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Staff Biographies

David Belkin. David is one of our original staff members, having joined IBO in July 1996. Now a senior economist, he coordinates IBO’s economic forecasts and conducts research on the effects of city tax policy. Prior to IBO, he spent six years as a budget and policy analyst in the Manhattan Borough President’s Office and has authored several articles and co-edited a book on comparative economic systems. Additionally, he teaches a class in public sector financial management at John Jay College. David has a master’s in economics from The New School and another in social work from Hunter College along with a B.A. from Adelphi University.

Melissa Budhua. Melissa joined IBO in March 2018 as an administrative assistant responsible for timekeeping and accounts payable. She has worked for Kelly & Co., an executive search firm, and interned at the city’s Department of Education. She has volunteered at AHRC-NYC, an organization serving people with developmental disabilities, and Girls Speak Out at the United Nations. Melissa lives in Brooklyn and enjoys reading, working out, and seeing the sights of the city. She has a B.A. in business finance from Pace University.

Elizabeth Brown. Elizabeth joined IBO in June 2010 as our housing and homeless analyst and now supervises our Housing, Environment, and Infrastructure unit. Prior to joining IBO, she worked as a grant-writer at The Salvation Army of Greater New York. Elizabeth also spent several years as a researcher/writer at The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative journalism organization in Washington D.C. When not at work Elizabeth enjoys traveling, reading, and building cities with her children. Elizabeth has a master’s in public administration from New York University and a B.A. from The George Washington University.

Robert Callahan. Robert became IBO’s budget review analyst in August 2017. Prior to joining IBO he was a consultant for The PFM Group working with municipal governments on long-range financial planning and operational efficiency in public safety. A Memphis native, Robert served as the policy analyst for the Tennessee State Senate Democratic Leader for three years. Now living in Brooklyn, Robert is an avid cyclist and volunteer leader at Imani Community Garden’s urban chicken farm. Robert earned his master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago and his B.A. from the University of Memphis.

Melinda Elias. Melinda became IBO’s health budget and policy analyst in September 2016. Her prior experience includes researching, analyzing, and reporting on health policy issues and economic and political developments for public and private organizations and has published reports and commentaries on government health financing, noncommunicable diseases, and related topics. A native of Singapore, she now lives on the Upper West Side and enjoys weekend travel and collecting antiques and vintage books. Melinda received a master’s of public health and a master’s of international affairs from Columbia University and B.A. from Brandeis University.

Arash Farahani. Arash joined IBO in June 2017 after the City Council passed a new law engaging the agency in evaluations of the city’s economic development tax expenditures. An economist by training, Arash’s prior research work focused on public finance, public infrastructure, and urban and regional economics. He previously lived in the Chicago area and in his off hours enjoys watching television and movies, photography, and learning about the history of New York City. Arash earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Monserate Fernandez. Monserate joined IBO as MIS director in May 2006 and has kept our expanding technology network online since then. He previously worked for five years at a medical accounting firm as head of corporate information technology. A student of philosophy and biotechnology, Monserate attended the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Drejuan Fitzpatrick. Before joining IBO as our network support specialist in January 2015, Drejuan served in the dual role of IT project coordinator and network & systems administrator for a Long Island law firm. He also previously worked as a systems administrator for an international education exchange organization. In both jobs Drejuan provided IT support to staff, managed existing systems, and executed major IT projects.

Amanda Gallear. Amanda joined IBO in June 2018 as a social and community services budget and policy analyst, focusing on corrections, probation, aging, youth, and information technology and communications. Amanda previously worked for a community development and advocacy organization in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and spent a summer at the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. Outside of work, Amanda enjoys exploring new restaurants and foods throughout the city–especially pizza. She received her master of public policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.A. from Rutgers University.

Pooya Ghorbani. Pooya joined IBO in September 2018 as an economist with a focus on tax revenue forecasting and research on sales and other taxes. Before coming to IBO, he worked as a research fellow for over four years for the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and the Rockefeller Institute of Government, exploring issues related to disaster recovery and resiliency. He has also been involved in studies related to housing issues locally and nationally. In his spare time, Pooya closely follows neighborhood change in Brooklyn, gets lost in literature and maps, and forces people to bring him stones from places he has not had a chance to visit. Pooya earned both his Ph.D. and master’s in public and urban policy at The New School.

Tainá Guarda. Tainá joined IBO in July 2018 as an education budget and policy analyst with a specialization in data visualization. Before arriving at IBO she created the data visualizations for a report on segregation and school choice by the Center for New York City Affairs and provided research on higher education for the Professional Staff Congress. Tainá has a wide variety of interests and on most nights or weekends she can be found at a concert, art gallery, museum, or a meet up about data and technology. She has a master’s in environmental policy and sustainability from The New School and another in moving image archive studies from the University of California at Los Angeles as well as a BA from Swarthmore College.

Katie Hanna. Katie joined IBO in May 2015 as a social services budget and policy analyst, focusing on children’s services, libraries, and cultural affairs. Prior to IBO, she worked at the Partnership for After School Education, where she examined program attendance and evaluation data and coordinated events. She has also interned on Phipps Neighborhoods’ research and evaluation team. Born in Tennessee, Katie moved to upstate New York as a teenager. She now lives in Astoria and enjoys exploring the neighborhood when she’s not reading, doing crosswords, hiking, or playing with her cats. Katie received a master’s of public administration from Baruch College and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.

Daniel Huber. Our environmental analyst since July 2015, Dan covers parks & recreation, environmental protection, and sanitation. Prior to joining IBO, he worked as a consultant on business development in Brazil, as well as with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions as the Science and Impacts Fellow where he focused on climate policy. Dan has also consulted on sustainable development and carbon market analysis and been an occasional blogger for the Wall Street Journal. When away from his home in Astoria, Dan likes to ski, hike, and fish. He has a master’s in climate and society from Columbia University and a B.S. from the University of Maine.

Michael P. Jacobs. Michael is the supervising analyst/economist for our Economics and Taxes unit. He joined IBO in September 1996 as one of our original staff members. Michael’s previous experience includes working as a revenue forecaster and analyst with the City Council's Finance Division and as a research consultant to Governor Mario Cuomo's Advisory Panel on Financial Services at the New York State Department of Economic Development. A Brooklyn native, Michael enjoys travel—he has made it to 47 states—and is an avid hiker and filmgoer. He received his Ph.D. in economics from The New School and B.A. from Oberlin College.

Stephanie Kranes. Stephanie, an education budget and policy analyst, joined IBO in September 2014. Her previous experience includes working in hospitals and clinics in Pennsylvania, where she was a case manager for HIV-affected patients and analyzed health data to understand linkages between economic instability, depression, and quality of health. Stephanie later served as a research intern at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. At IBO Stephanie has been observed eating lettuce out of a bag at random times, but this has not precluded her from maintaining the agency’s cookbook. She earned a master’s in social work from Fordham University and a B.A. from Dickinson College.

Paul Lopatto. Paul joined IBO in August 1996, making him another member of IBO’s original roster of staff members. He is now the supervising analyst for our Social and Community Services unit. Prior to joining IBO, Paul was a supervising analyst with the Welfare Task Force at the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget and a research analyst at the Human Resources Administration. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Florida State University and received both his master's and B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh.

Yolanda Lopez. Yolanda is an administrative assistant, who was born, raised, and still lives in Brooklyn. She came to IBO in March 2007 after working for two years at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and four years at the Department of Consumer Affairs. She has experience in purchasing, payroll, and timekeeping.

Ronnie Lowenstein. First appointed as IBO’s director in 2000, Ronnie has been reappointed to four-year terms in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. She joined IBO as deputy director and chief economist at our inception in May 1996. Before coming to IBO Ronnie was an economist in the Domestic Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and taught economics at Barnard College. Ronnie spends her off-hours torn between time with her grandchildren, book club, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University and B.A. from Guilford College.

Lisa Neary. Lisa has been IBO’s general counsel since November 2004. Before joining IBO, she worked at the New York City Council Finance Division as legislative counsel. Lisa received her J.D. from Rutgers University and her B.A. from Yale University.

Bernard O'Brien. Bernie joined IBO in June 1996 as one of the agency’s first staff members. He is now a senior budget and policy analyst focusing primarily on the police and the criminal justice system. He previously served as a legislative policy analyst with the New York City Council from 1989 until he joined IBO, and has also worked as a planner/analyst with the city’s Department of Correction and as a research associate with the city’s Board of Correction. In addition, Bernie taught in New York City’s public schools for several years. An Indiana native, he has recently been a volunteer for Big Apple Greeter, which helps tourists from around the world get acclimated to the city. Bernie received his master’s in public administration from New York University and a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame.

Yaw Owusu-Anash. Yaw is an economist who joined IBO in May 2017 specializing in the city’s property tax. He previously worked in the property modeling and research group at the city‘s Department of Finance developing programs and guidelines to value city properties. He has also worked at Roubini Global Economics as part of the Western Europe research team. A native of Ghana, Yaw has lived in New York City continuously since 2005. Yaw enjoys sports, the arts, including architecture and design, and traveling. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University and a B.A. from Brigham Young University.

Liza Pappas. Liza joined IBO in September 2013 as an education policy analyst. She has worked extensively in New York City as a qualitative researcher on issues ranging from school governance to school closings to bilingual education and special education. She has also been an adjunct professor at Hunter and City Colleges as well as a writing and communication fellow at the New York City College of Technology and Baruch College. Liza has a Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York and master’s from Harvard University.

Conrad Pattillo. Conrad joined IBO in January 2018 as a budget and policy analyst focused on economic development. Prior to IBO, he worked as a capital program management analyst at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and as a program strategist at the Clinton Foundation, with special attention on Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities and the New Markets Tax Credit Program. In addition to internships in state government, he has also consulted on community and economic development projects for the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the City of Perth Amboy (NJ). Conrad earned a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University, a master's in rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.S. from the University of Central Arkansas.

Cole Rakow. Cole joined IBO in June 2017 as an economist, focusing on the city’s business taxes, including keeping tabs on how federal tax changes could affect local revenue. Prior to joining IBO, Cole taught economics and research methods to both undergraduate and graduate students, while carrying out research about state and local taxation. He hails from the Chicago suburbs and spent the six years before coming to IBO living in Lexington, Kentucky. His after-work interests include architecture, especially of New York’s iconic bridges, and classical music. Cole received his Ph.D. in public policy and administration from the University of Kentucky and B.S. from Truman State University.

Jonathan Rosenberg. Jonathan joined IBO as the director of budget review in November 2016. He came to us with nearly 20 years of experience in public sector budget analysis and review in New York City, including serving as executive director of budget for the City Comptroller’s office and deputy director for infrastructure and economic development for the City Council’s Finance Division. Prior to joining IBO, he worked as the finance director at a small nonprofit that aids at-risk students in New York City public schools. A fan of crosswords and classic rock, as well as the Giants, Knicks, and Rangers; Jonathan also enjoys playing softball, golf, and tennis in his off hours. Jonathan has a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University and a B.A. from the University of Rochester.

Joydeep Roy. Joydeep came to IBO in April 2010 as one of the first members of our expanded education research team. An economist by training, he previously worked at the Economic Policy Institute, where his research focused on school choice and accountability, school finance and adequacy issues, teacher labor markets, and topics in higher education. He has published articles in a number of academic journals and coauthored a book on high school graduation rates and trends. Joydeep earned a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and his B.A. from Presidency College.

Sarah Sayavong. Sarah joined IBO in October 2015 as a SAS analyst/programmer and in 2017 was promoted to data manager. Sarah previously worked as a data analysis consultant for UNICEF and was involved in research and program evaluation for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Saint Louis University. Raised in a small town in Illinois, Sarah has lived in New York City since April 2015. She enjoys ballet, opera, and the symphony and claims to have the best cat in the world. Sarah received her master’s in public health and B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.

Indera Segobind. Indera became one of IBO’s first employees when she joined the agency in May 1996. She is now IBO's director of administration. Before coming to IBO, Indera held administrative positions in the Offices of the Public Advocate and City Comptroller for 10 years. A native of Guyana, she now lives in Brooklyn and keeps an herb garden year-round. Indera earned an A.D. in liberal arts from LaGuardia Community College.

Yolanda Smith. Yolanda joined IBO in October 2006 and is now a senior budget and policy analyst in our Education unit. Additionally, she serves as our Equal Employment Opportunity officer. Yolanda previously worked in the city’s Department of Education as a budget team leader. She has also worked for Standard & Poor's as a municipal finance associate director. A featured blogger on Govloop.com in 2017, Yolanda has also served on her local community board and in her spare time volunteers to teach teens about personal finance. Yolanda received her M.S. degree in management and urban policy from The New School and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Sarah Stefanski. Sarah became IBO’s housing and homelessness analyst in 2015 after a stint as the Ed Koch Memorial Student Fellow at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. Sarah’s role at the Furman Center focused on data analysis and regulatory research related to affordable housing development and preservation. Her experience in housing also includes overseeing residential energy efficiency grants for New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Outside of IBO, Sarah can be found wearing a tartan as a Scottish country dancer and playing viola in orchestral and chamber music groups. Sarah earned a master’s in public administration from New York University and a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College.

Sarita Subramanian. Sarita is the supervising analyst for our Education unit. She joined IBO in June 2009 as an education budget and policy analyst with a focus on capital budgeting. Sarita previously worked in the Federal Reserve System for four years, first in Washington, D.C. and then in New York. When not at work Sarita enjoys knitting, playing with Legos of all sizes with her two sons, and is an avid watcher of sports—tennis, soccer, baseball (Mets!) and hockey (Rangers!). She received her master’s in public administration from Columbia University and B.A. from Wellesley College.

Tara Swanson. Tara joined IBO in September 2006 as communications assistant and is now the production coordinator for our digital and print publications and resources. A Staten Island native who now lives in Brooklyn, Tara previously worked as the communications associate at St. Bartholomew's Church. When not crocheting in her off hours, Tara enjoys going to museums and then posting snarky tweets about the art. Tara graduated with a B.A. in English from York College of Pennsylvania.

George Sweeting. George is IBO’s deputy director and supervises our research, analysis, and projections. He joined IBO in August 1996, its first year of operations, as a senior economist covering the real property tax. Prior to IBO, George worked for 10 years at the city’s Department of Finance in the Office of Tax Policy analyzing the city’s income taxes (business and personal), and later, the Property Division, where he was responsible for policy analysis and quality control of the real property tax. He also served on the staff of the 1987 New York City Tax Study Commission and the 1993 Real Property Tax Reform Commission. George is a one-time hockey player and life-long fan of the New York Rangers. He received both his Ph.D. in economic history and B.A. from Columbia University.

Alan Treffeisen. Alan is a senior budget and policy analyst who focuses on transportation and infrastructure issues. He joined IBO in November 1998. He was previously an assistant professor of economics at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, where he also conducted research on the suburbanization of the Barcelona region. Alan has also taught economics in the City University of New York system. He has a Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics and a master's in city planning and transportation from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. from North Carolina State University.

Doug Turetsky. Born in the Bronx, raised in Queens, and now living in Brooklyn, Doug joined IBO in 2001 as communications director and became chief of staff as well in 2004. A former reporter and editor who wrote about New York City for local and national publications, he has also been director of policy and public affairs for United Neighborhood Houses. Doug’s city government experience also includes the Manhattan Borough President’s office, where he was deputy press secretary and then deputy director for policy. When not at work he can frequently be found running through the streets of Brooklyn, shooting photos, and, during baseball season, lazing in the upper deck at Citi Field. He received a master’s in urban planning from New York University and a B.A. from Bard College.

Erica Vladimer. Erica joined IBO in April 2016 as an education budget and policy analyst, after previously working as an education analyst and counsel in the New York State Senate, which included representing Senators in education budget negotiations. She has also served as the director of alumni and donor relations at Touro Law Center. Erica hails from New Jersey, reads U.S. Supreme Court decisions for fun, is a diehard Connecticut Huskies basketball fan, and claims to be deathly afraid of sweet potatoes. She received her J.D. from Touro Law Center in New York, and her B.A. from the University of Connecticut.

Vanessa Witenko. Vanessa joined IBO in 2018 as an education budget and policy analyst. Prior to IBO, she conducted research on educational inequality and evaluated programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM grant. As a former journalist, she visited more than 200 New York City public schools and reported on the city’s education policies and programs. In her spare time, she enjoys attending art events, camping, and jumping in the ocean waves. She holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a B.A. from Baruch College, City University of New York.