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2008 Public Policy Summer Fellows

2008_carlson.jpgAshley Carlson Dickerson
Graduate Degree:
Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: Duke University
Areas of interest: Public Health and Education
Mentor: Thomas Payzant, Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Agency: Office of Rep. Alice Wolf
Supervisor: Jesse Dixon, Legislative Aide, Office of Representative Alice Wolf
Project Description: While interning with Representative Wolf at the Massachusetts State House, Ashley analyzed and evaluated various pieces of education and public health legislation. She calculated a cost-benefit analysis on smaller class size and prepared outreach information about new early education and care regulations for early child care providers. In her time at the State House, Ashley had an opportunity to research and give input into the creation of a Child and Youth Readiness Cabinet as part of Governor Patrick’s Readiness Project in the state. The purpose of this cabinet is to bring together the departments of education and health and human services to design a more effective system that will meet all of the needs of children and their families. Ashley hopes to continue her work on the Cabinet at the State House this year.

2008_elwell.jpgHolly Elwell Bostum
Graduate Degree:
Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: University of Vermont
Areas of interest: Environment
Mentor: Vivien Li, Executive Director, The Boston Harbor Association
Agency: Office of Ecosystem Protection, EPA New England, Region 1
Supervisor: Mel Cote, Manager, Oceans and Coastal Protection Unit
Project Description: As a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, Holly was placed at the Environmental Protection Agency- Regional 1 (EPA). This is a federal environmental agency dedicated to the protection of human health and the environment. Her work at EPA focused on climate change and coastal water resources management. Specifically she was involved in planning and organizing the EPA Climate Change Forum which brought together federal, state, regional and local decision makers, area scientists and academics, and watershed and community based organizations from throughout New England to share data and information and identify key areas where additional tools and collaboration is needed. She was also involved in launching the Massachusetts Bays National Estuaries Program Climate Ready Estuaries Pilot Project. In this effort she identified actions for climate change adaptation that correlate with previously identified management goals. Her final project at EPA consisted of working with the Gulf of Maine Council Ecosystem Indicators Partnership to develop climate change indicators. She focused specifically on historic precipitation data and identified trends and anomalies. This information will be used by the Climate change Working Group to make recommendations for policy and management decisions.

2008_fattman.jpgRyan Fattman
Graduate Degree:
Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: Suffolk University
Areas of interest: Housing
Mentor: Jim Segel, special counsel to U.S. Representative Barney Frank
Agency: MassHousing
Supervisor: Kevin Mello
Project Description: At MassHousing, under the supervision of Kevin Mello, Ryan Fattman researched several aspects of the recent foreclosure/ sub-prime lending debacle. First, he briefly researched MassHousing’s Home Saver program and pieces of legislation that address the foreclosure crisis, analyzing their successes and failures. He also inspected an alternative policy approach of promoting new and first time home ownership, as opposed to housing retention-oriented policies. Finally, he analyzed the housing market in Massachusetts, aggregating housing statistics, ranging from levels of homeownership, delinquency rates, foreclosures rates, and housing valuations. This data was used to determine if policies promoting first time home ownership of foreclosed properties are wise to consider for mitigation of the housing crisis.

2008_joyce.jpgKristen Joyce
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Areas of interest: Economic Development and Social Services
Mentor: Joan Wallace Benjamin, Executive Director, The Home for Little Wanderers
Agency: Mayor's Office, City of Boston
Supervisors: Chris Osgood, Special Advisor to the Mayor and Mimi Turchinetz, Boston EITC Campaign Director
Project description: As a fellow in the Office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Kristen worked with the Boston Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition to analyze the tax preparation process at the two busiest free tax sites located in Roxbury and Dorchester. Her main research question was how these sites can provide increased asset development support services while helping the maximum amount of taxpayers. To find her answer, Kristen spent time at both sites interviewing the site directors and experiencing the processes first hand. She also conducted a best practices search by contacting site coordinators from across the country and learning about their operations. In the end, Kristen recommended an improved intake process and benefit screening program that should both increase participation at the sites and the quality and quantity of asset development services the tax payers receive next tax season.

2008_maryns.jpgNicholas Maryns
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Saint Olaf College
Areas of interest: Performance Management
Mentor: Larry DiCara, Nixon Peabody, LLP
Agency: Mayor’s Office, City of Boston
Supervisor: Chris Osgood, Special Assistant, City of Boston
Project Description: Nicholas Maryns spent the summer working for the Office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino on a wide variety of projects, including: creating mechanisms to measure and increase the performance of the Mayor’s 24 Hour Hotline and basic city services; helping to plan a community-based response to foreclosures in Boston neighborhoods; identifying and quantifying ways in which wireless companies stick Bostonians with hidden charges and drafting a plan to address the issue, and; assisting is an outreach campaign for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit in Boston’s Empowerment Zone. In addition to these projects, Nick volunteered at Camp Harbor View, shadowed the Mayor, and earned the nickname "Clark Kent" for quickly changing into his suit and tie in a Superman-like fashion after biking to work every day.

2008_moranlowe.jpgAmy Moran Lowe
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Harvard College
Areas of interest: Immigration
Mentor: Kathy Kottaridis, Historic Boston, Inc.
Agency: Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA)
Supervisors: Alvaro Lima, Director of Research and Mark Melnick, Deputy Director of Research
Project Description: Amy worked in the Policy Development and Research Division of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). She spearheaded a study on Latino immigrant organizations in Greater Boston, with a focus on Brazilian, Colombian, Dominican, and Salvadoran groups. In the first phase she created an inventory of such organizations, from well-established and well-funded non profits to unincorporated grassroots groups. In the second phase, she collected qualitative data through site visits and in-person interviews in order to understand the role these organizations play in local immigrant communities. For her Kennedy School Policy Analysis Exercise, Amy analyzed this data and made policy recommendations to the City of Boston.

2008_nicoll.jpgLauren Nicoll
Graduate Degree:
Northeastern University
Undergraduate Degree: Drew University
Areas of Interest: Economic Development
Mentor: Tom Keane, Consultant
Agency: Mayor's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Developement, Somerville
Supervisors: Rob May, Director of Economic Development and Stephen Houdlette, Senior Economic Development Specialist
Project Description: During her time this summer at Somerville's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD), Lauren Nicoll researched the design industry in Somerville. Part of the overall "creative economy," the design industry is a source of good jobs employing talented, skilled workers. Since Massachusetts has the most architects and designers per capita, Lauren sought out those designers operating within the city of Somerville. She interviewed 21 architects, graphic designers, landscape designers, woodworkers, and other designers to find out their reasons for working in Somerville and what the city can do to help sustain and grow their industry. Lauren analyzed their answers and prepared a report outlining her research and policy recommendations. Working with the OSPCD and the Somerville Arts Council, Lauren plans to use this report to strategize ways that Somerville can support the design industry and grow their role in Boston's creative economy.

2008_pasquariello.jpgJustin Pasquariello
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School/Harvard Business School
Undergraduate Degree: Harvard College
Areas of interest: Social Services
Mentor: Mary Jo Meisner, The Boston Foundation
Agency: Department of Social Services
Supervisor: David Murphy, Director of Legislative Affairs
Project Description: Justin was a Rappaport Fellow with Dave Murphy, Legislative Director for the Department of Children and Families. In this capacity, he worked with Dave on the comprehensive child welfare act, signed by the Governor on July 8, 2008; advocating for the Department's $800 million budget to the Legislature; and on numerous other legislative issues that impact the Department. He also coordinated agency responses to questions from Senator Kennedy’s office on reauthorization of the Federal Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act. In his final weeks, he focused on an implementation plan for the sweeping reforms of child welfare contained in the Commonwealth’s child abuse prevention act. He considered financial, staffing, and other implications of the bill, and developed a preliminary implementation plan for the Department. During his fellowship, he had the opportunity to work directly with the Commissioner, Members of the Legislature and many senior staff members. It was an exciting summer. As a former foster child himself, who has previously worked as the Executive Director of a mentoring agency that works closely with DCF, this was a particularly rewarding fellowship for him.

2008_pavao.jpgTara Pavao
Graduate Degree:
Suffolk University
Undergraduate Degree: Bridgewater State University
Areas of interest: Social Services
Mentor: Tiziana Dearing, President, Catholic Charities of Boston
Agency: Department of Social Services
Supervisors: Leslie Akula, Director of Policy Support, Susan Stelk, Education Director, and Donna Reulback, Assistant Commissioner for Practice and Policy
Project Description: Tara worked within the Policy Department at the Department of Children and Families. Her project was to research the education of foster care youth and further analyze if there is a disconnect in their educational continuity. As children enter foster care or are required to transition from foster home to foster home, they often have to transfer schools and register within their new school districts. In her years of experience as a social worker for the Commonwealth, there were times when children transferred to as many as three different schools within a single school year. As she researched further into this issue, she set forth to answer three questions: Are foster care youth graduating at the same rate as the general public? Does educational continuity contribute to a foster care youth’s academic success? Is it a cost benefit to transport foster care youth to their school of origin? The findings of her research conclude that foster care youth are not graduating at the rate of normalcy, as foster care students are about half as likely as other students to have graduated from high school. Educational continuity and school stability does promote successful school experiences and contribute to positive youth development. Finally, with interagency collaborations between the Department of Children and Families, Department of Transitional Assistance, and the Department of Education, social benefits outweigh the costs of transporting foster care youth to their school of origin under the McKinney-Vento Act.

2008_standish.jpgJillian Standish Flynn
Graduate Degree:
Boston University School of Management
Undergraduate Degree: Bucknell University
Areas of interest: Housing
Mentor: Sue Tracy, The Strategy Group, Inc.
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Supervisors: Mary-Anne Morrison, Director, Bureau of Rental Assistance, Amy Schectman, Associate Director, Division of Public Housing and Rental Assistance, and Jessica Berman Boatright, Special Assistant to the Associate Director
Project Description: One of the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) primary foci for fiscal year 2009 is the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), which provides rental assistance to low-income tenants across the Commonwealth. The program is a tremendous resource for providing additional affordable housing in Massachusetts but has not been used to its fullest potential, so DHCD is planning on redesigning it. To begin this process, she spent her ten weeks at DHCD conducting 32 listening sessions with MRVP’s stakeholders, including Local Housing Authorities, Regional Administering Agencies, tenant advocacy groups, and legislators, in order to find out how they envision a reinvigorated MRVP. Based on the information she collected during these meetings and her personal experience working with MRVP at my past job, she formulated a recommendation on how to redesign the program. As DHCD moves forward with the overhaul of MRVP, they will use the document she wrote as a roadmap to guide the extensive process of rebuilding MRVP.

2008_wakeham.jpgJosh Wakeham
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Undergraduate School: Williams College
Areas of interest: Social Services, Youth Issues
Agency: Department of Youth Services
Supervisor: Edward Dolan, Deputy Commissioner
Project Description: Joshua Wakeham spent the summer at the Department of Youth Services examining its sentencing process. He did this in two distinct ways: looking at overall trends and observing actual practices. He collected data from dozens of intake files about the assessment and eventual sentence of committed youth from DYS’s Metro Area Office. He also sat in on the actual sentencing hearings with the staff, the client, and the family to see how sentencing policy was actually implemented on a day-to-day basis. Preliminary results revealed some important and interesting patterns that merit further research. As a result of this initial project and the enthusiastic support of DYS, Joshua plans to continue this project throughout the school year. Early results show promise for both practical policy concerns and broader theoretical implications.

2008_wolff.jpgVictoria (Torrey) Wolff
Graduate Degree:
Undergraduate Degree: Williams College
Areas of interest: Economic Development and transportation
Agency: Boston Redevelopment Authority
Supervisor: Jonathan Greeley, Community Planner
Project Description: While working with the Planning Division of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), Victoria Wolff focused on participatory planning in Roxbury. The Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee (RSMPOC), representing the diverse views of the community, wields an unusual amount of influence in working with the BRA to direct future development of the neighborhood. Following an RSMPOC- and BRA-led community process, Victoria helped to generate use and design guidelines for development of vacant parcels in Roxbury. These guidelines reflected community concerns and ideas ranging from stepped building heights to a preference for businesses that train and employ local residents. She also coordinated a report updating the Roxbury community on the RSMPOC's progress translating the community's objectives into action over the past four years. The completed report on the committee's successes will influence policies and procedures for participatory planning in other Boston neighborhoods.

2008_ziegenfuss.jpgKathleen (Ziegenfuss) Mayell
Graduate Degree:
Undergraduate Degree: Boston University
Areas of interest: Transportation
Mentor: Paul Scapicchio, Mintz Levin Strategies
Agency: Mayor's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development
Supervisor: Melisa Tintocalis, Principal, Economic Development Planning
Project Description: Kathleen Ziegenfuss, an MIT Master of City Planning Candidate, researched various economic development tools the City of Somerville could use to help prepare for the impact of the MBTA Green Line extension from Lechmere Station into Union Square. Chief among the tools studied was the potential of using an Urban Renewal Plan for the redevelopment of the Boynton Yards and Union Square districts. Issues considered were: existing land uses and current conditions; the transportation-specific impacts of the Union Square Green Line Extension; the greater vision for the area; the community involvement process; the potential of using the Urban Renewal Plan in conjunction with a District Improvement Financing (DIF) plan; and the compatibility of land uses with the proposed rezoning of Union Square (which includes the provision of the Transit Oriented Development districts that cover much of the area being considered for the Urban Renewal Plan). The work Kathleen completed will allow the City to move forward in a community visioning process to help shape the future of the greater Union Square district.