Experience Excellence

at California State University, Chico here.

Economics is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions.
John Maynard Keynes

Chico Economics Graduate Careers - Government

Orrin BantaOrrin Banta

Orrin Banta received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from California State University, Chico in 1994. After graduating, Orrin conducted economic, demographic, and public opinion research and analysis independently and as an employee of a local research and consulting firm, spent several years with the Superior Court of California, County of Butte in various administrative capacities, including coordinating Butte County’s drug court programs, and is now employed as an Events Coordinator for Strategies (http://www.familyresourcecenters.net/), a nonprofit training and technical assistance program that provides guidance to social service organizations in an effort to reduce child abuse. Orrin’s primary role is to coordinate the logistical aspects of training events and other projects, and to provide administrative support to Strategies teammates. He has been instrumental in the development of numerous training programs including Family Economic Success and the Sustainability Project.

Orrin confirms, “A degree in economics will benefit you regardless of the path you choose to take through life. Perhaps the greatest benefit is the way a study of economics expands and develops thinking processes. The ideas, methods, and tools about which you’ll learn will become invaluable to you whether you’re managing a household or a multi-national corporation. From an understanding of the elements affecting supply and demand and marginal rates of return, to monetary policy, and more complex statistical analysis, an education in economics will serve you well. Economics allows us to evaluate in a fuller light the claims made by advertisers, government officials, and political candidates, as well as our own behavior and the behavior of family members, coworkers, customers, and others. Either at work or in my personal life, I use the education I received through Chico State’s Department of Economics on a daily basis.”


Dan BlairDan Blair

Dan Blair, who competed his BA in Economics in 2004, is a Senior Government Relations Representative within PG&E’s Corporate Affairs Department. In this role he's responsible for developing and maintaining a strong governmental, political, and community network within PG&E in direct support of the company’s Electric Operations business unit and in collaboration with the existing Government Relations organization.  This includes supporting capital projects with permitting, alignment with local development standards, and community outreach. Prior to joining PG&E in November of 2011, Dan worked for Butte County where he was a Management Analyst, Manager of Program Development, and Senior Management Analyst . As a member of the Administrative Office, he focused on grant writing and management, economic and community development, budget and fiscal analysis, financial and capital planning, public information and outreach, policy writing and implementation, and general government management.

"Without my degree in Economics, I would not have been considered for the opportunity to be a member of the Butte County Administrative Office," Dan stated in a recent email.  "Because this position focused on economic development and financial planning, the County preferred a degree in Economics.  After completing my Master’s Degree in Political Science in 2011, I accepted my current position with PG&E. The combination of Economics and Political Science degrees was a key factor in being selected for this position. My degree in Economics offered a broad understanding of business, finance, market trends, management, and political climate. As opposed to focusing on one narrow subject, Economics gave me the training to analyze and to assess real world situations with a foundational understanding of how and why the business world operates the way it does. My degree opened up several doors for me and I have no doubt that it was the right educational path for me to take."


Thomas BruckensteinThomas Bruckenstein

Thomas Bruckenstein, who graduated in 2016 with a BA in Economics, is a financial institutions examiner for the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) in Los Angeles, California.

“The knowledge gained by earning an Economics degree from CSU, Chico has helped my career in many different ways,” Thomas stated in a recent email.  “Courses have taught me the framework of how the U.S. banking system works.  Most notably, how rising or falling interest rates can affect a bank’s financial position.  Writing skills attained through various classes have helped me convey financial data in a logical and efficient manner.  Knowledge of excel has proven to be important, especially when extracting loan and deposit data.”

“I value how economics creates an active and curious mind.  Economics has shown me that everything is related and changes in one variable will affect many other variables.  Numerous classes have taught me how to understand and explain those relationships; and the ability to do so has awarded me the traits to be successful in my career.”  (Last Updated 7/2/17)


Portrait of Tyler CavanessTyler Cavaness

Tyler Cavaness, who graduated with a BA in Economics (emphasis in International Economics) in 2008, is a bank examiner and resolutions specialist at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in Dallas, Texas.  He participated in the honors economics program and earned the Department’s Academic Achievement Award.   While a student at Chico State Tyler helped support himself by working as a welder and fabricator at Advanced Building in Chico.  After graduation, Tyler accepted a position as bank examiner and resolutions specialist with the FDIC in Dallas. He currently works in the Strategic Operations group and is in charge of closing undercapitalized banks.  In 2015, Tyler earned his graduate certificate in Finance from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.

“Economics has helped shape my career in many ways,” Tyler stated in a recent email.  “It is a theory-based study of trends and behaviors, and I believe understanding behaviors has allowed me to understand people.   Since we primarily work with people in our careers, it has helped me with political savvy, vision, and technical credibility.  Additionally, it has helped immensely in complex problem solving.  Being theory-based, its principles can be applied to many types of situations and because of this I am recognized as someone who can solve large problems.  I attribute much of this ability to my Economics degree from Chico State.” (Last Updated 7/6/17)


Jay ChamberlainJay Chamberlain

Jay Chamberlain, who graduated from Chico with a BA in economics in 1983, received his PhD in economics at UC Davis in 1987. After spending a couple years in Washington D.C. working for the federal government and a consulting firm, he moved back to California to take a job with the California Franchise Tax Board. Jay spent 20 years there, developing analytical tax models and managing the Economics and Statistical Research Bureau. He is currently the Chief of the Financial Research Unit at the State of California Department of Finance, a position he's held since the fall of 2010. His main responsibility is to oversee all the major revenue forecasts (Personal Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Sales and Use Tax, and others) that are used for the development of the Governor’s Budget. Besides developing revenue forecasts, his unit is tasked with analyzing tax legislative, as well as regulations and initiatives. Jay also provides technical advice to policy-makers and he testifies at legislative hearings regarding any tax proposals of the Governor. His unit is also responsible for the Finance Bulletin.

In a recent email Jay stated that "The quantitative, analytical, and writing skills that I developed at Chico are very important in my current position. While I did go on to get my PhD at UC Davis, I find that most of the economics questions I have to answer (as opposed to tax-law questions) relate back to things I learned at Chico. In my role in training staff and advising policy makers, most of the issues I deal with come back to basic concepts like opportunity costs, externalities, and standard methods of quantitative analysis. While I enjoyed all my economics coursework at Chico, I am particularly indebted to John Eckalbar, Michael Perelman, and Robert Fischer, both for what I learned in their classes and for their enthusiastic encouragement for me to pursue further education and a career in economics."


Steve CowdinSteve Cowdin

Steve Cowdin, who graduated from Chico with a BA in economics in 1972 and an MPA in 1977, worked as an economist for Department of Water Resources in Sacramento. His areas of expertise include:

Water resource project planning analysis, including plan formulation and evaluation; Consequence analysis, including economic impact analysis, population-at-risk estimation, and life loss estimation; Development of innovative methods for benefit-cost analysis of multi-objective projects; Flood damage reduction analyses using Corps of Engineers and FEMA models and methods; Risk management, risk assessment, and risk communication

I was the CA DWR lead economist for flood risk management studies and contributed economic analyses to several significant Central Valley flood risk reduction studies, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins Comprehensive Study, Hamilton City Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study, and Colusa Basin Integrated Watershed Management Study.

He retired from state service in 2010 but am currently with David Ford Consulting Engineers, Inc. (Sacramento) still doing flood risk management studies for CA DWR and other agencies, including the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.


Mitchell FergusonMitchell Ferguson

Mitchell Ferguson graduated with a Honor’s in economics in 1992. He took the Foreign Service Officer Test twice, passed it the second time, and started working for the State Department. As an Economic Officer for the U.S. Department of State, Mitchell Ferguson has been assigned to Embassies around the world, tasked with advancing U.S. economic policy with foreign counterparts. Economic diplomacy includes informing U.S. policy makers on host-country economic conditions, as well as presenting U.S. positions to host-country officials. He is the Counselor of Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia. Mitch has also served in Colombia, South Africa, Mexico, Washington, Angola, and El Salvador.

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Brian FitzgeraldBrian Fitzgerald

Brian Fitzgerald graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in Economics. He went to work for a private consulting firm in Sacramento specializing in efficiency and compliance auditing for local and state agencies across the country. In 2009, he went to work for the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) in a project management capacity where he leveraged information technology resources and quantitative methods to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Currently, he serves as the Section Chief over the Cost Avoidance Section (CAS) within DHCS, a program that impacts approximately 1.7 Californians each year. Under his direction, the CAS is responsible for cost avoiding roughly $3 billion annually, and ensuring compliance with federal and state statutes.


natalie freelandNatalie Freeland

Natalie Freeland, who graduated with a BA in Economics in 2012, is an employment and eligibility specialist for Butte County, California.  During her senior year she interned for Double J Enterprises in Paradise, California.  After graduation she started working for Butte County.  She determines the eligibility of applicants and recipients for public assistance in the county.  She also help them overcome employment barriers.  Source: https://www.governmentjobs.com/jobs/1222032/employment-eligibility-specialist/agency/buttecountyca/apply  (Last Updated 10/15/17)


Alex HerringAlex Herring

Alex Herring has worked with the public sector since she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Economics in 2009. Until 2014 she worked for the State of California’s Board of Equalization Sales and Use Tax Division which is responsible for the administration of property taxes, sales and use tax, and 28 additional special tax programs accounting for over 30% of all state revenue. As the escrow technician she was responsible for determining the total tax liability for businesses sold that generated sales or requested state clearances (including sales/use tax, property tax, special taxes) and issuing notices of determination or tax clearances to the private escrow agents or business owners.

In 2014 when she decided to make a career change, she spent the next year traveling abroad and working in freelance graphic design. In a recent email Alex explained that "The freedom and flexibility it provided allowed me to travel and explore the world."

Since July 2015, she has worked for the City of Coronado’s Administrative Services Department. "Coronado Island is a small affluent resort city off the coast of San Diego, known for its tourism and outdoor recreation. I am responsible for the recruitment and onboarding (organizational socialization) of all new employees for the city.

"Obtaining a degree in Economics has been the perfect backbone to my career and would be for anyone in any career field. It has been the single most valuable investment I have made to date. Economics is both an art and a science, the perfect blend of interpretation and calculation. It allowed me to develop my analytical skills, strengthen my ability to think critically, and emerge well-equipped to succeed in any industry, whether in the private or public sector."


JohnsonBobbi Jean Johnson

Bobbi Jean Johnson, graduated in May of 2012, and she landed a job as elections analyst for Yuba County in July of 2012. She is involved with the entire election process from planning, data collection and forecasting to processing candidate documents and poll site coordination. In a recent email she said, “I love my job and Chico prepared me well for the job market.”


David KelleyDavid Kelley

David Kelley, who graduated with a BA in Economics in 1995, has earned a masters degree in Business Administration and worked his way up the ladder as a successful public administrator since he left Chico State. While an undergraduate he worked for Regional and Economic Sciences and just before he finished his economics degree at Chico, he began working for another local firm where he was busy as a planning consultant engaged in economic analysis and political negotiations. In 1998 he became Director of Planning and the LAFCO Executive Office for Colusa county. In 2001 David moved on to Rocklin, California where he was Senior Project Manager for a local firm. In this role David managed the application processing for private development companies. After leaving Rocklin he began his career as Assistant Town Manager with the town of Windsor, California. Today he works for the Town of Windsor as Special Projects Manager. In this position David is responsible for information technology and IT training programs, capital planning and budgeting, risk management, and project based accounting.

When asked about the importance of his degree in economics, David stated that "The program provided training in qualitative and quantitative methodology and facilitated understanding of economic theory and policy as well as the ability to apply that theory to the real world."


Adam LipsmeyerAdam Lipsmeyer

Adam Lipsmeyer, who graduated with a BA in Economics in 2013, began his career with Placer County as an intern with the Placer County Water Agency during the summer before his senior year at Chico State. As an intern for Placer County he assisted in the development of budgets, provided assistance in accounting, conducted research and collected data to create reports, maintained investment statistics, and participated in departmental and agency wide meetings.

Although he was working part time as an undergraduate, Adam found time to participate in student organizations. He was president of the Economics Club at Chico State during his senior year. In this position he assisted the chair in bringing in speakers and advertising club events. He was also a member of the Enactus Student Organization that helped 5 th and 6 th graders develop entrepreneurial skills that allow them to design, finance, and sell their products at Chico’s Farmers’ Market.

Adam interned for Franklin Templeton Investment during his senior year. “My internship at FTI helped strengthen my analytic, communication and organizational skills. Two significant projects that I worked on include the development of a disaster recovery plan for business continuity and the development of new workflows with procedural documentation.”


Greta Bernard MacdonaldGreta Bernard Macdonald

Greta Bernard Macdonald, who graduated with her BA in Economics in 1999, is a management consultant for public and non-profit sectors at Marcias Gini and O’Connell LLP. She is an experienced management consultant and audit professional with a wide range of experience working with a variety of clients in the public and non-profit sectors, including healthcare and transportation. She has performed dozens of operational, performance, and compliance audits of public agencies, non-profit organizations, municipal governments, public hospitals and health plans. Greta has developed audit guidelines, designed, administered and analyzed the results of questionnaires, case studies, and structured interviews.

After graduation at Chico State, Greta enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Southern California and while working on her degree she accepted a position as a consultant with Macias Gini and O’Connell in Los Angeles, California.  She completed her MPA in 2002.  Greta was promoted to manager in MGO’s Advisory Services in 2011.

"I do remember loving my public finance course, taught by Bob Fischer, who inspired me to go on to get a master's in public administration," Greta stated in a recent email.  "As a government consultant, at a high level, we are constantly advising our clients about how to efficiently and effectively allocate scarce resources, be it funds, staffing or infrastructure. Or sometimes, if it's an internal audit rather than a consulting project, we identify where there are weaknesses in a process, program, or department, which is impacts efficiency or effectiveness. I enjoy connecting with clients and providing them with solutions that focus on improving outcomes."


Iris MaskaIris (Ponsano) Maska

Iris (Ponsano) Maska, graduated with honors in 2004, completing a BA in economics with a minor in math. While at Chico State she served as president of the Economics Club. She left Chico State for Sacramento State to enter their graduate economics program. After completing her course work for an MA in economics she worked as an intern for Tetra Tech, a consulting firm that provides engineering and technical services. From there she moved to the US Army Corps of Engineers where she served as regional economist. She also found time to serve 2 years as a volunteer editor for the Progressive Congress. She left the Corps in 2012 as senior economist to join the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Arlington, Virginia, where she is currently employed as an economist at their headquarters. Iris works with National Environmental Policy Analysis (NEPA) documents to evaluate their economic impacts. She is also looking for opportunities to provide skills-based volunteering.

"Being a federal government economist is not only a steady job but a very rewarding and challenging career. Coupling it with a math minor had been immense help in the last decade. My job title has always been as an economist. I'd say do what you are good at. I was always bad at the business side but loved the math, graphs, and proofs. I leveraged those skills into doing risk modeling for systems. Economists are needed in interdisciplinary natural resource teams" Iris stated in a recent email.


Celia McAdamCelia Modeste McAdam

Celia Modeste McAdam, who graduated with a BA in Economics in 1989, is Executive Director of the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) in Auburn, California.  In 1988 Celia transferred to Chico State from the University of Santa Clara where she was also majoring in economics.  After graduation Celia enrolled in the master’s program in Geography and Planning at Chico State where she received her MA in Rural and Town Planning with distinction in 1991. 

After finishing her MA Celia accepted a position as senior planner with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency.   Two years later Celia moved on to Butte County Council of Governments where she worked as senior planner for three years.  In 1996 Celia moved to San Jose, California for a brief stint as the city’s transportation systems manager, before accepting an offer to return to the PCTPA as the Executive Director.  

Since then, she has acquired a number of additional positions under the umbrella of PCTPA, including Executive Director of the South Placer Regional Transportation Authority (SPRTA), the Placer County Local Transportation Authority, and the  Western Placer Consolidated Transportation Service Agency (CTSA), as well as Executive Secretary of the Placer County Airport Land Use Commission.   She has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) since 1996, and in 2015 was designated as Certified Transportation Planner for her “knowledge, experience, and leadership skills in specialized area of transportation planning”.

Celia has received many awards over the years including the Distinguished Service Award from the Institute of Transportation Engineers in 2009, Woman of the Year from the Sacramento Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (which had awarded her a scholarship in 1991), and was named to the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2016.

“My econ degree in my current job, it comes into play in ways I had not expected” Celia stated in a recent email.   “Transportation planning is an interesting and rewarding line of work, but plans don’t mean much without implementation, and that takes money.  My econ degree helps me understand the forces in the economy that affect funding availability, as well as  why land prices for transportation facilities are higher or lower in different locations or understanding the projections for sales tax revenues going to transportation.  While I’m not the one doing the revenue projections or developing bond documents, my econ degree makes sure I can follow the experts’ explanations and assess their advice with a critical eye.”  (Last Updated 10/21/16)


Christina Morker-BrownChristina Morkner-Brown

Christina Morkner-Brown, who graduated cum laude and recipient of the Smale scholarship in 1989 with a BA in Economics and a Minor in Philosophy, is senior attorney at the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento, California.  She advises staff, defends the agency in litigation, and enforces their regulations. 

In 2004 Christina entered the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific.  While a student at McGeorge Christina was president of the Environmental Law Society and treasurer of the American Constitutional Society. She was on the Dean’s Honor List for her last 3 years and she received the Witkin’s Award for the highest grade in environmental law.   Christina was a legal intern for Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk, the Sierra club, and the California Department of Justice.  She was a judicial extern for the California Court of Appeals

Christina graduated in 2008 in the top 2% from McGeorge with Distinction and the Order of the Coif, and she joined Keyon Yeates LLP as litigation associate.  After 2 years with Yeates, she joined the California Air Resources Board as staff attorney.  At the end of 2014 she was promoted to assistant chief counsel.

When asked about the value of her econ degree, Christian stated in a recent email, “I think it was a rigorous program that challenged me to develop my analytical and problem solving skills, which are essential to being a successful attorney.  A background in economics has also helped me understand our agency's market based programs better (ie. cap and trade for GHG emissions). Also, what I learned for econometric modeling has helped me better understand modeling my agency does for air quality e.g. forecasting emissions based on existing data.”  (Last Updated 12/20/16)


Crystal D. NashCrystal D. Nash

Crystal D. Nash, who graduated in 2002, joined Peace Corps after graduation.  After leaving Peace Corps she worked in rural economic development in California.  In a recent email Crystal Nash, stated that “The requirements for collaborative writing, computer/technical skills and just basic statistical math that I learned while pursuing my BA in Economics have been invaluable to me.” 

“I made the cross country move to work in Washington, DC around August of 2013 and have been in "full sprint" work mode since then.”  Crystal currently works as a program analyst for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C. “I'm a certified Project manager and my career/interests have evolved to more of an IT based project/program management role.”

“The writing components, communication, critical thinking/analysis and team work/building skills that I learned while in college as an economics undergraduate have helped me tremendously.”  


Marianne O'MalleyMarianne O'Malley

Marianne O'Malley graduated with a BA in economics and a BA in political science in 1982. She went to Harvard where she received her master’s degree in public policy in 1985. Her master’s thesis on the topic of “Cruising for Parking” in central cities was awarded first prize by the American Planning Association. She is the Managing Principal Analyst of the State and Local Finance section of the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO). Ms. O’Malley has broad responsibilities for supervising matters related to state employee compensation, infrastructure spending, and state and local taxation.

Since joining the LAO in 1985, Ms. O’Malley has testified and lectured extensively on the subjects of local government finance, property taxation, sales tax, the initiative process, and state infrastructure investment. She is the principal author of a series of LAO reports examining modern California local finance and a recent report on the dissolution of redevelopment.

Ms. O’Malley has fond memories of Chico State. “Frankly, I wouldn't have gotten where I am without Professor Jon Ebeling's and Professor Michael Perelman's kind and active encouragement,” she stated in a recent email.


Roger Pink StaffRoger Pinkstaff

Roger Pinkstaff , who graduated with a BA in Economics in 1995, is economist and branch chief at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in San Francisco. Roger has worked with data since he was in high school when he worked as an appraiser assistant for Harold Larsen Appraisal Services collecting and entering primary data for residential appraisals.

Roger enrolled at Chico State in 1991 and after getting his economics degree in 1995 he worked as an economic assistant collecting primary data for the US Army Corps of Engineers . He moved on from the Corps to BLS in 1996, and he has been there since.

The position at BLS required an economics degree, and Roger uses the tools of economics that he studied at Chico State every day in his job. He is in charge of the employees who collect and analyze employment and price data throughout the western region. According to BLS , “Typical an economist’s typical duties may include:

  • planning and conducting surveys to collect economic data
  • analyzing and interpreting data 
  • preparing reports on economic trends and activities 
  • briefing the news media, industry, labor, and
    Federal and State governments about economic trends 
  • assisting in the development and application of
    computer software 
  • reviewing specialized methods, tools, and analysis,
    and techniques for quantifying, measuring, and understanding economic relationships 
  • writing and editing articles, reports, and other
    communications published by the BLS”

Paul Van DykePaul Van Dyke

Paul Van Dyke, who completed his BA in Economics in 1988, later earned a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from Antioch University, Los Angeles. In 2013 he received a Master’s in Social Work from CSU Stanislaus. Paul is a registered Associate Clinical Social Worker who is the clinical director and personal services coordinator for Turning Point Community Programs in Sacramento, California where he uses social work practices to help adults who have mental health and developmental disabilities. Between degrees Paul worked on campaigns and legislation for State Senator Hayden, media relations for Assembly member Sweeney, and later was Legislative Director and Chief of Staff for the late State Senator Soto. In the early ‘90s, he was an account executive for a Santa Monica based environmental public affairs firm, and a statewide coordinator on political campaigns for the Humane Society of the United States in 1996. In a recent email he wrote that, "I wanted to become more direct service orientated after I had worked in the Legislature for 12 years."

I still have fond memories of the Economics program at Chico state, it really was a great program, and it still is. The variance in my career well states the diversity, integrity, and value of the BA in Econ from Chico. Professors like Frederica Shockley, Michael Perelman, David Gallo really taught me how to think about big problems. The analytic skills I learned there drew me to public policy, and later social work.”


Kurt VernerKurt Verner

Kurt Verner, who graduated in 1983 with a BA in Economics and minor in Business Administration, is a contract officer for the Secretary of the Department of Defense. He lives in Roseville, California.   After graduation he served in the US Army for four years to fulfill an ROTC obligation. When Kurt left the military, he began working in the procurement field for a number of Department of Defense Agencies.  He started buying IT equipment for the Air Force and then moved on to negotiating construction contracts for the Army.  Kurt now works for a Department of Defense laboratory in Northern California responsible for providing advanced technology solutions to solve obsolescence issues facing integrated microelectronic circuits.

Kurt is responsible for all aspects of the procurement process from acquisition planning through contract award. The work involves contract solicitation, proposal evaluation, contract negotiation, contract award, and contract administration for highly specialized procurements involving scientific research for highly specialized technological services.  He is responsible for negotiating research and development contracts in such areas as prototype development of integrated circuits, software systems development, and development of new concepts and approaches for the integrated design of semiconductor materials.  Duties include the evaluation of detailed cost proposals to complete a thorough cost/price analysis and identification of intellectual property restrictions in preparation for contract negotiations. 

"My degree in Economics has laid the foundation to develop the strategic skills necessary that lead to successful contract negotiations that ensure the best value for the customer,” Kurt stated in a recent email.