Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston Marks 10th Anniversary

Originally published on the Harvard Kennedy School Website

October 18, 2010
David Luberoff (Executive Director, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston)

In 2002, after her first year as a Master in Public Policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School, Amy Dain MPP 2003, spent the summer as a Rappaport Policy Fellow in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. Almost 10 years and two jobs later, that fellowship is still paying dividends.

"The Rappaport Institute and network launched my career and has kept it moving along ever since," Dain told more than 100 people who attended a reception marking the Rappaport fellowship’s 10th anniversary that was held on Wednesday, October 13, at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln.

The policy fellowship, which is administered by Harvard’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, gives a dozen graduate students from throughout greater Boston the opportunity to work with senior officials in state and local government for the summer. A parallel program, overseen by Suffolk University’s Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service, provides a similar opportunity for law school students from throughout the region. Over the last 10 years, 245 students – about half of them from Harvard – have worked received the fellowship. Recipients have used the fellowship to work in a variety of officials, including both Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

Dain noted that because many fellows have stayed in the greater Boston area, "the Rappaport Fellowship has become more than just a ten-week summer internship. It is a powerful and growing network of people committed to public service."

Illustratively, Dain explained that her placement helped lead to her first job at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy, where – with the help of a Rappaport Law Fellow – she assembled a comprehensive database on land-use regulation in the more than 180 communities in greater Boston. Edward Glaeser, director of the Rappaport Institute, used that data as part of a groundbreaking study assessing the impact of land-use regulation on housing prices in greater Boston.

When Dain left Pioneer she was replaced by Maria Ortiz-Perez, a former fellow, who is now working for the UN in Lebanon. But Dain’s connection with the Institute continues in her new role as coordinator of StatNet, a network of cities in New England that are using data strategically in decision making and management. Boston’s representative to that group initially was Matt Mayrl MPP 2008 who was a Rappaport Fellow in the office of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and was later hired by the city. While Mayrl left that job to become National Policy Director for a San Francisco based environmental organization, his place has recently been taken by Devin Lyons-Quirk MPP 2010 who spent the summer of 2009 as a Rappaport Fellow in Boston and who is now working for the city as well.

Because such stories are common in a variety of other fields, "the fellowship has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations," said David Ellwood, dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, at the DeCordova event. He added that because many former fellows are working in areas such as health care reform, where Massachusetts is leading the nation, the fellowship’s impact goes far beyond greater Boston.

Looking out a the many former fellows who attended the event, Jerome Lyle Rappaport MPA 1963 – who along with his wife Phyllis and their foundation, founded and funded the fellowships and the entities that oversee them – noted that while it "is one thing to start a program, it is quite another to see them grow and watch what they have become."