Meet our team of experienced researchers, communicators, and collaborators committed to making California a better place for everyone to call home.
Alissa Anderson, Senior Policy Fellow, conducts research to support policies that will create a more equitable economy where all Californians share in the state’s prosperity. Much of her work focuses on refundable income tax credits as tools for boosting economic security. She has provided policy recommendations and analytical support to a coalition of advocates working to strengthen and expand California’s Earned Income Tax Credit (the CalEITC) since the credit’s creation in 2015.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2005, Alissa was a research associate in the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. and taught English as a second language at an adult school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles. While in graduate school she conducted research on local living wage policies for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE).
Originally from the east coast, Alissa has called California home for nearly 20 years and lives with her partner and two children in Sacramento. She enjoys dancing and singing and appreciates the life lessons her children teach her, like how to slow down and live in the moment.
Emma Carmody, Development Associate, works to grow the organization by building and cultivating philanthropic relationships with institutional and individual funders dedicated to creating a more equitable California. Emma manages funder data, crafts funder communications, and works closely with the Director of Advancement to advance the Budget Center’s mission by strengthening the organization’s capacity.
Before joining the Budget Center in fall 2021, Emma worked as a development intern on the State Fiscal Policy team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. In this role, she aimed to strengthen the fundraising programs of state-based organizations across the country by helping to provide development resources and supporting the Center’s regranting efforts. She also served as the editor-in-chief for her university’s independent student newspaper. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and international business with a minor in Spanish from Saint Louis University.
Emma is a proud midwesterner having grown up in St. Paul, Minnesota but has loved getting to explore California as she’s settled into her new home in Sacramento. Outside of the office, she loves to travel, find new favorite local restaurants, and practice film photography.
Monica Davalos, Policy Analyst, conducts research on the intersection of housing, health, and the justice system. She primarily focuses on removing barriers and increasing support for unhoused Californians and people leaving incarceration. Her work strives to highlight the necessity to reform structurally racist policies to promote the goal of ensuring all Californians have a stable home and the ability to reintegrate in their families and communities.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2019, Monica was a legislative assistant at the California Medical Association and a constituent affairs representative in the Office of Governor Jerry Brown. She holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science from the University of California, Davis. Monica is currently working toward a master’s degree in public policy and administration at California State University, Sacramento.
Monica is a proud Central Valley native and first-generation college graduate. As the daughter of Nicaraguan and Mexican immigrants, she is driven by her passion to ensure underserved Californians have equitable opportunities and the protections needed to prosper.
Lilian Duong, Outreach Strategist, is focused on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion opportunities through intentional outreach and engagement strategies with outside organizations to support the vision of a more equitable California for families with low incomes, people of color, and other Californians blocked from our state’s prosperity. Lilian strives to uplift avenues for connection and external collaborations on shared goals and leads programs such as the Budget Center’s Empower speaker series.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2020, Lilian was an associate at Dewey Square Group, where she supported and advanced various state and local campaigns across different issues areas. Previous to that, she was an intern at the California Legislature. Lilian holds a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from University of California, Berkeley.
Lilian grew up in a single-parent, immigrant household and is a first-generation college graduate. She hails from San Gabriel Valley in Southern California and is, therefore, very picky about Chinese food. Yet she still enjoys exploring new cuisines while traveling.
Scott Graves, Director of Research, analyzes health and justice system policies and leads the organization’s work on state and local budget processes. On health policy, Scott’s work aims to ensure that Californians have equitable access to quality, affordable care. His justice system work highlights ongoing racial disparities and the human and fiscal costs of California’s overreliance on incarceration. Scott’s work on budget processes aims to give Californians the tools they need to effectively engage decision makers and advocate for fair and just policy choices. Previously, Scott covered safety net programs, housing, and early care and education for the Budget Center.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2002, Scott was a researcher for the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, Consumers Union, and the University of Texas at Austin’s Public Policy Clinic. He also was a newspaper reporter in California, a Pulliam journalism fellow, and a California executive fellow. Scott holds a Ph.D. in political science from UT Austin and a bachelor’s degree in government and journalism from California State University, Sacramento. His undergraduate work included a year at the University of Bristol in England, focused on politics and international relations.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Scott is an advocate for educational equity in his daughter’s school district. Outside of the office, you can find him listening to Mexican music and planning his next trip to the Eastern Sierra.
Chris Hoene, Executive Director, leads the strategic direction of the organization, acts as primary spokesperson, and works with the board of directors and community partners to advance the organization’s values, policy directions, and development. Chris is a dynamic leader who strives to build relationships and a collective vision with a range of partners and people, including the Budget Center team, policymakers, advocates, organizers, the media, and funders to improve the lives of Californians, particularly those who have been barred from sharing in California’s prosperity.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2012, Chris worked as the director of the Center for Research and Innovation at the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C. He also worked as an analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. and the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco. Chris holds a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Idaho. In 2011, Chris was elected as a fellow into the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in recognition of his service to the state and local community.
Chris is married to Darrene Hackler and, in their free time, they can be found hiking, playing tennis, paddleboarding, traveling, cooking, and seeking out good wine — not necessarily in that order, but ideally in the same day!
Sarah Jimenez, Director of Strategic Communications, leads the organization’s communications efforts, ensuring the Budget Center’s values are advanced through its publications, digital presence, and visual work. Sarah works with the Budget Center team to reach policymakers, advocates, and the media in sharing the organization's data, budget, and policy work, and show how fair and just policy choices are crucial for creating healthy families, strong communities, and a vibrant state.
Sarah’s mix of communications and policy experience comes from nearly two decades working for California and Capital-based organizations. Before joining the Budget Center in 2019, she worked for Paschal Roth Public Affairs, the County Welfare Directors Association of California, and the California State Association of Counties. She also was a reporter for The Fresno Bee, covering the communities she grew up in and around. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in print journalism and gender studies from the University of Southern California (Fight On!).
Sarah is a proud Central Valley native, growing up in the community of Reedley, and serves on the La Familia Counseling Center board in Sacramento. She enjoys taking her two children to their neighborhood library and grabbing “lucky day” finds off the shelf.
Jonathan Kaplan, Senior Policy Analyst, conducts research on education and tax policy issues to support the equitable allocation of state resources. Jonathan has authored various studies on educational policy and funding in California, including analyses of how state and federal policies impact public K-12 and postsecondary education and how California’s K-12 school funding compares to that in other states. Jonathan’s work on tax policy includes analyses of California’s corporation tax as well as providing analytical support to help public education advocates understand how tax revenue affects funding for California’s K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2006, Jonathan taught law and United States history for seven years in Martinez, California, where he also served as chair of Alhambra High School's Social Science Department. Jonathan’s classroom experiences working with English learners motivate his interest in policies that promote multilingual educational opportunities. Jonathan holds a master's degree in education from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and received his bachelor's degree in history from Yale University.
Jonathan enjoys cooking, seeing live music, and spending time outdoors with his spouse and son, especially biking, hiking, and skiing.
Sara Kimberlin, Senior Policy Fellow, focuses on economic security and housing needs and policies. Her work examines how Californians meet their basic needs through employment and public supports, including safety net programs and refundable tax credits — and how public policies can be improved to close gaps, be more equitable, and help more Californians make ends meet. She also focuses on housing affordability and homelessness and effective policy approaches to address these challenges, recognizing that unaffordable housing is a key driver of economic insecurity for many Californians.
Sara came to the Budget Center in 2017 from the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, where she continues to be an Affiliate and member of the team producing the California Poverty Measure. She has also worked as a research fellow evaluating child welfare policy; as development director for a homeless services nonprofit; and as a consultant to nonprofits, philanthropy, and cross-sector partnerships, specializing in housing, workforce development, and safety net supports. Sara holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.
A long-time Californian, Sara grew up in the Bay Area and lives in San Francisco with her partner and kids. In her free time you can find her walking the beach and tidepooling, in California and around the world.
Kayla Kitson, Policy Analyst, conducts research, authors publications, and provides technical assistance related to state tax and revenue policies. The primary goal of her work is to advance policies that make the state’s tax system more fair and ensure that it raises enough revenue to support the services Californians need to thrive.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2018, Kayla worked on federal tax policy issues in Washington, DC at Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Prior to getting into tax policy work, she focused on affordable housing and homelessness at organizations in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area. Kayla received a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in social welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Kayla was raised in San Diego County and enjoys watching TV with wry humor, listening to music, and occasionally camping. When she’s not working or bingeing TV, you might find her doing word puzzles or practicing Spanish with Duolingo or her cat.
Hannah Orbach-Mandel, State Policy Fellow, conducts research and analysis on gender equity and supporting California workers. The goals of her work are to advance policies that promote equitable working conditions for all workers, especially women and people of color, and to improve the lives of California women and families.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2022, Hannah received a master’s degree in public policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University, where she focused on policies to support survivors of sexual misconduct in higher education and in the workplace, and on paid parental leave policies. While getting her degree, she worked at TIME’S UP where she conducted research on best practices for workplace sexual harassment policies. Hannah earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics from Kenyon College.
Hannah was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and enjoys swimming, biking, and running, even in the dry heat. When she isn’t exercising, she loves cooking, reading, and watching sports, especially the University of Michigan Wolverines.
Kat Petsalis, Communications Associate, supports execution of strategies and tactics to effectively reach the Budget Center’s audiences and share timely, dependable information that promotes a more equitable California for all.
Prior to joining the Budget Center in January 2022, Kat worked as an intern at NextGen Policy where she assisted the communications team in creating, implementing, and analyzing advocacy campaigns to address environmental, social, racial, and economic inequities in California. Kat holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Sacramento.
Outside of the office, you can find Kat at a local coffee shop reading or playing cards with friends, listening to music while cooking, or enjoying a nature walk.
Adriana Ramos-Yamamoto, Policy Analyst, conducts research and analysis on issues that impact the health and well-being of Californians with the goal of advancing health equity: ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to be healthy and thrive, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, or zip code. While her work is primarily focused on health care and behavioral health, Adriana also supports the Budget Center’s work on the social determinants of health, recognizing that a wide range of budget and policy decisions can positively impact the health and well-being of Californians.
Prior to joining the Budget Center, Adriana worked as a health policy associate at The Children’s Partnership and as a graduate student intern and health educator at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Adriana earned her master’s degree in public health from the University of Southern California and her bachelor’s degree in government from Claremont McKenna College.
Adriana hails from Wildomar, California and is a daughter of Mexican immigrants. She usually spends her free time creating Spotify playlists or playing video games.
Erik Saucedo, Policy Analyst, conducts research and analyses with the goal of improving education systems so that all students have the resources and opportunities to thrive. Erik supports the Budget Center's work by focusing on equitable funding of K-12 and higher education and the impacts that race and gender-neutral policies have on students and their families. Through this work, Erik also develops recommendations for state policy.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2020, Erik was a tutoring program coordinator with the Pipeline Project while also completing a master’s degree in education at the University of Washington. Prior to graduate school, Erik was a high school Spanish teacher with Sacramento City Unified School District. Erik earned an associate’s degree at Hartnell Community College and a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Davis. Erik also completed a teacher preparation program at California State University, Sacramento.
As a first-generation college graduate from an immigrant background, Erik values the power of education and has dedicated his career to ensuring that students like him have opportunities to get a college degree. Erik’s favorite self-care activities are running and playing guitar.
Janice Selby, Director of Operations, supports the organization’s mission by ensuring that the Budget Center is a supportive workplace and a positive environment that fosters learning and career development for all staff. She leads the day-to-day management of financial transactions and office procedures and oversees the daily activities of the Budget Center, ensuring that the team is able to perform effectively and efficiently. She also develops and implements policies and practices for the team, supports the Board of Directors, and manages infrastructure and office technology.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2008, Janice worked for a renowned Sacramento bakery. Janice is passionate about supporting community organizations and volunteers for reproductive rights and other local organizations in her free time. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in communication studies from California State University, San José.
Janice was born and raised in Southern California. Outside of the office, you will find her gardening, embroidering, and spending time with her family.
Mauricio Torres, Communications Strategist, leads the Budget Center’s digital strategy, including the organization’s website, email program, social media accounts, and other digital assets. Mauricio works closely with colleagues to develop communication strategies and products that bring transparency to the state budget process and center the Budget Center’s perspective on creating a just and equitable California in the public conversation.
Before joining the Budget Center in 2019, Mauricio was a campaign coordinator at Paschal Roth Public Affairs where he supported labor unions and green energy clients. He also served as a press intern for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and as a legislative intern at the Trust for Public Land. Mauricio holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and communication studies from California State University, Sacramento (Stingers Up!), and he is working toward a master’s degree in strategic communication and public relations from Sacred Heart University. He is a board member at the Sacramento Lavender Library and Cultural Exchange.
Mauricio is a proud Chicano and first-generation college graduate. Outside the office, you can find him in the kitchen, planning his next trip, or listening to podcasts.
Janis Yee, Director of Advancement, aims to increase the organization’s impact by strengthening and building relationships across advocates, policymakers, philanthropic leaders, and other partners working to create a more equitable California. Janis leads the development and outreach team in exploring collaborative opportunities, increasing public education, and growing organizational capacity. Furthermore, Janis supports the development of organizational culture, practices, and systems needed to support the Budget Center’s commitment to equity.
Prior to joining the Budget Center in 2015, Janis worked for two San Francisco Bay Area-based communications firms focused on social change. From developing communications strategies to coordinating events, Janis worked with various nonprofit and foundation clients in the issue areas of child welfare, foster care, and juvenile justice. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, with a concentration in marketing, and minors in psychology and economics, from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Janis is a born and bred East Bay native, situational chef, and Golden State Warriors die-hard. She is constantly inspired by her partner and two children’s disarming sincerity and unbridled joy.