Rappaport Fellows Think Globally, Act Locally

October 16, 2008
by Molly Lanzarotta

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Four students who spent the school year “thinking globally” at Harvard Kennedy School had the opportunity to “act locally” this past summer through Rappaport Public Policy Fellowships. The fellowship program gives graduate students from local universities the opportunity to learn more about how public policy is created and implemented in greater Boston.

The HKS students – Kristen Joyce, Nicholas Maryns, Amy Caswell Moran (all MPP 2009), and Justin Pasquariello (MPA/MBA 2009) – joined eight other graduate students from Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Suffolk, and Tufts in helping public officials in the region address a variety of key issues. The students were selected and paid by HKS’ Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, but worked full time for federal, state, or local officials in the region.

Joyce worked in the office of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino on a variety of projects including analyzing the free tax preparation process at two sites in the neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester where many people are eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“I had read about the EITC in my Poverty and Social Policy course, but I learned much more than I could have in the classroom by speaking and working with frontline service providers,” Joyce says. “The city is involved in many of the issues I study facing low-income families. Rising fuel and food costs, the achievement gap, and prisoner reentry are all issues I have discussed both in the classroom and in the Mayor’s Office this summer.”

Moran, who worked in the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s research department, describes her internship as a “fieldtrip on leadership.”

“Through interviewing executive directors of immigrant-led non-profit organizations, I learned about the daily sacrifices leaders make to give a voice to their communities,” Moran says. “Many of them had full-time day jobs and received no compensation for their service to these organizations. …The commitment of leaders like these inspires me as a future practitioner of public policy.”

Other Rappaport Fellows worked on policy-related projects at agencies such as the state's Department of Housing and Community Development, MassHousing, Somerville's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, and the U.S. EPA’s Region I office in Boston.

When asked how his experience working in Mayor Menino’s office affected his plans for the next academic year, Nicholas Maryns said, “It's given me a list of about a million things that I'd like to learn more about.” Maryns, who worked on such issues as improving responses to the Mayor’s Hotline and helping communities respond to the foreclosure crisis, said the experience made him to want to focus more on urban issues.

According to David Luberoff, executive director of the Rappaport Institute, many students build on the fellowship experience both in their coursework and later when they enter the workforce. He notes, for example, that about half of the almost 100 people who have received a Rappaport Fellowship since the program began in 2001 are working in the public sector and that most of the rest are working for non-profit and for-profit entities that work closely with state and local governments.

Among these Rappaport Fellow alumni is Jeff Roth MPP 2007, who currently serves as a policy advisor in the Mayor’s Office of Operations in New York City. “My fellow experience gave me the passion for this level of public service, and guided me towards pursuing a career path in local government,” says Roth. “Without the fellowship, I would not likely have made this choice.”

The Rappaport Institute is now accepting applications for the 2009 Rappaport Public Policy Fellowships from any graduate student in greater Boston who will be returning to school in fall 2009. A university-wide entity housed at the Kennedy School, the Institute strives to improve the governance of the region by strengthening connections between scholars, students, officials, and civic leaders. It was founded and funded by the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation, which promotes emerging leaders in greater Boston.

Kristen Joyce, Rappaport Fellow

Kristen Joyce worked as a Rappaport Fellow in the office of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

"I had a challenging assignment and the opportunity to work with a group of very smart individuals. ... I felt like one of the full-time policy analysts.  As an intern, I could not have asked for a better situation."

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