University of Illinois Chicago



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David F. Merriman is the leader of IGPA's  Fiscal Health of Illinois Working Group and is the James J. Stukel Presidential Professor of Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His major area of study is state and local public finance. Professor Merriman directs The Fiscal Futures Project, which created and maintains of a comprehensive and consistently defined measure of the Illinois state budget.  He has published extensively about the effect of tax increment finance policy on local economic growth and the determinants of tobacco tax avoidance. He has also studied Walmart’s impact on urban economic development. His most recent research concerns state and local business taxation.

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Amanda Kass is the associate director of the Government Finance Research Center in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago and is a member of the IGPA Fiscal Health of Illinois Working Group. As associate director she designs, conducts, and manages research in the GFRC's priority areas. Amanda also works with the faculty and external advisory panels to advance the GFRC’s goals and disseminate its research. Amanda has previously worked at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and the University of Chicago’s Center for Municipal Finance.

Amanda’s research focuses on state and local finance, with sub-specialties in pensions, housing, and fiscal analysis. Her work has been published in Chicago Magazine and Urban Affairs Review. She has appeared in various media outlets, including Bloomberg, the Bond Buyer, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Reuters, Tax Analysts, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.



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Benjamin M. Superfine is a member of the working group on Education and Learning, and is a professor in the College of Education at UIC, where his research interests center on education law and policy.

Superfine received his J.D. and Ph.D. in Education Foundations and Policy from the University of Michigan. Before joining UIC, Superfine practiced law at Dow Lohnes PLLC in Washington, D.C. Superfine's research focuses on the history of education law and policy, school finance reform, standards-based reform and accountability, teacher evaluation, and collective bargaining. His research is interdisciplinary and addresses educational issues through the lenses of law, history, and social science. He is the founder and Director of the Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative at UIC.



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Rachel Weber is a member of the working group on the Fiscal Health of Illinois. She is a professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she conducts research in economic development, real estate, and public finance. She has expertise in the areas of urban and regional economic development, public finance, municipal government law, planning theory, andreal estate. She has conducted extensive research on the impact of changes in capital markets on urban economies and the built environment. She has also written on school and infrastructure finance, the effect of e-commerce on bricks-and-mortar retailers, the design of incentive contracts, and participatory budgeting. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning and author of From Boom to Bubble: How Finance Built the New Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Weber was appointed by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force and was a member of the Urban Policy Advisory Committee for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.



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Catherine Main is a member of the Education and Learning working group. She is a senior lecturer in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her clinical and research interests focus on developing early childhood educators to serve in under-resourced, urban environments.

She has more than 20 years of teaching experiences in preschool, kindergarten, primary grades, and university settings. Her work includes innovative and responsive program development in Early Childhood Education at UIC. Main designed and developed a Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education program and an Early Childhood Alternative certification program. She provides consultation, professional development, and program evaluation services for a variety of organizations and regularly presents her program work at national conferences and as an invited speaker at local conferences. Main also serves on several advisory groups and boards including the Illinois Early Learning Council Program Standards and Quality Committee, the Harold Washington Chicago Community College Child Development Program Advisory Board, and is a member of the Illinois Articulation Initiative Early Childhood panel.  She is co-chair of the Illinois Higher Education Learning and Professional Development Work Group, the lead on the state team participating in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Innovation to Incubation (i2I) program focusing on Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce, and the current President of Illinois Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (ILAECTE).

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Christopher Z. Mooney is the W. Russell Arrington Professor of State Politics in the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Professor Mooney served as director of IGPA from 2013 through 2017, and from 2004-2013, he was an IGPA faculty member at University of Illinois at Springfield. Mooney studies comparative U.S. state politics, with special focus on state legislatures, and he is a noted expert on term limits. Since 2010, the American Political Science Association’s State Politics and Policy section has awarded the annual Christopher Z. Mooney Prize for the best dissertation the field. In 2012, Professor Mooney was awarded that section’s Career Achievement Award, and in 2017, he was elected to a two-year term as its president.

The main focus of Professor Mooney’s research involves the study of state politics and policy in the United States. In particular, his work deals with state legislatures, lawmaking, and morality policymaking. He is currently working on a long-term project exploring how state legislators think about cause and effect in public policy. He also is the co-author of one of the leading undergraduate textbooks in his field, State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform, published by Wadsworth/Cengage.



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Maria Krysan focuses her research on racial residential segregation and racial attitudes. She is the primary author of Tracking Trends in Racial Attitudes, a website that compiles results of several national surveys that have been tracking Americans’ racial attitudes from as early as the 1940s. Professor Krysan's investigations of these substantive issues often connect to methodological questions about how to study this sensitive area of social life. She combines standard closed-ended survey analysis with mode of administration experiments, analyses of open-ended survey questions, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. In addition to an edited volume with Amanda Lewis, The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity, her most recent work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Science Research, Social Problems, and The DuBois Review. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Russell Sage Foundation, and Ford Foundation.  Her most recent work focuses on understanding the causes of residential segregation, particularly as viewed through the question of how people end up living where they do.