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2011 Public Policy Summer Fellows

2011_alhassani.jpgAli Alhassani
Graduate School:
Harvard Medical School
Undergraduate School: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of interest: Health Care Finance
Mentors: Phyllis Rappaport, Chair, Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation and Kaitlyn Kenney Walsh, Manager, Policy and Research, Commonwealth Housing Insurance Connector
Placement: Office of Senator Richard T. Moore
Supervisors: Kim Haddad, Legel Counsel and Shawn Collins, Chief of Staff
Project Description: This summer Ali worked for State Senator Richard Moore, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. The state is moving to pass significant legislation on provider payment reform, including the promotion of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as a prominent delivery and payment system. Ali studied the new Medicare program being set up to similarly promote the formation of ACOs as well as private sector ACO models in order to help determine what an ACO system in the Commonwealth might look like. He also included in his research an analysis of the testimonies regarding setting up ACOs in the state from the broad spectrum of stakeholders in the health care sector.

2011_bloch.jpgStephanie Bloch
Graduate School:
Boston University
Undergraduate School: Yale University
Areas of interest: Community and Economic Development
Mentor: Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director, Historic Boston Inc.
Placement: Mayor's Office, City of Boston
Supervisor: Abi Vladeck, Mayor's Office and Christopher Osgood, co-chair, New Urban Mechanics Program
Project Description: This summer, Steph was a Rappaport fellow placed in the City of Boston Mayor’s Office. She was working to help small businesses unravel the permitting process and found several ways to tackle this. She helped the Office of Business Development and Boston Redevelopment Authority to launch a joint website that will go live in mid-October; wrote and graphically designed several information packets to be placed in a forthcoming Licensing & Permitting Office; and produced a Boston News Network program featuring a panel discussion about the processes involved in obtaining various permits.

2011_casey.jpgJessica Casey
Graduate School:
Northeastern University
Undergraduate School: Ryerson University
Areas of interest: Housing
Mentor: Paul Scapicchio, Mintz Levin Strategies
Placement: Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Supervisor: April Anderson Lamoureux, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development
Project Description: From May 2011 to September 2011, Jessica worked with the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development on two projects. The first project was to draft an Executive Order that, if signed by the Governor, will mandate state agencies to direct technical assistance and infrastructure investments to identified areas for housing and economic growth. The objective of this draft Executive Order is to encourage cities and towns to collaborate with regional planning agencies to plan ahead for growth by participating in a comprehensive planning process. The second project that she worked on over the summer was leading the launch of the online application tool used by cities and towns to complete and submit MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant applications. Through a series of online "lunch & learn" information sessions and online documentation, cities and towns learned about the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and how to apply, edit, and submit applications using the online application tool. Overall, she was able to spend my summer collaborating with a number of state agencies to gain experience in policy development, as well as gain experience leading the development and implementation of a policy initiative. It was a great summer!

2011_cerny.jpgDanielle Cerney
Graduate School:
Harvard Kennedy School/Georgetown Law School
Undergraduate School: Brown University
Areas of interest: Social Services Initiatives
Mentor: David Friedman, Senior Vice President/Special Counsel, Boston Red Sox
Placement: Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance
Supervisors: Greg Mennis, Assistant Secretary for Finance and Infrastructure and Tina Brooks, Undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development
Project Description: This summer Danielle worked in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance to help Massachusetts become the first state in the country to formally pursue a comprehensive social innovation financing program. Social innovation financing, which includes social impact bonds and pay-for-success contracts, is a creative approach to supporting innovative service delivery programs. Such innovative, or potentially “high risk,” programs often have difficulty securing government funding because of the lengthy time needed to demonstrate outcomes. At the same time, tight budgets can make state governments weary of spending money on untested programs. Social innovation financing helps counteract these hurdles by typing payments to performance metrics, thereby allowing states to pay only for proven, rather than promised, results. Given the length of time often required to accurately measure outcomes, pay-for-success contracts will sometimes be coupled with social impact bonds. In such an arrangement, social investors provide the upfront capital to finance non-profits’ expenses and absorb most, if not all, of the associated financial risk. To help the State implement its first social innovation financing arrangements, Danielle worked with Agency heads and non-profit leaders to identify the most promising early applications of social impact bonds, and ultimately drafted the Request for Response that will be used to procure vendors and investors for these projects.

2011_davis.jpgKia Davis
Graduate School:
Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate School: Washington University
Areas of interest: Public Health Disparities
Mentor: Joan Wallace Benjamin, Executive Director, The Home for Little Wanderers
Placement: Massachusetts Office of Health Disparities
Project Description: Kia Davis worked for the Office of Health Equity (OHE). OHE at Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is committed to reducing health disparities while promoting health equity in the Commonwealth. Kia led a policy analysis to understand the distribution of commercial industry and health promotion resources (e.g. parks, fast food outlets, grocery stores, liquor stores, etc.) in the Commonwealth and how it might impact health. The analysis focused primarily on East Somerville to inform the community engagement component of the Health Disparities Elimination program leading to policies related to the built environment. Kia conducted qualitative informational interviews with staff across Bureaus at DPH as well as affiliates in other sectors (housing, transportation, etc.) to inform the analysis. The interview of our affiliates also addressed interest, opportunities and challenges in working cross-sector on health related issues. This work was used to inform development of cross-sector partnerships to use institutional transformation in efforts to reduce disparities and promote health equity in Massachusetts.

2011_dawicki.jpgColleen Dawicki
Graduate School:
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
Undergraduate School: Brown University
Areas of interest: Community and Economic Development
Mentors: Phil Puccia, Executive Director with J.P. Morgan Securities Tax Exempt Capital Markets and Benjamin Forman, Director of Research, MassINC
Placement: Office of Housing and Community Development, City of New Bedford
Supervisor: Patrick Sullivan, Director
Project Description: As a Rappaport public policy fellow during the summer of 2011, Colleen worked with New Bedford's Office of Housing and Community Development to develop the foundation of a comprehensive revitalization strategy for one of the city's high-need, high-opportunity neighborhoods. Her efforts included familiarizing herself with the theory and practice of neighborhood revitalization, with an emphasis on investigating successful programs in other cities (and the way in which such efforts were funded). At the same time, she met with local stakeholders to understand the history of such efforts in New Bedford, along with existing assets and challenges that will inform a planning process going forward. The end result is a report that details her findings from both her internal and external research and includes a set of recommendations that the city can employ in order to make this strategy a reality. The report will be shared with both the City of New Bedford as well as the many stakeholders who participated in the process in order to encourage a collaborative planning process that is necessary for turning these ideas into action.

2011_futrell.jpgDan Futrell
Graduate School:
Harvard Kennedy School, University of Virginia School of Business
Undergraduate School: Gonzaga University
Areas of Interest: Veteran's Affairs
Mentor: Larry DiCara, Nixon Peabody
Placement: City of Boston's Office of Veteran's Affairs
Supervisor: John Callahan, Interim Commissioner, Office of Veteran's Affairs
Project Description: Throughout Summer 2011, Dan worked for Mayor Menino in his Veterans’ Services Department to meet his goal of increased outreach to the younger veteran community of Boston. He aligned my efforts to meet the five major issues facing veterans in Boston and around the country: employment, physical & mental health, education & benefits, homelessness & housing, and reintegration. During his work, Dan was learned a great deal about the work being done by a wide variety of different government, non-government, and private organizations to improve outcomes in these five areas, top among them being the Home Base Program, a partnership between Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation. In addition to these outward-facing tasks, Dan was able to improve processes within the 13 person department in order to set the stage for an incoming commissioner. He learned there’s a great deal of work to be done in providing a forum for collaboration between the many different service organizations, and that this issue can very well be solved with the commitment of the leaders in place today in Boston.

2011_hughes.jpgZachary Hughes
Graduate School: Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate School: Princeton University
Areas of interest: Performance Management
Mentors: Jerome Lyle Rappaport, Founder and Funder, Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation and Amy Dain, Consultant
Placement: Department of Administration and Finance, City of Boston Boston About Results Program
Supervisor: Devin Lyons-Quirk, Senior Project Manager for Performance
Project Description: Zachary Hughes spent his Fellowship working in the Office of the Mayor of the City of Boston on several different projects. Working mainly out of the Office of Administration and Finance, Zack's largest undertaking was the writing, designing, and overseeing of a survey of over a thousand constituents who had recently contacted the City with a service request. In collaboration with Devin Lyons-Quirk, a former Rappaport Fellow and the current head of Boston About Results, Zack conducted extensive analysis of the survey results to develop actionable information for the Mayor, his Chief of Staff, and other City managers. Other performance-related projects that Zack worked on included developing performance metrics for the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management and helping Boston About Results prepare a comprehensive communications strategy in advance of the launch of its new website.


Xavier Lazcano
Graduate School:
University of Massachusetts - Boston, Boston College School of Social Work
Undergraduate School: Wells College
Areas of interest: Social Services Issues
Mentors: Vivien Li, Executive Director, The Boston Harbor Association and Elissa Flynn-Poppey, Mintz Levin
Placement: Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health
Supervisor: Michael Cahill, Director, Division of Animal Health
Project Description: Xavier Lazcano’s placement was at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources in the Animal Health Division. His project focused on developing and writing the regulations for the operation of Animal Rescue Organizations. He compiled research on the policy initiatives of more than 20 states and reviewed their potential efficacy in addressing barriers faced here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, he assisted the state’s Chief Veterinarian, other field staff, and officers of the MSPCA on investigations of suspected inhumane conditions at animal shelters. His research in conjunction with this exposure enabled Xavier to appreciate the magnitude of unsanitary practices impacting the vulnerable canine and feline shelter population. Xavier’s subsequent final draft of regulations, submitted for promulgation and approval by the Governor’s office, puts forth crucial recommendations to improve the health and quality of life for shelter animals while protecting the native population from out-of-state infectious agents.


2011_okner.jpgTori Okner
Graduate School:
Tufts University
Undergraduate School: University of Michigan
Areas of interest: Environmental Issues
Mentor: Carol Burns, Principal, Taylor Burns Architects
Placement: Mayor's Office, City of Boston
Supervisor: Edith Murnane, Director of Food Initiatives
Project Description: Tori spent the majority of her fellowship working on the urban agriculture pilot project for the Office of Food Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). The City of Boston planned to lease three vacant properties in Dorchester to individuals or organizations interested in running an urban farm for commercial purposes, education, and/or donation. In response to the concerns of local residents regarding the impact of urban farms on their community, the Director of Food Initiatives, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and the BRA ramped up communications. The drafting, publication, and dissemination of the communication tools were an exercise in leadership, collaboration, City administration, and most significantly, the importance of community engagement. Overall, Tori thoroughly enjoyed being on the Director of Food Initiative’s team and having the opportunity to employ her analytical and organizational skills to actualize a vision for urban agriculture.

2011_schultheis.jpgEric Schultheis
Graduate Degree:
Undergraduate Degree: Wesleyan University
Areas of interest: Housing Issues
Mentor: Tim Warren, Chief Executive Officer, The Warren Group
Agency: Cambridge Housing Authority
Supervisor: Carolina Lucey, Communications and Policy Department
Project Description: Eric's Rappaport Fellowship placement was at the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA). At CHA, he worked with CHA staff to evaluate CHA’s data management practices; he created a longitudinal dataset of CHA’s Section 8 participants to facilitate future research partnerships between CHA and academic institutions; and conducted a spatio-temporal analysis of CHA’s Section 8 participants. The spatio-temporal analysis included extensive GIS mapping and statistical analysis of residential location choices of Section 8 households. The analyses created a baseline of knowledge about Section 8 participants and identified several spatial and household characteristic trends in CHA’s Section 8 program that warrant further investigation.

2011_simes.jpgJessica Simes
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Undergraduate Degree: Occidental University
Areas of interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentor: Tiziana Dearing, Executive Director, Boston Rising Inc.
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Corrections
Supervisor: Lisa Lorant Sampson, Deputy Director, Research and Planning Division
Project Description: As a Rappaport Fellow working at the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Jessica spent the summer working on a variety of projects, one of which was published on the Department’s website. Her work focused on topics ranging from studying the average institution length of stay for the active population of inmates, consulting and preparing a report on a DOC management survey seeking to find out the most important competencies for training new managers, and evaluating research requests from those outside of the Department. Her final project used data from the 2009 and 2010 Admissions (criminal commitments only) and Releases (“to the street,” i.e. not transferred to another jurisdiction). She performed a spatial analysis that took into account important historical variables. This paper is still being reviewed, but will also be published as a DOC report.

2011_simon.jpgNicole Simon
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Cornell University
Areas of interest: Education Issues
Mentor: Mary Jo Meisner, Vice President of Communications, The Boston Foundation
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Supervisor: Karla Baehr, Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Project Description: Nicole was a Rappaport Fellow in the Commissioner’s Office at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Her work centered around the state’s new Educator Evaluation Regulations, which were being revised for the first time since 1995. Since her fellowship overlapped with the public comment period – she began working shortly after the Commissioner announced the proposed regulations, and completed her fellowship just after they passed – she focused on building public understanding of the proposed regulations and garnering, synthesizing, and responding to feedback from educators, students, parents, and community members across the state. In addition, she worked on the development of DESE’s model evaluation system that districts can choose to adopt or adapt. It was an exciting time to be working at DESE!

2011_ward.jpgEllen Ward
Graduate Degree:
Undergraduate Degree: Wake Forest University
Area of Interest: Housing Issues
Mentor: Chrystal Kornegay, Executive Director, UrbanEdge
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Supervisor: Lizbeth Heyer, Acting Associate Director of Public Housing and Rental Assistance
Project Description: This summer Ellen had the unique opportunity to work for the State of Massachusetts in the Department of Housing and Community Development. She says unique, because she was able to work on a team of seven people to design, develop, and implement a new program, HomeBASE, that completed the reform of the State’s Emergency Assistance System. Targeted to extremely low-income families who are facing homelessness, this program provides a housing-first response to families in an effort to stabilize their housing situation and set them on a path toward economic self-sufficiency. It is the first ever housing-first program to be adopted at a statewide level and is projected to produce significant cost savings for the State while better serving homeless families. Her specific roles included managing the data, reporting, and evaluation of the program, training program staff, and working with the legal team to develop and institute the documents necessary to effectively administer the program. As part of the data collection and evaluation, she developed a reporting framework that includes both qualitative and quantitative measures to accurately assess the impact of the policy change. Going forward, the framework will be a tool for other states and municipalities interested in adopting a housing-first response to homelessness.