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


Christopher Ritter, Research Analyst

Christopher Ritter was appointed Research Analyst at The Institute in 2018. He previously served as a Research Associate in 2016, where he contributed to the Institute�s Education and Workforce Development Task Force�s report on the state of vocational education in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the fall 2016 Public Policy & Civic Engagement student poll, and the 2017 Indicators report.

Chris holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was an Articles Editor for Penn Law�s Journal of International Law and a member of the school�s Civil Rights Law Project. During law school, Chris also served as a Research Fellow with the University of Pennsylvania�s Perry World House for Global Engagement, and as a Research Assistant with Penn Law�s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law. His research interests include state-society relations, governance and political decision-making in economically disenfranchised regions.

Chris is also a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton with a double major in political science and history. While at the University of Scranton, Chris authored a senior thesis examining the impact of globalization and its corresponding economic, cultural, and social impact on voting behavior and political decision-making as a member of the University�s Honors Program. During his time in college and law school, Chris also 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.


Joseph Gallo, Research Assistant

Joseph Gallo joined the team at The Institute in 2018 as a Research Assistant. He is responsible for providing research support for a variety of projects at The Institute, in addition to assisting with outreach and working with interns. He has experience in qualitative and quantitative research, as well as in analytical writing.

As a student, Joseph completed a policy research practicum for the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education in New Jersey and worked with the Township of Green Brook as a sustainability intern. He then participated in the Community Scholars program through the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, and continued to spend the next year in the nonprofit sector helping a supportive housing organization.

Joseph graduated from Rutgers University in 2017 with a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree. He also holds a BA in International Relations from SUNY Geneseo, where he wrote and presented an honors thesis about the role of global norms in causing the Arab Spring revolutions.


Kara McGrane, Research Assistant

Kara McGrane joined The Institute as a Research Assistant in June 2018. She works under the supervision of the Executive Director on community-based and client projects by way of data accumulation, qualitative research, and analysis. She supports the Institute with event logistics as well as administrative functions.

Kara is a graduate of Maynooth University with a Master�s degree in Geography and of Syracuse University with a Bachelor�s in International Relations and Political Science. During her time at Syracuse, she studied abroad at Syracuse University Florence, Syracuse University Strasbourg, and University of Lower Silesia. She was awarded the Spector/ Warren fellowship: The Holocaust, Lessons for the Classroom by Syracuse University in 2016.

Upon graduating from Maynooth University she received First Class Honors and was awarded the Best Performance in the MA in Geography for having the top grade in the cohort and on the MA Thesis. Her thesis focused on the intersection of race, place, landscape, community, and interaction via case studies of traditional and modern public commemoration in Philadelphia.

Kara has completed internships at the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and at the Irish Housing Network. While at USHMM she conducted research for and helped coordinate academic programs. At the IHN she took part in projects involving field work such as service mapping, stakeholder interviews, and landscape observation. She also served as a teaching assistant for Syracuse University�s study abroad program at University of Lower Silesia.


Jill Avery-Stoss, Data, Research and Intern Coordinator

Jill Avery-Stoss joined The Institute in June 2018 to fill the newly-created role of Research, Data, Intern & Administrative Coordinator. She assists with the collection and management of data for purposes of ethical and efficient analysis. She visits partner campuses to market The Institute�s internship opportunities, and participates in event-planning logistical activities as well.

After studying English and Women�s Studies at Penn State University, Jill embarked on a decade-long journey of counseling and advocating for victims of sexual and domestic violence. During her time in this field, she also provided abuse-specific prevention education to audiences ranging from elementary students to individuals at the collegiate and professional levels.

Following her nonprofit career, Jill directed her attention to online content creation and editing. She produced hundreds of articles, press releases, and other copy on a wide array of topics. This work also includes the development of educational materials, such as benchmark-aligned passages and assessment items for high-school and university-level curricula. The experience directly impacts her regular review of documents to ensure their readiness for distribution and guideline compliance on behalf of the Institute.

Jill�s primary objective is to contribute to productive and proactive community impact. Her background and knowledge of underserved populations are ideally suited to the region�s development needs.