Who We Are

The Tax Policy Collaborative was initially formed as the Property Tax Working Group of 1000 Friends of Connecticut. The Group is composed of policymakers; former state legislators, municipal officials and executive branch officials; labor leaders; academics; regional government directors; budget experts and economists; and journalists. Members include:

Leo Canty was an AFT CT leader for 35 years, amassing an extensive public policy, media and communications portfolio of action. His philanthropic leanings helped form and build the Connecticut Health Foundation, serving as board chair. He has worked on numerous political campaigns and served as a Democratic Party official in Windsor.

Bill Cibes is chancellor emeritus of the Connecticut State University System; former secretary of the state Office of Policy and Management in the administration of Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.; and a former state representative from New London who co-chaired the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. Cibes, who holds a Ph. D. from Princeton University, is a former professor of political science at Connecticut College in New London. He is an authority on higher education, taxation and budgeting and has chaired numerous boards and commissions.

Bill Curry is a political analyst and commentator for Salon, the Daily Beast, The Hartford Courant and national public radio. He can be heard on WNPR (90.5 FM) in Greater Hartford. Curry was formerly a state senator; state comptroller, a two-time Democratic candidate for governor; and counselor to President Bill Clinton.

Jeff Davis of Pomfret was a state representative for several terms and co-chaired the Planning and Development Committee, where he spearheaded efforts on smart growth, affordable housing and regionalism. Davis is a former first selectman of Pomfret as well as a onetime owner and publisher of a weekly newspaper in eastern Connecticut.

Liz Dupont-Diehl is director of Upstream Solutions, which focuses on Pay for Success and other innovations in financing, to ensure that government funds effective human services programming and pays for successful outcomes, and work that creates equity, social justice and positive systems change. She was previously director of communications for Everyday Democracy and state director of Jobs for America’s Graduates, a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing dropouts by at-risk youth.

John Elsesser is one of the longest tenured town managers in Connecticut, having served in that position in Coventry since 1988. He has held leadership roles at the state and regional levels, including positions with the Tolland County Chamber of Commerce, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Council of Small Towns. Elsesser has chaired the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency and serves on the state E-911 Commission.

Lee Erdmann is a municipal consultant and has more than 30 years’ experience in town and city government. He was a former chief operating officer of Hartford; town manager of Enfield; town manager of Wethersfield; and chief administrative and financial officer of Springfield, MA. In addition, he was the interim executive director of the New London Housing Authority.

John Filchak has more than 30 years’ experience in public policy development and is currently head of the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, which consists of 16 towns. He is a former deputy commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and a onetime director of governmental relations for the Connecticut Farm Bureau. He is a leader in the innovation, development and advocacy of regionalism.

Albert Ilg was the interim city manager of Hartford following his retirement as town manager of Windsor, where he served for 32 years. As Hartford’s city manager, Ilg was credited with turning a projected $50 million budget deficit into a balanced budget and doing it without raising taxes. The Hartford Courant praised Ilg for “liberating the city hall bureaucracy from the stultifying chains of tradition.”

Michele Jacklin is a communications consultant and former journalist, having worked at The Hartford Courant for 28 years. As the newspaper’s chief political reporter, editorial writer and political columnist, she primarily wrote about public policy, state and local government, budgeting and elections. She served on the Glastonbury Town Council, and is a member of the board of Common Cause Connecticut, the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government and the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.

Alex Knopp is a visiting clinical lecturer at the Yale Law School in New Haven; the president of the Norwalk Public Library; and a member of the board of Common Cause Connecticut. He is a former mayor of Norwalk as well as a former state representative from Norwalk. While in the legislature, Knopp co-chaired the Government Administration and Elections Committee. He has expertise in state and local governance and in taxation and budgeting.

Sharon Langer is interim executive director of Connecticut Voices. Previously, Langer was a senior policy fellow in health and later was advocacy director. An attorney and advocate, Langer has more than two decades of experience in policy research and analysis, legislative advocacy, community education, and coalition building to promote policy reforms that support families and improve the health and well-being of low-income communities.

Susan Merrow is chair of the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality, which assesses the condition of the state environment and reports its findings annually to the governor. She is a former first selectwoman of East Haddam as well as the onetime president of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. In addition, Merrow is a former president of the national Board of Directors of the Sierra Club. She is the author of One for the Earth: Journal of a Sierra Club President.

Jamie Mills is the director of fiscal policy at Connecticut Voices for Children, a research-based think tank that advocates for policies that benefit children and families. Mills was formerly a senior adviser for policy analysis at the state Office of Policy and Management, where she was responsible for increasing the state’s capacity for data-driven decision making. For 20 years, Mills was an attorney in Hartford, focusing on labor- and employment-related matters, victims of sexual assault and public policy advocacy. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Manisha Srivastava is a budget specialist and economist in the budget division of the state Office of Policy and Management. She is responsible for revenue forecasting, tax policy analysis, economic projections and the preparation of reports for credit rating agency presentations. Srivastava has also worked as an economist in the state Department of Labor; as a software developer in the hedge fund industry; and as a business analyst with the CGI Group, an information technology consulting company.

Lyle Wray is the executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, a group of 38 municipalities in central Connecticut and the largest regional planning organization in the state. He has served as county administrator and human services director for Dakota County, MN and executive director of the Citizens League in Minnesota. Wray is a member of the National Academy of Public Administration and has co-authored the performance management book, Results That Matter.