Lavea Brachman, JD, MCP
As Executive Director and a co-founder of the Greater Ohio Policy Center, Lavea has been instrumental in shaping the organization’s direction and strategic policy priorities aimed at restoring prosperity to Ohio. She brings a passion for community and economic redevelopment to this work and a belief in the productive impact of linking sound policy with good practices. To advance this agenda in Ohio, Lavea has also formed strategic organizational partnerships with state and national organizations, including through her previous positions as non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and as a policy fellow with the German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C., which she has advised on their “cities in transition” initiative investigating European city revitalization practices that can be modeled in U.S. cities. She was a leading architect and co-author of the Brookings-Greater Ohio state policy report, “Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities for the Next Economy,” that provided a blueprint for state economic revitalization and received extensive, statewide attention for its data-driven, bipartisan approach.
Lavea previously practiced environmental law in Washington, D.C. and was a partner with a Cambridge, Massachusetts consulting firm advising Fortune 500 companies on brownfield property redevelopment strategies. She also worked in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management at the Department of Energy during the Clinton Administration on community and neighborhood development and land reuse issues surrounding the U.S. decommissioned nuclear sites. While living in Boston, Lavea worked for a community development corporation and then as a Visiting Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP) and a Visiting Professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, she developed and taught workshops on property redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization efforts. Lavea speaks frequently and writes on policies and practices for revitalizing legacy cities and most recently co-authored “Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities,” a policy report examining these cities’ challenges and offering a set of recommended solutions.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, a law degree from The University of Chicago Law School, and a master’s in city planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has two teenagers and lives with her family in a first-ring suburb of Columbus, Ohio.
Alison D. Goebel, PhD
As the Greater Ohio Policy Center's Deputy Director, Alison develops and executes fee-for-service and grant funded projects. Projects range from research, outreach, coalition building, and statehouse advocacy and are frequently a blend of these approaches. Alison also manages staff and oversees most of GOPC’s day-to-day operations. Alison has been with GOPC since 2010 and has held in a number of positions, including, most recently, Associate Director.
From 2005 to 2009, Alison periodically lived in Mansfield, Ohio, conducting long term qualitative research on small city race and class relations. She has published popular and scholarly writing about contemporary small city social relationships and is in the process of writing a book based on her research into Ohio’s smaller cities. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in anthropology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and received her B.A. from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).
Alison is a graduate of Leadership Ohio and was elected by her class for the 2014 "Leader Among Leaders" award. She is a member of the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Programming Committee and the Ohio Lobbying Association. Prior to joining GOPC, she worked in academic publishing.
Alex Highley, MPA
Project Associate, Research and Communications
As Project Associate for the Greater Ohio Policy Center, Alex contributes to project development and implementation by conducting select research and interfacing with external stakeholders. He is also responsible for maintaining GOPC’s external communications and growing its supporter base.
Alex is a recent graduate of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree in August 2015 and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in Spanish in May 2013. At the Glenn College, Alex served as Treasurer of the Public Affairs Student Association and as Student Representative of the Graduate Studies Committee.
As a student Alex pursued a number of internship opportunities, where he most notably worked on national and local initiatives seeking to develop solutions for people experiencing homelessness with Barbara Poppe and Associates, LLC. Prior to the 2014 statewide elections, Alex interned with the John Patrick Carney campaign for Ohio Auditor of State. As a native of Worthington, Alex has maintained an interest in strategies that expand affordable housing around Ohio. He is also passionate about enabling states to innovatively finance public transit infrastructure and advance multi-modal transportation policies.
In her role as Researcher with the Greater Ohio Policy Center, Torey manages and carries out research projects and contributes to policy development related to GOPC’s mission of promoting revitalization and economic prosperity. Torey is currently pursuing her Masters in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University, where she is focusing on policies and practices that help develop strong neighborhoods in Ohio’s legacy cities, including her hometown of Dayton.
Prior to returning to Ohio, Torey served as Senior Regional Organizer at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in Washington, DC. In that role, she worked to build and strengthen local coalitions focused on promoting community reinvestment and strong neighborhoods throughout the Midwest. Torey joined NCRC after working as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Washington, DC's Ward 7 for Greater DC Cares. She received her BA from the University of Chicago.
Jon Honeck, PhD
Senior Policy Fellow
Jon has 17 years of professional experience with state policy issues, particularly in taxation and state budget analysis. As a Senior Policy Fellow with the Greater Ohio Policy Center, he is responsible for managing large research projects and developing policy strategies to finance infrastructure development. His major project in 2016 is to lead GOPC’s efforts to develop innovative financing strategies for “gray” and “green” water infrastructure that will address the full range of needs facing Ohio’s cities.
Jon joined GOPC in March 2016, after serving for seven years as Director of Public Policy and Advocacy in the Columbus office of The Center for Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization focused on improving human service policies. In this role, he developed and managed large research projects; coordinated external relations with legislators, state agencies, and nonprofit advocacy organizations, and edited and/or authored numerous editions of State Budgeting Matters, an ongoing publication series describing key policy issues in human services and taxation. He testified frequently in the state budget process and in support of the establishment of a permanent mechanism to evaluate tax credits, deductions, and special preferences, known collectively as “tax expenditures.” His most recent projects include Aging Ohio: The Budget Implications of Ohio’s Aging Demographics (2014), in conjunction with Regionomics, Inc. which estimated the impact of an older population on revenues from the income tax, sales tax, homestead exemption, and spending in the Medicaid program through the year 2035. In 2015, he was the co-author of Ohio at a Crossroads: The Developmental Disabilities System, an analysis of how federal policy pressure for increased community integration interacted with budgetary constraints in a system in which the state shares responsibility with county boards. He was the principal editor for the revised 2013 edition of Richard G. Sheridan’s Follow the Money, authored by Terry Thomas, the premier resource describing the history, constitutional framework, and process of the state budget system.
Previously, Jon worked for six years as a senior researcher with Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit think tank, focusing on taxation, workforce development, and the impact of international trade on Ohio’s economy. Some his principal reports include Flawed by Design: A Review of the Proposed Tax and Expenditure Limitation Amendment (2005), an analysis of how a proposal to amend the state constitution with a severely restrictive tax and expenditure limitation that would have overturned decades of standard budgeting practice and made it almost impossible to fund adequate public services. Jon made numerous presentations based on this work and participated in a broad-based coalition that succeeded in turning back the amendment. In 2003, he wrote Exploring the Third Frontier: Constitutional and Fiscal Implications of Issue 1, a major report describing in detail the proposal to amend Ohio’s constitution to permit the state and other public entities to issue bonds to accelerate science and technology investments.
Earlier in his career, Jon served as a research associate at the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, where he drafted legislation, wrote reports for legislators, and staffed the House Commerce and Labor committee and the Economic Development and Small Business committee. In this nonpartisan role, he worked closely with legislators to develop their ideas into legislative language and to analyze the legal and constitutional framework of policy proposals. While at LSC, Jon also completed the training module for fiscal staff.
Jon received a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his dissertation analyzed state science and technology policy to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector in older industrial areas. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University in the same field, and is a member of the national academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
Sheldon K. Johnson, MDiv, MPP
Urban Revitalization Project Specialist
As the Urban Revitalization Project Specialist for the Greater Ohio Policy Center, Sheldon is responsible for: building and strengthening Greater Ohio’s relationships with stakeholders and partners, raising the organization’s profile through speaking engagements and outreach opportunities, and advancing Greater Ohio’s policy agenda by conducting research and managing local projects.
Prior to his time at GOPC, Sheldon served for two years as an AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellow and another as a Campus Recruitment Manager for Citizen Schools in Boston, MA. Most recently, Sheldon worked with the City Manager’s office in Gresham, OR on the Community Prosperity Project. For this project he developed a strategic implementation plan to decrease chronic homelessness in the city.
Sheldon is a 2008 graduate of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor where he received a Bachelor in General Studies with concentrations in Black Studies, Political Science, and Education. He also holds a Master of Public Policy from Duke University’s Terry Sanford School of Public Policy and a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School.
Sheldon is passionate about engaging a variety of stakeholders in the work of transforming Ohio’s urban neighborhoods and communities into engines of economic development. He seeks an asset based approach that celebrates the unique treasure each community has to offer.
Accounting & Office Manager
Meg’s primary responsibilities are the accounting and office management of the Greater Ohio Policy Center. Meg is responsible for office bookkeeping and financial reporting and analysis; corporate support and office management; and select event planning duties.
Meg is originally from Ashtabula, Ohio and has resided in Columbus since 1987. She studied Business Administration at Kent State Ashtabula Branch and obtained her Associates Degree in Accounting from Columbus State Community College.
Prior to joining GOPC, she was the Project Coordinator for a real estate development project in Panama City Beach, Florida. She also served as Office Administrator for a mid-sized law firm in Columbus for over a decade and managed all financial and operational areas of the firm. Her background encompasses the areas of law, real estate and accounting.
As a Research Intern with the Greater Ohio Policy Center, Colleen assists in researching and developing innovative financing tools for water and sewer infrastructure upgrades in Ohio’s cities and metros. She also supports research on small and medium sized legacy cities to add to a robust database to be used for present and future research needs.
Prior to joining GOPC, Colleen graduated from Ohio State University’s honors program in 2014 with a B.A. in Geography and Spanish. She worked at Mid-Ohio Foodbank assisting the pantry and produce programs.Through work and academic experiences, she honed her research and problem solving skills. Colleen will be attending a graduate program for urban planning in the fall of 2016. She will focus on post-disaster recovery and the needs of communities in stress such as affordable housing and infrastructure.
Key Consultants to GOPC
- Pete DiSalvo, President, DiSalvo Development Advisors; real estate market analyst
- Bill LaFayette, Ph.D., owner of Regionomics®"; economist
- Alan Mallach, Non-resident Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution and Senior Fellow, Center for Community Progress; urban revitalization expert
- Rick Stein, Principal, Urban Decision Group; GIS and urban data expert