Policy Matters Ohio announces promotions, welcomes Communications Associate, and notes title changes | Policy Matters Ohio

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Posted August 07, 2023 in Press Releases

Policy Matters Ohio is proud to announce the promotions of three fellows to permanent staff positions. We are also delighted to welcome Sarah Rodenberg as our new Communications Associate and to recognize the educational achievement of Senior Researcher Michael Shields.

Two fellows — Guillermo Bervejillo, PhD., and Tanisha Pruitt, PhD. — join the permanent staff after successfully completing a two-year state policy fellowship through the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The fellowship is dedicated to making change through careful research, thoughtful advocacy, and strong state partnerships. Another fellow, Bree Easterling, completed a one-year Policy Matters public-safety fellowship, focused on strengthening community and policy connections to bring non-police care response to Cleveland.

“Each fellow brought a unique voice and skill set to the work of making Ohio a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable place for all who live here,” said Hannah Halbert, executive director. “Policy Matters is thrilled the fellows will continue with the organization. We look forward to ever greater leadership and insight from each as they join the permanent staff.”

Guillermo Bervejillo, Ph.D. (he/him): Researcher-Economist

Originally from Uruguay, Guille (Gee-sh-eh), holds a Ph.D. in economic geography and bachelor’s in economics from The Ohio State University as well as a master’s in geography from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He was a founding member, organizer, and researcher for our partner, the Ohio Student Association. Guille was an economic policy intern at the Center for American Progress and an economic research analyst at the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Guille’s research and advocacy at Policy Matters focuses on Ohio’s tax system.

Bree Easterling (they/them): Social Justice Outreach and Organizing Specialist

Clevelander Bree Easterling has worked to develop a non-police care response for people in crisis due to mental health issues, substance abuse, being neurodivergent, or unhoused. Bree has a rich background in social justice reform, community engagement, and grassroots activism. A disabled Air Force veteran, Bree worked as a Veterans Service Officer and Outreach Coordinator for Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission prior to their fellowship with Policy Matters. Bree will continue to connect policy to people and people to policy, with a focus on care response, mental and behavioral health, fine and fees, and eliminating collateral sanctions.

Tanisha Pruitt, Ph.D. (she/her): Researcher-Youth, Opportunity and Education

Originally from Reynoldsburg, Tanisha holds a Ph.D. in public policy and urban affairs from Southern University and A & M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Miami University of Ohio and a master’s in applied behavioral science from Wright State University. Tanisha held previous fellowships with New Leaders Council-Columbus chapter, New American Leadership Academy (NALA) with the City of Columbus, Educational Testing Services, and was a member of the inaugural Governor’s Fellows Program in Louisiana Government. Her past research focused on technical education programs, the interaction of school disciplinary policies and the criminal justice system among Black and brown students, and how to close racial achievement gaps. Tanisha’s work at Policy Matters will focus on education and opportunity for Ohio youth.

Halbert added, “Sarah Rodenberg is bringing new energy and insight to our digital media. Her creativity and mastery of digital and emerging communications will amplify Policy Matters research and build community through engagement and advocacy.”

Sarah Rodenberg (she/they): Communications Associate

Originally from Wisconsin, Sarah earned her bachelor’s in strategic communication from Ohio State University. Prior to joining Policy Matters Ohio, she worked in a variety of customer service roles across Columbus and interned at Pro-Choice Ohio. This experience, combined with a love of popular culture, language, and storytelling, led her to the study of strategic communications and, ultimately, to Policy Matters.

Policy Matters also celebrates Senior Researcher, Michael Shields, earning a master’s degree in economics from Cleveland State with a title expansion. “Mike who began his career with Policy Matters as an intern, is now a leading voice on job quality in Ohio,” said Halbert. “Shields earned his degree while working as a researcher. We are proud to be a flexible workplace that can support staff advancing their education.”

Michael Shields, MAE. (he/him), Senior Researcher-Economist

Shields focuses on fair wages and job quality, writing about the Ohio labor market, the minimum wage, wage theft, and unemployment. He is a founding board member of the Northeast Ohio Worker Center and serves on the steering committee of Cleveland Jobs with Justice. Mike holds a master’s degree in economics from Cleveland State and a bachelor’s in history from the University of Akron.

“Policy Matters is grateful to our partners, funders, and all those who read our work. It’s their support that enables the organization to grow and our mission to be made real,” said Halbert. “Policy Matters is committed to fostering new voices and creating a collaborative and inclusive work environment. These changes will strengthen our efforts to make Ohio state policy work for all people.”

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