Board of Advisors

The Board of Advisors is a diverse group of civic leaders with a keen interest in improving the governance of the Greater Boston region. The Rappaport Institute Advisory Board supports the mission of the Institute and its staff by serving as mentors to summer fellows, connecting the Institute to the important ideas and policymakers of Greater Boston and the Commonwealth, and taking part in programs and convenings.

Comprised of a diverse group of civic colleagues—practitioners, appointed officials, former elected officials, and fellowship alumni—board members contribute their collaborative energy, deep experience and knowledge of Greater Boston, and unique networks to support our work.


Christopher Norio Avery, Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, teaches analytic courses in microeconomics and statistics. He studies rating and selection mechanisms, focusing on the college admissions system. His first book, The Early Admissions Game, coauthored with Andrew Fairbanks and Richard Zeckhauser, was published by Harvard University Press in March 2003. In his current research, he studies college application patterns and college enrollment choices for high school students. He completed a PhD in economic analysis at the Stanford Business School and holds prior degrees from Harvard and Cambridge universities.

Celina Barrios-Millner is co-vice president of the Office of Race and Equity Research at the Urban Institute, where she manages the Office's support for equity-oriented research and practice across the organization. Barrios-Millner brings 20 years of experience advancing transformational equity and inclusion strategies through the public sector. She served as senior advisor to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and as the city’s Chief of Equity and Inclusion under Acting Mayor Kim Janey. She previously established the city’s first Supplier Diversity program, oversaw the city’s local hire policy, and helped design the city’s Immigrant Advancement Agenda. Previously, she was the northeast regional director for the National Immigration Forum, led partnership development for the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office, and has advocated for social justice causes as a community organizer. Barrios-Millner is a graduate of American University and holds a master's degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Myojung Chung is an assistant professor of journalism and media advocacy at Northeastern University. In her research and teaching, she focuses on how the emergence of new media has changed journalism and strategic communication. She is particularly interested in how online participatory behaviors such as commenting, liking, and sharing affect audiences’ processing of news or other mediated messages, and how to make messages more persuasive and effective in the digital era. Her research also explores how non-profit organizations, particularly advocacy groups, can strategically use media to amplify voices, mobilize support for social changes, and engage target audiences in a call-to-action. Prior to academia, she worked as a journalist and a strategic communication practitioner as well as at the UN Headquarters and the Korean National Commission to UNESCO. She received her PhD from Syracuse University and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Joseph Curtatone is the former long-serving Mayor of Somerville and current President of the Northeast Clean Energy Council, which is focused on leading a just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy. As Mayor of Somerville, Curtatone was first inaugurated in 2004 and completed nine terms to become the city’s longest-serving chief executive. Curtatone previously served for eight years as Alderman-at-Large. Prior to his election as Mayor, he served as an attorney in private practice and a volunteer assistant football coach at Somerville High School. During his time in office Somerville developed a comprehensive net zero climate action plan, experienced housing and job booms by redeveloping former industrial districts, spearheaded the first major expansion of Boston's core rail transit system in a generation and launched the national healthy cities initiative. A 1984 graduate of Somerville High School, he earned his B.A. from Boston College in 1990, a J.D. from New England School of Law in 1994, and a Mid-Career Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2011.

Edward F. Davis is the President and CEO of The Edward Davis Company, a business strategy and security services firm. Davis has brought together a team of security and technology solutions experts including former federal, state, local law enforcement, military, researchers and attorneys with strong connections to esteemed academic institutions, national and international governing and intelligence entities. Davis served in law enforcement for 35 years and was the Police Commissioner of the City of Boston from December 2006 until October 2013 where he led the highly successful response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Prior to that, Davis was the Superintendent of the Lowell Police Department. He was a founding member and first President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association. Davis has received a Masters Degree from Anna Maria College and Honorary Doctorates from Northeastern and Suffolk Universities and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Davis was a Fellow at The Institute of Politics, Harvard University.

Linda Dorcena Forry is the Co-Founder of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, which seeks to work with community organizations to make transformative societal changes by addressing systemic racism and racial inequity in Massachusetts. Previously she was the Vice President for the Northeast Region on Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Relations for Suffolk Construction. She served in the Massachusetts State Senate from 2013 to 2018 and in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 2005 to 2013. She was the first Haitian American elected official in the State of Massachusetts. She served as Assistant Majority Whip and Vice Chair for the Committees of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs. She also worked in the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development and was a legislative aide for former State Representative Charlotte Golar Richie. She attended the Harvard Kennedy School as a Rappaport/Boston Urban Scholar.

David S. Friedman is Senior Vice President/Special Counsel for the Boston Red Sox and Senior Counsel for the Club’s parent corporation, New England Sports Ventures.  Mr. Friedman previously served as First Assistant Attorney General for Massachusetts, where he advised A.G. Martha Coakley and managed an office of 490 staff, supervising all aspects of civil and criminal law enforcement and representation of state agencies.  Before that, from 2003 to 2006, he served as Counsel and Chief Policy Advisor to Massachusetts Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, where he worked on the state’s landmark health care legislation, economic development policy, and a broad range of other issues.  Mr. Friedman also worked for several years in private practice at the law firm of Hill & Barlow, and he served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and federal appeals court Judge Michael Boudin. Friedman is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Jay Gonzalez is a Partner at Hinckley Allen representing cities, towns and other governmental entities in financing and developing capital projects and other governmental programs. Jay has more than 20 years of public and private sector leadership and legal experience, including executive leadership roles in state government and health care and as a law firm Partner. He also has a history of political and civic engagement, including as the 2018 Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Massachusetts. Prior to his gubernatorial campaign, Jay served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts and New Hampshire Healthy Families. Jay also served as the Secretary of Administration and Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under Governor Deval Patrick. Before joining the Patrick Administration, Jay was a Partner in the public finance department of a major Boston law firm.

Elizabeth ("Liz") Graham is Chief Operating Officer of Indigo Ag. As COO, Liz leverages 20 years of experience driving high-performance teams to oversee critical functions including Strategy & Operations, Customer Experience, and Global Business Services. Collaborating closely with engineering and software product management, Graham focuses on refining and scaling Indigo’s global operational infrastructure, in addition to overseeing internal functions such as Human Resources. Most recently, she served as President of Notarize, a fintech startup, where she oversaw acceleration of the company's growth and expansion into new business segments. Her prior experience also includes VP of Global Sales and Service at Wayfair. Prior to Wayfair, Graham managed teams across diverse functional areas including business intelligence, people operations, technical operations, network operations, and government affairs at Hubspot and Comcast. She holds an A.B. from Harvard College, a M.St. from the University of Oxford, England, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Diana Hwang is the Founder/Executive Director of the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI), the country’s only political leadership organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. In 2020, Hwang was the first National Political and Organizing Director for She the People, a national network of women of color working to transform our democracy. Diana was profiled as “one of Boston’s most powerful thought leaders” in Boston Magazine for her work and has been a featured speaker at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. and at several colleges, including Wellesley College, Northeastern University, Dartmouth College and Salem State University where she gave the annual convocation address. Hwang was a former candidate for the Massachusetts State Senate and carried the city of Boston in that race. Diana graduated from Dartmouth College and Columbia Business School.

Segun Idowu is the Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion for the City of Boston in Mayor Wu's Administration, where he is focused on making Boston a resilient, economically equitable, and vibrant city that centers people and creates opportunities to build generational wealth for all communities. Prior to joining city government, Idowu served as the President and CEO of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, Inc. (BECMA), the chief advocacy organization for Black businesses across the Commonwealth. He has served on the boards of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Massachusetts. While at the NAACP, he managed the much heralded and research-intensive report card project that assessed the city’s efforts and results in addressing systemic racial disparities. He is a proud product of the Boston Public Schools. Idowu earned his Bachelor of Arts in History at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and honors from the Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key Societies.

Kim Janey made history when she was sworn in as Boston’s first woman and first Black mayor, successfully leading the city through a multitude of unprecedented challenges, including the COVID-19 global pandemic. Prior to becoming Mayor, Janey was elected to the Boston City Council in 2017 as the first woman to represent District 7. A proud fourth generation Roxbury resident, she has devoted her life to public service and is currently President and CEO of Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath), a Boston-based nonprofit that disrupts poverty through direct services, advocacy, research, and a global learning network. Janey has been recognized for her years of service with numerous awards, including the Boston NAACP Difference Maker Award in 2015 and the coveted Sapphire Award in 2017. In 2021, Janey was named one of Boston's Most Impactful Black Women and listed in Boston Magazine's 100 Most Influential Bostonians.

Joyce Linehan is the Assistant to the President for Special Projects at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Public Administration program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Previously, she was the Chief of Policy for Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Before joining the administration in 2014, she was the director of Ashmont Media, a public relations company that served Boston arts organizations. Linehan co-owns, with performer/songwriter Joe Pernice, Ashmont Records, an independent record label. She was previously the Vice President of A&R for Sub Pop Records. As a volunteer, Linehan has held leadership roles in the grassroots campaigns of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Governor Deval Patrick, Governor Maura Healey, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, as well as the campaign for Equal Marriage in the Commonwealth. She served as Policy Director on the Boston mayoral campaign of Martin J. Walsh and was a co-chair of his Transition Team. Linehan holds a B.A. and an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Keith A. Mahoney serves as Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at The Boston Foundation where he manages the Foundation’s external communications, publications, marketing, research, and public policy activities. Mahoney is also responsible for strategic communications and branding for the Foundation and its many impact strategies. Prior to joining Foundation, Keith was the Director of State Relations for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, where he was the lead advocate for the City of Boston’s legislative and budget priorities with the state legislature and executive administration. He authored and championed key initiatives around education, economic development, and public safety. Mahoney has also served as Legal Counsel and Legislative Director in the Massachusetts State Senate Committees on Post Audit and Oversight and Steering and Policy. Prior to his legal career, he worked as a teacher and textbook editor. Keith is a graduate of Trinity College and Northeastern University School of Law.

Elisabeth (“Lissy”) Medvedow is the Executive Director of the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at the Boston College Law School having previously served as the Executive Director of Discovering Justice, a civic education nonprofit housed in the Moakley U.S. Courthouse as well as the Executive Director of the Women’s Bar Association and Women’s Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate which brought pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence, elderly women and men, homeless women, and women prisoners. For a decade before entering the nonprofit arena, Medvedow was an appellate prosecutor at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Medvedow received her B.A. and M.S. in Education, from the University of Pennsylvania, and her J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law. Following law school, she taught for three years at Suffolk University Law School, and then served as a law clerk in the Massachusetts Appeals Court for the Honorable Raya Dreben and in the U.S. District Court for the Honorable John McNaught.

Aisha Miller joined Related Beal in 2022 as Vice President. She collaborates with internal teams as well as external organizations and agencies on development planning, public engagement strategies, and external relations. Previously, she was the Chief of Civic Engagement for the City of Boston, for Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Prior to this role, she worked in Inspectional Services and held the roles of Assistant Commissioner and Director of Constituent Services. Miller sits on the board of directors of Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, UP Education Network, and Vietnamese American Initiative for Development. She is also serving as Commissioner for the Massachusetts Commission for the Status of Women. She attended the HKS State and Local Executive Education program in 2021 and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from University of Hartford, an MBA and completed her Ph.D. in Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Karyn Polito served as the 72nd Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, alongside Governor Charlie Baker, from 2015 to 2023. During her tenure as Lieutenant Governor, she was an advocate for women's empowerment and a champion for renewable energy, climate adaptation, workforce development, housing, STEM education, and the innovation economy. Prior to serving as Lieutenant Governor, she was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and a Partner at Milton, Laurence & Dixon, LLP. Since leaving the statehouse in early 2023, Lt. Governor Polito began serving as a Principal of the Polito Development Corporation, a commercial real estate development firm. She was recently appointed to the board of Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. where she will serve on the risk management, capital and compliance, and corporate responsibility and culture committees of the board, and was also appointed to the Firefly Advisory Council where she will provide outside guidance to the benefit of Firefly Health. Lt. Governor Polito holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston College and a Juris Doctor from New England Law.

Devin Quirk serves as Deputy Chief of the BPDA where he is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the Agency and implementing Mayor Wu’s and Chief Jemison’s vision for the transformation of the BPDA. Devin has worked for the City of Boston since 2010. Most recently, Devin served as Director of Real Estate for the BPDA where he restructured the Agency's approach to public real estate with a focus on fiscal responsibility, community development, and a commitment to using public land to advance public good. Devin has also previously served as Director of Operations for Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), now known as the Mayor's Office of Housing where he oversaw day-to-day management of the 150 person staff and the implementation of the City's affordable housing strategies. Devin was a Rappaport Public Policy Summer Fellow in 2009 and is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Phyllis Rappaport is Chair of the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation as well as a founder and funding donor of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University and the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at the Boston College School of Law. Phyllis is a founder and director of Cure Alzheimer's Fund, which has donated over $170 million to Alzheimer's research since its inception in 2004. She has extensive experience in in public and non-profit service, having served as an elected member of the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School Committee for seven years. She was a longtime trustee of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and serves on advisory committees for Massachusetts General Hospital, Mclean Hospital, the Rappaport Institute, and the Rappaport Center. She is former vice chair of New Boston Fund, a private equity real estate fund investor and manager. Phyllis is a graduate of Smith College and Simmons Graduate School of Management, which led to leadership positions in her early career at Hewlett Packard and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Dan Rivera is President and CEO of MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s Development Finance Agency and Land Bank that during fiscal year 2022 financed or managed 356 projects generating investment of $1.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. Dan came to MassDevelopment after serving seven years as Mayor of the City of Lawrence, MA. During his time as Mayor, the city saw significant commercial development, record new units of housing, and tens of millions of dollars invested in economic development planning and projects. Rivera has served on the newly established Latino Advisory Commission charged with addressing concerns of the Massachusetts Latino community and promoting economic prosperity and well-being. Prior to his two terms as Mayor of Lawrence, Dan held various positions in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Dan is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in the first Gulf War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and a graduate of the UMass Amherst and Suffolk University's Sawyer School of Management, where he earned his MBA.

Jeffrey Sánchez serves as a senior advisor at Rasky Partners where he works with the public affairs team to provide strategic consulting on healthcare, finance, and other public policy issues to a wide range of clients. Prior to joining the firm, Sánchez represented Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, and Brookline in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 16 years where he has been lauded as a leader in healthcare reform, housing and infrastructure, gun laws, violence prevention, criminal justice reform, the environment and youth empowerment. He finished his last term serving as the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Previously, Jeffrey served as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health as well as the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development. Sánchez attended Roxbury Community College and received his Bachelor of Arts in Legal Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston before earning his Masters of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ellen Semonoff has served as the Assistant City Manager for Human Services for the City of Cambridge since 2004. Her responsibilities include leadership and day-to-day management of City’s Human Services Department, including child care and family support programs, community and youth programs, services for homeless residents, workforce development programs, adult basic education programs, recreation programs, fuel assistance and summer nutrition programs, services to and programs for seniors and disabled residents. The Department has over 600 full and part time employees and a budget of over 40 million dollars in city, state and federal funds. Prior to assuming her position as Assistant City Manager, Semonoff held several other positions for the City of Cambridge. She spent several years in Washington D.C., serving as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano and as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Melissa Threadgill is the Director of Strategic Innovation at the Massachusetts Office for the Child Advocate (OCA) where she focuses on identifying and addressing system-level gaps in service availability and quality for children and youth in Massachusetts. She also served as the OCA’s Director of Juvenile Justice from 2018 to 2021. Prior to joining the OCA, she was a Senior Policy Specialist with the Boston-based Crime and Justice Institute, where she led projects supporting states with the development and implementation of comprehensive criminal justice reform efforts through the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice Reinvestment project. Previously, she worked on a wide variety of policy and legislative efforts as a senior aide in the Massachusetts State Senate. Threadgill holds a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College and a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow in 2013.

Monica Tibbits-Nutt is the Undersecretary for Transportation and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Previously she spent thirteen years as the Executive Director of the 128 Business Council where she has advised communities in the 128 Corridor in transit planning and oversaw the operation of 12 shuttle routes with nearly half a million in annual ridership. Tibbits-Nutt also has experience with the MBTA, where she served as a Transportation Planning Consultant to the MBTA Advisory Board, and as Executive Director and Transportation Planner for TransitWorks, providing research evaluation for the MBTA and Secretary of Transportation. Previously, she served on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors and was an inaugural member of the Fiscal Management and Control Board of the MBTA. She holds a B.S. from the University of Southern Indiana and a Masters of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University. 

Kenneth Turner is President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), an economic development and investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences in Massachusetts. He directs and oversees the center’s operations, investment strategy, programs, and partnerships. Prior to joining the MLSC, Mr. Turner served as Director of Diversity & Inclusion/Compliance with Massport. He oversaw and managed the Authority’s multiple diversity programs, including business and supplier diversity, workforce diversity, and airport concessions, as well as all compliance initiatives associated with Massport’s Disadvantaged/Minority/Women Business Enterprise programs. Previously, Mr. Turner served as Deputy Secretary for Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services. A retired U.S. Navy Captain and submarine nuclear weapons system officer with 26-years of service, Mr. Turner holds a B.S. degree in Liberal Arts from Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA.

Steve Walsh is the President and CEO of  the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA). A member of the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE), Walsh previously served as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals (MCCH), an organization he led since 2014.  Prior to MCCH, Walsh served six terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and was appointed chairman of the House Committee on Health Care Financing in 2011. He oversaw the drafting and passage of the Commonwealth’s 2012 landmark healthcare payment reform law, Chapter 224. This legislation incentivized utilization of alternative payment methodologies and investment in community health, while encouraging patient empowerment and primary care. Walsh is a graduate of Wesleyan University, the New England School of Law, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Mitch Weiss is the Richard L. Menschel Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School. He created and teaches the school's course on Public Entrepreneurship—on public leaders and private entrepreneurs who invent a difference in the world. He also teaches The Entrepreneurial Manager in the first year of the MBA Program and is the author of We the Possibility from Harvard Business Review Press (2021). Prior to joining HBS in 2014, Mitch was Chief of Staff and a partner to Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino and helped shape New Urban Mechanics, Boston’s municipal innovation strategy, and make it a model for peer-produced government and change.. From 2006 to 2009, Mitch was the first Executive Director of the Tobin Project, a catalyst for transformative research in the social sciences. Prior to his roles in the public and social sectors, Mitch worked at Merrill Lynch & Co. Mitch holds an A.B. with Honors in Economics from Harvard University and a Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.