Assistant Regional Census Manager, Community Partnership and Engagement Program, Los Angeles Region, U.S. Census Bureau
Donald Bendz is the Assistant Regional Census Manager of the Community Partnership and Engagement Program for the 2020 Census. During the decennial count, Donald led a media relations team that conducted hundreds of news interviews with outlets across a seven-state region. A veteran of the television news industry, Donald brings close to 20 years of experience as an on-air journalist to the U.S. Census Bureau. He’s worked in major markets like Los Angeles and Miami, and has called many states across the country home. A Southern California native, Donald is a graduate of UCLA with a B.A. in sociology.
Luz M. Castillo
Data Dissemination Specialist, Customer Liaison & Marketing Services Office, Data Dissemination and Training Branch, U.S. Census Bureau
Luz Castillo is currently serving as a Data Dissemination Specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, where she plays a vital role in helping the public understand data. She works directly with individuals, organizations, government officials and others to increase their understanding and ability to access and work with data the Census Bureau collects. Luz has also worked to increase participation in Census surveys. She began her career during Census 2000 overseeing outreach efforts in southern California and managed the Community Partnership and Engagement Program (CPEP) for the 2020 Census.
Abigail L. Horn, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Biostatistics, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California
Abigail Horn received her Ph.D. from the Institute for Data, Systems and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Bachelor’s in Physics from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Her research focuses on integrating mathematical models with novel data streams to study health disparities in both infectious and chronic diseases, with a particular focus on the diverse populations and environments of Los Angeles County. Her recent work has used novel data streams from human mobility and social media to study food environments and their effect on eating behavior and diet-related health outcomes. Current work also uses novel data streams to inform models of the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles, with a focus on policy analysis relating to at-risk groups for both severe infection. Her research has been funded by the NIH, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Bayer Foundation, the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI).
Senior Research Associate, U.S. Programs, Population Reference Bureau
Beth Jarosz is a senior research associate in PRB’s United States Programs where she manages projects based in California. Prior to joining PRB, Ms. Jarosz was Senior Demographer at the San Diego Association of Governments and taught sociology at Pensacola State College. She has been both a panelist and steering committee member for National Academies workshops on the American Community Survey, is on the board of the Association of Public Data Users, and is Vice President of the Southern Demographic Association. Her publications include research on inequality, trends in fertility and mortality, and population estimation and forecasting. She has been quoted by numerous national and local news organizations. She completed her master’s degree in Demographic and Social Analysis at the University of California, Irvine.
Dowell Myers, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Population Dynamics Research Group, University of Southern California
Dowell Myers is a professor of policy, planning, and demography in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC. He directs the Population Dynamics Research Group and is a leading expert on California’s changing demographics that lead the nation’s. Dr. Myers has specialized in the demographics of housing demand and needs, with recent studies of “Peak Millennials” and future homeownership. He is also expert in trends of both immigration and children, the two groups who will form our future workforce that will replace retiring baby boomers. Dr. Myers holds his PhD from MIT, a Master of City Planning from UC-Berkeley, and a BA in anthropology from Columbia University. Many of his publications are available at https://sites.usc.edu/popdynamics/.
JungHo Park, Ph.D.
Research Professor, Department of Smart City, Chung-Ang University
JungHo Park is a research professor at SURE Education Research Group at the Department of Smart City in Chung-Ang University. He also serves as a nonresident research associate at the Population Dynamics Research Group in USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. His research is based in the field of housing demography, focusing on housing affordability, residential mobility, living arrangements, and federally-subsidized housing. His recent research is centered on urban changes and socioeconomic hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic in context of United States and South Korea. He holds his PhD in Urban Planning and Development from USC.
Housing Policy Analyst, Land Use and Planning Unit, California Department of Housing and Community Development
Marisa Prasse works within the Land Use and Planning Unit at HCD’s Housing Policy Division. At HCD she specializes in housing elements, fair housing, planning grants, and climate change adaptation. Marisa co-authored HCD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Guidance Memo and is the team lead on the accompanying AFFH Data Viewer mapping tool. She received her Master’s in City Planning from MIT in 2020 and has previously worked at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Boston Housing Authority.
Research Specialist II, Demographic Research Unit, California Department of Finance
Fennis Reed is a Research Specialist II with the Demographic Research Unit in the California Department of Finance. Their primary interest is small area estimates – providing support for unique stakeholder geographies such as library, fire, and water districts that are otherwise inconsistent with regularly reported administrative boundaries. Fennis got their start in population modeling working with salamanders in western Michigan. Since then, their expertise has been applied to the human realm leading to graduate work with WorldPop, where machine learning and dasymetric techniques are applied to many countries with limited census and supporting data. Their research interests include population modeling, remote sensing, GIS, qualitative geography, and herpetology.
Fennis holds an M.S. in Applied Geography from the University of Louisville. Prior to working with Department of Finance they have held varied positions in private utilities, technology and research as a GIS automation specialist.
Walter Schwarm, Ph.D.
Chief, Demographic Research Unit, California Department of Finance
Walter Schwarm joined the Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance in 2006 as an Analyst in the city projections assignment. He moved to the State Data Center assignment as a Research Program Specialist in January 2009. From 2003-2006 he was the Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Regional Research Institute at West Virginia University, involved in a variety of public and privately funded research projects while maintaining the West Virginia population projections. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Colorado State University in 2002. Mr. Schwarm research involved modeling small region fiscal interactions and revenue sharing issues, and he has published a number of papers in academic journals as well as several book chapters.
Neeraj Sood, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Dean for Research, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, A founding member of the USC Schaeffer Center, University of Southern California
Neeraj Sood, Ph.D., is professor and vice dean for research at the USC Price School of Public Policy and a founding member the USC Schaeffer Center. His research focuses on economic epidemiology, infectious diseases, pharmaceutical markets, health insurance, economics of innovation, Medicare, and global health. He is currently leading a study on COVID-19 in collaboration with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. He has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals in economics, medicine, and policy, including JAMA, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Health Economics, Health Affairs, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and Health Services Research. He has testified frequently on health policy issues and has been on expert committees for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. He has received more than $10 million in funding as principal investigator in grants from the National Institutes for Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and other prominent funders. His work has been featured in media outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report and Scientific American. Sood was the finalist for the 16th and 21st annual National Institute for Health Care Management Health Care Research Award, recognizing outstanding research in health policy. He was also the 2009 recipient of the Eugene Garfield Economic Impact Prize, recognizing outstanding research demonstrating how medical research impacts the economy.
Sood is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and Health Services Research. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a board member of the American Society of Health Economists. Prior to joining USC, he was a senior economist at RAND and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Jennifer B. Unger, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Biostatistics, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California
Jennifer B. Unger, Ph.D. is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the psychological, social, and cultural influences on health-risk and health-protective behaviors among diverse populations. She currently serves as an Associate Director of the USC Coronavirus Pandemic Research Center (CPRC) and co-leads studies of rapid antigen testing in schools and vaccine hesitancy among college students. She and her colleagues have conducted longitudinal studies of acculturation, cultural stress, and substance use among Hispanic adolescents, highlighting the role of discrimination in health-risk behaviors. Her research also has examined cultural influences on tobacco use among American Indian adolescents, Chinese adolescents, and African American adults and neighborhood influences on adolescent cannabis use. She has collaborated on the design and evaluation of fotonovelas and telenovelas about secondhand smoke exposure in multiunit housing; diabetes; asthma; immunization; and kidney transplantation. She is a Project Leader in the USC Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS), where she studies diffusion of messages about emerging tobacco products to vulnerable populations through social media and leads the Population Core, which conducts annual surveys of three longitudinal cohorts of adolescents and young adults. She is a Program Leader of the Cancer Control program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Director of the Ph.D. program in Preventive Medicine / Health Behavior Research. She teaches predoctoral courses in research methods and grantwriting.