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About

About CSG

Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments (CSG) is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a national-in-scope, regional-in-focus forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.

About The CSG Center of Innovation

The CSG Center of Innovation is a national initiative launched in July 2018 to enhance CSG’s efforts to engage, inform and empower state officials through externally funded initiatives. Home to over 30 managers and analysts, the Center leverages CSG’s considerable network of state policymakers, effective convening power and demonstrated success in providing outreach and technical assistance to the states to acquire external funding for projects focused on CSG member priorities. The CSG Center of Innovation provides a trusted, experienced, and ready-made platform to collaborate with these valued partners and leverage those partnerships to secure funding for joint initiatives. The Center offers:

  • Objective, In-Depth Analysisof data and policy best practices to facilitate a better understanding of existing and developing issues and assess available and potential solutions.
  • Connectionsamong policy leaders, federal and non-profit partners and subject-matter experts to exchange insights and build partnerships.
  • Technical and Consulting Assistanceto enable policy leaders to develop and implement forward-thinking solutions adapted to state and regional conditions and ambitions to improve the lives of people and the strength of communities and states.
  • An Inclusive Policy Portfoliothat supports diverse populations and policy concerns.

Research at CSG

The CSG research team conducts high-quality data collection and analysis on priority policy areas with the goal of proactively developing resources and tools for state policymakers and position them to incorporate this evidence into the policymaking process. CSG also conducts customized, ad-hoc research in a wide-range of policy topic areas in response to member requests. CSG research priorities include supporting states in the planning for and use of federal funding for state pandemic era recovery.

CSG Team

Elizabeth Whitehouse

Director
Fiscal Policy, Center of Innovation
Elizabeth Whitehouse is the Chief Public Policy Officer at The Council of State Governments. Her work was instrumental in the Work Matters Task Force and has assisted legislators and governors with policy on workforce issues. Previously, she served as the Director of Education and Workforce Development at CSG. Prior to CSG, she served in a number of roles within Kentucky State Government, including the Department of Charitable Gaming, the Education and Workforce Cabinet and the Office of the Governor.

Sarah Needler

Director of Research
Fiscal Policy, Center of Innovation
Sarah Needler is the Director of Research at The Council of State Governments Center of Innovation. Sarah manages member research requests, evidence-based policymaking initiatives, fiscal policy research, health policy projects and the CSG Book of the States. She earned an M.A. in Economics from the University of British Columbia and an M.P.A in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Phone: 859-244-8110
LinkedIn

Christina Gordley

Senior Policy Analyst
Fiscal Policy, Center of Innovation
Christina Gordley is a Senior Policy Analyst at The Council of State Governments Center of Innovation. She analyzes state policy actions, supports research requests, develops reports and speaks on fiscal matters and policy research. Christina provides fiscal and budgetary insight for CSG, reflecting a B.S. in Economics and over 15 years as a Policy and Budget Analyst in the Kentucky Governor’s Office for Policy and Management.
Phone: (859) 244-8152
LinkedIn

Dakota Thomas

Senior Research Analyst
Fiscal Policy, Center of Innovation
Dr. Dakota Thomas is a Senior Research Analyst in the Center of Innovation at CSG. In this role, he provides data analysis and research support for state policymakers. He is currently helping lead CSG’s efforts to analyze federal funding for states and make this information understandable and actionable for members. Dakota also works closely with CSG partners to encourage the use of evidence in policymaking. Dakota earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Politics at the University of Kentucky in 2019.

Ben Reynolds

Research Analyst
Fiscal Policy, Center of Innovation
Ben Reynolds is a Research Analyst for The Council of State Governments Center of Innovation. In this role, he provides policy research and technical assistance to state policymakers in all three branches of government and conducts fiscal policy research. Previously, he worked with the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation. Ben earned a B.S. in Economics from Northern Kentucky University and an M.Sc. in Applied Economics and Data Analysis from the University of Essex.
LinkedIn

Ishara Nanayakkara

Roosevelt Fellow
Fiscal Policy, Center of Innovation
Ishara Nanayakkara is a Roosevelt Fellow at The Council of State Governments Center of Innovation. In this role, she works on research requests from state policymakers and assists with the biweekly fiscal policy newsletter. Ishara graduated from Berea College with a double major in Political Science and Communication and is earning an M.P.A. at the University of Kentucky. Ishara interned at the United Nations in 2019 and was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship in 2020.
LinkedIn

Rachel Dietert

O’Connor Scholar
Fiscal Policy, Center of Innovation
Rachel Dietert is an O’Connor Scholar at The Council of State Governments Center of Innovation. In this role, she works on research requests from state policymakers in all three branches of government as well as the biweekly fiscal policy newsletter. Rachel is an undergraduate Honor’s Fellow at Elon University. She is majoring in Data Analysis and minoring in Policy Studies, Creative Writing and Human Services Studies.