2004 Public Policy Summer Fellows

2004_bierbaum.jpgAriel Bierbaum
Graduate Degree:
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Undergraduate Degree: University of Pennsylvania
Areas of interest: Intergovernmental communication, metropolitan governance, social justice
Mentor: David Ellis, former president of the Museum of Science
Agency: Office for Commonwealth Development
Supervisor: Stephen Burrington, Deputy Secretary of Policy, Office for Commonwealth Development
Project Description: Ariel Bierbaum worked at the Office for Commonwealth Development focusing on three projects to increase the economic competitiveness of cities across the state. She researched municipal best practices across the country for expedited permitting and pre-development processes for encouraging private developers to invest in targeted urban areas. Bierbaum also developed an index of indicators that may be used in the future as a way to gauge the health of cities across a number of broad categories including civic life, education, environment, finance, housing, income, jobs, population, public health, and public safety. Finally, she provided background research about potential ways to implement this type of benchmarking system statewide.

2004_bird.gifStephen Bird
Graduate Degree:
Boston University, Graduate School of Management (doctoral candidate)
Undergraduate Degree: Harvard University
Area of interest: Land use, planning and development, environmental justice
Mentor: Jay Wickersham, former director of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act
Agency: Office of Technical Assistance in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
Supervisor: William McGowan, Director, Office of Technical Assistance
Project Description: Stephen Bird designed and implemented a risk-assessment and prioritization tool that the Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) and other environmental agencies can use to prioritize outreach and enforcement to maximize their resources. OTA, a sub-agency at Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, helps private and public facilities reduce chemical usage and implement pollution prevention measures across the state. The risk-assessment tool will also help agencies increase knowledge of their regional profiles, and identify non-filing facilities in their jurisdictions. The method rates a complete population of facilities that use threshold amounts of chemicals in the state, and allows for incorporation of less apparent risk factors such as a facility’s credit rating. Standard risk factors derived from chemical usage and the kind of facility are also used. While still unrefined in its initial design, the development of this method represents the first time a state agency has been able to gain a comprehensive risk assessment of facilities within its jurisdiction. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection were briefed in late July. It is anticipated that they will be included in future policy development as the tool is refined further.

2004_dormsjo.gifLeif Dormsjo
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Wesleyan University
Area of interest: Economic development, housing, CitiStat/government accountability
Mentor: Larry DiCara, Nixon and Peabody, LLP
Agency: Boston Public Schools
Supervisor: John McDonough, Chief Financial Officer
Project Description: Leif Dormsjo arranged for placement with the Boston Public Schools, reporting to the Chief Financial Officer, John McDonough. He focused on the school system's food service program. Over the last two years, the food service operation has suffered significant deficits on account of dropping participation, poor accountability systems, and aging equipment. Working with the program managers to identify specific areas in need of improvement, Mr. Dormsjo developed policy and operational recommendations for boosting participation, benchmarking performance, and overhauling production and serving activities. In addition to recommending in-house program enhancements, he collaborated with the procurement office to develop a request for proposals (RFP) for consulting bids to improve the attractiveness, variety, and nutritional quality of meal offerings.

2004_haque.gifShoma Haque
Graduate Degree:
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Undergraduate Degree: University of Pennsylvania
Areas of interest: Economic development
Mentor: Jerry Rappaport, Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation
Agency: Department of Housing and Economic Development, City of Somerville
Supervisor: Ezra Haber Glenn, Director, Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development
Project Description: Shoma Haque worked at the City of Somerville’s Office of Strategic Planning & Community Development, focusing on economic revitalization initiatives for Union Square. Her main project was to act as the project manager for the implementation of the Union Square Main Street (USMS) program. USMS will be a non-profit organization with the goal of commercial district revitalization through historic preservation and economic development. This project required meeting with various stakeholders of Union Square in order to raise awareness about Main Street, organize them into a cohesive group, and begin the process of starting a Main Street program. An additional project was to lay the foundation for a farmers’ market in Union Square, to be launched in summer 2005. Ms. Haque met with dozens of farmers and organized community groups, and began the process of planning implementation. Both a farmers’ market and Union Square Main Streets will hopefully lead to a more livable and economically healthy Union Square.

2004_herbst.gifAnne Herbst
Graduate Degree:
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Undergraduate Degree: University of Massachusetts - Boston
Area of interest: Smart growth initiatives, environmental justice, land use, transit-oriented development
Mentor: Vivien Li, Executive Director of the Boston Harbor Association
Agency: Department of Agricultural Resources
Supervisor: Susan Phinney, Department of Agricultural Resources
Project Description: As a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), Anne Herbst’s work focused on farm impacts on water quality. Farm runoff can be a source of pollution of surface and groundwater resources. Farms have thus been subject to an increasing number of federal and state regulatory initiatives designed to protect water quality. Her work responded to the growing need for education, technical assistance, and financial support for farms to improve their environmental practices. She evaluated the current environmental programming of the Department of Agricultural Resources and proposed the launch of a systematic effort to: (1) Identify farms that may impact sensitive water resources, and (2) Provide education about best management practices, and compliance assistance to farmers. The proposed "Environmental Policy and Compliance Assistance Program" would utilize the expertise of the many DAR staff that visit Massachusetts farms on a regular basis. It offers a comprehensive and cost-effective approach to assessing and addressing farm impacts on water resources. With fully ten percent of Massachusetts land engaged in agricultural pursuits, such a program has the potential to deliver significant dividends in water-resource protection and improved environmental stewardship.

2004_hodge.gifShannon Hodge
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Harvard University
Areas of interest: Education
Mentor: Tom Keane, Boston Heraldcolumnist
Agency: Office of Strategic Planning, Boston Public Schools
Supervisor: Valerie Edwards, Director, Office of Strategic Planning
Project Description: Shannon Hodge wrote a case study for the Strategic Planning Team of the
Boston Public Schools analyzing the district's current efforts to engage the public in policy decision-making related to student assignment. Ms. Hodge attended a community forum; researched the history and present of student assignment in Boston; and interviewed key players in the review process -- including the superintendent, a representative from the mayor's office, school department personnel, education advocates, and community task force members. The interviews provided a variety of views on a number of challenges related to engaging the public, especially negotiating public mistrust of the school system, the intricacies of education and transportation policy, and the difficulty of the work of connecting the public to the decision-making process. By documenting this experience, she provided a resource for future-public engagement efforts by the Boston Public Schools.

2004_leikin.gifLauren Leikin Hogan
Graduate Degree: Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Yale University
Areas of interest: Low income families and children, race, urban policy and education
Mentor: Elaine Ullian, President of the Boston Medical Center
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Social Services
Supervisor: Pamela Whitney, Family Representative, Massachusetts Department of Social Services
Project Description: Lauren Leiken worked for the Family Representative at the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, dividing her time between assessing parent- and family-involvement initiatives and helping with the redesign of intake and assessment policies. The Family Involvement Assessment Project, which is part of the Family Representative’s Action Plan, relied on interviews and an extensive survey to evaluate the various pilot programs underway at the 28 Area Offices in the state. We hope that this project will allow us to (1) gather accurate information regarding the progress of various family-based initiatives; (2) encourage communication and understanding between Central Office and the Area Offices; and (3) focus attention on those initiatives that are determined to be the most effective and successful. The intake and assessment project, renamed as "Right From the Start," also provided Ms. Leiken with an opportunity to work with people throughout the organization to prepare for briefings, a summit, and a long-term plan that will ultimately result in the reinvention of DSS’s intake and assessment policies.

2004_lopez.gifCarmen Lopez
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Mt. Holyoke College
Areas of interest: Education, Title I high school reform, public schools
Mentor: Professor Richard Weissbourd, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Supervisor: Kathi Mullen, Director, Office of High School Renewal
Agency: Office for High School Renewal - Boston Public Schools
Project Description: Carmen Lopez worked for the Office of High School Renewal in Boston Public Schools this summer to convert large, comprehensive high schools into new, small schools. She facilitated the work of two teams competing to open new, small schools in fall 2005. She continued to work with them through October 2004.

2004_newberger.gifDaniel Newberger
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: U. S. Naval Academy
Area of interest: Municipal government, budget and finance, economic development
Mentor: James B. King
Agency: SomerStat program, City of Somerville
Supervisor: Janice Delory, Chief of Staff, City of Somerville
Project Description: Daniel Newberger worked for the Mayor of Somerville, launching SomerStat, the city’s version of Baltimore’s CitiStat performance-management system. SomerStat is an accountability and assessment tool that gives the mayor’s leadership team unprecedented "real time" data in order to develop strategies to improve service delivery, efficiency, and overall performance in the city’s various departments. Mayor Joe Curtatone gave him, "an amazing amount of responsibility and autonomy to get the program rolling." Mr. Newberger appeared before the Board of Aldermen with the Mayor as he requested funding for the SomerStat department, and fielded questions from the Board. After 100 percent of the requested funding was secured, Mr. Newberger worked to post job descriptions, screen resumes, and interview applicants for the future SomerStat director and analyst positions. By summer’s end, the City had hired two extremely qualified candidates to run the program full-time. Additionally, Mr. Newberger established pilot programs within the Departments of Public Works and Traffic and Parking. He assessed operational procedures and data-gathering capability, and worked with the City’s Information Technology department to develop an automated work-tracking system that will support SomerStat’s extensive data requirements. In the culmination of his summer’s efforts, four full-blown SomerStat "meetings" – the heart and soul of the program where department and divisional heads present data and trends to the Mayor in a formal "war room" setting – were successfully held.

2004_oliff.gifPhilip Oliff
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Wesleyan University
Area of interest: Education, minority test score disparities
Mentor: Professor Paul Reville, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Agency: Education Coalition of Greater Boston
Supervisor: Eileen McSwiney, Executive Director
Project Description: Phillip Oliff worked for the Education Collaborative for Greater Boston (EDCO), an organization representing 21 Boston-area public school districts. He assisted EDCO initiating a major research project investigating the racial achievement gaps within its member districts. The bulk of his work involved conducting interviews with an array of school personnel, including superintendents, principals, teachers and METCO directors. The purpose of the interviews was twofold. First they were designed to elicit a general sense of approaches to, and ways of thinking about the racial achievement gap within EDCO’s member districts. Second they were intended to gather information about best practices in educational interventions that might help to narrow the racial achievement gap. At the end of the summer Mr. Oliff wrote a major report detailing his findings and making recommendations as to how EDCO should proceed with its research initiative. The project aims to develop a better understanding of the racial achievement gap within EDCO member districts, to identify promising practices, to test them to see if they are effective and replicable, and to foster a spirit of cooperation.

Carli Paine
Graduate Degree:
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Undergraduate Degree: Columbia University
Area of interest: Urban forestry and urban wilds, innovative partnerships
Mentor: Valerie Burns, President of Boston Natural Areas Network
Agency: Office of Commonwealth Development
Supervisor: Sonia Hamel, Special Advisor
Project Description: Carli Paine worked in the Office for Commonwealth Development, focusing on developing policies for the recently passed Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan. This plan calls for transportation planning agencies and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to calculate and disclose the energy intensity and resulting greenhouse gas emissions of proposed plans and projects, with the aim that energy intensity and emissions from the transportation sector will decrease as a result of the policy. Ms. Paine’s work included examining the effectiveness of disclosure policies, and exploring precedents in the transportation sector. Using an initial methodology developed by New York State, she updated their methodology to reflect current fuel economy and emissions levels. Given that the policy is unfunded, she developed a set of recommendations for implementation that involved the users in the development of the policy in order to establish ownership, comprehension, and to ensure that the policy’s assumptions match MPO and agency abilities.

2004_schuur.gifArah Schuur
Graduate Degree:
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Undergraduate Degree: Yale University
Areas of interest: Community development through homeownership, affordable housing initiatives, rehabilitation of buildings
Mentor: Susan Tracy, The Strategy Group
Agency: Department of Neighborhood Development, City of Boston
Supervisor: Sheila Dillon, Deputy Director, Department of Neighborhood Development
Project Description: Arah Schuur worked for the Neighborhood Housing Development division of the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). As the City of Boston’s community development agency, the DND disburses approximately $80 million in federal funds annually for projects, including the development and preservation of affordable housing. Ms. Schuur worked on a portion of the Mayor’s four-year housing strategy called Leading the Way II, which encourages benevolent landlords, primarily neighborhood community development corporations, to acquire existing rental housing in order to make it permanently affordable. Leading the Way II established a goal of making at least 300 units of existing rental housing permanently affordable by the end of 2007. Ms. Schuur researched the Boston housing market and other cities’ programs, analyzed project financing strategies, and interviewed lenders and developers in order to make financing and policy recommendations for the program to support housing acquisition projects.