STAFF MEMBERS | The Bell Policy Center

STAFF MEMBERS

President

Scott Wasserman has served as president of the Bell Policy Center and the Bell Action Network since August 2016. Scott leads a veteran staff that has played a major role in fiscal reform, education policy, economic security and other key issues that affect the well-being of working families in Colorado.

Previously, Scott was deputy chief of staff to Gov. John Hickenlooper and chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and current Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne. He worked in the governor’s office from 2013 to 2016, advising on education policy, workforce development and health care initiatives. 

Before that, Scott spent eight years in leadership positions at SEIU and Colorado WINS. He also has worked as a lobbyist and served four years as director of communications and press secretary for the Colorado House Minority Office. 

Scott graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in Middle East studies. 

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Director of Outreach and Donor Development

Cate Blackford joined the Bell in 2017. She brings with her over a decade of experience building strong, effective coalitions, local state and federal policy wins and a deeply held commitment to justice and equity. Previously, she served as Director of Public Policy for Hunger Free Colorado, where she led efforts to expand federal nutrition programs, expanded advocacy networks and helped pass legislation to reduce stark disparities in Colorado's food stamp program. Before joining Hunger Free Colorado, Cate led local public health and community development initiatives in Revere, MA around healthy eating, active living and substance use prevention. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, was appointed by Gov. Hickenlooper to the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council in 2014 and serves on the board of Uptown on the Hill, her neighborhood in Denver. Cate is married and has a daughter.

Why Cate works to help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead

“We all do better when we all do better.” - Paul Wellstone. None of us can do well on our own and we’re all worse off when structural, systemic barriers keep some of us from achieving our potential.

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Data and systems manager

Regan Byrd has more than nine years of experience in nonprofit operations, fundraising, communications and administration. She previously worked for Arapahoe County, Hunger Free Colorado, The Arc of Jefferson County and 9to5 Colorado.

Regan is currently co-chair of the 9to5 Colorado board of directors and previously served on the Aurora Human Relations Commission and the board of the YESS Institute.

She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Denver, where she studied public policy, sociology, gender and women’s studies, and English. Regan completed the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training program, and she is currently studying to obtain her paralegal certificate and IT certificate.

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Why Regan works to help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead: My work has always been motivated by a strong empathy for others and the belief that no one deserves suffering. I never found much credence to the claims that poverty is deserved due to bad choices that racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. is just an extension of human nature, or that greed is good. Evidence actually suggests these ideas are myths, and it’s time we treat them as silly notions of the past. If we are truly to be a meritocracy, a nation that prides itself on hard work, skill, knowledge and good instincts being rewards, then we must all dedicate ourselves to removing all barriers to opportunity through policy and advocacy. Colorado residents deserve the opportunity to succeed and a clear pathway to doing so, and we as a state have the unique chance to be a model for other states on how to empower everyone to achieve.

Public interest fellow

Freda Hawver Pachter joined the Bell in June 2016 after graduating from Colorado College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Before coming to the Bell, Freda worked at a creative writing nonprofit to provide educational support to underserved students in San Francisco’s public school system, and spent a year in the Colorado College Admissions Office reforming the admissions process to make the school more accessible to underrepresented and minority students. As a year-long fellow with the Public Interest Fellowship Program, Freda will be putting her policy analysis skills and passion for equal access to opportunity to good use.

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Why Freda works to help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead: During my time at 826 Valencia, an educational nonprofit based in San Francisco, I spent a lot of time working with elementary school students who, despite being exceptionally bright and curious, were not meeting the standards for their grade level. Later, in my work at my college’s admissions office, I was able to see how students like the ones I worked with fare in college admissions later down the road, and the role that access to education has in a person’s opportunities later in life. I’m excited to be working with the Bell on policy that affects the cycle of opportunity.

Director of policy and research 

Rich Jones joined the Bell as the director of policy and research in 2004. In addition to leading the Bell’s research and policy staff, Rich works on family economic security issues such as predatory lending, the minimum wage, family work supports, retirement security and the Earned Income Tax Credit.  He also conducts research and analysis on state fiscal and budget policy. 

Rich has more than 35 years of experience working on a variety of public policy issues. Before coming to the Bell, he was the director of legislative programs at the National Conference of State Legislatures, where he worked for 24 years. He also served as a researcher for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Rich holds a bachelor's in government administration from Shippensburg University and a master's in public administration from Penn State.

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Why Rich works to help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead: Public policy can play an important role in helping hard-working individuals and families advance economically. I am particularly interested in policies that help workers earn decent wages, low- and moderate-income families receive tax credits to boost their income and all Colorado workers gain access to a secure retirement. Working at the Bell provides an excellent opportunity for me to apply my research and policy analysis skills to create and align public policies to accomplish these goals. It is fulfilling to know that my work can improve the lives of Coloradans.

Director of strategy and operations

Julie Pecaut has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, marketing, strategy, and management for nonprofit organizations. Before joining the Bell in 2013, she was director of development for the Family Resource Center Association, a statewide network of community-based family resource centers. She previously led her own consulting practice serving a variety of non-profit and progressive political organizations. She has also served in leadership roles for Mercy Housing’s Colorado and national offices and led the fundraising program at Water for People.

Julie holds a bachelor's degree in English and mathematics from Grinnell College. She serves on the boards of Mile High Youth Corps and Families Forward Resource Center.

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Why Julie works to help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead: For me, it’s all about connection. When Coloradans have the opportunity to reach their full potential – not just meet their basic needs, but to nurture their families and pursue their dreams – we all win. When there are barriers in the way, we’re missing out on all the wonderful gifts people could be bringing with them. I want to help break down the walls so that everyone can come to the table.

Senior policy analyst

Frank Waterous has almost 30 years of experience working on a broad range of public policy issues and in postsecondary education. Since joining the Bell Policy Center in 2005, he has worked on policy initiatives spanning the preschool-through-postsecondary education spectrum, and on efforts to expand education, skills-development, and workforce opportunities for adults.

Prior to joining the Bell, he was a senior policy analyst for the Colorado Community College System and a senior analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Denver. He previously worked as an administrator and faculty member at colleges in Colorado and Minnesota.

Frank holds a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from Dartmouth College; master of arts degrees in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and in education from the University of Colorado, Boulder; and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Minnesota, Department of Educational Policy and Administration.

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Why Frank works to help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead: When I was in fourth grade, my teacher asked me to help a classmate — the son of migrant farm workers — with his reading skills, which were several years below grade level. It was my introduction to the role of education and literacy as key gateways to the “cycle of opportunity.” That experience had a profound impact on me. It continues to be the foundation of my interest in helping all Coloradans access the opportunities they need to get ahead and stay ahead. It all started with my fourth-grade friend.

Senior policy analyst

Natalie O’Donnell Wood is a seasoned policy and research professional, having worked with policy makers in Colorado and across the country on a variety of issues, including health care, human services, ethics and lobbying.

For 15 years, Natalie worked for the National Conference of State Legislatures, spending half of her tenure there with the organization’s Center for Ethics in Government. Most recently she was the director of policy and development for Peer Assistance Services, where she focused on behavioral and public health policy.

Natalie holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame and a master’s degree in political science, politics and public policy from the University of Colorado Denver.

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Why Natalie works to help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead: Like many, I moved to Colorado in search of opportunity (and sunshine). Those opportunities were here in abundance, but I didn’t find all of them on my own. Through research, advocacy and policy development I can help inform, elevate and lead conversations about investing in and supporting all Coloradans. It’s one way I can pay it forward.