Our Team

Jill Tolles

Executive Director

Jill Tolles is the Executive Director of the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. She has taught at the University of Nevada since 2005, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication Studies. She is also on the faculty of the National Judicial College, where she teaches courtroom management, collaborative decision-making, and procedural fairness to judges from around the nation and the world.

Prior to joining the Guinn Center, Jill served three terms in the Nevada Legislature as the Assemblywoman for District 25, where she has served on the Education, Judiciary, Commerce and Labor, and Ways and Means Committees. Additionally, she served in two special sessions and three interims on the Interim Finance Committee, Legislative Committee on Education, Legislative Committee on Energy, Commission on Special License Plates, and the Nevada Sentencing Commission.

Jill has given back to the community by serving on numerous boards and commissions over the years. She is currently an Education Alliance Board member, recent Vice Chair of the Attorney General’s Statewide Substance Use Response Working Group, Chair of the Northern Nevada Sex Trafficking Task Force, Junior Achievement Hall of Fame Recipient, Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow, FBI Citizen’s Academy Graduate, and member of the International Women’s Forum.


Michael Stewart

Interim Research Director

Michael Stewart recently retired as the Director of the Research Division of Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), overseeing a staff of approximately 45 employees, including policy analysts, constituent services personnel, legislative librarians, and other support staff. He began his legislative service career in 1996 following 2½ years with the Elections Division of the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, where he worked closely with local election officers in the administration of Nevada’s election laws. During his time with the Research Division, Michael was the primary staff contact for and staffed numerous legislative committees covering dozens of topic areas, including government affairs, natural resources, reapportionment and redistricting, elections, ethics in government, legislative affairs, and transportation.

Michael holds a Master of Science degree in Geography, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography—all from the University of Nevada, Reno. He is also a 2001 graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, sponsored by National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He served on NCSL’s Redistricting and Elections Standing Committee and the Council of State Governments-West Legislative Service Agency/Research Directors Committee.


Kristine Brown Caliger

Assistant Director of Outreach and Operations

Kristine Brown Caliger has lived in the Silver State for more than 30 years. After earning her B.A. in Music at the University of Nevada, Kristine’s career began in communications, administration, and digital media, lending expertise and organizational leadership to several nonprofits. Her trajectory changed when she was hired at News 4-Fox 11 in 2013. She helped develop the station’s digital news team and strategy, and eventually became its first Managing Editor, overseeing newsroom and editorial operations. Through her work in local news, Kristine discovered she not only wanted to tell Nevadans’ stories but work to change Nevadans’ lives for the better. After her time at News 4-Fox 11, she got to work serving the business and nonprofit community as Vice President of Partnerships and Programs at the Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

During her time with the Chamber, Kristine reimagined the Chamber’s partnership strategies, creating a successful framework for financial sustainability and accountability. In response to COVID-19, she created successful, supportive, and educational community engagement programs that brought vital resources to hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits. Kristine’s service on boards include the Education Alliance of Washoe County, Truckee Meadows Tomorrow, Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s Standing Advisory Committee, Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority’s Community Outreach Committee, and the Washoe County School District’s 2023 Core Strategic Planning Team, among others.


Meredith Levine

Director of Economic Policy


Meredith Levine is the Director of Economic Policy for the Guinn Center. She is responsible for analyzing public policies related to economic development, transportation, and natural resources, as well as fiscal, budgetary, and tax policies. Prior to joining the Guinn Center, Levine worked for the Surveys and Investigations Division of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee and as an analyst for the Congressional Research Service. She has also conducted research for Yale University Department of Economics faculty on a broad range of economic, political, and policy-related questions. Levine majored in Government at Cornell University, receiving her A.B. with distinction in all subjects, and holds each an M.A. and M.Phil. from Yale University, both in Political Science. Follow her on Twitter @MeredithLVNV.


Todd Butterworth

Senior Education Researcher

Todd Butterworth began his career with the State of Nevada in 1992. He served as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and managed various disability programs and services. In 2003, he was appointed the first bureau chief of the State’s new Office of Disability Services, created by Governor Kenny Guinn. He served in that capacity until 2012 when he joined the Legislative Counsel Bureau as a policy advisor and research analyst. With the Nevada Legislature, Todd staffed the Senate Committee on Education and the interim Legislative Committee on Education while advising legislators on issues related to preschool, K-12 and postsecondary education. He served as the national staff chairman of the Education Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures and in a similar role for the Legislative Education Staff Network, which recognized him in 2017 for his professional contributions to education public policy. During the 2019 Legislative Session, he served as the executive assistant to the chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

More recently, Todd authored nearly 140 Nevada-focused fact-check briefs for the nonprofit Gigagact project, which seeks to improve online access to accurate and objective information. Before his career in public service, Todd earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Arizona State University and an MBA from the University of Nevada. In 2012, the University of Nevada recognized him as its “Outstanding Graduate School Alumnus.”

Outside of work, Todd has served as the president of CARE Chest of Sierra Nevada, the local chapter of Toastmasters International, and the Board of Trustees of the First Presbyterian Church, where he was also the “house” drummer for 23 years. He was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International for service to the community and the Bill Kahl Humanitarian Award for his support of people with disabilities. Todd is married to Kellie, a 4th generation Nevadan and retired dental hygienist.

Jaylin Hendricks

Research Analyst


Jaylin Hendricks is the Research/Program Analyst for the Guinn Center. In this role, she supports the Guinn Center’s research program with an emphasis on economic and fiscal policy. Prior to joining the Guinn Center, she assisted research on a variety of economic and philosophical topics in her time at the University of Nevada, Reno. This primarily included analyses on a variety of topics within the field of public finance. Her career philosophies center around a passion for economic-driven research as well as economic education. She holds a dual B.A. in Philosophy (Ethics, Law, and Politics emphasis) and Economics from the University of Nevada, Reno. 

Robin Evans

GIS Specialist

Robin Evans is a GIS specialist who supports the Guinn Center’s projects and programs through mapping and spatial analysis. Previously at Nevada’s Legislative Council Bureau, Robin provided GIS services related to reappointment and redistricting, demographics, and mapping state trends. She has additional experience with redistricting practices and legal requirements from her time at California’s Statewide Database at Berkeley Law.

Robin has utilized GIS to aid in the creation and evaluation of local government policy and programs related to sustainability, air quality, and walkability in the Sacramento Region. She also worked at the Urban Ecology Institute at Boston College researching urban greening and urban environmental health topics. Robin holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University where she studied environmental planning, community development, and served as a planning department research assistant.

Dr. Jennifer McClendon

Faculty Research Associate

Jennifer McClendon has experience in social service delivery, crisis intervention, program planning and evaluation, and program management. She recently served as the Director of the Human Services Network, a collective organization of non-profits in the human service sector across Northern Nevada, strengthening public policy to promote positive outcomes for clients. As a consultant for Turning Point, she has managed and evaluated school- and community-based projects in Nevada’s rural and urban areas, including a recent project with Nevada’s Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment. Other areas of expertise include mental health crisis intervention, access to mental health and addiction service systems, services for homeless youth, and family support for chronic and severe mental illness. She leverages her community relationships to create unique experiential student learning opportunities, reflected in her teaching and publications.

Kaashifah Ahmed

Graduate Research Associate

Kaashifah Ahmed is a licensed general practitioner from India and a distinguished alumnus of an MBBS program. A pioneer within her family, she took a bold leap in 2019 by relocating to the US to pursue a Master’s in Biostatistics—a field where she discovered her profound interest in research and analysis. During her master’s studies, she showcased her leadership prowess, serving as the External Vice President of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) at UNR and as the Vice President and COO of the National Association of Graduate Professional Students (NAGPS).

Presently, kaashifah is ardently engaged in her doctoral studies in Education. Since 2021, she has collaborated closely with the Dean of the College of Education, contributing to statistically analytical articles concerning the success formula of the Dean’s Future Scholars Program. In addition to her formal roles, she generously offers her expertise in statistical analysis to fellow researchers on a freelance basis, assisting them in interpreting their quantitative data.

At the heart of Kaashifah’s academic pursuits is a fervent desire to delve into the unique challenges faced by immigrant students, especially students of color, in their educational journey. With a commitment to rigorous research and innovative solutions, she aims to illuminate these hurdles and create a more inclusive and equitable educational environment for all.

Jeana Miller

Graduate Research Associate

Jeana Miller graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Business Administration degree and also has a Masters in Elementary Education with an endorsement in English Language Learners from Sierra Nevada College and a Masters in School and Program Administration and Special Education endorsement from Grand Canyon University. She has worked in education for 14 years as a teacher, school administrator and district administrator.

Jeana has gone back to school to focus on a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Science.

Hannah Jackson


Hannah Jackson is a Policy Research Intern for the Guinn Center. In this role, Hannah conducts research on voting and elections in Nevada. Hannah is a Master of Public Policy Student at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, where she studies voting rights, democracy reform, and community-engaged research. Before joining the Guinn Center, Hannah lived in Washington, D.C., working first in the United States Senate and more recently as an Aide at the United States Supreme Court. Hannah is a proud Nevadan and holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno, where she served as Student Body President.


Steven Jamieson


Steven Jamieson received a B.A. in Political Science from Brigham Young University and then worked as a Research Policy Assistant in the Research Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau. A proud third generation Reno High School alumnus, Steven is currently getting to know Las Vegas while pursuing a J.D. at the William S. Boyd School of Law.

Kaiden Mejia-Amaya

Policy Research Intern

Kaiden Mejia-Amaya is currently a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, pursuing a dual major in History and Spanish Literature. He currently works with the Latino Research Center at the university, where he is part of a team dedicated to exploring the effects of housing instability on health.

Recently, Kaiden completed a fulfilling service term with AmeriCorps, where he served as an in-school literacy mentor at Echo Loder Elementary School. Focusing on students from K-2, he played a vital role in fostering their literacy skills and empowering them in their educational journey. Being born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Kaiden has a deep connection to his home state. Inspired by his upbringing, he aspires to continue serving and contributing to the well-being of Nevada and its communities.

Cal Boone

Policy Research Intern

Cal Boone is a political science student at the University of Nevada, Reno, with a strong focus on higher education access and environmental stewardship. Before joining the Guinn Center, Cal has actively contributed to the college community by creating resources and organizing events focused on enhancing student success. As a citizen of the Walker River Paiute Tribe, he combines cultural knowledge with a community-centered approach to drive positive change and empowerment across diverse groups in Nevada. This in part, contributes to his goal of pulling collective voice to power in advocating for effective solutions for local and state issues.

Elizabeth Tokarski

Communications and Outreach Intern

Elizabeth Tokarski is in her second year pursuing a dual degree in International Affairs and Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada, expecting to graduate in 2026. After graduation, she is specifically interested in global women’s issues and anti-trafficking efforts. While pursuing her studies, Lizzy works in the marketing department for the College of Engineering, writing stories and helping manage their social media pages. Lizzy has goals of studying abroad during her time as a student in order to gain more experience with international law and government.

Francis Talbot

Administrative Assistant


Francis Talbot is the Administrative Assistant for the Guinn Center. In this role, Mr. Talbot oversees the administrative responsibilities of the Guinn Center. This entails ensuring proper policies exist and conform to best practices, communicating with board members and community partners, and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the Guinn Center. Additionally, he works as a liaison between the Guinn Center and the University of Nevada, Reno. Prior to joining the Guinn Center, he worked under the Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation for the State of Nevada as a case manager. He currently holds a dual B.A. in Political Science and International Affairs from the University of Nevada, Reno. Currently, he is pursuing an M.A. in Public Administration at the University of Nevada, Reno.