Pete Benekos Dr. Pete Benekos, Ph.D., Director, earned his doctorate from the The University of Akron. Dr. Benekos has conducted research and published in the areas of juvenile justice, corrections and public policy. He is the co-author (with Alida V. Merlo) of Crime Control, Politics, and Policy, 2nd (LexisNexis/Anderson), Controverises in Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (LexisNexis/Anderson) and Corrections: Dilemmas and Directions (Anderson). He is on the Board of Directors at Harborcreek Youth Services and is a member of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee for the Erie District of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. He is past-president of the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences and served as trustee of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. He received the 2003 Fellows’ Awardfrom the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice
Amy C. Eisert, Director, received her Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University and her Master’s of Administration of Justice from Mercyhurst University. She has prior experience in the areas of juvenile and family services and programming. Amy is the key contact for Communities That Care in Erie County and served as the primary evaluator for the School Resource Officer Evaluation for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. She is the primary facilitator for the Erie County Policy and Planning Council for Children and Families. Her areas of expertise include juvenile delinquency, young female offenders, incorrigibility, mental health, community assessment, and research-based

George Fickenworth, Assistant Director, received his Master’s of Business Administration degree from Gannon University after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications from Edinboro University. He joined the Civic Institute after serving much of his previous employment in the fields of development and marketing for local not-for-profits, specializing in fundraising activities, grant writing and donor/member cultivation. He also worked as a project manager for a local firm. At the Civic Institute, his main focus of work is within the criminal justice and court systems, specializing in program evaluations with drug and mental health treatment courts and activities with criminal justice advisory boards.

Kristen Burillo, Research Analyst, received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience from Allegheny College and then went on to earn her master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Dayton. Prior to joining the Civic Institute, Kristen worked as a mental health therapist with adolescents. Many of her projects at the Civic Institute focus on programs and initiatives that support youth and families. Kristen also writes the Civic Column newsletter, which summarizes key issues and highlights data to share with the
Adam Saeler Adam Saeler, Research Analyst, received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Master’s of Administration of Justice from Mercyhurst University. His primary areas of focus at the Civic Institute include the program evaluations of many juvenile initiatives, activities with the adult criminal justice/courts system, and assistance with the Erie County Criminal Justice Advisory Board among other
Carla Z. Kuebler, received her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management from Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. She joined The Civic Institute after working in both the financial and manufacturing sectors. She is responsible for researching, maintaining and coordinating data for analysis in support of CI projects, evaluations, and surveys. She is also responsible for updating the “Directions”
Andrea K. Bierer, Community Action Plan Coordinator, received her bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications from Cedarville University. She has a decade of prior experience coordinating grants throughout northwest and central Pennsylvania working with law enforcement and community organizations addressing highway safety. Andrea is the key contact for the Erie County Community Action Plan, which is the prevention portion of the three-pronged ERIE Unified Youth Violence Reduction
Shelley Thayer

Shelley Thayer, Administrative Assistant, has been with Mercyhurst University since 1998 and transferred to the Civic Institute in 2004. She is responsible for general administrative and secretarial duties, as well as billing, budget accountability and data entry. She also provides regular assistance with surveys and projects.

Shirley Williams Shirley Williams, Project Administrator, received her master’s degree in Administration of Justice and B.S. in Criminal Justice Corrections/Sociology from Mercyhurst. She is deeply concerned with community wellness, which is reflected in her involvement with programs such as Safenet Domestic Violence, DWI Awareness and Terrorism Awareness & Prevention. She is responsible for organizing events for the Civic Institute and administration of marketing for the Public Safety
Art Amann

Dr. Art Amann, Ed.D., Criminal Justice Advisory Board Consultant, earned a doctorate in higher education leadership and a master’s degree in criminal justice. Dr. Amann has extensive experience in the criminal justice system and is the former warden and chief adult probation/parole officer in Erie County. Dr. Amann is a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency. In addition to his work with the Civic Institute, Dr. Amann is a faculty member in the Mercyhurst University Criminal Justice Program and is Director of the Mercyhurst University¬†Public Safety Institute.

Laura Lewis Dr. Laura Lewis, Ph.D., Research Fellow for the Civic Institute. She joined the social work faculty at Mercyhurst University in 1998 and currently serves as Chair of the Sociology/Social Work Department. Her practice experience includes administering an organization that provides services to single parents, working with survivors of domestic abuse, individual and group counseling, and advocacy work to address hunger. She also served as Program Director for the Institute of Politics at the University of Pittsburgh where she organized forums for civic leaders to come together to discuss social policy issues. Her research efforts have largely focused on poverty and she has presented at local, state, and national conferences on issues related to poverty. She teaches social work macro practice, social welfare policy, social welfare analysis, human behavior and the social environment and contemporary social