Dan Futrell

2011 Public Policy Summer Fellow

May 1, 2011

Graduate School:Harvard Kennedy School, University of Virginia School of Business
Undergraduate School:Gonzaga University
Areas of Interest:Veteran's Affairs
Mentor: Larry DiCara, Nixon Peabody
Placement:City of Boston's Office of Veteran's Affairs
Supervisor:John Callahan, Interim Commissioner, Office of Veteran's Affairs
Project Description:Throughout Summer 2011, Dan worked for Mayor Menino in his Veterans’ Services Department to meet his goal of increased outreach to the younger veteran community of Boston. He aligned my efforts to meet the five major issues facing veterans in Boston and around the country: employment, physical & mental health, education & benefits, homelessness & housing, and reintegration. During his work, Dan was learned a great deal about the work being done by a wide variety of different government, non-government, and private organizations to improve outcomes in these five areas, top among them being the Home Base Program, a partnership between Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation. In addition to these outward-facing tasks, Dan was able to improve processes within the 13 person department in order to set the stage for an incoming commissioner. He learned there’s a great deal of work to be done in providing a forum for collaboration between the many different service organizations, and that this issue can very well be solved with the commitment of the leaders in place today in Boston.

Entering the Rappaport Fellowship this summer after spending my professional life in the Army, both at home and abroad, I did not have a clear vision of what public service looked like on a day-to-day basis within city government. I had operated in a large bureaucracy before, but it was one that was fast-paced with objectives changing from month to month. In City Hall, I saw that the environment is similar but also different. It is similar in that the real work is done in small teams of people with the guidance from the a single leader, and that there are often various needs that can serve as the "emergency of the day" and may pull you from work towards a long-term vision. I saw that City Hall is different in the way that it must be 100% responsive to a constituency who will stop in to discuss an issue face-to-face. There are many issues that can’t simply be put aside. Because of this, I found that City Hall can be a demanding environment that offers fulfilling work. I also learned the great extent to which City Hall relies on outside organizations to create public good, such as in the creation of Camp HarborView, which would not have come to fruition without critical private support, and which provides a very significant service for at-risk youth in Boston.