Carol Hedges, Executive Director

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Colorado Fiscal Institute Company HeadshotsCarol Hedges is the Executive Director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute. Carol has been an important part of the research, policy and advocacy community in Colorado for more than 15 years. She served as policy director for Governor Roy Romer in the late 1990s focusing on human service, education and budget policy.  As program officer at the Piton Foundation in Denver, Carol directed the Denver Workforce Initiative, a project of the Annie E. Casey Jobs Initiative.  While serving as a senior policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center, Carol authored Ten Years of TABOR, a comprehensive study of the effects of Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights. Most recently as the Director of the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a project of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Carol’s work focused on creating an adequate, sustainable and equitable revenue system in Colorado. As a recognized expert on the effects of Colorado’s TABOR amendment, Carol has been involved in education efforts on TABOR-like proposals across the country. Prior to moving to Colorado, Carol served as staff for the Human Service committee and the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee for the National Governors’ Association.  She started her policy career as policy advisor to Gov. John Carlin of Kansas. Carol graduated from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kan., and earned a law degree from the University of Kansas. Carol serves on the Board of Directors of Progress Now Colorado Education and FRESC:  Good Job, Strong Communities.  She is a member of the Leadership Advisory Committee of the Colorado Nonprofit Association and was a founding member of the Steering Committee of the Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable.  Carol served as a technical advisor to Gov. Bill Ritter’s Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel and is a member of the Steering Committee for Gov. John Hickenlooper’s statewide civic engagement project—TBD.  Carol also partners with the Colorado business community as a convener of the Colorado Reform Roundtable

Hometown: Topeka, Kan.

College: Emporia State University

Economist, data nerd or politico Carol would most like to have a beer with, dead or alive?: Paul Krugman, Nobel winner who has a worldwide platform for his insight.

Carol’s best kept Colorado secret: The weather – it is fabulous, but we can’t tell anyone.

Theme song: The Secret of Life by James Taylor divider

Kathy White, Deputy Director

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Colorado Fiscal Institute Company Headshots

A veteran advocate for working families, Kathy also brings operations, fundraising and administrative nonprofit experience to CFI.

Hometown: Lakewood, Colo.

College: University of Colorado Denver

Economist, data nerd or politico Kathy would most like to have a beer with, dead or alive: Max Weber, because that guy asked some really good questions about social systems and constructs.

Favorite source of tax and budget information: Nobody beats the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for tax and budget information, but I admit, I’m as likely to be caught checking the WAPO Wonkblog or @ezraklein on twitter.

Favorite thing about Colorado: An adventure could happen every day if you wanted. divider

Ali Mickelson, Director of Legislative and Tax Policy

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Colorado Fiscal Institute Company Headshots

Ali Mickelson is the Director of Legislative and Tax Policy at the Colorado Fiscal Institute.  Ali’ s passion for advocacy began when she was involved in the low-income taxpayer clinic during law school at the University of Denver. While working at the tax clinic, she coordinated and participated in low-income volunteer tax sites.  This is where Ali first began to see the benefits of targeted, equitable tax policy on Colorado families.  After she graduated from DU with her J.D. and a LL.M. in Taxation, she worked in tax consulting for a short time before moving into policy at the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a project of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. Since starting at COFPI in 2009, Ali has become a tax and budget resource for both elected officials and the community.  Ali has also been involved in the passage of tax policies that support Colorado families, including a tax amnesty bill that put $14 million into the state education fund and a bill creating a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.  She has authored a number of reports about state and federal tax policy and in 2012 she was selected by Governor Hickenlooper’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade as the budget expert on the Enterprise Zone Task Force. She has also appeared in local media including the Denver Post, the Denver Business Journal and Colorado Public Radio, and her work has also been featured in news articles and other publications across the country.

Hometown: Eugene, Ore./Littleton, Colo.

College: Colorado State University and University of Denver – but also Go Oregon Ducks!

Favorite source of tax and budget information: Check it out!

Number of Colorado towns with “Springs” in the name that Ali has been to: 7 – Poncha Springs, Pagosa Springs, Idaho Springs, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs

If Ali were trapped in a TV show for a month, which would it be?: The Amazing Race divider

Chris Stiffler, Economist

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Colorado Fiscal Institute Company HeadshotsChris Stiffler is an economist at the Colorado Fiscal Institute.  Chris has been working in the public policy and economic research business since May 2012. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond in 2009, after which he spent a year teaching high school Latin before moving to Colorado.  He received his masters in economics from the University of Denver.   His particular area of interest involves the combined field of psychology and economics, with a particular curiosity in how people’s mental quirks influence public policy and the public policy debate. Chris got his start explaining economics in 2009 writing an explanatory economics column for his small home town newspaper in western Pennsylvania.  The column was geared at explaining complicated economic concepts in simple metaphorical terms that everyone could understand and showing how those economic concepts relate to policy discussions.  Chris has spent the past four years researching a number of topics including: affordability of public transit around Denver, better ways to measure economic growth in Colorado, Colorado school finance, the Colorado state budget, TABOR, wage theft, immigration, paid family leave, minimum wage, and income inequality.  He has appeared on National Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio’s “Colorado Matters” and KGNU’s “It’s the Economy.”  He has had his research cited in various publications like the Denver Post, The Colorado Independent, Denver Business Journal, and the Associated Press.  Chris is also a part-time adjunct professor teaching economics at the University of Denver.

Hometown: Bedford, Pa.

College: University of Richmond and University of Denver

Favorite sports team: Pittsburgh Pirates

If Chris were trapped in a TV show for a month, which would it be?: 30 Rock

Favorite Colorado activity: Hiking and climbing Colorado’s 14ers divider

Caitlin Schneider, Public Engagement Coordinator

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Colorado Fiscal Institute Company HeadshotsBefore joining the Colorado Fiscal Institute in December 2012, Caitlin worked for Colorado Common Cause as the Just Vote Organizer.  She has worked in coalition with dozens of state civic engagement organizations to recruit, train and coordinate hundreds of volunteers for the Just Vote! Colorado Election Protection program. Caitlin works to engage Coloradans around both federal and state fiscal policies.

Hometown:  Milwaukee, Wis.

College: University of Minnesota – Go Gophs!

Favorite sports team: The Green Bay Packers, hands down dreamiest team around

If you had super power, what would it be?: Teleportation

If you were trapped in a TV show for a month, which would it be?: “Laverne and Shirley.” What could be better than hanging out with your best friend all day?  “Give us any chance, we’ll take it, give us any rule we’ll break it. We’re going to make our dreams come true, doing it our way!” divider

Elizabeth Cheever, Economic Policy Analyst

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Elizabeth is an economic policy analyst at the Colorado Fiscal Institute. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and wrote her thesis on affirmative action and Supreme Court jurisprudence. After graduating, she moved to Washington, D.C. and spent three years working with some of the country’s largest nonprofit endowments. Elizabeth thinks good data bring context and clarity to policy debates, and it’s why she’s so excited to be working at CFI. She is particularly interested in public education funding, racial equity, affordable housing, and healthcare policy.

Hometown: Denver, Colorado

College: Kenyon College

If you were trapped in a TV show for a month, which would it be?: The Great British Baking Show

Your best kept Colorado secret: You never get over how beautiful Colorado is. Driving into the mountains is magic every time.


Zijing Michael Wu, Policy Analyst, Colorado College Fellow

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Michael Wu is the 2017-2018 Colorado College Public Interest Fellow, who currently works as a Policy Analyst at Colorado Fiscal Institute. His role at CFI includes researching fiscal policy, analyzing data, and writing advocacy posts. He is particularly interested in learning how to maximizing the role of non-profit organizations in our current society. Michael received his undergraduate degree in International Political Economy from Colorado College. During his time at CC, he worked as an Admission Fellow and a Student Government Financial Representative.  In his free time, Michael is a passionate b-boy, traveler, and musician.

Hometown: Shanghai, China

College: Colorado College

If you were trapped in a TV show for a month, which would it be?: “Heroes”

Favorite thing about Colorado: Fabulous sunshine and great smell of air.


Esther Turcios, Policy Analyst, State Priorities Partnership Fellow

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Esther Turcios is the 2017 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Partnership Fellow. In 2011 she received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Denver followed by her Masters in Social work in 2017 with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Policy practice. As a social worker Esther believes in advocating for legislation that uplifts historically marginalized communities. She has a background in community organizing and outreach through her work with 9to5 Colorado and Colfax Community Network. Her passion and work lies in educating and organizing directly impacted communities around the issues of immigration, transit and affordable housing.

Hometown: Van Nuys, CA/Aurora, CO.

College: University of Denver 

If you were trapped in a TV show for a month, which would it be?: Sister Sister!



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