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2014 Public Policy Summer Fellows

2014_bahirwani.jpgSuveer Bahirwani
Graduate Degree:
Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: University of Mumbai
Area of Interest: Environmental Issues
Mentors: Neil Veilleux, Meister Consulting Group
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Supervisor: Birud Jhaveri, Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Project Description: Suveer’s anchor project at the MassDOER was the management and coordination of the Carbon Tax Study. Working closely with the project’s consultants, Suveer oversee all aspects of the technical work and the stakeholder process so as to inform its analysis. In the stakeholder work, he ensured that the study is accompanied by a process that includes a wide range of interests, environmental non-profits to private institutions and business associations, all vested in the introduction, implementation and impact of a carbon tax. This work will assist the state and legislature’s full consideration of the tax. More information on the study can be found at: www.cbuilding.org/project/MACarbonTax

Additionally, Suveer worked with the Renewables Team on three other projects: On the Residential Solar Loan program, Suveer was task with providing analytical support by developing key decision-making scenarios. This work offered the team visibility into the range of possibilities that would result from the credit enhancement tools available to the state agency; in effect, maximizing the leverage of a $30 million program budget for credit enhancement. Drawing on his past experience, Suveer also played a consultative role on the team assessing barriers and opportunities, particularly in energy finance in the current marketplace. On the Battery Storage project, Suveer wrote an Internal Memo apprising the Renewables team on the current state of the battery storage industry in Massachusetts, as well as its potential for in meeting the Commonwealth clean energy and electric reliability goals.Furthermore, as part of an Inter-Departmental (MassDOER & MassDEP) team, Suveer provided research and analytical support on EPA’s Proposed Rule 111(d) as it impacts Massachusetts.

Charles Brackett
Graduate Degree:
University of Massachusetts Boston
Undergraduate Degree: McGill University
Area of Interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentors: David Friedman, Boston Red Sox and Robey Champine, Tufts University
Agency: Mayor's Office, City of Boston
Supervisor: Patricia Boyle-McKenna, Director of Internships
Project Description: Between June and August 2014, Charlie will conduct extensive one-on-one interviews and workshops with employers and staffing firms to determine the sources of their criminal background checking policies and garner insights and recommendations for the Mayor on how to leverage city resources to improve ex-offender hiring outcomes. He will use data to analyze ex-offender performance in relation to a non-offender control group. The purpose of this project is twofold. First, to gain a better understanding of the sources of employer preferences in setting background check policies. Second, testing the effectiveness of a structured skills development program in improving ex-offender job performance. The data gathered from this project will help City officials understand how major employers in Boston can be induced to hire ex-offenders and show a path for future city investment in ex-offender integration.

2014_britton.jpgTolani Britton
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Tufts University
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Mentors: Joan Wallace Benjamin, The Home for Little Wanderers and Tessa Bridge, The King Open School
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Supervisor: Carrie Conaway, Associate Commissioner, Office of Planning and Research
Project Description: Tolani explored whether the expressed preferences for college enrollment in eighth grade change by tenth grade, after a student has taken high school courses, and how well the preferences revealed in eighth and tenth grade are realized by students after graduating from high school. She used state level data from Massachusetts, which allowed her to explore aspirations in junior high school and senior high school and their links to actual college enrollment. Understanding how student’s educational expectations change during high school is a pressing question, given that much of high school reform seeks to better prepare students for college enrollment (Carnoy, Elmore, & Siskin, 2013). Using a first difference strategy, she found that students who plan to attend a four year college are more likely to enroll in college and attend a four year institution than their peers who did not plan to attend a four year institution. Students who plan to attend a two year college in both eighth and tenth grade are less likely to enroll in any type of college. In terms of demographic differences, both Black and Latino students are less likely than their White peers to have college enrollment outcomes that mirror their expressed preferences, even when we control for academic preparation.

2014_cudmore.jpgRebecca Cudmore
Graduate Degree:
Northeastern University
Undergraduate Degree: Boston College
Area of Interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentors: Renee Landers, Suffolk University Law School and James Barrett, Wrentham Police Department
Agency: Mayor's Office, City of Boston and Women's Commission
Supervisor: Megan Costello, Commissioner, City of Boston's Women's Commission
Project Description: Rebecca’s summer fellowship was at the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement. The office promotes equal rights and opportunities for women and girls in the city of Boston. Specifically, Rebecca worked on projects involving sexual exploitation (i.e. sex trafficking and prostitution) in the city. Rebecca’s primary summer project was an examination of how the hotel industry in the city of Boston comes into contact with victims of sexual exploitation. The goal was to gain a better understanding of the scope of sexual exploitation in the city and develop a plan for training hotel employees to recognize and respond to sexual exploitation in their workplaces. This work included collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including staff from the Mayor’s office, the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit, and a local non-profit. In addition, Rebecca conducted focus groups with law enforcement, hotel security and management personnel, and survivors of sexual exploitation. The final project consisted of a report to Mayor Walsh with concrete recommendations for how the city can work to end sexual exploitation in Boston hotels.

2014_delgado.jpgDaniela Delgado
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Medical School
Undergraduate Degree: University of Miami
Area of Interest: Public Health Issues
Mentors: Audrey Morse Gasteier, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector and Araceli Gutierrez, Harvard School of Public Health
Agency: Office of Jeffrey Sanchez, Massachusetts House of Representatives
Supervisor: Representative Jeffrey Sanchez
Project Description: This summer, Daniela worked at the office of Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. The bulk of her time was spent on a project about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which is a program through which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives lawful status to youth who entered the country before they were 16 years old. Youth must complete an application process and pay a fee, after which they receive a driver’s license and a work permit. Daniela brought the importance of this issue to the attention of the Chairman and his staff and worked to bring together about 40 different providers in the greater Boston area, from community organizations, to school representatives and academics, to discuss ways to help the youth. She was responsible for the planning logistics of a luncheon where providers shared ideas on the needs and challenges of this population in greater Boston. Furthermore, she is coordinating the development of a strategic plan to host DACA renewal clinics and outreach, and the formation of a regional network of providers that collaborates on this immigration issue. In addition, Daniela was given the task of keeping the Chairman informed on the current Medicaid Waiver, and she met with the Commonwealth’s Medicaid experts and wrote several debriefings for the Chairman.

2014_dumlaobertumen.jpgKassie Dumlau Bertumen
Graduate School:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Berkeley
Area of Interest: Housing Issues
Mentors: Carol Burns, Burns Taylor Architects and Zoe Weinrobe, Recap Real Estate Advisors
Agency: Massachusetts Executive Office for Housing and Economic Development Supervisors: Erica Kreuter, Director of MassWorks Infrastructure Program
Project Description: As a Rappaport Fellow, Kassie assisted the Permit Regulatory Office at Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) on a report that documents how targeted investments made through the state's MassWorks Infrastructure Program (MassWorks) have benefited growing and revitalizing communities throughout the Commonwealth. 

To complete this work, Kassie administered a combination of site visits and telephone interviews with MassWorks grant recipients and other project stakeholders, including municipal officials, developers, regional planning agency staff, business owners, and community leaders to learn what direct outcomes and spillover effects resulted from MassWorks-supported projects. Kassie also analyzed grantee applications, quarterly reports and other relevant documents to supplement the primary information she collected. 

Her final deliverable included an overview of the MassWorks program—including how it was created, how it is implemented and the types of projects it supports; in addition to six case studies, which highlight exemplary revitalization projects, that have experienced tremendous success in spurring private investments, attracting new businesses, reactivating inner cities, and stimulating job growth in the area. Kassie was also exposed to some of the Office’s other strategic initiatives, including Housing That Works and regional planning.

2014_gately.jpgConor Gately
Graduate Degree:
Boston University
Undergraduate Degree: Wesleyan University
Area of Interest: Transportation Issues
Mentors: Kevin Sullivan, JP Morgan and Nick Carney, Harvard Kennedy School
Agency: Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston and the Central Transportation Planning Council
Supervisors: Chris Osgood, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and Scott Peterson, Central Transportation Planning Staff
Project Description: Conor's fellowship this summer involved two main projects: 1) Using a collection of unique datasets to quantify the spatial and temporal variation of traffic congestion across the Boston metropolitan area; and 2) calibrating and validating the performance of parts of the CTPS travel demand model as part of an ongoing model review process. The first project focused on systematically identifying the key corridors in the City of Boston that suffer from persistent and severe traffic congestion, in order to inform the development of traffic management policies within the Boston Transportation Department’s planning division. This was achieved through the use of high-resolution traffic data obtained from multiple sources, including private companies and state and municipal agencies. By developing a city-wide benchmark based on a consistent data-model, transportation planners and traffic engineers will be able to assess the impact of future policies and developments on traffic conditions across the City of Boston. This large data-model framework was also used on the second project, which aimed to test the performance of the traffic simulation models used by CTPS to forecast traffic demand in response to future urban development and changing patterns of travel behavior. His analysis resulted in some modest improvements to the model’s performance on heavily congested roads, while also providing an empirical confirmation that most of the model parameters are correctly tuned to reproduce the peak period traffic conditions across eastern Massachusetts.

2014_ghazi.jpgUsra Ghazi
Graduate School:
Harvard Divinity School
Undergraduate Degree: DePaul University
Area of Interest: Immigration Issues
Mentors: Tiziana Dearing, Boston College and Antoniya Owens, Center for Education Policy and Research
Agency: Office of New Bostonians
Supervisor: An Le, Community and Policy Affairs Advocacy Coordinator
Project Description: Usra Ghazi served as a policy fellow at the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians (MONB). In addition to providing staff support on MONB’s ongoing initiatives to promote civic engagement and citizenship among Boston’s immigrant communities, Usra conducted outreach to faith-based organizations and leaders. She researched and produced policy proposals on how the City of Boston can implement best practices of faith-based engagement. One of these proposals was signed and authorized by the Mayor’s Office resulting in the first-ever Ramadan holiday celebration at City Hall with Mayor Walsh and over 200 of the city’s Muslim civic leaders and community members. She served as a liaison to the Mayor’s Special Advisor on Violence Prevention and Public Safety to launch an inaugural faith-based advisory council. She was invited to stay on staff at MONB as a policy fellow for the duration of the 2014-2015 academic year.

2014_kaladiouk.jpgKsenia Kaladiouk
Graduate Degree:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: Cornell University
Area of Interest: Immigration Issues
Mentors: Helene Solomon, Solomon McCown and Amy Moran Lowe, GAO
Agency: Office of New Bostonians
Supervisor: An Le, Community and Policy Affairs Advocacy Coordinator
Project Description: Ksenia spent her summer as a Rappaport Fellow at the Department of Neighborhood Development in the Office of Business Development (OBD). Her objective was to help the City of Boston to develop a better understanding of the immigrant entrepreneurship experience in Boston—including business owners’ needs, challenges and successes. Her key objective was to provide a set of recommendations for how the City could better serve and support the foreign-born business owner community on the basis of her findings. Because she was not jumping in to help with an existing project but rather starting, executing on and wrapping up a standalone initiative in the course of her summer with OBD, she chose to treat the experience as somewhat of a test-run at consulting for a city agency. Running her own business doing consulting engagements for non-profits or public sector agencies is a career path that she has been actively exploring, so her work with OBD seemed like a perfect opportunity to try her hand at executing on a project in this manner.

2014_koch.jpgCarolina Koch
Graduate Degree:
Brandeis University
Undergraduate Degree: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Area of Interest: Community Development Issues
Mentors: Phil Puccia, JP Morgan and Margaret Keaveny, Cambridge Housing Authority
Agency: Department of Neighborhood Development, City of Boston
Supervisor: Devin Quirk, Director of Operations and Donald Wright, Deputy Director of the Real Estate Management Division, DND
Project Description: During her time at the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), Caroline worked on a student housing initiative to improve the quality and safety of student housing in Boston. As part of this initiative, Caroline was responsible for managing and analyzing all off-campus student housing data that Boston colleges and universities submitted to the City. Caroline’s analysis of the student housing data was used by the Department of Inspection Services to identify areas with overcrowding and unsafe conditions in Boston. In addition, the student housing data and analysis will be used by Mayor Walsh’s office to establish best practices for student housing in the future. Caroline also worked with the Real Estate Management Division and the Neighborhood Housing Development Division at DND to enhance the community process model in order to better engage DND staffers and constituents in the sale of city owned property throughout the Boston community.

2014_lopez.jpgGilberto Lopez
Graduate Degree:
Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: California State University, Fresno
Area of Interest: Public Health Issues
Mentors: Renee Landers, Suffolk University Law School and Kia Davis, Harvard School of Public Health
Agency: Boston Public Health Commission
Supervisor: Dr. Huy Nguyen, Medical Director and Rita Nieves, Director, Bureau of Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery
Project Description: Gilberto Lopez is a doctoral student in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health. As a Radcliffe/Rappaport Summer Doctoral Fellow, Gilberto was hosted by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Bureau of Addictions Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Services. Gilberto’s role was twofold; (1) rotate throughout the various programs and services within the bureau and (2) research how print media frames the issue of substance overdose in the Boston metro area. The first project consisted of spending a week in each of the departments within the bureau, including prevention, needle exchange, rehabilitation services, men’s services, and women’s services. Participating in the various programs allowed for a holistic understanding of how services work together in assisting individuals and populations as they attempt recovery. The second project researched how media framed the issue of overdose in the Boston area, consisting of analysis of over 800 newspaper articles. The aim of the project was to understand how print media (newspapers) have written about overdose cases in the Boston area over the past 10 years. The project focused on the relationships between demographics, geography, and temporality in the writing of overdose cases.

2014_mascarenhas.jpgRohan Mascarenhas
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Amherst College
Area of Interest: Performance Management Issues
Mentors: Amy Dain, Dain Research and Devin Quirk Department of Neighborhood Development
Agency: SomerStat Office, City of Somerville
Supervisor: Daniel Hadley, Director of SomerStat
Project Description: This summer, Rohan worked in Somerville for the Mayor's Office of Innovation and Analytics, otherwise known as SomerStat. The division handles the city's performance management, which allows staff to coordinate initiatives using data and coordinated teamwork. Rohan worked on a variety of data-related projects: he investigated the possibility of using behavioral economics and randomized experiments to improve parking citation collection rates; he researched and drafted an open data ordinance; and he evaluated research on casinos' economic impact.

2014_vitzthum.jpgKelly Vitzthum
Graduate Degree:
Harvard School of Public Health
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Berkeley
Area of Interest: Public Health Issues
Mentors: Ben Forman, MassINC and Ruth Sappelt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Supervisor: Gail Hirsch, Office of Community Health Workers
Project Description: This summer, Kelly worked at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in the Office of Community Health Workers as well as the Office of Oral Health. She helped compile and summarize key research on the efficacy of Community Health Workers (CHWs) on specific disease areas in reducing healthcare costs and improving population health, work that will be included in a toolkit for Prevention and Wellness Trust fund grantees. She also developed documents for public consumption that detail best practices in the organizational integration of CHWs and address stakeholder concerns with Massachusetts’ current efforts to certify this emerging health profession. Kelly’s work with the Office of Oral Health included planning for a revision of the Status of Oral Disease in Massachusetts report; evaluation development for a medical-dental linkage pilot in community health clinics across the Commonwealth; and the drafting of a Department policy statement on community water fluoridation.

2014_yoshizawa.jpgLauren Yoshizawa
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: Swarthmore College
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Mentors: Dan Kennedy, Northeastern University School of Journalism and Mary Burkhauser, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Agency: Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
Supervisor: Winnie Hagen, Director for Educator Policy and Susan Lane, Senior Director of Alignment and Engagement
Project Description: During her Radcliffe/Rappaport Public Policy Doctoral Fellowship at the Department of Higher Education, Lauren worked on multiple projects of policy alignment with Winnie Hagan, the Director of Educator Policy, and Sue Lane, the Senior Director of Alignment and Engagement. Her primary focus was on the Common Core standards and PARCC assessments. Lauren supported the work of the Regional Readiness Centers and Campus Engagement Teams to interpret how these changes in K-12 instruction will affect public higher education. DHE, in collaboration with DESE, supports higher education campuses as they prepare to integrate PARCC and the Common Core into their teacher preparation programs, placement policies, and K-12 partnerships.