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Somala Diby


Somala Diby


Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston


Rappaport Public Policy Fellow



Rappaport Public Policy Fellows spend 10 weeks each summer serving within the highest levels of state and municipal governments in the Greater Boston Area. The program includes students from graduate and professional programs at local universities.

Graduate School

Undergraduate School
Columbia University Mentor: Mary Jo Meisner, MJM Advisory Services and Rappaport Institute Advisory Board Member

City of Boston, Department of Neighborhood Development

Marcy Ostberg, Director of Operation

Description of Fellowship
As a fellow with the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), Somala spent the summer helping the agency reflect on its COVID-19 response efforts and prepare for future crises. She pursued this work through two key projects. The first was an internal report documenting DND’s crisis response activities between the City’s initial shut down in March 2020 through the present day. Compiling feedback from semi-structured staff interviews, discussions with DND leadership, planning documents, and performance data, the report shed light on key lessons and challenges from this unprecedented crisis. The report culminated in a work plan for the agency to prepare its systems, programs, and staff for future surges in COVID-19 cases.

Through her second project, Somala designed a process for DND to measure equity within the city’s COVID-19 housing recovery programs. This involved designing an equity assessment of existing programs, developing equity-focused logic models for each program, and generating data collection plans to keep the agency accountable to its equity goals. She concluded this project by offering a series of recommendations for how DND can maintain and scale this work across the agency.