Meet the Team

Stephan Weiler

Professor of Economics


Stephan Weiler is Professor of Economics at Colorado State University and Co-Director of the university’s Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI@CSU). He received his BA (Honors) in Economics and MA in Development Economics from Stanford University in 1988, and his Economics PhD from UC-Berkeley in 1994 where he studied with eventual Nobel Laureate George Akerlof. From 2004 through 2006, Stephan was appointed as Assistant Vice President and Economist at the Federal Reserve’s Center for the Study of Rural America to lead the Center’s applied research work. The Center was the focal point in the Federal Reserve System for rural and regional development issues, providing cutting-edge research perspectives to private, public, and nonprofit decision makers. He also initiated the Colorado Innovation Report series, and was named Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair in 2019. His research, comprising over one hundred articles, book chapters, and policy papers, has spanned a variety of development and labor market issues in Africa, Appalachia, Europe, and the American West, now being distilled into the Regional Economic Development Institute.

Dawn Thilmany

Professor of Agricultural Economics


Dawn Thilmany McFadden is the Co-Director of REDI. She has been a Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics since 1997 and supports Engaged Scholarship within the Office of Engagement and Extension at Colorado State University.  She specializes in economic development related to local, organic and innovative food value chains, providing research and outreach related to strategic positioning, food market analysis and consumer trends. She has published over 100 journal articles on buying behavior, agricultural markets and food systems and agritourism, with presentations to over 300 industry, community and academic audiences.

She is on the leadership team of the CSU Extension Community Development team and Civic Centers and serves on the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council. She has served on a number of Colorado and US Dept of Agriculture boards, research teams and review panels. She is the outgoing President of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, and previously served in leadership roles with the Western Agricultural Economics Association, the Food Distribution Research Society and several regional research committees.

Jude Bayham

Associate Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics


Jude Bayham is an environmental and natural resource economist with research interests at the intersection of public policy, human health, and the natural environment. His research spans several topics including the economics of wildfire management, the impact of human behavior on infectious disease management, the impacts of air quality on society, and the economic impacts of outdoor recreation. Jude teaches courses at CSU on the economics of outdoor recreation, data-drive decision-making, and economic research methodology.

Libby Christensen

Project Manager

Libby has over 10 years of experience working in food systems with a focus on the interconnectivity of rural and urban places through food and agriculture. She is passionate about identifying, expanding, and leveraging demand for agricultural and food products to improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of farmers and ranchers. Her experiences include establishing a local food label with Sacramento County Farm Bureau, working on a small scale pig farm in North Carolina, running a produce distribution company in the Salinas Valley, and teaching nutrition courses at Colorado State University. In Libby’s current position she manages all things food related including food safety training, value-added food business development, food preservation, and local food system efforts.

Sonali Diddi

Associate Professor, Dept. of Design and Merchandising


Sonali Diddi ‘s research focuses on Sustainable Clothing Production and Consumption. Her research-based, interdisciplinary and systems thinking-informed approach to addressing sustainability-related issues and problems in textiles and apparel industry recognizes the ever-changing dimensions of the discipline and an increasingly diverse and challenged society and global economy. Sonali constantly seeks out ways to engage with the local community to gain a sense of the broader relevance of her research in society. She is currently working to develop Colorado Fiber Systems Collaborative to map Colorado’s fiber related producers and businesses. She was an expert consultant for BBC Radio (UK), New York Academy of Sciences and invited international speaker for numerous events to share her research.

Mackenzie Gill

Mackenzie Gill is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at CSU. Broadly, her primary area of research interest is the intersection of consumer choice and regional food system growth. Her work as a research assistant at CSU has focused on issues of food access, nutrition security, and market choices in Colorado. Going forward, she plans to delve more deeply into factors that impact regional food systems’ ability to resiliently respond to economic shocks. Prior to her time at CSU, Mackenzie earned her B.S. in Animal Science and M.S. in Agricultural Economics at the University of Tennessee. On the weekends, you can find her either enjoying the Colorado scenery or at the Farmers’ Market information booth.

Gregory Graff

Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics


Dr. Gregory Graff’s research at CSU looks at the economics and public policy of technological innovation and entrepreneurship in the agricultural and food industries. His work analyzes the interrelationships among intellectual property rights, technology transfer, startups, venture capital, and other aspects of the innovation ecosystem. His regional economics work focuses on the formation and impact of regional high tech clusters on economic growth. Dr. Graff publishes in the economics literature as well as in leading scientific journals such as Science and Nature Biotechnology. At CSU, he teaches courses on the global agricultural and food system, agricultural policy, entrepreneurship, and the economics of technological change in agricultural production. Dr. Graff did his bachelors in Biological Sciences at Cornell University in 1992, his master’s at Ohio State University in 1995, and his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics at University of California at Berkeley in 2002. Dr. Graff and his family own and operate Laughing Buck Farm on the outskirts of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Rebecca Hill

Research Scientist, Agricultural and Resource Economics


Rebecca Hill is a Research Scientist with a joint appointment with the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI) and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. She currently teaches Water Law Policies and Institutions as well as Agricultural Marketing at CSU and her research interests revolve around issues connected to Community and Economic Development.

Dana L Hoag

Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics


Dana Hoag is a native of Colorado and earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees at CSU. He has been a professor at CSU for about 30 years, where he is active in teaching, research and extension. Dr. Hoag specializes in issues where agriculture and the environment intersect. He provides analyses that offer information about how to reduce conflicts through management or policy. His focus is on water, soil and wildlife. He has published about 150 refereed journal articles and over 250 Extension publications. He teaches policy, ecosystem services in agriculture and environmental economics. He developed a book with website support on agricultural risk and computer decision aids for disease management in peaches, soil conservation, fertilizer use, farm and water contamination tradeoffs from pesticides, and nutrient trading. Dr. Hoag has served as an expert to the US Congress and for litigation in the Supreme Court involving water use conflicts between states. Many of his studies have required regional studies, such as how conservation easements affect sense of place, how irrigation restrictions might effect county economies, returns from CSU research, and the impact of wildlife refuges on local economies.

Becca Jablonski

Co-Director Food Systems Institute @ CSU; Associate Professor


Becca Jablonski is the co-Director of the Food Systems Institute at Colorado State University and an Associate Professor and Food Systems Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Dr. Jablonski’s research and extension program is comprised of two primary components: 1) evaluating the farm and ranch profitability impacts of sales through non-commodity markets (e.g., local food markets, farm to school programs); and, 2) assessing the community economic impacts of food system policies, investments, and programs, including strategies focused on strengthening rural-urban linkages. As part of her position she co-leads CSU’s Food Systems Extension team. Dr. Jablonski holds a PhD from Cornell University.

Saniya Jilani

Graduate Teaching Assistant & Research Assistant

I’m a third year PhD Economics student. My areas of interest are concentrated around development economics with a feminist perspective to prevalent issues within countries, particularly those in South Asia. I am also a research assistant for REDI@CSU which allows me to explore the regional context of development and engage with local stakeholders. Prior to joining the PhD program, I worked as a Research Assistant (Punjab), Accountability and Inclusion for the Subnational Governance Project led by Oxford Policy Management.

Alexis R. Kennedy

Masters of Public Policy and Administration

Dr. Alexis R. Kennedy is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration at CSU. Her research focuses on public management topics including the interactions between public, private, and nonprofit organizations in the pursuit of public outcomes, community engaged research, and social equity. Her articles have appeared in Administration and Society, Review of Public Personnel Administration, and Journal of International Development. In addition to her academic work, Kennedy has worked as a practitioner in the energy industry in New Jersey and as a public finance consultant for nonprofit and public entities in Colorado.

Tim Komarek

Associate Professor of Economics

Tim Komarek is an Associate Professor of Economics. He works in urban and regional economics, resource economics, and local public finance. His academic research has appeared in the Journal of Urban Economics, National Tax Journal, Regional Science and Urban Economics, among other outlets. It has spanned topics ranging from the local effects of fiscal austerity to place-based policies and regional entrepreneurship. Dr. Komarek received his PhD from Michigan State University in 2012. He previously worked as an Associate Professor at Old Dominion University and as a fellow at the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy.

Austin Landini

PhD Candidate in Economics

Austin is a PhD candidate in the Economics department, originally from Iowa City, IA. His research focuses on the local economic impacts of demographic change over time.

Ray Miller

Assistant Professor / Economics


Ray Miller is an Assistant Professor of Economics. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Colorado School of Public Health. His research investigates the determinants and consequences of health disparities and social inequality. Research interests include health and education policy, population aging, and the inequality of health and economic well-being among older populations. Dr. Miller received his doctorate in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. He previously worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and Research Fellow in the Program on the Global Demography of Aging, as well as for the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research and evaluation organization in Washington DC.

Gregory Miller, CFA

Lead Research Assistant

Is the Lead Research Assistant at REDI and a second-year PhD student. Prior to working with REDI he obtained a BA in Business Administration with a finance concentration and MSc of Finance from CSU. He has also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute. In the intervening time period between earning his BA and MSc, Gregory ran a Registered Municipal Advisory consulting firm that helped local governments in Colorado figure out how to finance more than $100 million of infrastructure projects such as road, water, and wastewater systems. His research interests include public finance, spatial and regional economics, and asymmetric information.

Daniel Mooney

Agricultural and Resource Economics


Dr. Mooney is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University (CSU). He holds research, teaching, extension, and service appointments with an emphasis on agricultural production systems, food and agricultural value chains, and business management. His current research and outreach projects include topics related to crop and livestock production management, water and soil resource sustainability, technology adoption and impact evaluation, and farm financial management. He currently teaches Agricultural and Resource Enterprise Analysis (AREC 305) for undergraduates and Agricultural Production and Cost Analysis (AREC 605) for graduates. Prior to joining CSU, Dr. Mooney earned degrees from the University of Wisconsin (Ph.D., B.S.) and Michigan State University (M.S.). He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama and has lived or worked in several other locations, including Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tennessee.

Susan Opp

Professor and MPPA Director


Susan M. Opp, PhD, is currently a Full Professor of Public Policy and Administration and Director of the Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is also a Fulbright Scholar to Mauritius for 2021-2022 where she is studying economic development and sustainability on the island nation. Dr. Opp is a community engaged scholar that focuses on questions of local sustainability, economic development, and urban affairs in her research, teaching, and community service activities. Since receiving her Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Louisville, Dr. Opp has served as the director of a NASPAA accredited MPA program, founder and director of the Masters in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) graduate program, graduate programs coordinator for the MA and PhD in political science, internship director, and a variety of other public service related work. Her research has appeared in a number of academic and professional outlets including Urban Affairs Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, Economic Development Quarterly, and Local Environment, to name a few. She is also the author or editor of five books- including one printed as part of the ASPA series on public administration and policy in (2013). She had the distinct pleasure of being one of the inaugural APSA “Pracademic Fellows” at the Environmental Protection Agency working in the Office of Policy in 2016- thanks, in large part, to the efforts of Dr. Beryl Radin.

Anita Alves Pena

Professor of Economics


Dr. Anita Alves Pena is a Professor of Economics at Colorado State University. Her research is in public sector economics, labor economics, and economic development and she has particular interests in public policy, poverty, immigration, education/skill, and agricultural labor markets in Colorado and beyond. Dr. Pena received her Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University in 2007. She is a REDI Research Associate and one of the faculty leads for the Poverty Action Center (PAC@REDI). She also holds affiliations with the Colorado School of Public Health and with the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.

Phyllis Resnick

Colorado Futures Center


Phyllis Resnick is the Executive Director and Chief Economist at the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University. The Colorado Futures Center is a CSU affiliated 501c3 organization dedicated to informing about economic, fiscal and public policy issues impacting community economic health and quality of life. Phyllis leads the center’s work on macro/fiscal forecasting, the fiscal sustainability of state and local government, and the impacts of tax and expenditure limitations. She also supports the center’s expanded research portfolio focusing on all aspects of family economic security and community economic health.

Internationally, as a consultant and volunteer, Phyllis works in Southern and East Africa, the MENA countries and central Asia in the areas of fiscal forecasting, budget transparency/open budgets, and citizen involvement in the budget process. For her work in Africa, Phyllis was awarded 2015 Volunteer of the Year from the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance. Her MA and PhD are from the University of Colorado.

Alternative email contact:

Sarah Rhodes

Entrepreneurship Business Resident, Institute for Entrepreneurship: College of Business

Sarah Rhodes serves as Entrepreneurship Business Resident and is responsible for supporting the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grant and the launch of the Beverage Business Institute. Sarah works alongside other campus partners in the Regional Economic Development Institute, supporting entrepreneurship & innovation programing, planning and technical support to diversify economic opportunities in Colorado. While also pursuing her masters degree in the inaugural cohort of the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management Masters.

Michael Seman

Assistant Professor of Arts Management

Dr. Michael Seman is an assistant professor of arts management at Colorado State University. Michael’s work examines issues in the creative economy and focuses on how music ecosystems and regional growth intersect. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, CNN, and regional media outlets often seek Michael’s perspective and insights. His work is published in various academic journals, edited volumes, CityLab, and most recently by the Brookings Institution; he has also co-authored music strategies and creative economy reports for the City of Denver and the State of Colorado. Michael is currently writing a book about music venues and cities for the University of Texas Press. He previously managed daytime programming for two music festivals in Denton, Texas and spent several years as an internal marketing executive at Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills, California. He is represented by the Creative Class Group for speaking engagements.

Zachary Schaller

Assistant Professor of Economics

Zachary Schaller is an applied microeconomist specializing in political economy, labor, and economic history. I am particularly interested in labor unions and industrial conflict, although I also enjoy thinking about regional labor markets and their interaction with general equilibrium market forces.

Patti Schmitt

Community Development Director


Patti Schmitt is the Community Development Director for the Office of Engagement and Extension at Colorado State University. In this role, she works closely with Colorado communities to address complex social, health, economic and safety challenges. Additionally, she is the Director of a unique leadership program called the Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) of Colorado at CSU Extension. FLTI is a community-based leadership program that utilizes an evidence-based curriculum to build community member capacity to be leaders in addressing local challenges in collaboration with content experts and decision makers. The mission of the FLTI Collaborative is to bridge the gap between decision makers and community members so that communities can better learn, plan and act together and targets community members who are often left out of community decision making process.

Andrew (Andy) Seidl

Professor, Agricultural & Resource Economics


Andrew (Andy) Seidl, Ph.D. has been a CSU professor of environmental and development economics since before the invention of wifi, has taught courses and/or lived in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, England, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland and Vietnam, and has travelled to about 80 countries. His work focuses on natural resource-based economic development and private (agricultural) lands conservation in Colorado and biodiversity finance and World Heritage tourism internationally.

Andy has worked with the Brazilian government in the Pantanal, International Union for Conservation of Nature, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Food and Agricultural Organization, and United Nations Development Program. He can hack his way through Spanish and Portuguese and can read French but really can only tell the best dad jokes in English. He enjoys losing at golf, soccer, and a good local IPA.

Scott Shrake

AVP Strategy/ ED Entrepreneurship


Dr. Scott Shrake serves as the Assistant Vice President for Strategy in the Office of the President & Executive Director for the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Colorado State University. In his role as AVP Shrake helps operationalize the university Courageous Strategic Transformation with an emphasis on Impact, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. As the Executive Director of the Institute, Dr. Shrake promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, product development, and commercialization for students, faculty, and community members.

Skyler Schuck

Graduate Research Assistant, Agricultural and Resource Economics

Skyler Schuck is a first-year master’s student in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. He grew up in Oregon and completed his undergraduate studies at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA with a BA in Economics and BS in Computer Information Systems. Through Skyler’s studies and experience as an IT Technician at Cal Lutheran, he discovered his passion for using data systems to provide equitable solutions. At CSU he has been able to apply this passion to real-world problems as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI). His current research involves conducting impact analysis for the best utilization for equitable and inclusive outcomes of Colorado’s newest State Park, Fishers Peak State Park, in Trinidad, CO. He greatly enjoys his new life in Fort Collins exploring Old Town, hiking, mountain biking, and visiting extended family.

Kendall Stephenson

Research Assistant

Kendall Stephenson is a second year PhD student-worker at Colorado State University whose research interests relate to labor market policy, the political economy of urban development, and public finance. Following his MA from the New School for Social Research, he worked as an economist for the New York City Council, primarily supporting City budget negotiations. He also staffed the Civil Service and Labor Committee, where he assisted in developing and debating legislation regarding workplace regulations in New York City. Prior to his move to Fort Collins, Kendall served on the Core Committee of the Association of Legislative Employees, a new union representing central and Council Member staff at the New York City Council, helping to develop the infrastructure for an active and democratic membership. He hopes to contribute to a similar effort within Higher Ed, as a member and delegate of the Graduate Workers Organizing Cooperative (GWOC) and a graduate representative on the Committee on Non-Tenure Track Faculty (CoNTTF).

Wade O Troxell

Mechanical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Richard Design Center


Dr, Wade Troxell is the recent past mayor of Fort Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins is a 2017 recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige Award which was recognized Fort Collins for an unceasing drive for innovation, leadership, and continuous improvement. He was first elected in April 2015 recently completed his third and final term. He is on the Mechanical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Master’s in Public Policy Administration faculties at Colorado State University (CSU).


Anders Van Sandt

Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Dr. Anders Van Sandt is an Assistant Professor of Regional Economics and a Community Development Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Van Sandt received his Ph.D. in 2018 from Colorado State University in Agricultural and Resource Economics and worked for two years as a postdoctoral scholar at Texas A&M. His current Extension and research efforts revolve around promoting rural economic development by exploring rural-urban linkages, entrepreneurship, access to healthcare, and interdependencies between local industries. Though an early career member, Dr. Van Sandt has been awarded a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant and has published numerous academic and Extension articles in outlets such as Health Economics, Tourism Economics, and the Journal of Regional Science, among others.

Jorgen Rasmussen

Dr. Jorgen Rasmussen is an accomplished Economist and data scientist with a rich academic and industrial background, currently serving as a Data Scientist at T-Mobile. With a Ph.D. in Economics from Colorado State University, Dr. Rasmussen has developed a strong foundation in statistical and predictive modeling, econometrics, and machine learning. During his tenure as a graduate student in Economics at Colorado State University, he led groundbreaking research regarding the economic impacts of marijuana legalization on real estate markets, demonstrating exceptional skills in data analysis, model development, and econometric methods. His expertise extends to advanced skills with statistical scripting and querying languages such as Python, Stata, and SQL, which he has employed in various research and professional roles. Dr. Rasmussen’s work at ecoATM|, Gazelle, and Woodward Inc. as a Data Scientist further honed his abilities in economic analysis and forecasting. His innovative approach to data science and economic research has made noteworthy contributions to his field, particularly in areas like supply chain strategy and revenue forecasting. Dr. Rasmussen’s academic and professional journey reflects a dedication to applying economic theory and quantitative analysis to real-world problems, making him a valuable figure in the fields of economics and data science.

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