), that was funded by the National Institute of Justice. During her time at Vera, she oversaw, among other projects, a two-year mixed methods research study of parole violations for the New York State Division of Parole and an evaluation of New York City’s first Social Impact Bond Initiative. Reagan received her Ph.D. in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005.

Elizabeth DeWolf
Policy Associate

Elizabeth has a background in urban sociology and visual art, with a research focus on equitable urban development. At ISLG she conducts policy research on re-imagining New York City’s criminal justice system, particularly the Department of Corrections, as well as research supporting the Equality Indicators project. Prior to joining ISLG, Elizabeth was competitions manager at Van Alen Institute, where she oversaw interdisciplinary research and design projects aimed at helping city governments solve complex urban challenges. Previously, Elizabeth was the 2013-2014 Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics, where she received an M.Sc. in City Design and Social Science. Her dissertation analyzed the influence of activism on urban development and public space in Istanbul, a city where she resided for several years teaching English, conducting research on grassroots activism, and supporting the Making City Istanbul project for Istanbul’s 2012 Design Biennial. Elizabeth also holds a B.A. in sociology and studio art from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

Alison Dieguez
Senior Policy Associate

Alison Dieguez coordinates the Community Navigator project and Abusive Partner Intervention Program within the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. She has more than 10 years of experience working with survivors of violence and crime, immigrants, and members of marginalized communities. Prior to working at ISLG, she was the director of planning and community resilience at the Center for Court Innovation (CCI)’s Red Hook Community Justice Center. While at CCI, Alison developed, launched, and managed several court and community programs. Her portfolio at CCI included CARES, a trauma-informed victim service program, the Red Hook Responders, an outreach & case management program focusing on building community resilience, and the Housing Resource Center, which assisted public housing tenants who were involved with Red Hook’s Housing Court. She additionally led broader efforts in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising, and data management. Prior to this, Alison worked within the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Bureau of Mental Health and at Safe Horizon’s Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. In this latter position, Alison participated in the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of allegations of severe physical and sexual abuse of children. Alison holds a B.A. from Purchase College at SUNY and an M.S.W. from Columbia University School of Social Work.

Jocelyn Drummond
Research Associate
T: 646-664-3463

Jocelyn Drummond is an urban planner with experience in research, geographic information systems (GIS), urban design, and data visualization. Before joining ISLG, Jocelyn was a senior research analyst for the City of Boston’s Assessing Department where she conducted GIS analyses of real estate sales data and developed a regression model for the valuation of multi-family residential properties in Boston. Jocelyn received her Master in City Planning degree with a certificate in urban design from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her A.B. in architecture from Princeton University. Her master’s thesis explored the relationships between the built environment and health outcomes and the use of mapping and data visualization as tools for identifying and addressing inequalities in the health landscape of New York City. Previously, Jocelyn was a researcher for MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism, where she co-authored a report on health and urbanism, and an NYC Urban Fellow with the NYC Department of Transportation’s Urban Design and Art Unit.

Shaun Edwards
Senior Policy Associate
T: 646-664-3474

Shaun Edwards brings cost-benefit and fiscal policy experience to various projects across the Institute. Prior to joining ISLG, she worked as a senior consultant to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and provided technical assistance within the Office of Financial Management Systems for financial software solutions and business process engineering. Her experience includes analysis on federal budgeting and accounting procedures and analysis across financial transactions. While pursuing her Masters degree, Shaun worked as a policy fellow in the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, where she provided economic analysis and best practice research for policies in education, economic development, sustainability, and innovation delivery. Additionally, she has published a series of briefings for the Chicago Policy Review on issues tied to labor and finance, as well as child and family policy. Shaun holds a Master of Public Policy degree and a certificate in municipal finance from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.

Margaret Egan
Associate Policy Director
T: 646-664-3467

Most recently, Margaret Egan was the assistant secretary for public safety to Governor Cuomo, assisting in managing the Governor’s public safety portfolio, including the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Division of Criminal Justice Service, and New York State Police. Previously, she was the director of policy & government affairs to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. In that role she spearheaded implementation of the Affordable Care Act, making the Cook County Jail the first jail in the nation to enroll detainees under Medicaid expansion. She also led efforts to improve correctional-based education programming. Margaret has served as a consultant to the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Urban Education Lab and as the acting director of the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council in the Office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. She served on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s public safety transition team as well as the advisory committee to the Mayor’s Public Safety Action Committee. She is an attorney, with a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago and master’s degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Maggie Elliott
Research Associate

Maggie Elliott is currently working on the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge to assist jurisdictions around the country with ongoing performance measurement associated with their jail reduction strategies.  She recently received a Ph.D. in human development at Tufts University, focusing primarily on neighborhood-level influences on adolescent development and involvement in the juvenile justice system. Her dissertation used data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods to explore associations between availability of neighborhood-based youth-serving organizations and adolescents’ antisocial behavior trajectories. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Maggie was a research analyst at the Vera Institute of Justice where she was involved in a number of projects dedicated to reforming juvenile justice systems in New York State and nationwide. Maggie received her B.A. in psychology and sociology from Wesleyan University and an M.A. in clinical psychology from Columbia University.

Gloria Foster

Gloria A. Foster
Project Assistant
T: 646-664-3480

Gloria Foster works closely with the chief administrative officer to ensure the efficient day-to-day functioning of the Institute. Gloria previously worked with CUNY’s Central Office for the vice chancellor for budget and finance. While at CUNY Central she assisted with meeting planning and supported the budget office in general. Gloria holds two associates degrees, including one from the Borough of Manhattan Community College in liberal arts. She graduated with honors and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at Hunter College.

Evan Goldstein
Policy Associate

Evan Goldstein supports the planning and implementation of diversion and reentry initiatives within the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Previously, Evan worked at the Drug Policy Alliance where he promoted drug policy reform in New York State through research and advocacy. As a policy coordinator at DPA he supported and managed several projects, including the passage and implementation of the 911 Good Samaritan Law and state and local marijuana arrest reform campaigns. Evan has held internships at the Open Society Foundations where he focused on international and domestic drug and health policy issues and the Legal Aid Society where he provided support to indigent defense lawyers. Evan holds a Master in Public Affairs degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a B.A. from New York University.

Karen Goldstein
Counsel to the Executive Director
T: 646-664-3472

Prior to joining the Institute, Karen Goldstein was vice president and general counsel of the Vera Institute of Justice, serving between 2000 and 2015. In addition to her legal responsibilities, Karen supervised Vera’s large scale demonstration projects, managed its fiscal sponsorship program, created new not-for-profit organizations from existing programs, and authored Vera’s Spin-off Tool Kit (2007). She also served as Vera’s interim executive director during 2013. While at Vera, Karen served on the board of Altus, a global alliance working across continents and from a multicultural perspective to improve public safety and justice. In addition, she has had more than a dozen years of government service. She worked as general counsel to New York City’s Department of Homeless Services from 1994 to 2000 and in New York City’s Human Resources Administration, first as associate, then as deputy general counsel, from 1986 to 1990. Between 1990 and 1992, she worked at New York State’s Office of Court Administration, assisting the administrative judge to the Family Courts in the five boroughs of New York City. Karen began her legal career at the Legal Aid Society, first as a trial attorney in the Juvenile Rights Division and then as a supervising attorney in the Criminal Appeals Bureau. See a select list of her publications.

David Hafetz
Senior Policy Associate
T: 646-664-3469

David Hafetz is a lawyer and former newspaper reporter. Before joining ISLG, he worked in criminal defense and served as special counsel for programs and development at PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law, where he managed international public interest law and legal education projects. David received his J.D. from Columbia Law and clerked for a federal judge in New Jersey. Prior to becoming a lawyer, David reported on criminal justice and other subjects for newspapers in New York, Austin, and Philadelphia, and received several awards for his journalism work. He also researched as a Fulbright Scholar in Chile. David received his B.A. in religion from Princeton University.

Patrick Hart
Senior Policy Associate
T: 646-664-3460

Patrick Hart coordinates the Youth Opportunity Hub project within the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. His areas of expertise include improving outcomes for disconnected youth, community-based anti-poverty strategies, and workforce development. Previously, Patrick worked at the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) within the Mayor’s Office of Operations. At CEO, Patrick coordinated three programs being implemented by nonprofit providers in New York and several partner cities as part of a federal Social Innovation Fund grant. Patrick’s programs at CEO included Project Rise, a cohort-based education and employment initiative for disconnected youth; Jobs-Plus, a public housing-focused employment program; and WorkAdvance, a sector-focused job training, placement, and advancement strategy. Prior to CEO, Patrick’s work included work on affordable housing policy and programming at the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Patrick holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College and an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Emily Hotez

Emily Hotez
Research Associate

Emily Hotez is a researcher on the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge. Prior to joining ISLG, Emily collaborated on a diverse range of research projects focusing on autism spectrum disorder, teen parenting, and the intersection of poverty and child development. She has recently earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her doctoral work focused on evaluating approaches to improving the early identification of autism in New York City. This work included providing education and support to primary care providers, Early Head Start centers, and families. Her research also focused on supporting families of children with autism through an evaluation of a parent-coaching intervention that aimed to enhance the quality of parent-child communication. Emily is an adjunct assistant professor in the psychology department at Hunter College, where she teaches psychology, child development, and research methods classes. In this role, she has also collaborated on the development of undergraduate psychology courses and college transition programs, and has conducted research on effective teaching strategies in higher education. Emily received her B.A. in psychology from the George Washington University.

Bijan Kimiagar
Research Associate

Bijan Kimiagar is an environmental social scientist with experience developing international research projects and partnerships. At ISLG, he is a member of the Equality Indicators team working on expanding and implementing the research framework for cities across the United States and internationally.  Before joining ISLG, Bijan was a project director and inaugural Selim Iltus Fellow with the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) at the CUNY Graduate Center. At CERG, he conducted research on the fulfillment of children’s rights and designed participatory methods for including children and their caregivers in the planning, design, and management of their communities and cities. This research involved working closely with local and international development agencies situated in disadvantaged communities across Latin America, West and North Africa, and South Asia. These partnerships led to innovative research on gender equality, citizen participation in local governance structures, neighborhood safety, and the prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children. He holds a Ph.D. in environmental psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center and a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Linda Kleinbaum
Senior Fellow

Linda Kleinbaum brings 30 years of executive government expertise to bear on all projects related to City government. Linda worked for 22 years at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. She served as deputy director of administration, responsible for capital program management, capital program funding, and the Office of Construction Oversight.  This position was charged with re-engineering all aspects of the $20+ billion capital program to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Prior to this position, in addition to the capital program, Linda also oversaw real estate, procurement, facilities operation, IT, operations support and shared services. Linda started her career at the MTA as director of policy. Prior to the MTA, Linda held senior positions in New York City government, including chief of staff to the first deputy mayor of the City of New York, director of contracts for the Mayor’s Office of Operations, and director of management support for the New York City Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention. Linda holds a J.D. degree from Georgetown University.

Besiki Luka Kutateladze
Senior Fellow

Besiki Kutateladze is currently advising the ISLG Equality Indicators team on the project expansion nationally and internationally. He was previously ISLG’s founding research director responsible for developing the vision and plan for the Institute’s research department, hiring and supervising research staff, overseeing all research projects, and building and maintaining relationships with funders and clients. Prior to joining the Institute, Besiki served as the research director for the Prosecution and Racial Justice Program of the Vera Institute of Justice, where he led studies based in five district attorney’s offices. He is an expert in the development of performance indicators. From 2008 to 2013, he played a crucial role in the development of the United Nations Rule of Law Indicators and their field testing in Haiti and Liberia. Before joining the Vera Institute, Besiki taught courses on comparative criminal justice and statistics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and lectured and conducted research on criminal procedure at Tbilisi State University. In 2002, Besiki was the U.S. State Department Fellow from the Republic of Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. in criminal justice from the CUNY Graduate Center and a law degree from the Republic of Georgia.

ISLG-Victoria Lawson

Victoria Lawson
Senior Research Associate
T: 646-664-3491

Victoria Lawson works closely with ISLG’s research director to help implement the Institute’s research agenda. Before joining ISLG, she conducted research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she worked on a number of projects involving contributing causes to and potential remedies for wrongful conviction. These projects included a multi-experiment National Science Foundation-funded field study on the recording of interrogations conducted at several urban police departments. She also worked in the Research Department at the Innocence Project where she assisted with data collection and management, and served as a resource on the current state of academic research on wrongful conviction. In addition to her work on wrongful conviction, she has worked in a consulting capacity evaluating the effectiveness of continuing medical education courses and performance improvement initiatives. She has also taught undergraduate classes in psychology and research methods. She holds a Ph.D. in forensic psychology from the Graduate Center of CUNY and an M.A. in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. See a select list of her publications.

Abbi Leman

Abbi Leman
Senior Communications Associate
T: 718-938-3310

Abbi Leman has more than 10 years of experience providing communications expertise to nonprofits and higher education institutions. Before joining ISLG, she was the director of communications at the City University of New York School of Law, one of the nation’s leading public interest law schools, where she lead an initiative to redesign student recruitment marketing efforts and worked with law school leadership to launch the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. Previously, she was the production editor at the Vera Institute of Justice and an English language teacher at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, China. Abbi has an M.A. in applied linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in English and history from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

Christopher Lim
Policy Analyst

Christopher Lim works with ISLG’s policy team, concentrating on the New York County District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Prior to ISLG, he was a research assistant at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a fellow at Southern Education Foundation, where he conducted research on racial and socioeconomic desegregation in schools, teacher sorting, school choice, and education privatization trends. Christopher also taught middle school reading and visual arts and served as an administrator for several years. He holds a B.A. in studio art from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in sociology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Britney Mason
Research Analyst
T: 646-664-3473

Britney Mason works on a range of research tasks primarily focused on the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Prior to joining ISLG, she spent several years working as a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania, through the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, on a project focusing on faith-based prisoner reentry programs. She previously worked at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, where she co-authored a statistical report on elderly victimization in the United States. Britney holds a B.A. and an M.S. in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include reentry and diversion, translating research into criminal justice policy, and experimental/quasi-experimental design.

Alessandra Meyer
Senior Policy Associate
T: 646-664-3459

Alessandra Meyer works with ISLG’s policy team on the New York County District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Before joining ISLG, she was a senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice where she provided technical assistance to state and local government agencies and youth-serving nonprofit organizations on a number of juvenile justice reform initiatives. Her projects at Vera included Youth Futures, a multi-site initiative to improve the labor market and education prospects of youth involved in  juvenile justice, and the Status Offense Reform Center, an online resource center designed to help jurisdictions respond to youth who commit status offenses outside of the court system. Previously Alessandra produced documentaries for Charlotte Street Films, including The House I Live In, an examination of the U.S. war on drugs, and Why We Fight. Alessandra holds an M.P.A. and M.S.W. from Columbia University and a B.A. from New York University.

Margaret Michaels
Senior Communications Associate
T: 646-664-3499

Margaret Michaels has more than a decade of experience conducting market research and implementing strategic communication plans in corporate settings.  Her prior work at Starr Companies and AIG focused on executing insurance product marketing strategies. She has also worked in legal services, at the law firm, Bingham McCutchen, where she managed a competitive intelligence unit. In 2004 Margaret received her Masters in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute. Soon after graduating, she worked for the Association of National Advertisers and the Opinion Research Corporation where she performed on-demand, customized research for clients representing a wide range of industries.

Paula Mukwaya
Policy Associate
T: 646-664-3479

Paula Mukwaya is a member of ISLG’s policy team and contributes to the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge. Prior to joining ISLG, Paula worked at the Vera Institute of Justice where she provided technical assistance to state and local government agencies on a number of juvenile justice reform initiatives. Some of Paula’s projects included an assessment of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ (OCFS) secure placement system and planning and implementation of OCFS’s Brooklyn for Brooklyn Initiative, a pilot of a therapeutic, community-based model for youth in juvenile justice custody. Before joining Vera, Paula was an AmeriCorps volunteer through the New York City Civic Corps—an initiative assisting nonprofit organizations in building sustainable volunteer programs. Paula holds a B.A. in economics from Smith College.

Neal A. Palmer
Senior Research Associate
T: 646-664-3496

Neal Palmer is a community researcher and community psychologist with experience managing numerous primary and evaluation research projects. Neal oversees performance monitoring and evaluation for the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, established by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and administered by ISLG. He has provided technical assistance to a variety of foundations, government agencies, and other organizations focused on youth, education, and anti-violence. Prior to joining ISLG, Neal was a senior research associate at GLSEN, a national organization addressing LGBTQ issues in education. While there, he advanced the organization’s work on school discipline and justice system involvement, discrimination, youth victimization, and local climate assessment. Neal was instrumental in developing the organization’s international technical expertise and research capacity, and conducted mixed-methods evaluations of the organization’s programs and initiatives. Additionally, Neal has taught courses in social science research methods; he holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in community research and action from Vanderbilt University. See a select list of his publications.

Kristen Parsons
Research Analyst
T: 646-664-3442

Kristen Parsons is a member of ISLG’s research team and contributes to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Throughout her graduate education, Kristen has designed surveys, collected data, and performed descriptive as well as inferential statistical analyses on various criminal justice topics. For example, she developed several surveys to gauge the public’s perception of marijuana usage depending on the method of administration. Kristen holds a B.S. in criminal justice from Marist College and an M.S. in criminal justice from Roger Williams University. Her research interests include reentry and diversion; drug policy; eyewitness (mis)identification; the relationship between combat sports and aggression; and violence against women.

Caterina Pisciotta
Senior Policy Associate
T: 646-664-3495

Caterina Pisciotta has more than 10 years of experience managing quality assurance and evaluation efforts in government and nonprofit settings. Prior to joining ISLG, she served as the director of quality assurance (QA) at the New York City Department of Probation, where she developed and implemented the first-ever QA system there and was responsible for overseeing the integrity of case practice and outcomes throughout the agency. Prior to DOP, she worked for more than four years at the New York Foundling, a nonprofit multi-service organization, where she managed the quality assurance unit and all performance measurement data and analytics. She has also previously served as a data analyst and evaluation developer at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services in the Office of Research and Evaluation. Caterina got her start evaluating federally-funded workforce, public health, and education programs at the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, DC, and at Mathematica Policy Research. She has a bachelor’s degree from Boston College as well as an M.S.S.W. from Columbia University, with a concentration in policy practice and a minor in law.

Monica P. San Juan
Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Aide to the Executive Director
T: 646-664-3483

Monica San Juan is responsible for the overall administrative operations of ISLG including human resources, facilities, office management, and technology. Working with the executive director and research and policy directors, she ensures that the Institute has the right systems in place to support its mission and various projects in an effective and efficient manner. Additionally, she provides support to the executive director by managing his calendar and prioritizing opportunities and activities. Prior to joining the Institute she worked at the Vera Institute of Justice as special assistant to the president where she was the primary point of contact within the executive department for senior management, government partners, trustees and other outside stakeholders. Before beginning her career in the nonprofit sector, she worked at MetLife analyzing economic trends in Latin America. She received her B.A. in international relations and language and culture from the State University of New York at Purchase.

Theresa Sgobba
Associate Policy Director
T: 917-804-1052

Theresa Sgobba is an associate policy director with ISLG supporting projects across the Policy Department, including a substantial management role on the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Prior to joining ISLG, she was an independent consultant working on youth and criminal justice reform in New York City, providing assistance to government, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. Before becoming a consultant, Theresa worked for many years at the Vera Institute of Justice, most recently as associate director, then interim director of Vera’s Center on Youth Justice, where she led Vera’s assistance to New York State with youth justice reform. Prior to her management roles at Vera, Theresa served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Deborah A. Batts of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Theresa holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Keegan Smith
Policy Analyst

Prior to joining the ISLG, Keegan worked as a policy analyst for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget in Georgia overseeing fiscal policy for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Community Health. Before that, Keegan worked as a research assistant at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, focusing on issues of state and local government finance. He also co-authored chapters for the Council of State Government’s Book of the States in 2014 and 2015, evaluating State of the State addresses for budgetary trends. Keegan received his Master’s of Public Administration with a concentration in management and finance from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and a B.A. in political science from the College of Charleston.

Michele Toplitz
Senior Policy Associate
T: 646-664-3498

Michele Toplitz brings 10 years of policy research and evaluation experience to ISLG. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked as a research associate at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C. Michele was a key member of a team supporting the Transportation Security Administration’s continuous efforts toward improving its performance. This series of studies examined the scientific basis for a behaviorally-based screening approach, evaluated program effectiveness, and developed individual and organizational performance indicators. She has also co-authored several evaluations of literacy programs in urban school districts as well as supported the development and validation of assessments to measure teacher quality and effectiveness. Michele holds an M.A. in psychology from The New School for Social Research, and a B.A. in anthropology/sociology and Spanish from Lafayette College.

Rebecca Tublitz
Research Associate
T: 646-664-3475

Prior to joining ISLG, Rebecca served as the inaugural Justice Fellow in the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry at the California Department of Justice. There, she directed data collection and analysis of state and local recidivism outcomes after public safety realignment and provided expertise in statistical programming and quantitative data analysis to evaluations of alternative to incarceration and re-entry programs supported by the DOJ. She has served in a variety of research capacities at the Public Policy Institute of California and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. She also worked with the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at University of California, Berkeley School of Law, where she conducted a quasi-experimental impact evaluation of an innovative law enforcement and public health anti-violence initiative in East Palo Alto, California. Rebecca began her career in the criminal justice field at the Vera Institute of Justice, contributing to multiple studies of jail and prison overcrowding, pretrial diversion programs, probation supervision models, and court case processing in both criminal and family court systems. Rebecca holds a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Barnard College.

Meredith Weill
Associate Counsel

As associate counsel, Meredith Weill provides legal advice across program areas at the Institute. Before joining ISLG, Meredith was an assistant district attorney in the Public Integrity Bureau at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, where she investigated and prosecuted government corruption cases. From 2011 to 2014, Meredith served as an assistant counsel to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In that position, she provided legal and policy advice to the Governor, authored legislation, implemented legislative programs and policy initiatives, and supervised a portfolio of state agencies with regard to legal, programmatic, and administrative matters. Meredith holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, an M.A. in social sciences from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in American studies from Amherst College.

Emily West
Senior Research Associate
T: 917-446-6763

Emily West has more than 15 years of research and evaluation experience across a broad array of disciplines including criminal justice, education, and youth development. Prior to joining ISLG, Emily was the research director at the Innocence Project where she was responsible for systematically organizing and utilizing internal client data as well as data on DNA exonerations nationwide to both support policy reform efforts aimed at improving the criminal justice system and promote more research on wrongful convictions. She has extensive experience designing and implementing research studies, managing large and complex data systems, and performing advanced data analyses. Emily holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in sociology and criminology.

Carrie Wolfson
Research Associate
T: 646-664-3492

Carrie Wolfson is experienced in performance measurement, mix-method program evaluation, as well as qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Before joining ISLG, Carrie was a research scientist for New York City’s Human Resource Administration where she managed program reporting for the agency’s Customized Assistance Services program, which aids low-income NYC residents with medical and mental barriers to employment. She also worked for several years as a research analyst at Mathematica Policy Research. While at Mathematica, she contributed to multiple federal evaluations that employed both quasi-experimental and experimental research designs. She provided technical assistance to state-agency grantees implementing federal pilot projects and has experience evaluating programs on a wide range of topics including family support, education, labor, and nutrition. Carrie received her M.P.A. in policy analysis from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in 2011.

Qian Zhang
Research Analyst
T: 646-664-3497

Qian (Sabrina) Zhang is experienced in research design (OLS, 2SLS, probit/logit, experimental design, and quasi experimental design), quantitative data analyses, and program evaluation. Prior to joining ISLG, she was a senior research support specialist at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government (RIG) where she provided research and analytics to the NY Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery to measure the performance and assess the impact of federally funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs in New York State. Qian has also served as a graduate scholar for New York State Assemblyman James F. Brennan, where she performed data analyses and budget analysis on policy areas including the electric power market, education, and public transportation to assist the legislation. She has held positions with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of the New York State Comptroller, and the state government in China. Qian holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree in analytic methods and financial management from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany.