Archives: Our Team

Miranda Bonifield




Oregon native Miranda Bonifield is Cascade Policy Institute’s Research Associate and Program Assistant for the Children’s Scholarship Fund- Oregon. When she’s not researching for Cascade, she can be found studying history, coaching a team policy debate club, or teaching middle school girls in her local church.

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Janet Van Gilder


Janet Van Gilder joined Cascade Policy Institute in 2017 as Cascade’s Executive Assistant. Janet holds a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership from Warner Pacific University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan. She worked as an engineer for several companies in Michigan and Texas and raised two children in Oregon. A dedicated volunteer, Janet also has an AAS in Gerontology from PCC.

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Rachel Dawson


Rachel Dawson joined Cascade Policy Institute as a Policy Analyst in 2019. Her work encompasses a variety of topics, including electric utility regulation and transportation policy.

Rachel previously worked with Cascade as a Research Associate through the Charles Koch Internship Program. In that role, Rachel conducted research and testified at public hearings on affordable housing, transportation, and energy policy.

Rachel graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York with a degree in Public Policy and a focus on criminal justice reform. While at Hamilton College, Rachel conducted research on the Swedish criminal justice system in Stockholm and on Burmese refugees’ interaction with standardized state exams in New York. Her senior thesis evaluated the accuracy of a risk assessment algorithm commonly used by some courts to determine the risk a person will commit another crime prior to their court date and compared it to an algorithm she created using statistical software.

A native Oregonian, Rachel is a rabid Portland Thorns fan and a member of the Timbers Army.

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Eric Fruits


Eric Fruits, Ph.D. joined Cascade Policy Institute in 2019 as Vice President of Research.

Eric has been a long-time academic advisor and contributing analyst for Cascade. As Vice President of Research, he leads Cascade’s policy team and serves as an expert analyst of Oregon state and local public policy issues.

As a consulting economist, Eric Fruits has produced numerous research studies involving economic analysis, financial modeling, and statistical analysis. As an expert witness, he has provided testimony in state, federal, and international courts. He has written peer-reviewed articles on initial public offerings, the municipal bond market, real estate markets, and the formation and operation of cartels. His economic analysis has been widely cited and has been published in The EconomistThe Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  He is also an adjunct professor of economics at Portland State University.

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Kathryn Hickok


Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President of Cascade Policy Institute and Director of Cascade’s Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program. CSF-Oregon gives children from low-income Oregon families a “hand-up” in life through school choice.

As Executive Vice President, Kathryn oversees Cascade’s publications, development operations, events, and outreach. She also writes and speaks on educational choice, religious freedom, and human flourishing through ordered liberty. Kathryn joined Cascade in 2005 and held publications and development roles for 13 years.

Kathryn has been a guest on talk radio shows in the Portland, Salem, Central Oregon, and Southern Oregon radio markets and at local grassroots events. With former Cascade board member Larry W. Dennis, Sr., she coauthored his book, 15 Leadership Principles and Ronald Reagan: Use Them to Change Your World.

Kathryn graduated with honors from the University of Portland with a degree in English and a minor in French.

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John A. Charles, Jr.

John Charles was named President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute in May, 2005. Cascade is a free-market think tank working to promote individual liberty, economic opportunity, and personal responsibility.

Mr. Charles initially joined Cascade in 1997 as Environmental Policy Director. His research has focused on transportation, land use, and free-market environmentalism. He is a frequent keynote speaker and guest lecturer, especially on the subject of growth management, and has traveled to 24 states to discuss this issue. Mr. Charles authored a chapter on the Portland experience in the book, A Citizen’s Guide to Smart Growth, co-published by the Heritage Foundation and Property and the Environment Research Center. He has also been published in newspapers around the country including The OregonianPittsburgh Times-ReviewHartford Courant, and Seattle Times.

Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Charles was executive director of the Oregon Environmental Council for 17 years. During that time he served on dozens of local, state and federal commissions and advisory boards related to environmental protection. Charles was also an active participant in Oregon legislative proceedings, and helped author numerous environmental statutes in the areas of forest management, toxic substances, air pollution, watershed restoration, and transportation.

Mr. Charles received a B.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1976 and an M.P.A. degree from Portland State University in 1990.

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