Rappaport Institute horizontal images

Wynne Mun and Yiaway Yeh

Current Fellows

Our distinguished selection committee chose 14 Public Policy Fellows from approximately 100 candidates. The outpouring of interest in these programs confirms the great interest in state and local governance issues. Rappaport Public Policy Fellows spend 10 weeks working in state and local government offices in the Greater Boston area. The Fellows come from graduate and professional programs at local universities such as Harvard, Suffolk, MIT, Tufts, Northeastern and Boston University. To learn more about the program, visit our Eligibility page. If you work at a state or local government office interested in hosting an intern or fellow for next summer, please contact Polly O'Brien at (617) 495-5091.

2014 Rappaport Institute Public Policy Summer Fellows

Suveer Bahirwani

Suveer Bahirwani, Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: University of Mumbai
Area of Interest: Environmental Issues
Mentors: Neil Veilleux, Meister Consulting Group
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Supervisor: Birud Jhaveri, Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Project Description: The MassDoER is developing for the first time a study on the overview, impacts, design and potential implementation strategies for an environmental tax reform that places a price on carbon. This study covering the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will be conducted by a third-party consultant commissioned by the office of the Deputy Commissioner at the MassDoER. As a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, Suveer Bahirwani's primary role will be to assist, support and work alongside the Deputy Commissioner in leading the project through its various milestones.

Charles Brackett, University of Massachusetts Boston
Undergraduate Degree: McGill University
Area of Interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentors: David Friedman, Boston Red Sox and Robey Champine, Tufts University
Agency: Mayor's Office, City of Boston
Supervisor: Patricia Boyle-McKenna, Director of Internships
Project Description: Between June and August 2014, Charlie will conduct extensive one-on-one interviews and workshops with employers and staffing firms to determine the sources of their criminal background checking policies and garner insights and recommendations for the Mayor on how to leverage city resources to improve ex-offender hiring outcomes. He will use data to analyze ex-offender performance in relation to a non-offender control group. The purpose of this project is twofold. First, to gain a better understanding of the sources of employer preferences in setting background check policies. Second, testing the effectiveness of a structured skills development program in improving ex-offender job performance. The data gathered from this project will help City officials understand how major employers in Boston can be induced to hire ex-offenders and show a path for future city investment in ex-offender integration.

Tolani Britton

Tolani Britton, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Tufts University
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Mentors: Joan Wallace Benjamin, The Home for Little Wanderers and Tessa Bridge, The King Open School
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Supervisor: Carrie Conaway, Associate Commissioner, Office of Planning and Research
Project Description: Tolani explored whether the expressed preferences for college enrollment in eighth grade change by tenth grade, after a student has taken high school courses, and how well the preferences revealed in eighth and tenth grade are realized by students after graduating from high school. She used state level data from Massachusetts, which allowed her to explore aspirations in junior high school and senior high school and their links to actual college enrollment. Understanding how student’s educational expectations change during high school is a pressing question, given that much of high school reform seeks to better prepare students for college enrollment (Carnoy, Elmore, & Siskin, 2013). Using a first difference strategy, she found that students who plan to attend a four year college are more likely to enroll in college and attend a four year institution than their peers who did not plan to attend a four year institution. Students who plan to attend a two year college in both eighth and tenth grade are less likely to enroll in any type of college. In terms of demographic differences, both Black and Latino students are less likely than their White peers to have college enrollment outcomes that mirror their expressed preferences, even when we control for academic preparation.

Rebecca Cudmore

Rebecca Cudmore, Northeastern University
Undergraduate Degree: Boston College
Area of Interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentors: Renee Landers, Suffolk University Law School and James Barrett, Wrentham Police Department
Agency: Mayor's Office, City of Boston and Women's Commission
Supervisor: Megan Costello, Commissioner, City of Boston's Women's Commission
Project Description: Rebecca’s summer fellowship was at the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement. The office promotes equal rights and opportunities for women and girls in the city of Boston. Specifically, Rebecca worked on projects involving sexual exploitation (i.e. sex trafficking and prostitution) in the city. Rebecca’s primary summer project was an examination of how the hotel industry in the city of Boston comes into contact with victims of sexual exploitation. The goal was to gain a better understanding of the scope of sexual exploitation in the city and develop a plan for training hotel employees to recognize and respond to sexual exploitation in their workplaces. This work included collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including staff from the Mayor’s office, the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit, and a local non-profit. In addition, Rebecca conducted focus groups with law enforcement, hotel security and management personnel, and survivors of sexual exploitation. The final project consisted of a report to Mayor Walsh with concrete recommendations for how the city can work to end sexual exploitation in Boston hotels.

This fellowship had a profound impact on me both professionally and personally. Although I have worked in state government in the past, this was my first experience in local government. I found that working for the city provided the opportunity to really see how changes in policy directly impact the citizens of Boston. In addition, having a placement that was dedicated to issues that impact women was inspiring and empowering. As my summer fellowship came to a conclusion, I realized that not only did I gain a network of colleagues in the city, but I also gained greater confidence in my ability to be a female leader in my field.

Daniela Delgado Daniela Delgado, Harvard Medical School
Undergraduate Degree: University of Miami
Area of Interest: Public Health Issues
Mentors: Audrey Morse Gasteier, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector and Araceli Gutierrez, Harvard School of Public Health
Agency: Office of Jeffrey Sanchez, Massachusetts House of Representatives
Supervisor: Representative Jeffrey Sanchez
Project Description: This summer, Daniela worked at the office of Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. The bulk of her time was spent on a project about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which is a program through which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives lawful status to youth who entered the country before they were 16 years old. Youth must complete an application process and pay a fee, after which they receive a driver’s license and a work permit. Daniela brought the importance of this issue to the attention of the Chairman and his staff and worked to bring together about 40 different providers in the greater Boston area, from community organizations, to school representatives and academics, to discuss ways to help the youth. She was responsible for the planning logistics of a luncheon where providers shared ideas on the needs and challenges of this population in greater Boston. Furthermore, she is coordinating the development of a strategic plan to host DACA renewal clinics and outreach, and the formation of a regional network of providers that collaborates on this immigration issue. In addition, Daniela was given the task of keeping the Chairman informed on the current Medicaid Waiver, and she met with the Commonwealth’s Medicaid experts and wrote several debriefings for the Chairman.

As a medical student with no previous policy experience, working with Representative Sánchez and his office taught me the ins and outs of the legislative process, for example the importance of staying tuned to the bills on the floor as any change in language can greatly affect an entire community. It reinforced my believe on how critical it is to gain trust from the community when wanting to make changes, as I saw the ties the Chairman and his staff hold with the Bromley-Heath community members. In addition, this experience renewed my commitment to use my career in medicine to be an advocate for poor and minority communities and it helped shaped my vision of my career plans. As a future physician, now I have a better understanding of the importance of being a well-informed clinician who can collaborate with city and state officials on public health and health care legislation.

Kassie Lyn Dumlao Bertumen

Kassie Lyn Dumlao Bertumen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Berkeley
Area of Interest: Housing Issues
Mentors: Carol Burns, Burns Taylor Architects and Zoe Weinrobe, Recap Real Estate Advisors
Agency: Massachusetts Executive Office for Housing and Economic Development
Supervisor: Erica Kreuter, Director of MassWorks Infrastructure Program
Project Description: - As a Rappaport Fellow, Kassie assisted the Permit Regulatory Office at Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) on a report that documents how targeted investments made through the state's MassWorks Infrastructure Program (MassWorks) have benefited growing and revitalizing communities throughout the Commonwealth. 

To complete this work, Kassie administered a combination of site visits and telephone interviews with MassWorks grant recipients and other project stakeholders, including municipal officials, developers, regional planning agency staff, business owners, and community leaders to learn what direct outcomes and spillover effects resulted from MassWorks-supported projects. Kassie also analyzed grantee applications, quarterly reports and other relevant documents to supplement the primary information she collected. 

Her final deliverable included an overview of the MassWorks program—including how it was created, how it is implemented and the types of projects it supports; in addition to six case studies, which highlight exemplary revitalization projects, that have experienced tremendous success in spurring private investments, attracting new businesses, reactivating inner cities, and stimulating job growth in the area. Kassie was also exposed to some of the Office’s other strategic initiatives, including Housing That Works and regional planning.

Kassie remarks: - The Rappaport Fellowship has been an incredible experience. I had the tremendous opportunity of working at Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, where I was exposed to the fields of public administration, city planning, public policy and real estate development. Working at EOHED allowed me to see the opportunities and challenges of assembling projects across all levels of government as well as with the private sector to expand housing, grow jobs and revitalize communities. Putting together my MassWorks report enhanced my critical thinking and analytic skills, but it also presented the opportunity to travel throughout Massachusetts—from the western town of Lee, to the central city of Worcester, to cities in the Boston Region. Most importantly, the Fellowship provided an invaluable opportunity to build professional relationships with incredibly bright and passionate people among the Rappaport Institute Board and staff, placement agencies, alumni, fellows within my cohort, and with the various stakeholders I interviewed for my research project.

Conor Gately

Conor Gately, Boston University
Undergraduate Degree: Wesleyan University
Area of Interest: Transportation Issues
Mentors: Kevin Sullivan, JP Morgan and Nick Carney, Harvard Kennedy School
Agency: Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston and the Central Transportation Planning Council
Supervisors: Chris Osgood, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and Scott Peterson, Central Transportation Planning Staff
Project Description: As a Radcliffe/Rappaport Summer Doctoral Fellow, Conor will work with the City of Boston and the Central Transportation Planning Council (CTPS). A major goal of the City of Boston and CTPS is an improved understanding of the spatial and temporal variation of traffic flows, congestion and vehicle emissions across the greater Boston metropolitan area. This would be beneficial to multiple agencies and stakeholders, as understanding vehicle travel patterns is a necessary prerequisite to developing effective transportation policy for the region. Boston Transportation Department (BTD) has expressed interest in identifying key corridors and intersections where vehicle traffic is most congested on a regular basis, in order to efficiently direct resources towards a systematic traffic monitoring program. A standardized traffic monitoring program that targets key corridors would allow BTD and other agencies to monitor the effects of treatment policies in these corridors such as signal re-timing, addition of bicycle facilities, or alteration of road geometry. CTPS has expressed an interest in identifying the effects of incidents and events on daily traffic patterns, as well as quantifying the variability of traffic across different seasons, months, weeks and days of the year. This would improve understanding of how local events and conditions shape traffic patterns across the region. Key datasets necessary to achieve progress towards these goals are discussed in the footnote.

The project will have three main deliverables: 1) A graphical representation identifying key corridors that could form the backbone of a systematic traffic monitoring program for BTD, accompanied by discussion of relevant data collection issues; 2) Exploratory data analysis to provide an initial characterization of the spatial and temporal variability of traffic speeds in the City of Boston and selected surrounding towns for the year 2012; and 3) A roadmap for integrating INRIX speed data, existing traffic counts, and models developed at BU and by the EPA to improve existing approaches to characterizing the relationship between traffic volumes and associated emissions across the Boston metropolitan area. Tying together these three deliverables would be a concise report on the current state of traffic in the City of Boston, and a discussion of the data sources and analytical approaches that might underlie more ambitious large-scale studies of traffic and emissions within the City and its environs.

Usra Ghazi

Usra Ghazi, Harvard Divinity School
Undergraduate Degree: DePaul University
Area of Interest: Immigration Issues
Mentors: Tiziana Dearing, Boston College and Antoniya Owens, Center for Education Policy and Research
Agency: Office of New Bostonians
Supervisor: An Le, Community and Policy Affairs Advocacy Coordinator
Project Description: Usra Ghazi served as a policy fellow at the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians (MONB). In addition to providing staff support on MONB’s ongoing initiatives to promote civic engagement and citizenship among Boston’s immigrant communities, Usra conducted outreach to faith-based organizations and leaders. She researched and produced policy proposals on how the City of Boston can implement best practices of faith-based engagement. One of these proposals was signed and authorized by the Mayor’s Office resulting in the first-ever Ramadan holiday celebration at City Hall with Mayor Walsh and over 200 of the city’s Muslim civic leaders and community members. She served as a liaison to the Mayor’s Special Advisor on Violence Prevention and Public Safety to launch an inaugural faith-based advisory council. She was invited to stay on staff at MONB as a policy fellow for the duration of the 2014-2015 academic year.

Usra says this about her summer: My summer fellowship was a thrilling crash course in municipal governance and the perfect summer to be working with the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians (MONB). During my time at MONB I was able to observe landmark immigration policy change through the adoption of the Boston Trust Act as well as a historic shift in faith-based engagement. I was invited to the table for high-level meetings with department heads, special advisors, and commissioners and encouraged to share my thoughts and policy proposals on faith engagement. One of the best parts of the summer was fielding requests for support from various offices across City Hall regarding faith-based engagement. It allowed me to see that there is a growing need for experts with a firm grounding in religion and public policy to improve the way our cities work with their religiously diverse constituents.

Ksenia Kaladiouk

Ksenia Kaladiouk, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: Cornell University
Area of Interest: Immigration Issues
Mentors: Helene Solomon, Solomon McCown and Amy Moran Lowe, GAO
Agency: Office of New Bostonians
Supervisor: An Le, Community and Policy Affairs Advocacy Coordinator
Project Description: This summer Ksenia Kaladiouk will be working on an immigrant entrepreneurship needs assessment in partnership with several City of Boston offices--namely, the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Office of New Bostonians and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Foreign-born residents make up over a quarter of Boston's population, and this demographic represents a set of key contributors to the city's economic health and development. Over the course of the fellowship, Ksenia will be working on a project to identify who immigrant entrepreneurs are, where they are located within Boston, what kind of businesses they run, and most critically, what sort of factors, policies or programs would further enable this group's success. On the basis of her findings, Ksenia will deliver a report to the sponsoring offices (DND, ONB and BRA) which will outline the state of immigrant entrepreneurship in Boston today and offer suggestions for how the city can optimally meet the needs of its immigrant entrepreneurs going forward.

Caroline Koch

Caroline Koch, Brandeis University
Undergraduate Degree: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Area of Interest: Community Development Issues
Mentors: Phil Puccia, JP Morgan and Margaret Keaveny, Cambridge Housing Authority
Agency: Department of Neighborhood Development, City of Boston
Supervisor: Devin Quirk, Director of Operations
Project Description: During her time at DND, Caroline will work on enhancing the community process model in order to better engage DND staffers and constituents in the sale of city owned property throughout the Boston community. She also will work on developing a plan to get small disconnected parcels of city owned property into more productive use.

Gilberto Lopez

Gilberto Lopez, Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: California State University, Fresno
Area of Interest: Public Health Issues
Mentors: Renee Landers, Suffolk University Law School and Kia Davis, Harvard School of Public Health
Agency: Boston Public Health Commission
Supervisor: Dr. Huy Nguyen, Medical Director and Rita Nieves, Director, Bureau of Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery
Project Description: As a Radcliffe/Rappaport Summer Doctoral Fellow, Gilberto will be hosted by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) where he will be part of two projects that address health disparities and inequalities in the city of Boston. The first project consists of working with BPHC’s Bureau of Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery in conducting an environmental assessment to help improve addiction prevention and treatment services in the Boston area. The second project includes working alongside BPHC’s medical director on a project aimed at addressing health inequities through the use of new technologies to improve the delivery, and quality, of health services.

Rohan Mascarenhas

Rohan Mascarenhas, Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Amherst College
Area of Interest: Performance Management Issues
Mentors: Amy Dain, Dain Research and Devin Quirk Department of Neighborhood Development
Agency: SomerStat Office, City of Somerville
Supervisor: Daniel Hadley, Director of SomerStat
Project Description: This summer, Rohan worked in Somerville for the Mayor's Office of Innovation and Analytics, otherwise known as SomerStat. The division handles the city's performance management, which allows staff to coordinate initiatives using data and coordinated teamwork. Rohan worked on a variety of data-related projects: he investigated the possibility of using behavioral economics and randomized experiments to improve parking citation collection rates; he researched and drafted an open data ordinance; and he evaluated research on casinos' economic impact.  

Kelly Chen Vitzthum

Kelly Vitzthum, Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Berkeley
Area of Interest: Public Health Issues
Mentors: Bben Forman, MassINC and Ruth Sappelt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Supervisor: Gail Hirsch, Office of Community Health Workers
Project Description: Kelly will be working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in the Office of Community Health Workers. She will help develop a toolkit for Prevention and Wellness Trust fund grantees that will guide the integration of community health workers into their organizations, explain potential models for use, and document best practices. Kelly will also be working with the Office of Oral Health on the revision of the Status of Oral Disease in Massachusetts report as well as the development of practice guidelines for oral health care during pregnancy and early childhood.

Lauren Yoshizawa

Lauren Yoshizawa, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Swarthmore College
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Mentors: Dan Kennedy, Northeastern University School of Journalism and Mary Burkhauser, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Agency: Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
Supervisor: Winnie Hagen, Director for Educator Policy and Susan Lane, Senior Director of Alignment and Engagement
Project Description: During her Radcliffe/Rappaport Public Policy Doctoral Fellowship at the Department of Higher Education, Lauren worked on multiple projects of policy alignment with Winnie Hagan, the Director of Educator Policy, and Sue Lane, the Senior Director of Alignment and Engagement. Her primary focus was on the Common Core standards and PARCC assessments. Lauren supported the work of the Regional Readiness Centers and Campus Engagement Teams to interpret how these changes in K-12 instruction will affect public higher education. DHE, in collaboration with DESE, supports higher education campuses as they prepare to integrate PARCC and the Common Core into their teacher preparation programs, placement policies, and K-12 partnerships.

Lauren says "The Rappaport Fellowship was a great opportunity to step away from research and academia and see how ideas and policies play out in implementation. I was especially lucky to work on projects that emphasized communicating and disseminating policy information, establishing collaborative networks, and supporting on-the-ground changes. This experience has provided me new insight into what policy means on a very concrete, campus-to-campus, person-to-person level. The mentorship of my two supervisors also helped me understand the dynamics of working in state policy and I was inspired by their dedication to the work and their focus on personal connections. I felt well supported throughout this summer by my two Rappaport mentors, the Rappaport staff, and the other fellows, with whom I enjoyed learning about different places and policy work in the Boston area."