2024 Rappaport Policy Fellows 

Name: Karen Alfaro
Graduate School: Brandeis University
Agency: Boston Office of Recovery Services
Project Description: Karen will be assisting with implementing the Boston Opioid Settlements project. Her role will be assisting the project director in launching the family fund, selecting projects to award grants, providing technical assistance, collecting feedback from the public, and producing reporting. If time permits, she will also work on a second project. 

Name: Muram Bacare  
Graduate School: Tufts University
Agency: Boston Planning and Development Agency 
Project Description:  Muram will work on a variety of urban design projects this summer at the Boston Planning and Development Agency.


Name: Paulina Casasola Mena
Graduate School: Tufts University
Project Description:  As part of DOER's efforts to address energy burden, Paulina will research accessibility barriers to current electric rate discount programs and conduct a comprehensive analysis to inform future discount rate improvements. Through this project, she hopes to answer the following research questions: What barriers prevent low-income households from accessing and benefitting from discount rates in MA and beyond? What could be done to increase funding for these energy policy strategies? What is the best approach for designing discount rates?

Name: Marie Davidson
Graduate School: Harvard Kennedy School
Agency: Office of Early Childhood, City of Boston
Project Description:  Marie will support Boston's Office of Early Childhood in developing an initiative to better engage with local business and create funding partnerships to expand capacity and affordability of early childhood options in Boston. She will also work with Mayor Wu's Senior Advisor for Partnerships to explore additional collaboration opportunities for the Office of Early Childhood.

 

Name: Julia DeAngelo
Graduate School: Boston University
Agency: Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics   
Project Description:  Julia will work on a joint project between the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Boston Public Health Commission. 

Name: Tyler Engler 
Graduate School: Harvard Kennedy School
Agency: Massachusetts Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience 
Project Description: Tyler will work on a variety of projects at the Massachusetts Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience. 

Name: Joshua Gladstone
Graduate School: Boston University
Agency: Massachusetts Office of Environmental Justice and Equity 
Project Description: The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program focuses on climate resilience planning throughout vulnerable environmental justice communities. In particular, Joshua will both be working to apply a disability lens throughout program implementation and also ensuring the active inclusion of disabled voices as representatives of their community's particular needs throughout the planning process.  People with disabilities are often disproportionately impacted by climate disasters and severe weather, yet their voices are overshadowed in environmental preparedness programs and disaster management.  By focusing on disability community-based engagement in these conversations, multiply burdened and vulnerable disabled voices can be elevated to ensure their needs are adequately being met and included in the MVP program.  

Name: Jane (Ja Kyung) Han
Graduate School: UMass Boston
Agency: Massachusetts Climate and Resilience Team
Project Description:  Jane will be working on defining expertise in equitable engagement and climate justice in order to prepare a list of vendors/facilitators for the Massachusetts Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) 2.0 program and 2) assisting the MVP team on creating a resiliency playbook, incorporating lessons learned from past MVP projects and projects at other locales. 

Name: Emek Karakiliҫ 
Graduate School: UMass Boston
Agency: Boston Equity and Inclusion Cabinet 
Project Description: This summer, Emek will join the City of Boston’s Equity and Inclusion Cabinet. The project will focus on evaluating the cabinet’s existing definitions of crucial terms like ‘Financial Health.’ Emek will examine each component of these definitions to understand how they are applied to different communities and research the impact of these terms on communities and their significance in enhancing economic well-being. Emek will analyze, evaluate, advise and present a set of policy recommendations centered in the social determinants of health that will serve to operationalize the definitions for the departments in the cabinet. Emek will also provide, short-, medium- and long-term policy and research support as needed when it comes to economic upward mobility work. 

Name: Anika Kumar 
Graduate School: Brandeis University
Agency: Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement 
Project Description: The Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement is launching a comprehensive community needs assessment to gain insights that will guide strategic planning for initiatives aimed at better supporting and integrating the city's nearly 200,000 immigrant population. This assessment will be grounded in community-based participatory action research principles, fostering active collaboration between municipal officials and immigrant community members throughout the research process. Through approaches such as community meetings, focus groups, surveys, and participatory data analysis, immigrants will have a direct voice in identifying the key challenges, barriers, and priorities they face related to areas such as employment, education, health, civic engagement, and cultural integration. By centering the lived experiences and perspectives of immigrant stakeholders, this needs assessment seeks to produce findings that authentically reflect the community's self-articulated needs to inform the development of equitable, culturally-responsive policies and programs. 

Name: Nicole Labkoff 
Graduate School: Harvard Chan School of Public Health
Agency: Office of Senator John Keenan 
Project Description:  Nicole will work in Sen. John Keenan’s office focused on advancing healthcare legislation including, but not limited to, ensuring care continuity for behavioral health patients. This legislation would allow mental health patients to retain access to their treatment regardless of changes to their insurance coverage. Nicole will research other state and federal policies related to the topic that will inform modifying bill language. In addition, Nicole will also attend legislative sessions, hearings, neighborhood meetings, and constituent meetings. She will participate in thrice-weekly internal meetings with Sen. Keenan and his staff. Additionally, she will attend the Senate summer speaker series featuring elected and appointed officials.

Name: Emily Li 
Graduate School: Tufts University
Agency: Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement 
Project Description: Emily will be working on cooperative ecosystem building and small business engagement outreach and needs assessment for the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement.


Name: Catherine May
Graduate School: Harvard Kennedy School
Agency: Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services 
Project Description:  HHS needs support in its response to the state's "Emergency Assistance" shelter crisis, which is being driven by an unprecedented increase in new arrivers to the state. The "Strategy Team" within HHS is heavily engaged on the response to the crisis, including formulating and implementing policy recommendations, capacity planning, service delivery, interagency coordination, management of "overflow" shelter sites, among other core functions. Catherine will join that team for the summer, delivering much-needed high impact, flexible support across that work at a crucial time. 


Name: Matthew McLellan
Graduate School: Harvard Kennedy School
Agency: Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance 
Project Description: Matthew will be working on the Transportation Funding Task Force at the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance. 


Name: Calah McQuarters
Graduate School: Brandies University
Agency: Boston Planning and Development Agency 
Project Description: Calah will work on three projects this summer. (1) A focus group series with BPDA employees and residents aimed at understanding the current communication/engagement gap between the BPDA and community. Final deliverable will be a tool kit that can be used by the BPDA to guide future comms/engagement efforts. (2) A set of high level visual materials designed to inform the community on BPDA work and shifts occurring in the BPDA as a result of the impending transition. (3) Possible additional support as needed including assistance with storytelling work and other projects as they emerge throughout the fellowship term. 

Name: Shaakira Parker
Graduate School: Brandies University
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care 
Project Description:Shaakira will be working at the MA Department of Early Education and Care. Her primary project will be around developing a guide/toolkit for educators and programs to accompany/operationalize EEC's updated Suspension and Expulsion Policy (draft policy currently undergoing review) - thinking through what it should look like, resources to be included, outreach, and dissemination. They also talked about a potential secondary project around the development of a “roadmap to special education support services”  for community partners that are part of the Community Preschool Partnership Initiative Grant.


Name: Megan Siebecker 
Graduate School: UMass Boston
Agency: Boston Age Strong Commission
Project Description: Megan will work on helping to conduct their updated needs assessment so that she can get a more scoping overview of the work they do, and also doing a more independent mapping project of dementia services and supports in Boston to add to their Dementia-Friendly initiative and make these services more accessible to residents.  

Name: Justin Tran 
Graduate School: Simmons School of Social Work 
Agency: Boston Mayor’s Office of Housing    
Project Description: Justin's fellowship work will be to support Boston's Action Plan to End Individual Homelessness. In particular, to launch a supportive housing task force dedicated to conducting a comprehensive needs assessment of homelessness, identifying the target population for new supportive housing units, and developing a housing needs model. Justin will also spearhead the development of a public-facing dashboard intended to disseminate data regarding the progress and implementation of the Plan. 

Name: Nicole Wong
Graduate School: MIT
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources 
Project Description: Nicole will support the Renewable and Alternative Energy Division at MA DOER with stakeholder engagement and research to develop two new solar programs for low income and environmental justice communities: the Low Income Solar Services Program (LISSP) and the Community Solar component of the state’s new Solar For All grant. This might involve developing a program manual for LISSP, formulating eligibility criteria for Community Solar, and identifying innovative ways to center equity in clean energy program design for under resourced nonprofits and low income communities. 

Name: Amanda Yu 
Graduate School: Brandeis University
Agency: Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance 
Project Description: Amanda will be working at the MA Executive Office of Administration and Finance. Amanda will support the Inter-agency Early Education and Child Care Task Force, established by Executive Order 625. At the Governor’s direction, this task force will bring to bear the full scope of the executive branch to ensure that Massachusetts leads the nation in early education and care access, affordability, equity, and quality. The Task Force will capitalize on what we each know best while leveraging collaboration to achieve greater impact. By December of this year, the Task Force will have engaged our many stakeholders and worked together to develop an innovative set of recommendations to propose to the Governor. The internship will involve staffing monthly task force meetings as well as supporting the ongoing work of three subgroups; access & technology improvement, capacity and affordability, and physical space.