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2013 Public Policy Summer Fellows

2013_aubuchon.jpgTara Aubuchon
Graduate Degree:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Area of Interest: Housing Issues
Mentors: Amy Dain, Dain Research and Ellen Ward, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Agency: Cambridge Housing Authority
Supervisor: Kathleen Evans, Senior Program Manager for Policy and Technology
Project Description: During her Rappaport Summer Fellowship at the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA), Tara investigated rent payment alternatives and incentives for public housing residents’ to use mainstream financial services. CHA identified three goals for the project:

• Provide convenient rent payment options to residents, while supporting residents’ use of mainstream financial institutions.
• Identify cost effective solutions that save residents and CHA time and money.
• Streamline processes to harness technology better, including timely posting of rent.

Tara reviewed CHA’s current practices, researched alternative technologies, and spoke with other housing authorities to identify alternatives and potential pilot programs. These included designing a clearer ledger, changing reporting software that will save significant staff time, and considering policies to avoid unnecessary delinquency proceedings. She worked with staff to propose three pilot programs including incentivizing direct draw, creating an online rent payment system, and reducing paper statements. She also helped initiate a plan to host a financial education fair to improve residents’ financial literacy and to solicit feedback on CHA’s rent payment initiatives.

2013_brown.jpgSara Brown
Graduate Degree: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: Dartmouth College
Area of Interest: Economic Development Issues
Mentors: Kathy Kottaridis, Historic Boston, Inc. and Devin Quirk, Boston About Results
Agency: City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development
Supervisor: Carol Owens, Director of Marketing
Project Description: During her time at DND, Sara worked to design a Tax Title Dashboard that coordinated data between the Assessing Department, Law Department, and DND in order to help track and prioritize properties through the tax title and disposition processes. The goal of the Dashboard is to enable DND to better anticipate and plan for the properties it receives through tax foreclosure. She also worked on making DND’s existing property inventory database more searchable and useful, to improve property classification and enable faster reuse. In addition, she generated a set of recommendations for how to strengthen DND's communication to the public, including explaining how DND acquires and sells property, and how and when community members can participate in the disposition process. As part of this, she prepared content for DND's external website, including a new Open Spaces section covering community gardens, urban agriculture, and other alternatives. Furthermore, she served on DND's Open Space Working Group, and prepared the initial draft of DND's Open Space Plan to guide the agency's future efforts to support green space on city-owned vacant land. Finally, she wrote a white paper on strategies to address distressed properties, where owners are missing in action or unresponsive to fines, based on best practices from around the United States to complement the efforts of the Problem Properties Task Force.

2013_burkhauser.jpgMary Burkhauser
Graduate Degree: Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Cornell University
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Supervisor: Heather Peske, Associate Commissioner, Office of Educator Policy, Preparation and Leadership
Project Description: Mary was a Radcliffe/Rappaport Doctoral Policy Fellow in the Office of Educator Policy, Preparation, and Leadership (EPPL) at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE). Mary worked closely with Associate Commissioner Heather Peske and her team on 3 exciting projects:
1. The EPPL team is responsible for implementing the Massachusetts Framework for Educator Evaluation. Mary helped draft model contract language that districts can use as they work to meet the state's educator evaluation regulations;
2. In addition to Educator Evaluation, ESE is focused on implementing frameworks aligned to the Common Core. Mary worked on a proposal for an online tool for educators that would house a variety of resources linking the Common Core with ESE’s indicators of educator effectiveness;
3. EPPL is also responsible for teacher licensure. Mary wrote a memo to the Commissioner outlining recommendations for how to address concerns in the Deaf community that prelingually deaf individuals are struggling to become licensed to teach in Massachusetts.

2013_carney.jpgNick Carney
Graduate Degree: Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Davidson College
Area of Interest: Transportation Issues
Mentors: Phil Puccia, Consultant and Matt Mayrl, City of Boston Department of Public Works
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Supervisor: Mike Lambert, Deputy Administrator and Assistant to the General Manager
Project Description: As a fellow working at the Rail and Transit Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Nick worked on a variety of projects, all related to improving transit operations throughout the Commonwealth and the institutional capacity of MassDOT. One of his primary tasks involved analyzing the current state of the Commonwealth’s fifteen Regional Transit Agencies (RTAs) and previous efforts towards refining their operations and planning capabilities. Additionally, he began writing the first statewide capital improvement plan for the RTAs, a standard procedure for any well-run transit agency that has not previously occurred. Additionally, he systematically inventoried and remedied issues with the vehicle ownership titles for vans and buses in the Commonwealth’s Mobility Assistance Program; was introduced to capital asset management and transit operations; and was exposed to the fascinating relationship between a regulatory state agency and the public sector and private entities that it is charged with monitoring. The knowledge and skills that he acquired run the gamut from practical management skills to high-level policy implementation, and all provide an essential foundation for future career endeavors.

2013_champine.jpgRobey Champine
Graduate Degree: Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: Smith College
Area of Interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentors: Bruce Western, Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and Jessica Simes, Harvard University
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Youth Services
Supervisor: Peter Forbes, Deputy Director
Project Description: As a Radcliffe/Rappaport Doctoral Policy Fellow at the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) during the summer 2013, Robey worked primarily with the Subcommittee on Positive Youth Development (PYD) to explore how the agency can promote positive and healthy functioning among youth in the juvenile justice system and measure cognitive, emotional, and social indicators of thriving. In support of the Department’s strategic mission and goals, Robey provided feedback on a proposed PYD framework to help inform strength-based DYS programs and practices, and provided guidance on important outcome areas and corresponding measurable indicators to include in the model. She also developed a protocol for conducting focus groups with staff to collect their feedback on the proposed framework and better understand how they operationalize PYD. In addition, Robey worked on different program policies and manuals that suggest how staff at all levels within the agency can promote thriving among youth in their care through engaging educators, families, and community providers. Following completion of her fellowship, Robey hopes to continue to work with DYS to pre-test and implement an empirically-supported measure of PYD that can be used to identify individual and ecological development assets associated with thriving among juvenile offenders. 

2013_gutierrez.jpgAraceli Gutierrez
Graduate Degree: Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: San Francisco State University
Area of Interest: Public Health Issues
Mentors: Dahianna Lopez, Harvard School of Public Health
Agency: Office of Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health
Supervisor: Representative Jeffrey Sanchez
Project Description: Araceli worked in the Office of Rep. Jeff Sanchez (D-Boston) who is the House Chair of the Joint Committee for Public Health. Her main project examined how the implementation of provisions in Massachusetts’ payment reform, including global payments and market impact reviews, could complement the Affordable Care Act’s community benefits provisions. During her summer she worked on a large survey of residents of the Bromley-Heath housing project and ran a number of community meetings.

2013_haugh.jpgJennifer Haugh
Graduate Degree: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Undergraduate Degree: University of Minnesota
Area of Interest: Environmental Issues
Mentors: Carol Burns, Taylor Burns Architects and Josh Bagnato, First Wind
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Supervisor: Eric Friedman, Director, Leading by Example Program
Project Description: During the summer, Jennifer reported to the program established by Governor Deval Patrick's Executive Order 484 "Leading by Example: Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings," and provided program support and analysis for energy-efficiency installations and measures in state-owned facilities. Her projects included developing research and recommendations on the IRS Section 179D tax deduction for energy-efficient buildings, performing a data analysis on the energy use intensity (EUI) of 28 state-owned LEED-certified buildings, and conducting qualitative research and reporting on the results of Massachusetts’ $55 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 State Energy Program.

2013_majerol.jpgMelissa Majerol
Graduate Degree: Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: Binghamton University
Area of Interest: Health Care Finance Issues
Mentors: Renee Landers, Suffolk University Law School
Agency: Massachusetts Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector
Supervisor: Audrey Morse Gasteier, Director of Research and Policy
Project Description: Melissa spent her summer working at the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority (“the Health Connector”), Massachusetts’s health care exchange, which has served as the model for state exchanges opening nationwide in response to national health reform. Melissa is interested in the drivers of health care costs in the United States, specifically how different payment models affect the behaviors of health care providers and, ultimately, the cost of health care. With Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, Massachusetts passed several regulations that were designed to address the high cost of health care in the Commonwealth and called upon the Health Connector, among other state agencies, to promote and implement alternative payment methodologies. Helping the agency comply with this regulation, Melissa’s project explored alternatives to fee-for-service, the predominant payment methodology in Massachusetts and nationwide. She researched payment reform experiments and independent studies measuring the efficacy of such models. She also interviewed insurance companies on the Health Connector’s shelf to learn what they’re doing to advance payment reform among provider organizations, and to get their insight about the possible pitfalls of alternative payment methodologies. Melissa presented her findings to the Policy and Communications team and proposed a course of action for how better to promote payment reform in the Commonwealth in accordance with state regulations.

Abadur Rahman
Graduate Degree: Northeastern University
Undergraduate Degree: Northeastern University
Area of Interest: Economic Development Issues
Mentors: Stephanie Bloch, Boston Municipal Research Bureau
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Supervisor: Larry Field, Special initiatives and Project Manager
Project Description: This summer Abadur had the opportunity to work at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Department of Housing and community Development. The Commonwealth’s secretary of housing and economic development Gregory Bialecki planned a series of events to highlight the development opportunities in the communities of ‘Metro North’. The ‘Metro North’ communities include Boston neighborhoods East Boston and Charlestown; and cities including Chelsea, Winthrop, Revere, Everett, Medford, Malden and Somerville. This purpose of the tour is to highlight opportunities in the region, where lower land costs, a history of mixed-use development and a desire to grow will help create housing, jobs and foster economic vitality. His role was to assist in coordinating the tour and to identify housing opportunities, creative and innovative businesses in ‘Metro North’ communities, and draft event briefs for Secretary Bialecki. He drafted a PowerPoint presentation showing collaboration between EOHED, EOEEA and MassDOT, and other materials for the Multi-Family Housing Summit http://www.mass.gov/hed/economic/initiatives/housingthatworks/multi-family-housing-summit.html. He assisted with developing and mailing building permit survey for tracking Governor Patrick’s 10,000 multi-family housing goal. He identified housing opportunities for the task force DHCD is leading comprised of public and quasi-public housing agencies. Additionally he had the opportunity to attend three conferences: 1) Planning ahead for growth 2) Planning & Community Development Conference 2013 (http://www.mass.gov/hed/community/assistance-training/planning-and-community-development-conference-2013.html 3) Multi Family Housing Summit.

2013_ramic.jpgMirza Ramic
Graduate Degree: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: Bowdoin College
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Mentors: Joan Wallace Benjamin, The Home for Little Wanderers and Robert Goodspeed, MIT
Agency: Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
Supervisor: Dr. Carlos Santiago, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Academic Policy
Project Description: This summer, Mirza worked at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education on several projects. The bulk of his time was spent on preparing for the upcoming Vision Project conference, which will highlight the initiatives at public higher education institutions funded by the state’s Performance Incentive Fund grant. Along with reviewing and assessing hundreds of school proposals and grant reports, he also helped conceptualize and design a special technology session that will highlight the various campus ed tech programs, initiatives, and tools. He will be moderating this session at the Vision Project conference in October. In addition, Mirza helped write a piece for the upcoming Vision Project annual report discussing a graduation retention program at one of the state’s public institutions. Finally, he conducted research on distance learning and for-profit institutions, including examining existing regulations and practices as part of a special Task Force. This motivated him to write an article about the topic, which he hopes to publish in the coming months.

2013_sanders.jpgNathan Sanders
Graduate Degree: Harvard University
Undergraduate Degree: Michigan State University
Area of Interest: Environmental Issues
Mentors: Neil Veilleux, Meister Consulting Group
Agency: Office of Senator Pat Jehlen and Office of Representative Denise Provost
Supervisor: Tim Snyder, Chief of Staff, Office of Sen. Patricia Jehlen and Mark Kennedy, Office of Rep. Denise Provost
Project Description: Nearly three billion gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage is diverted into rivers and streams in the Commonwealth annually, and citizens often has no way to know when a discharge has occurred. Because bacteria in sewage can cause hepatitis and other infectious diseases, these discharges present a significant risk to public health in addition to damaging the river ecosystems they pollute. Working with Rep. Denise Provost and Sen. Pat Jehlen (both of Somerville), Nathan investigated the problem of wastewater discharges from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into public waterways. He wrote a bill that would require all CSO outfall operators to monitor their discharges and report them immediately to the public through a state website. We worked together with community organizations and legislators from across the state to raise awareness of this issue and raise support for the bill. You can find more information here:https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~nsanders/cso/

2013_sappelt.jpgRuth Sappelt
Graduate Degree: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Berkeley
Area of Interest: Housing Issues
Mentors:T im Warren, The Warren Group and Laura Delgado, City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development
Agency: Office of Representative Kevin Honan, House Chair of the Joint Committee for Housing
Supervisor: Kurt Stiegel, Office of Representative Kevin Honan
Project Description: Ruth spent her summer in the office of Representative Kevin Honan (D, Allston-Brighton), who is co-chair of the Joint Committee on Housing in the Massachusetts State Legislature. She augmented the Committee’s research of two bills, H.44 and H.1094, which propose substantive, though very different, reforms to public housing administration. She joined Committee members at numerous site visits and public hearings on the proposed reforms. She also personally interviewed public housing experts, administrators and staff to gain a nuanced understanding of the issues and receive candid input from all stakeholders. Ruth developed a framework for qualitative analysis of a broad array of recommendations. In the fall, she will return to work with the Committee to synthesize its findings and determine how the Committee can best support public housing residents and their surrounding communities around the state.

2013_threadgill.jpgMelissa Threadgill
Graduate Degree: Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Oberlin College
Area of Interest: Performance Management
Mentors: Meghan Haggerty, MassPort
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Youth Services
Supervisor: Crystal Collier, Chief of Staff
Project Description: This summer Melissa worked with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (the Commonwealth’s juvenile justice agency) on two key projects. First, she developed a proposal for a performance management system DYS could use to track community outcomes for youth in their care. This involved developing a list of outcomes to be measured, drafting sample reports demonstrating how the information could be used once collected, and creating a series of automated spreadsheets that could be used to collect and aggregate this information. Second, she interviewed 50+ DYS staff members in all 5 regions of the state (from entry-level staff to the Commissioner) to diagnose problems the agency had been having with recruitment, turnover, morale and divisional silos and then recommended solutions for overcoming these challenges.