2007 Public Policy Summer Fellows

2007_barrett.jpgJames Barrett
Graduate Degree:
UMass Boston
Undergraduate Degree: UMass Boston
Areas of interest: Criminal justice, race relations
Agency: Executive Office for Public Safety
Supervisor: Elizabeth Spinney, DMC Reduction Specialist
Project Description: During his placement at the Executive Office of Public Safety, James attended and participated in subcommittee meetings relating to disproportionate minority contact. He also sat on two grant review teams which released funds for new public safety construction and drug free and safe schools. His main project was preparing a report comparing Chelsea and Holyoke, two demographically similar cities that have very different rates of juvenile, minority confinement. The report consists of an analysis of best practices and practitioner interviews as well as the results of a survey designed to measure system bias. The report release date is TBD pending the results of the statewide practitioner survey.

2007_bowe.jpgLeah (Bowe) O'Neill
Graduate Degree:
UMass Boston
Undergraduate Degree: University of Wisconsin – Madison
Areas of interest: Environmental issues
Agency: Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)
Supervisor: Marian Orfeo, Director of Planning and Coordination, Joshua Das, Project Manager for Public Health, and Andrea Rex, Director of ENQUAD
Project Description: Studies in many countries have demonstrated the presence, and in some cases, negative effects of pharmaceutical products at trace levels in water streams. The major inputs of pharmaceuticals come from households and hospitals, due to excretion and improper disposal of unwanted or expired medications. This summer Leah worked with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to determine the inputs of pharmaceuticals to their service area, analyze prevention and treatment methods, and establish future policies. Several potential approaches to this issue are possible: relying on government regulation, implementing proper disposal methods, rethinking and redesigning sewage treatment, and/or developing more environmentally friendly pharmaceuticals. She believes the best approach to prevent trace contamination of pharmaceuticals in the environment and drinking water is to substantially reduce the quantities initially entering raw sewage. More research is needed to increase our knowledge and understanding of the fate of drugs in surface waters, their degradation products, the complexity of mixtures, and the role of environmental monitoring.

2007_kurtz.jpgCorey Kurtz
Graduate Degree:
Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: Macalester College
Areas of interest: Immigration issues
Agency: Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Supervisors: Joanne Goldstein, Division Chief, Business and Labor Bureau and Jocelyn Jones, Deputy Division Chief, Business and Labor Bureau, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Project Description: Corey researched ways for the Fair Labor Division to collaborate most effectively with local immigrant organizations on public education and strategic enforcement. Her research included conversations with experts in the field about best practices in other states and interviews with over twenty members of the Fair Labor Division staff and the staff of community organizations about how to improve the effectiveness of interagency partnerships. Additionally, she looked at how the office could improve its services for immigrant workers, developing a protocol for communicating with witnesses during the course of a case, and drawing up a comprehensive plan for increasing language access and outreach to immigrant communities. Finally, she helped liaison between the Division and referring organizations, coordinating communication on specific cases, organizing a training for community organization staff, and aiding in the revision of the non-payment of wage complaint form.

2007_lobb.jpgRebecca Lobb
Graduate Degree:
Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: Boston University
Areas of interest: Public health disparities
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Supervisor: Mary Lou Woodford, Director, Women's Health Network
Project Description: Rebecca worked with the Women’s Health Network (WHN) in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to complete two projects. The WHN is a program that provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings to low income women. The first project was to make recommendations to improve the measure of breast cancer screening assessed and reported in the Screening Mammography in Massachusetts Report, an annual report published by the state. The second project was to develop research questions for a contract the WHN was establishing with the Harvard University Department of Public Health Practice to analyze 10 years of cancer screening data on low income women. Activities related to this project consisted of searching existing research on breast and cervical cancer, reviewing the data structure and content of archived files from the WHN program, and monitoring the evolving regulations on coverage of medical services for low income women provided by the Commonwealth Health Plans and the Free Care Pool. Rebecca will continue to work with the WHN, throughout the remainder of her doctoral program, to oversee the implementation of changes she recommended for the Screening Mammography in Massachusetts Reportand completion of the deliverables outlined in the contract between the WHN and Harvard University.

2007_maryl.jpgMatthew Mayrl
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: University of Wisconsin – Madison
Areas of interest: Economic development, public/private partnerships
Mentor: Robert Culver, MassDevelopment Office
Agency: Mayor’s Office, City of Boston
Supervisors: Judith Kurland, Chief of Staff, City of Boston and Chris Osgood, Special Assistant, Mayor's Office
Project Description: Matthew Mayrl spent his summer working in the Office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino with the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Judith Kurland. The Mayor’s Office is interested in partnering with Boston’s major nonprofit institutions to provide expanded services for Boston residents. In his time with the City, Mayrl mapped how the City currently interacts with nonprofits, conducted research on city-nonprofit partnerships across the country, and provided a number of recommendations on how the City can better coordinate its internal processes to generate new and expanded partnerships. Mayrl plans on continuing his work with the Mayor’s Office throughout the year and will write his Policy Analysis Exercise on the topic of nonprofit-city partnerships.

Kate Moloney
Graduate Degree:
Northeastern University
Undergraduate Degree: College of the Holy Cross
Areas of Interest: Housing
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Supervisor: Amy Schectman, Associate Director, Division of Public Housing and Rental Assistance
Project Description: While at the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Division of Public Housing and Rental Assistance, Kate Moloney assessed how DHCD can better support local housing authorities (LHAs) in their role as operators of the state-assisted public housing units and was part of a task force to determine the true cost of operating the state-assisted public housing. While evaluating DHCD’s supportive role, she interviewed Executive Directors and staff members of LHAs, tenant advocates, and DHCD staff members to find out how DHCD currently supports LHAs, identify common management problems that confront LHAs, and propose new ways in which DHCD can better support LHAs in the management of the public housing. As a member of the true cost working group, Kate assessed proposals and researched answers to questions asked by the other members and developed new strategies for determining the true cost of operating state-assisted public housing.

2007_morse.jpgAudrey Morse Gasteier
Graduate Degree:
Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: Mount Holyoke College
Areas of interest: Health care reform
Mentor: Rosemary Day, Chief of Staff, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector
Agency: Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority
Supervisors: Melissa Boudreault, Director of Commonwealth Care, Jamie Hammerling-Bern, Assistant Director of Commonwealth Care, and Robert Carey, Director of Planning Development
Project Description: While working at the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority ("the Connector"), a new state agency coordinating the new health care reform in Massachusetts, Audrey designed a study that sought to inform the Connector and other decision makers about the behavior and choices of people between 150% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) who are eligible for state-subsidized health insurance but have not yet enrolled. This population is required to pay premiums and co-payments to be enrolled in the newly created Commonwealth Care plans, but is currently eligible for full free care through the Uncompensated Care Pool (UCP), so there has been some speculation that this will be a difficult population to enroll. She set out to better understand why those who are eligible but haven't yet enrolled have not signed up for coverage and what roll, if any, the UCP plays in that decision. In addition to conducting interviews with community-based health and outreach workers across the state that interface with this population, she developed a survey tool that she used to collect information directly from the population on their decision-making regarding their health care options. The data she collected will assist the Connector in finding new ways to increase enrollment among this population so that Massachusetts can reach more widespread health insurance coverage, the primary goal of health care reform.

2007_shah.jpgSemil Shah
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: University of Michigan
Areas of interest: Municipal finance and infrastructure
Agency: MassPort
Supervisors: Lowell Richards, Director of Port Planning and Development and Andrew Hargens, Senior Planner and Project Manager
Project Description: Semil's summer assignment at Massport— Massachusetts’ port authority—was well-timed. The Economic Planning & Development office began work on a long-term strategic plan for the Port of Boston. This project exposed him to many Massport departments to see how professionals from diverse backgrounds—planners, engineers, consultants, operators, developers, and so on—reach consensus on the management of port infrastructure. First, he assisted the senior project manager in charge of the strategic port plan. Second, he wrote a memo on whether it was feasible for Massport to cut emissions and improve air quality by providing container ships and cruise lines with shore-side electrical power, a transition some ships are making to reduce coal-based power generation. Third, he helped Massport’s Chief Development Officer develop a speech contrasting the maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Europe versus the U.S. Finally, his main contribution to Massport was to analyze how increased containerized trade between India and New England will grow over the next quarter-century and how it will affect the flow of commodities between these two markets. One issue facing U.S. container ports is how to plan for what many believe to be an inevitable surge in trade from India and the Indian subcontinent; his task was to figure out what exactly is in all those containers coming from India bound for New England, which shipping companies are carrying the cargo, and how growth within India could affect these trading routes.

2007_solomon_schwartz.jpgBenjamin Solomon Schwartz
Graduate Degree:
MIT
Undergraduate Degree: Harvard College
Areas of interest: Land-use planning
Agency: Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Supervisor: Greg Bialecki, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Project Description: Benjamin Solomon-Schwartz spent a productive summer at the Massachusetts Permit Regulatory Office, housed within the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. Working with Greg Bialecki, the state's first permitting ombudsman, Solomon-Schwartz completed several projects that contribute to the primary goal of the MPRO: streamlining the state's development permitting processes in order to foster economic development within the context of the Governor Patrick's sustainability principles. Solomon-Schwartz's primary projects were the creation of a guide to existing state permitting processes for development projects and the creation of a roadmap for one-stop permitting in the Commonwealth. He was also fortunate to be exposed to the other projects of the office, including the South Coast Rail initiative, state zoning reform efforts, and assistance to individual projects navigating the permitting process.

2007_stout.jpgAmanda Stout
Graduate Degree:
MIT
Undergraduate Degree: Williams College
Areas of interest: Land-use and planning
Mentor: Judith Grant Long, Graduate School of Design
Agency: Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, City of Somerville
Supervisor: Madeleine Masters, Director of Planning
Project Description: Amanda's fellowship placement was in the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development in the City of Somerville, Massachusetts. She worked with the Director of Planning on a specific project: examining regulatory and policy solutions to develop a parking strategy for the city. Somerville, the most densely populated city in New England, is in a period of growth and change. She learned that one of the greatest obstacles to economic development—particularly the redevelopment of small lots in dense squares and neighborhoods—is the parking regulations outlined in the Somerville Zoning Ordinance. Since parking requirements are too high, policies that affect changes are too stringent, and relief measures are too cumbersome, it is clear that Somerville needs a parking strategy. In addition to qualitative research on parking, Amanda developed some specific recommendations for the city to pursue: proposed zoning language that would make parking regulations less restrictive, especially for smaller projects, and suggestions for how the city might incorporate other parking methods (such as structured parking, shared parking, off-site parking, in-lieu fess, and municipally-provided parking) into their plans. In considering the way that parking is zoned for, planned for, and paid for, Somerville must recognize and appreciate its fundamentally urban character. The city is full of thriving, mixed-use squares and traditionally dense, walkable residential neighborhoods—the characteristics that many towns wish they could recreate. Amending the current zoning ordinance and formalizing and codifying certain practices will ensure that Somerville maintains these assets and that local regulations are easier for citizens, developers, planners, and city staff to understand and navigate.

2007_thomas.jpgHannah Thomas
Graduate Degree:
Brandeis University
Undergraduate Degree: St. John's College, University of Cambridge
Areas of interest: Consumer credit regulation and community development
Agency: Department of Neighborhood Development, City of Boston
Supervisor: William Cotter, Deputy Director of Homebuyer Services and Robert Gehret, Deputy Director, Policy Development and Research Division
Project Description: Hannah worked with the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development's Foreclosure Prevention Program to research why families in Boston are getting into foreclosure. Her work included doing data collection from a variety of sources including interviews with families entering the foreclosure prevention program, analysis of City of Boston databases, and other available data sources to assess the variety of reasons for the current increase in foreclosures in Boston neighborhoods. She worked closely with Bill Cotter, who heads up the homeownership programs at the City, and Bob Gehret, Director of Research at the Department of Neighborhood Development.

2007_wieland.jpgChristina Wieland
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Dartmouth College
Areas of interest: Access and quality in early childhood education, quantitative methods
Agency: Boston Public Schools, Department of Early Childhood Education
Supervisors: Jason Sachs, Director, Department of Early Childhood Education and Margaret Angell, Special Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer
Project Description: Christina Weiland spent her summer working in the Boston Public Schools Early Childhood Department. She performed descriptive analyses of student demographic, student mobility, student attrition, and teacher data to inform the Early Childhood Department’s knowledge of its student population and its professional development offerings for teachers. She also researched study designs for longitudinal experimental research with the Department of Early Childhood and examined the data infrastructure needed to support such designs. This year, she is continuing her work for the Department and her doctoral research likely will grow out of this work.