A partnership among Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Keystone College, King's College, Lackawanna College, Luzerne County Community College, Marywood University, Misericordia University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, Penn State Worthington Scranton, The Wright Center, University of Scranton, and Wilkes University.


Staff Profiles

Teri Ooms, Executive Director

Teri Ooms was appointed Executive Director of the newly formed Joint Urban Studies Center (The Institute) in 2004. In 2008, JUSC became The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development. The Institute is a think tank that has been established to provide essential research, analysis, and consultation to entities looking for revitalization and long-term sustainability. The principal purpose of The Institute is to increase the capacity of organizations to solve their own problems and become thriving entities.

Since its inception Ooms has been responsible for all facets of research, organizational strategy, and management. Ooms is an active principal investigator in all Institute research. Ooms has been nationally recognized as a leader in regional economic development. She turned that skill into a research institute to help other communities develop and prosper. Her strategic skills have allowed The Institute to expand its services to the private and non-profit sectors for research and analysis in community health needs assessments, strategic planning, market and feasibility studies, and economic impact analysis. Ooms’ leadership has expanded The Institute’s work to other states. Under her direction, The Institute has completed over 100 client and community based studies. These studies have resulted in new jobs, new programs, sustained initiatives, and new legislation throughout Pennsylvania and in New York. Ooms also serves on a number of local and regional non-profit boards.

From 1997 – 2004, Ooms served as President/CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP), Riverside, CA and of its two sister companies. IEEP is responsible for the regional marketing, attraction, and recruitment of new business to the region, the expansion and retention of existing business, film, tourism, high tech regional development, a workforce collaborative, regional visioning & planning, legislative advocacy, and the Small Business Development Center.

As President/CEO, Ms. Ooms completed a reorganization of the company resulting in new programs and services, financial stability and increased prominence in the community. In the period of 1997-2003, IEEP had 70 successful business attractions and retentions resulting in over $730 million in new investment into the region creating over 9,500 jobs. The region had over 5,000 film shoots, demonstrating a little over $425 million in regional impact in the same period. In 1999, she was awarded "Management Leader of the Year," by the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, and in 1998, 1999, and 2000 was a recipient of the "Women of Distinction" award given by the Business Press. During her term as CEO, IEEP’s membership grew by 10% and maintained an average membership retention ratio of 93%. IEEP evolved to include a high technology development program and coordination of the region’s workforce collaborative to bring education and business partnerships to benefit employers, employees, and students; and a regional collaborative focused on regional visioning, planning, advocacy and implementation.

Ms. Ooms joined IEEP in 1991 as the Executive Director of its Inland Empire Small Business Development Center. Under the direction of Ms. Ooms, the Center grew to a staff of 21 with multiple regional locations, and its program has increased funding to $1.1 million, making it the
largest California program. The Center created numerous special services and training programs, and demonstrated economic impact of over $300 million in its eleven-year history.

Ms. Ooms is a cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton with a BS in Public Administration and an MBA in Finance.


Andrew Chew, Senior Research and Policy Analyst

Andrew Chew is a policy, planning, and economic development professional and a native of Carbon County, Pennsylvania. He is experienced in urban planning and has previously held positions at the Somerset County, New Jersey Planning Board and Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. He also worked on a variety of community-focused research projects as a Research Assistant at the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium. Andrew is experienced in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), statistical software, and other technologies to perform data analysis and policy research. His professional accomplishments include work on an extensive Trends and Indicators Report, several neighborhood revitalization plans, and collection and analysis of critical data from secondary sources and in the field.

Andrew holds a Master's in City and Regional Planning from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. His graduate studies included coursework in community and economic development, urban economics, land use planning, and GIS. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Muhlenberg College, graduating magna cum laude and with honors for his senior research project examining economic development policies in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Lehighton Area High School.


Susan Magnotta, Director of Community Outreach

Susan Magnotta joined the team at the Institute in January, 2017 as the Director of Community Outreach. Susan is responsible for marketing, business development, fundraising and community outreach.

A graduate of Villanova University with a BA in English, she enjoyed a successful ten year career in pharmaceutical sales both in Harrisburg and in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She earned various sales awards and was recognized as a top 10% performer nationwide several times. Following her sales career, she helped with the launch of NEPA Family magazine as editor and in advertising sales. Most recently, through grass-roots efforts, Susan started a local a field hockey organization with the mission of offering low cost, off-season playing opportunities to girls in the community so that no player would be left behind. This not-for-profit organization helped over 300 young girls experience field hockey in a variety of clinics, leagues and tournaments. She and her husband have five children and reside in Forty Fort.


Erin McCormick, Research Assistant

Erin McCormick was appointed the Research Assistant at The Institute in 2016. The Research Assistant works under the direction of the Executive Director and provides support for The Institute’s operations to include administrative functions, meeting and event coordination and logistics, fulfillment and dissemination of information, outreach functions to academic institutions to secure student and faculty research support; research and special projects, social media and intern recruitment.

A recent graduate of the University of Scranton, Erin earned her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and History with a minor in Political Science. During her time as an undergraduate, she studied abroad at Queen Mary University of London and completed internships with the Office of Congressman Matt Cartwright and The Institute for Public Poicy & Economic Development. During her time at The Institute, she served as a researcher on the University of Scranton commissioned project, The Living Wage Study.

Erin is originally from Rochester, New York and is a graduate of Avon Central High School.


Christopher Ritter, Research Associate

Christopher Ritter was appointed Research Associate at The Institute in 2016. During his time here, Chris has served as a researcher for the Education and Workforce Development Task Force’s forthcoming report on the state of vocational education in northeastern Pennsylvania, the Institute’s fall 2016 Public Policy & Civic Engagement student poll, and the Institute’s forthcoming 2017 Indicators report.

As a student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Chris serves as an associate editor on the Penn Law’s Journal of International Law and is a member of the law school’s Civil Rights Law Group. He is also a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton with a double major in Political Science and History. During his time in college, Chris conducted a senior research project examining the impact of globalization and its corresponding economic, cultural, and social changes on voting behavior and political decision-making as a member of the University’s Honors Program. He has completed internships with the regional offices of Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., Governor Thomas W. Corbett, and Judge James Munley of Pennsylvania’s Middle District.