In Memoriam 1927-2021

We are sad to share that Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston founder Jerome “Jerry” Lyle Rappaport died early on the morning of December 6, 2021, at the age of 94.

Jerry was part of the very fabric of Greater Boston and his impact on the city is remarkable. That impact will continue through the Institute and the many other programs he was instrumental in building and sustaining. Jerry helped launch the Institute at Harvard Kennedy School in 2000 to help train future leaders, inspire fresh ideas, and contribute to excellence in the public sector. In 2005, he, through the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation, permanently endowed the Institute with a more than $12 million gift to support the Institute and many of its programs, which include the Public Policy Fellowship program, the Greater Boston Applied Field Lab, the Urban Scholars program, research projects, and much more.    

Jerry was particularly proud of the state, local, and national leaders and innovators who got their start in public service through these experiential learning opportunities - and rightly so. These programs have influenced the careers of literally hundreds of students in Greater Boston, embedding them in city and state governments and challenging them to tackle pressing urban issues, gain on-the-ground experience, and help shape public policy. To date, the Rappaport Institute has welcomed nearly 300 Public Policy fellows, 34 Rappaport/Bilmes Public Finance Fellows, and 54 Urban Scholars, many of whom have gone on to enriching careers in public policy–including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, and many others. 

Jerry will be especially missed at the opening and closing ceremonies for our Public Policy Fellowship and Law & Public Policy Fellowship, housed at the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School, where he loved hearing the amazing work of each year’s cohort and always provided inspiring anecdotes about his role in shaping the politics and public policy of Greater Boston. 

The Institute—including our faculty, staff, advisory board, students, and alumni—will miss Jerry terribly. He was an inspiration to all of us and continued to push us not to settle for modest impact when great impact is possible. We are fortunate to be among the people whose lives he touched directly and to live in the city and university environments that he worked so tirelessly to create. We remain grateful for the Rappaport Foundation’s visionary support and will continue to work in honor of Jerry’s legacy to promote emerging leaders, produce new ideas, and stimulate informed discussions that will improve the governance of Greater Boston. 

Please take a moment to read Harvard Kennedy School’s tribute to Jerry, and the Boston Globe’s obituary