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2016 Public Policy Summer Fellows

2016_blynn.jpgKelly Blynn
Graduate Degree: MIT
Undergraduate Degree: Middlebury College
Area of Interest: Transportation Issues
Mentors: Erica Simmons, Volpe and Phil Puccia, JP Morgan Securities
Agency: MA Department of Transportation and MBTA
Supervisor: Scott Hamwey, Manager of Long Range Planning, MA DOT and Laurel Paget-Seekins, Director of Strategic Projects
Project Description: Kelly worked on two data analysis projects for the Office of Performance Management and Innovation (OPMI) at the MBTA and the Office of Transportation Planning at MassDOT. The first project at OPMI involved research and analysis of the potential for the MBTA to offer means-tested fares as a way to offset the impact of future fare increases on low income riders. The second project was part of Focus 40, the MBTA’s long-range capital plan. Kelly analyzed and visualized where the Rapid Transit lines and bus routes are approaching or exceeding capacity during the morning peak today, and conducted a preliminary analysis of where those routes are likely to be over capacity in 2040 given regional land use forecasts. Working in consultation with staff from MassDOT’s Office of Transportation Planning, CTPS, MBTA Service Planning, and OPMI she accessed automatically collected data from the MBTA to analyze the transit system’s demand and capacity in the baseline year in a variety of ways, including the capacity according to schedule, capacity as the transit system is actually operated, and capacity if planned improvements and investments are made. She then used GIS to analyze and visualize future land use data to understand the relationship of future job and housing growth to today’s transit capacity constraints, and flagged parts of the system that are likely to be over capacity in the future. This analysis helped highlight for internal stakeholders and the public where the transit system is currently experiencing capacity issues and where additional investments may be required as part of the Focus 40 plan.

Jasper Frank
Graduate Degree: Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate Degree: Yale University
Area of Interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentors: Jim Segel, ADS Ventures and Jake Horowitz, Pew Charitable Trusts
Agency: Office of Governor Charles Baker
Supervisor: Adam Weikel, Director of Special Projects
Project Description: Jasper worked at Massachusetts' Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) on an array of issues, including compassionate release and prison hospice policies, the implementation of best practices in reentry programming, and improved information sharing between federal, state, and local law enforcement. His main project was a scan of the current data collection and analytic capacity within EOPSS and a set of recommendations - informed by research on disparate practices and organizational structures across states - on how that capacity could be augmented and better coordinated.

2016_hansen.jpgJohn Hansen
Graduate Degree: Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate Degree: University of Puget Sound
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Mentors: Steph Hirsch, Consultant and Antoniya Owens, The Boston Foundation
Agency: MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Supervisor: Carrie Conaway, Director of Research and Policy
Project Description: John worked with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. John analyzed dual enrollment in Massachusetts and found that approximately 7% of Massachusetts public high school students concurrently enroll in a postsecondary institution while in high school. He also found that dual enrollment at Massachusetts community colleges approximately doubled since 2008. The above-average student enrolling at a local college to earn college credit is the most common type of dual enroller, but other student profiles exist is substantial numbers. Examples include early enrollers in developmental coursework and students who are not on a traditional four-year graduation timeline. A key finding was that dual enrollment appears to be a more powerful lever for getting students on track for college success than it is for accelerating time to degree among high-achievers.

2016_henry.jpgBrandy Henry
Graduate Degree:
Brandeis University
Undergraduate Degree: Boston University
Area of Interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentors: Ben Forman, MassINC and Robey Champine, Yale University
Agency: MA Department of Correction
Supervisor: Rhiana Kohl, Executive Director, Department of Strategic Planning and Research
Project Description: Brandy worked at the Massachusetts Department of Correction Office of Strategic Planning & Research. Brandy helped the department better understand the role that substance use and mental illness play in the commission of crime. She started by conducting an extensive literature review, and key informant interviews with research staff. She also attended relevant meetings and hearings to frame the issue. These experiences culminated in the design and implementation of a long term interview based study of inmates which is ongoing and will inform her doctoral dissertation. She intends to publish study findings in a peer reviewed journal in addition to using them to make recommendations for preventive and rehabilitative policies.

2016_isaacson.jpgAnna Isaacson
Graduate Degree:
Boston University Questrom School of Management
Undergraduate Degree: Oberlin College
Area of Interest: Economic Development and Innovation Technology
Mentors: Amy Dain, Dain Research and Devin Quirk, Department of Neighborhood Development, City of Boston
Agency: City of Boston Department of Innovation and Technology
Supervisor: Kelly Mackey, Business Analyst
Project Description: Anna worked at the City of Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology. In order to make the permit application process easier for constituents, the City of Boston is moving permit applications to the new Boston Permits & Licenses portal at boston.permits.gov. This summer, Anna furthered this work by moving four fire department applications onto the portal. Customers currently complete these four applications by hand and submit them in person at the fire department office, and so the online submission option will be a substantial process improvement for both customers and fire department staff. As part of the transition to the online portal, she also worked with the business owner at the fire department to make these four applications’ permit review workflows more efficient. Finally, she developed tools and documentation that the permitting team at Boston’s Department of Innovation & Technology can use in similar work on other permit types and at other departments.

2016_jones.jpgKaiti Jones
Graduate Degree:
Boston College School of Social Work
Undergraduate Degree: Belmont University
Area of Interest: Immigration Issues
Mentors: Dan Kennedy, Northeastern University School of Journalism and Ksenia Kaladiouk, McKinsey Associates
Agency: Office of Resilience and Racial Equity
Supervisor: Atyia Martin, Chief Resilience Officer
Project Description: Kaiti working for the City of Boston in the Mayor’s Office of Resilience & Racial Equity (MORRE). Working under Chief Resilience Officer Dr. S. Atyia Martin, Kaiti worked to lend key operational support and develop infrastructure for the new office. Kaiti’s served in a multifaceted role at MORRE. She oversaw planning and execution of two daylong workshops for the Boston Resilience Collaborative, where more than 100 partners internal and external to City Hall convened to develop citywide initiatives for the Boston Resilience Strategy. Additionally, she worked to develop the Research & Evaluation Collaborative, comprised of top researchers from around the city, to ground the Boston Resilience Strategy in relevant and current data and metrics. Lastly, Kaiti worked alongside HR&A Consultants and 100 Resilient Cities and played an integral role in the development of the strategic planning and vision document for the Boston Resilience Strategy.

2016_kiernan.jpgReilly Kiernan
Graduate Degree:
Harvard Kennedy School/Harvard Business School
Undergraduate Degree: Princeton University
Area of Interest: Workforce Development Issues
Mentors: Jennifer James, MA Office of Workforce Development
Agency: Mayor's Office of Economic Development, City of Boston
Supervisor: Meghan Haggerty, Director of Operations
Project Description: Reilly Kiernan spent the summer in the City of Boston’s Office of Economic Development, where she researched the potential for new public-private financing tools that could help the City move toward a more holistic and proactive paradigm of investing in communities. To support her recommendation, she conducted interviews and read internal documents to understand the nature, scope, and scale of OED’s neighborhood transformation and inclusive economic growth goals. She created an inventory of the wide array of public-private tools the City currently has at its disposal to finance this type of work (compiling examples of developer incentives, Federal/State/Local funding streams, tax credits, etc.). She used this inventory to understand how existing tools could be better coordinated as well as what gaps exist in the toolkit that a new tool should address. Then Reilly profiled examples of innovative public-private community investment in other contexts, distilling key lessons to inform Boston’s approach. Finally, to respond to OED’s goals, given gaps and external case studies, she proposed a high-level recommendation for a new type of tool Boston could explore, articulating the next steps for fleshing out its design and implementation.

2016_kim.jpgMinjee Kim
Graduate Degree:
Undergraduate Degree: Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
Area of Interest: Economic Development Issues
Mentors: Vivien Li, Riverlife and Laura Delgado, MIT
Agency: Boston Redevelopment Authority
Supervisor: Jonathan Greeley, Director of Development Review
Project Description: Minjee worked at the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Development Review team. In response to the Agency’s desire to improve its interface with the members of the community when potential new developments are being reviewed, she conducted a comparative analysis of the BRA’s public review procedure for reviewing private real estate developments with practices from Boston’s peer cities. As a result of her analysis, she suggested strategic ideas for restructuring the Agency’s development review system. The goal was to suggest a framework that can assure that the participation from the public becomes an integral part of the advancement of development proposals and a mutually beneficial consensus is reached at the end of the review process.

2016_leng.jpgTechrosette Leng
Graduate Degree:
Tufts University
Undergraduate Degree: Harvard University
Area of Interest: Community Development Issues
Mentors: Jessica Casey, Plymouth Regional Economic Development Foundation and Colleen Dawicki, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Agency: MassDevelopment and City of Revere
Supervisor: David Bancroft, Senior Vice President, Community Development
Project Description: Tech worked with MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) team and the Mayor’s Office in the City of Revere. Tech worked on a number of projects related to strategic planning and development in the city, with a focus on advancing neighborhood revitalization initiatives in the Shirley Avenue TDI District. Her primary project involved leading the planning and implementation of a technical assistance panel that convened affiliates of Boston’s Urban Land Institute and the city’s administration in conversation with a diverse range of local stakeholders, culminating in a presentation of strategic investment, development, and design recommendations for the TDI district’s revitalization. This involved research of past plans and funding initiatives, regular briefings of district partners, and engagement of community stakeholders. Following the panel, Tech worked closely with the district manager and city administration on initial implementation of recommendations such as placemaking activities, small business coaching, and storefront improvement programs. In addition to this project, Tech contributed preliminary research related to governance and leadership within a planned city visioning process in Revere, participated in municipal development review processes, explored innovative community development models and their replicability in the TDI district, and participated in best practice sharing with other TDI districts across the Commonwealth.

Andreas Mitchell
Graduate Degree: Harvard Medical School
Undergraduate Degree: Washington University in St. Louis
Area of Interest: Mental Health Issues
Mentors: Representative Jeff Sanchez, House Chair of Joint Committee of Public Health Finance and Melissa Threadgill, Community Resources for Justice
Agency: MA Office of Health and Human Services
Supervisor: Leslie Darcy, Chief of Staff
Project Description: Andreas worked with the Special Commission to Investigate and Study State-Licensed Addiction Treatment Centers at the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services. This commission was created by the Act Relative to Substance Use Treatment, Education and Prevention, which was signed into law by Governor Baker in March 2016. Andreas worked with commission members to establish a plan for collecting data and making recommendations in a report to be submitted by January 2017. He researched questions posed by the commission with respect to ten separate topic areas, organized and facilitated focus groups to solicit information from key stakeholders, and synthesized the data gathered in presentations to the commission. In addition, Andreas played a coordinating role in setting up commission meetings, preparing materials, and communicating with commission members to ensure representation of all members’ ideas in the process.

2016_shaikh.jpgSana Shaikh
Graduate Degree: Brandeis University
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Berkeley
Area of Interest: Education Issues
Mentors: Tom Keane, Consultant and Kristen Joyce, Mathematica
Agency: Boston Public Schools
Supervisor: Jonathan Sproul, Director, School/Community Partnerships
Project Description: Sana worked in the Office of School-Community Partnerships at Boston Public Schools. Sana initially did an extensive literature review, specifically focusing on how school districts defined partner, partnership, and quality standards. She researched and culled partnership tool kits to help BPS identify best practices throughout the country. Because Boston Public Schools wanted to create coherent and consistent definitions within the school district, Sana was charged with developing a comprehensive definitional framework. To achieve this deliverable, Sana interviewed 15 respondents: academics, BPS employees, and partner organizations. She developed a survey that was disseminated to funded partners and a subset of partner organizations. That data was then analyzed and helped solidify BPS’s quality standards. Throughout this process, Sana had regular check-ins with her director and BPS’s senior leadership team, to understand and get feedback on her final deliverable.

2016_waterhouse.jpgGail Waterhouse
Graduate Degree: Northeastern University
Undergraduate Degree: Northeastern University
Area of Interest: Community Development Issues
Mentors: Brian Doherty, Boston Metropolitan District Building and Trades Council and Brendan Goodwin, MA Department of Housing and Community Development
Agency: MA Department of Housing and Community Development
Supervisor: Mark Southard, Community Development Manager
Project Description: Gail worked with the Department of Housing and Community Development reassessing their Community Wide Needs Score, which is part of the overall application process for cities and towns in Massachusetts to receive Community Development Block Grant money. She analyzed the current Community Wide Needs Score, gathered feedback from internal and external stakeholders, researched other community development needs indicators, found and collected relevant existing statistical data, and tested potential new factors for an updated score. At the end of the summer, she presented a new Community Wide Needs Score that more accurately captured community and individual need, and proposed it be implemented as part of the application process. Additionally, she gathered data and mapped municipal poverty over a 15-year period for the Community Services division of the DHCD, which acted as a first step in the division’s goal of more effectively disbursing federal aid money to communities.