Staff Bios

A dedicated team of professionals committed to giving our clients the very best of our abilities, knowledge, and experience

Select any name to learn more about each of our staff members:

Christopher Thornberg, PhD

Director & Adjunct Professor

Office: 951.827.2792
Cell: 310.739.3286

chris.thornberg@ucr.edu

Christopher Thornberg is Director of the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development and an Adjunct Professor at the School. He is also the Founding Partner of Beacon Economics LLC.

An expert in economic and revenue forecasting, regional economics, economic policy, and labor and real estate markets, Dr. Thornberg has consulted for private industry, cities, counties, and public agencies in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Bay Area, San Diego, the Inland Empire, Seattle, Orange County, Sacramento, Nevada, and other geographies across the nation. Dr. Thornberg became nationally known for forecasting the subprime mortgage market crash that began in 2007, and was one of the few economists on record to predict the global economic recession that followed.

In 2015, he was named to California State Treasurer John Chiang’s Council of Economic Advisors, the body that advises the Treasurer on emerging strengths and vulnerabilities within the state’s economy. From 2008 to 2012, he served as economic advisor to the California State Controller’s Office, and as Chair of then State Controller John Chiang’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Well known for his ability to capture and hold audiences, Dr. Thornberg has presented to hundreds of leading business, government, and nonprofit organizations across the globe including Chevron, The New Yorker, Colliers International, the California Chamber of Commerce, City National Bank, the California State Association of Counties, State Farm Insurance, the City of Los Angeles, the California and Nevada Credit Union League, and the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, among many others. He has testified before the U.S. Congress House Committee on Financial Services on municipal debt issues, before the California State Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation regarding rule changes related to Proposition 13, and before the Los Angeles City Council about proposed changes to local minimum wage laws.

Dr. Thornberg is a panel member of the National Association of Business Economists’ quarterly “Outlook,” and a contributor to monthly economics polls published by Reuters. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of both the California Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and is an Executive Member of the Central City Association (Los Angeles).

Prior to launching Beacon Economics Dr. Thornberg was a senior economist with UCLA’s Anderson Forecast. He previously taught in the MBA program at UCLA’s Anderson School, in the Rady School of Business at UC San Diego, and at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. He has also held a faculty position in the economics department at Clemson University.

A well-known media commentator, Dr. Thornberg has appeared on CNN and NPR and is regularly quoted in major national dailies including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Thornberg holds a Ph.D in Business Economics from The Anderson School at UCLA, and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Sherif Hanna

Deputy Director

Office: 951.827.2792
Cell: 323.356.3406

sherif.hanna@ucr.edu

Sherif Hanna is Deputy Director of the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Mr. Hanna has over 20 years of operations management experience and guides the long-term direction of the Center establishing short-term goals, objectives, and strategies to achieve that vision. He creates strategic partnerships with key business and community institutions and organizations, working extensively with senior executives in state and local government and at Fortune 500 companies that span industries such as manufacturing, banking and finance, insurance, real estate, and global trade.

Mr. Hanna is responsible for continually improving and expanding research product lines and for overseeing client service, growth, administration, and the professional development of staff. He honed his managerial and strategic planning skills at both small and large companies and has particular expertise in workflow re-engineering, start-up management, and business development.

In addition to his role at the Center, Mr. Hanna is also the Managing Partner of Beacon Economics LLC. Formerly, he was Managing Director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast where he identified areas of underperformance and refined operations to ensure higher levels of productivity. Mr. Hanna also served as Senior Vice President of Consulting Sales and Strategic Alliances at The Advisory Company, and prior to that was Vice President of Technology Sales and Business Development for AnnuityScout where he was responsible for national sales and account management of groundbreaking B2B and B2C technology. Earlier in his career, he held executive positions at American General Corp.

Mr. Hanna holds a B.A. in Political Science from California State University at Northridge.

Robert Kleinhenz, PhD

Economist and Executive Director of Research

Office: 951.827.2792

robert.kleinhenz@ucr.edu

Robert Kleinhenz is Economist and Executive Director of Research at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development and one of California’s leading economists. Dr. Kleinhenz is a much sought-after specialist for his deep knowledge of the California and U.S. economies and their industries. Tapping nearly 30 years of experience in analyzing the national and state economies, as well as the economies of California’s many diverse regions, he oversees economic research and public policy analysis at the Center. He is also Executive Director of Research at Beacon Economics LLC.

In his work, Dr. Kleinhenz produces a wide variety of economic forecasts, impact studies, and public policy analyses. Some of his recent projects have included spearheading an economic impact analysis for the City of Los Angeles’s 2024 Olympic bid, and policy research related to California’s growing demand for housing.

Formerly Dr. Kleinhenz served as Chief Economist of the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). Earlier in his career, he was Deputy Chief Economist at the California Association of Realtors where he focused on housing market and consumer research. He also taught economics for over 15 years, most recently at California State University, Fullerton.

A leading voice in Los Angeles and beyond, Dr. Kleinhenz is an in-demand speaker who regularly presents to business, government, and nonprofit organizations. A well-known media commentator, he has been interviewed on CNBC and NPR and is regularly quoted in major national dailies including the Wall Street Journal. Current and past affiliations include the National Association for Business Economics, the National Association for Business Economics, Los Angeles Chapter, the Western Economic Association International, and the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California.

Dr. Kleinhenz holds a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Southern California with a specialty in Urban and Regional Economics. He also holds an M.A. degree in Economics from the University of Southern California and a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of Michigan.

Adam J. Fowler

Director of Research

Office: 424.646.4661

adam.fowler@ucr.edu

Adam J. Fowler is Director of Research at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Mr. Fowler is responsible for overseeing the Center’s research staff and leading projects on environmental economics and domestic energy, public opinion and attitudes, public policy analysis, and regional economics. His research interests include the intersection of behavioral economics and public policy. In addition to his role at the Center, he is also Director of Research at Beacon Economics LLC.

He formerly served as Research Manager and prior to joining the Center, was a member of the Fox Uncertainty Lab and the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists. He served as a teaching assistant in American Government, Public Opinion, and Introductory Game Theory at UCLA. Mr. Fowler also worked as a producer on a documentary film that was acquired by HBO. He has been interviewed by the New York Times and has appeared in statewide publications including the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, the American Association for Public Opinion Research, and the International Documentary Association.

Mr. Fowler holds an M.A. degree in Political Science from the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and pursued a Ph.D. in Political Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

rick smith beacon economics

Rick Smith

Director of Business Development

Office: 951.827.2792

rick.smith@ucr.edu

Rick Smith is Director of Business Development at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. He is responsible for growing the Center’s client base, and improving and expanding its business development strategies. Mr. Smith has over 20 years of sales, sales management, marketing, and financial industry experience with a concentration on the home mortgage industry, financial management, and equities trading.

In addition to his role at the Center, he is also Director of Business Development at Beacon Economics LLC. Formerly, he was a senior mortgage loan officer with Bank of America and a home mortgage consultant with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Builder Division where he received awards for outstanding sales. Throughout his career in the residential mortgage industry, he has worked in sales and sales management at First Nationwide Bank and Home Savings of America. A Certified Financial Manager (CFM), Mr. Smith was also a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch. He holds a Series 7 Securities License and a California Real Estate Sales License.

Mr. Smith holds a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at San Diego.

Victoria Pike Bond

Director of Marketing & Communications

Office: 951.827.2792
Cell: 415.488.7195

victoria.bond@ucr.edu

Victoria Pike Bond is Director of Marketing & Communications the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. She is responsible for internal and external communications at including public and media relations, product marketing, and website development and management. Ms. Bond is a specialist in the fields of strategic communications and public affairs and has worked with members of the state, national, and international media managing crisis communications and conducting targeted outreach. She served as a press spokesperson for the California State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and is an accomplished writer of communications pieces including press releases, newsletters, op-eds, marketing materials, proposals, and website content.

In addition to her role at the Center, she is also Director of Marketing & Communications at Beacon Economics LLC. Formerly, Ms. Bond managed media relations at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) where she was responsible for all aspects of the institute’s media operation. Prior to that, she was a communications associate for environmental and communication management firm Circlepoint, working on the communication components of major public projects including the San Francisco Bay Bridge retrofit, the 680/24 Interchange reconstruction in Walnut Creek, and the merger of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads.

Ms. Bond holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.

Alysa Hannon

Client and Product Development Manager

Office: 424.666.3838

alysa@beaconecon.com

Alysa Hannon is Client and Product Development Manager at the UCR School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Ms. Hannon is responsible for developing client relationships and partnerships as well as the Center’s product line, particularly in the field of economic development. Ms. Hannon comes to the Center with eight years of experience in an economic development practice, both in international and domestic settings.  In addition to her role at the Center, she is also Client and Product Development Manager at Beacon Economics LLC.

Prior to joining the Center, she was with the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s (NYCEDC) Center for Urban Innovation where she managed the City’s $7.5M portfolio of 18 incubators and designed new programs around impact investing, fintech, and employment-based social enterprise, the last of which was funded at $7.1M by the Manhattan D.A.’s Office.

Prior to NYCEDC, Ms. Hannon managed a suite of federally-funded projects and public-private partnerships focused primarily on entrepreneurship programming based both in Washington, D.C. and the Middle East region. In Washington, she worked for the American Task Force on Palestine and the American Charities for Palestine managing both policy projects including advocacy on Capitol Hill and international development projects focused on health and education initiatives in the region. In the West Bank, she managed the implementation of Palestine’s first StartUp Cup competition, a global USAID-funded project, on behalf of ConnectME.

Ms. Hannon is a former Fulbright fellow and leveraged her research grant to explore female entrepreneurship in Amman, Jordan. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and Certificate in International Development from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Brian Vanderplas

Senior Research Associate

Office: 424.646.4654

brian.vanderplas@ucr.edu

Brian Vanderplas is a Senior Research Associate at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Mr. Vanderplas plays a major role in the Center’s principal research projects. He is responsible for building and maintaining a wide variety of complex databases that support statewide and national economic forecasts, economic impact analyses, public policy studies, and other projects. In addition to preparing, cleaning, and seasonally adjusting data, he has extensive experience using a wide array of economic and econometric software programs including STATA, EViews, and SPSS. Mr. Vanderplas conducts regional economic analysis and authors a variety of chapters in regional economic forecast books that serve as centerpieces of large, annual economic forecast conferences held across Southern California. In addition to his role at the Center, he is also a Senior Research Associate at Beacon Economics LLC. His academic focus includes transportation economics and international trade and development. He has conducted graduate level research on the educational attainment level of migrant populations and on fuel consumption as it relates to population density.

Mr. Vanderplas holds M.A and B.A. degrees in Economics from California State University at Long Beach.

Justin Niakamal

Senior Research Associate

Office: 424.646.4650

Jjustin.niakamal@ucr.edu

Justin Niakamal is a Senior Research Associate at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Mr. Niakamal is responsible for supporting a wide variety of the Center’s analytic products and services. His work includes cleaning, maintaining, and managing large and complex datasets; conducting econometric modeling and analysis; conducting literature reviews in support of policy and economic impact analysis; creating presentation materials; and writing regional reports. In addition to his role at the Center, he is also a Research Associate at Beacon Economics LLC. He has academic experience in regression analysis, econometrics, economic forecasting, and in the application of statistical and econometric software programs including EViews. In a graduate level internship at Applied Medical, Mr. Niakamal worked with large data sets to provide sales forecasts. He is currently pursuing additional academic training in Bayesian inference, an important statistical technique and key research interest.

Mr. Niakamal holds an M.S. degree in Economics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a B.A. degree in Economics from California State University, Long Beach.

Hoyu Chong

Senior Research Associate

Office: 424-320-0070

Hoyu@BeaconEcon.com

Hoyu Chong is a Senior Research Associate at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Ms. Chong is responsible for supporting a wide range of the firm’s projects and initiatives. Her research focus includes working with geographic information system (GIS) software and U.S. Census data in support of economic and policy analysis. Recently, she was instrumental in developing a number of key analyses including a green innovation index for California and an economic impact study for a major freight railway. Her work portfolio also includes analyses of the economics of non-tribal gaming in California, the economic impacts associated with the state’s banking industry including the impact of loans, and the economic effects of an affordable housing ballot measure in Los Angeles. In addition to her role at the Center, she is also a Research Associate at Beacon Economics LLC. Formerly, she was an intern with Beacon Economics and has been a Research Intern at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC. She is currently pursing a Master’s degree in Economics at the University of Southern California.

Ms. Chong holds a B.A. degree in Business Economics from UCLA with minors in Accounting and Spanish.

Peter Breslin

Research Associate

Office: 424.646.4663

Peter@BeaconEcon.com

Peter Breslin is a Research Associate at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Mr. Breslin is responsible for supporting a diverse range of the Center’s principal projects and initiatives with a special focus on data and public policy analysis. His recent work has included co-authoring a macroeconomic analysis on California’s regional housing markets for the California Apartment Association. His academic interests include business finance theory and analysis, industrial organization, and microeconomic analysis at the regional and state level. Prior to being hired as a Research Associate, Mr. Breslin was an intern with the Center. His prior professional experience includes working as a data analyst and content specialist at OwnerIQ, Inc. where he forecasted and tracked marketing and website data and evaluated industry trends.

Mr. Breslin is currently completing his M.A. degree in Economics, with a finance focus, at California State University Los Angeles. He holds a B.A. degree in Economics from Northeastern University.

Christopher Chau

Research Associate

Office: 424.666.2165

Christopher.Chau@BeaconEcon.com

Christopher Chau is a Research Associate at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Mr. Chau is responsible for supporting a wide variety of the Center’s projects and initiatives with a special focus on public policy analysis and data analytics. His work includes examining California’s many regional economies, conducting research on the state’s multifamily housing market, authoring and contributing to reports and economic forecasts, and cleaning and managing large, complex databases. His professional and academic interests include econometric analysis and its application to public policy, industrial organization, and ‘big data’. In addition to his role at the Center, he is also a Research Associate at Beacon Economics LLC. Formerly, Mr. Chau was a Financial Analyst with Sanmina Corporation where he developed analytic databases based on multifaceted financial source data and provided technical support for daily cash management.

Mr. Chau holds an M.A. degree in Applied Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Jordan Giali

Research Associate

Office: 310.622.9111

Jgiali@BeaconEcon.com

Jordan Giali is a Research Associate at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Mr. Giali is responsible for supporting a wide variety of the firm’s projects and initiatives, including creating presentations and conducting economic analysis with a special focus on public policy. His recent projects have included working on economic impact analyses for the City of Los Angeles’s Measure S and for the City’s 2024 Olympic bid. He also authors and contributes to many of the firm’s regional research reports including Beacon Economics’ Regional Intelligence Reports and quarterly Regional Outlook. In addition to his role at the Center, he is also a Research Associate at Beacon Economics LLC. Formerly, he conducted market research for cove in Washington DC.

Mr. Giali holds a B.A. degree in Economics from Pepperdine University and is currently exploring graduate programs.

Danielle Tremeear

Executive Assistant

Office: 424.646.4659

danielle.tremeear@ucr.edu

Danielle Tremeear is Executive Assistant at the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Ms. Tremeear has extensive expertise creating more efficient and functional work environments through the management of office operations and administration of client service processes. In her role at the Center, she is responsible for supporting multiple executives, overseeing special projects, managing and streamlining office and accounting procedures, planning and executing events and conferences, and acting as a liaison between staff, vendors, and clients.

In addition to her role at the Center, she is also Executive Assistant at Beacon Economics LLC. Formerly, she was an executive assistant at a large law firm in Southern California, and before that worked in additional office management capacities and in retail sales. Ms. Tremeear attended The Art Institute with a focus on Fashion Marketing and Management.