Taubman Administration

Jeffrey Liebman, Director

Jeffrey Liebman, the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Social Policy, became the Taubman Center's director in July of 2014. Liebman teaches courses in public sector economics and American economic policy and focuses his research on tax and budget policy, social insurance, poverty, income inequality, and social innovation. Recent research has examined the impacts of government programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Social Security, housing vouchers, SNAP, and Disability Insurance. Jeffrey also directs the Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. During the first two years of the Obama Administration, Liebman worked at OMB, first as Executive Associate Director and Chief Economist and then as Acting Deputy Director. From 1998 to 1999, Liebman served as Special Assistant to the President for economic policy and coordinated the Clinton Administration's Social Security reform technical working group. Liebman received his BA from Yale University and his MA and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard.

Rafael Carbonell, Executive Director

Rafael Carbonell became the Executive Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in 2017. He has the pleasure and privilege of supporting current and future state, county, and city government leaders through the Taubman Center's experiential programs, practice-based teaching, and applied research. Rafael does so with a passionate and experienced team of public servants by centering our work based on the needs of practitioners and students. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at HKS, where he teaches a course on state and local economic development.

Rafael previously ran the City of Boston’s Office of Business Development for seven years under Mayors Menino and Walsh, where he oversaw the City’s business technical assistance programs and services, implemented a new small business innovation initiative, and led the development of the City’s first-ever small business strategic plan. Prior to that, he was Executive Vice President in launching and running Thrive (now MadREP), the first regional economic development enterprise for the eight-county Madison, Wisconsin region. Rafael also previously served as Director of Regional Economic Development for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and as Director of Marketing & Business Development for Livra.com, a technology startup he helped launch in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is now one of Latin America’s largest online market research platforms.

Rafael’s greatest accomplishments are: being el papá de Sofi y Sebi,  getting to serve entrepreneurs of all stripes and backgrounds, including those in state and local government, and being the proud recipient of the “Sue Williamson Spirit Award” twice (2019 and 2022), which the student body awards to the staff member who most positively contributes to their HKS experience.

Rafael graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Development from Boston College.

What he loves about working in state and local: “Public service in state and local government is l where you can directly shape policies and programs, while remaining grounded in the realities of what people and communities are experiencing.”

Fun Fact: “I learned to ski when I learned to walk, so I'm a huge downhill junkie. I twice competed in the International Ski Film & Video Festival in Crested Butte, Colorado where I got to hang out with the ski movie icons of the 90's. Bonus fun fact given our work: my middle name is Mayor.

I grew up in a small business household in Vermont, frequently visited my Cuban-American family in Miami, and eventually lived in Argentina where I met my wife. I have always aspired to be entrepreneurial and public-service minded in every role, including with my personal start-up, Papá Inc., which is raising our kiddos to be bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural and to proudly embrace their bi-national identities.”

Hannah Cohn-Manik, Executive Coordinator

Hannah Cohn-Manik became the Executive Coordinator of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in 2017. She provides support to Professor Jeff Liebman who directs the Taubman Center, Rappaport Institute and Government Performance Lab.

Hannah joined the Taubman Center from Cornell University where she was the assistant to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Prior to that her background was in real estate development.

What she loves about working in state and local: “I love that state and local government empowers ordinary people to enact meaningful change in their local communities”

Fun Fact: “A fun fact about me is that I’m a yoga teacher. I have been practicing yoga since I was 8 years old and my yoga teaching and practice is one of my greatest passions. I also love the outdoors and teach stand up paddle board yoga!”

Lara Gale, Economic Development Program Manager

Lara Gale became the Economic Development Program Manager for the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in 2023. In her role she manages content for the State and Local Economic Development Seminar and assists with other initiatives to illuminate and promote domestic place-based, public economic development best practices shared by practitioners, scholars and HKS students and alumni.

Civilian volunteer experiences abroad and service in the US Air Force as a Public Affairs Specialist and later Army Reserve as a Civil Affairs Specialist, beginning in 1999, have had an important influence on her academic and career journey.

Various professional experiences in local journalism, K-12 education, small farming and construction led her to pursue economics education and work in public economic development. As a researcher and regional economic development specialist, she has provided technical assistance and research to local governments and their stakeholders, assisting with a wide variety of economic and community development efforts.

She has previously worked in varying capacities at the National Association of Development Organizations, Bear River Association of Governments, Utah State University, Conservation Economics Institute, Pyramid Network Services, City of Salt Lake, Garbett Homes, US Air Force Reserve, and the US Army Reserve.

Gale graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics.

What she loves about working in state and local: “The creativity and determination of state and local government leaders and technical experts, and I love working with them.”

Fun Fact: "I learned to ski at 40, and will never stop telling anyone who shows even the slightest interest that they can, too!"

Lisa MacFee, Financial and Administrative coordinator

Lisa Macfee became the Financial and Administrative Coordinator for the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in 2024. In her role she provides administrative, financial and HR support to the Taubman Center.

She has worked at Harvard Kennedy School for over 12 years in various roles, and is proud to have during her time managed a multi-year book project, from research phase to high profile book tour. In addition, she takes great pride in the achievements and knowledge I have acquired throughout my journey at Harvard.

Macfee graduated from University of Massachusetts - Boston with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

What she loved about working in state and local: “I am passionate about the profound impact that state and local government can have on our day-to-day lives. I firmly believe that it's at this level of governance where we have the greatest potential to make a meaningful difference.”

Fun Fact: "I loves spending time outdoors with my spouse, two kids, and goldendoodle, Luna."

Amy Mahler, Director of Government Engagement

Amy Mahler became the Director of Government Engagement for the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in 2023, where she works to connect state, county, and local government with Kennedy School resources, students, and opportunities. 

Previously she served in Boston City Hall and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2013, working on communications, community engagement, policy, constituent services, and civic innovation. As a Rappaport/Boston Urban Scholar, she earned her Master’s of Public Administration from HKS in 2021. Prior to her time in government, she worked in campaigns and the retail tech sector.

Amy brings together people power, communication, change management, and government to make our systems of power serve people’s needs. During the Omicron Outbreak of 2022, she ran an over 9,000 unit digital equity distribution and engagement program in partnership with the Boston Public Library and Boston Housing Authority. In her personal time, as part of Mass NOW's legislative task force, she worked on “An Act to establish pay equity," the landmark bill that passed in 2016 that bars employers from discriminating based on gender when it comes to wages and other compensation and employers from requesting salary history when hiring.

Amy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Boston University and a masters degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.

What she loves about state and local: “I love that state and local government has the greatest opportunity to directly affect people's lives - while also small enough to change itself as policy and programs evolve. Public service gives us the opportunity to do the work of loving our community with our time, heart, and talent. It's a priceless opportunity.”

Fun Fact: “I love to soundtrack my commute, especially timing the perfect stretch of Red Line between Kendall and Charles MGH. Today, it was "In The Stone" by Earth Wind and Fire. Also, tie dye is my calling and my passion.”

Jaime Seguin, Senior Director of Finance and Administration

Jaime Seguin became the Senior Director of Finance and Administration for the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in 2023. In her role she is responsible for overseeing the internal operations of the Taubman Center including financial planning, HR, IT, and the operational infrastructure needed to support the research center’s portfolio of student support, faculty teaching and research, and programmatic initiatives. 

The Senior Director serves on the senior management of the Taubman Center and is responsible for the active stewardship and efficient management of the financial and administrative services of the Center, with an emphasis on process improvement, and the use of financial data to inform business planning and decision making. The Senior Director is a key advisor to the faculty director and executive director in setting strategic financial planning and administrative objectives.

Her entire career has been devoted to higher education with four institutions prior to here - University of Delaware; Boston College; University of Massachusetts; and University of Hartford.

She prides herself on being a collaborative and goal-oriented leader with extensive experience overseeing administrative operations, creating and managing multi-million-dollar budgets, managing large scale capital projects and events, developing teams, and deploying workforce initiatives.

Seguin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Psychology from Boston College, and a master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts.

What she loves about state and local: “I have always believed in the positive impact that experiential opportunities have on a student’s life not only now but in their future decisions and actions. Working at the highest level of college athletics for over 20 years, I personally saw the role sports played in shaping a student’s life. I believe the same is true in what we do at the Taubman Center. Experiential opportunities like the Transition Term are catalysts shaping a student’s perspective by allowing them to experience first-hand the challenges and opportunities faced by governments and the impact that working in local and state governments can have on the constituents and communities served. In such a divisive world, it is inspiring to see students and researchers collaborating to find and implement solutions to state and local government challenges.”

Fun Fact: "Since my entire career has been in Division I college athletics - so needless to say I loves sports! Favorite experience in sports was leading the planning and execution of a Football Game and Ancillary Events in Dublin, Ireland for Boston College! Once in a lifetime experience! I grew up in Massachusetts so I love all New England sports teams!!"

Lauren Sinclair, Director of Communications

Lauren Sinclair became the Director of Communications of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government in 2023. In this role she is responsible for shaping and executing the communication strategies, fostering engagement, and enhancing the brand presence for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, Government Performance Lab and the Rappaport Institute.

With extensive work throughout the United States, the European Union, and Asia Pacific region, Lauren is adept at operating across the ever-evolving global media landscape. Prior to joining Harvard, Lauren honed her communications career in-house at the National League of Cities, and at agency powerhouses Ogilvy, FleishmanHillard and Ketchum. As a three-time Cannes Lion award-winner, she has helped execute effective global communications campaigns which included digital strategy, marketing communications, media relations, and corporate thought leadership for clients like Vice President Joe Biden, the NAACP, the United Nations, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Walgreens.

Lauren holds a Master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Oakland University.

What she loves about working in state and local: “The belief of practitioners that change and impact are possible. Also the love that people have for their communities, and the hope for preserving and enhancing the lives of those that call it home.”

Fun Fact: “I once judged a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition at a NASCAR race. Because you asked, the winner ate 43.”