Summer 2017 Rappaport Institute Fellows

Joanna Abaroa-Ellison

Boston College School of Social Work (M.S.W.)

This summer, Joanna will be working with the Somerville Police Department, where she will be mapping a continuum of care for clients with mental health and substance abuse needs with the Community Outreach, Help and Recovery division. This will involve gathering information in the community about services and developing connections between SPD and these services. She will also be helping to evaluate the Crisis Intervention Training program.

Learn more about Joanna

Joanna graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a B.A. in Criminology, Psychology, and Chinese Studies. Her mentors for the fellowship are Christine Cole (Community Resources for Justice) and Alexandra Rabasco (Boston College School of Social Work).

Rachel Bishop

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (MPH)

This summer, Rachel will work at the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing at the Massachusetts State House in the office of Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez. There, she will use a health equity lens to conduct research about the American Health Care Act and its potential implications for Massachusetts. This work will culminate in a white paper that will inform potential state legislative action. During her fellowship, Rachel will also help with legislative research for bills in committee.

Learn more about Rachel

Rachel graduated from Brown University in 2013 with a B.S. in Neuroscience. Her mentors for the fellowship are Amy Dain (Dain Research) and Ali Alhassani (Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center).

Alison Collins

Brandeis University (M.A. in Sustainable International Development)

This summer, Alison will be supporting various workforce development initiatives within the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). The DTA’s mission is to assist and empower low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, improve their quality of life, and achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency. To support this mission, she will conduct research on other state and national best practices for application in Massachusetts, and analyze data on DTA programs, outcomes, and performance to identify key challenges and opportunities. She will also support the agency’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and corresponding efforts to engage clients in employment supports that lead to meaningful career pathways and longer term economic stability.

Learn more about Alison

Alison graduated from Dickinson College in 2010 with a B.A. in Sociology, French, and Francophone Studies. Stephen Chan (The Boston Foundation) is her mentor for the summer.

Christine Dahnke

Harvard Graduate School of Education (PhD, Education Leadership)

This summer, Christine will partner with State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez and his team as they seek to pass the LOOK (Language Opportunity for Our Kids) legislation. The bill will codify important changes for how English Language Learners (ELLs) are served in our schools and districts. She plans to work on a stakeholder mapping, developing a logic model and supporting a collective action for advocacy plan to encourage the bill’s passage.  

Learn more about Christine

Christine graduated from American University in 2003 with a B.A. in Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government. She holds an M.S. in Foreign Language Education from Florida International University. Before entering HGSE, she worked in Florida public schools. Christine’s mentors for the fellowship are Stephanie Hirsch (Consultant) and Antoniya Owens (The Boston Foundation).

Peter Damrosch

MIT (M.A., City Planning)

This summer, Peter will be working with the sustainability team at MassDOT. He’ll be doing research for projects related to greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s transportation sector. He’ll also be contributing to other projects that focus on reducing DOT’s carbon footprint from its own operations.

Learn more about Peter

Peter graduated from Yale University in 2012 with a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. His fellowship mentors are Monica Tibbets-Nutt (128 Business Council) and Erick Guerra (University of Pennsylvania).

Monique Gibbs

Northeastern University (MPA)

This summer, Monique will be working with the City of Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab (iLAb) based in the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). Along with three other fellows (not associated with Rappaport) the iLAb team is tasked with producing policy research and recommendations that will aid Mayor Walsh achieve his goal of creating 53,000 new housing units within the City of Boston by 2030. She will be focusing on two main project areas: creating a framework for a universal affordable housing application, and reframing the way the City communicates housing affordability. With these two projects, she expects to have a busy summer interacting with DND’s expert staff and other City personnel.

Learn more about Monique

Monique graduated from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the State University of New York at Albany in 2013 with a B.A. in Public Policy and Management. Her mentors for the fellowship are Jessica Casey (MBTA) and Abadur Rahman (Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation).

Leah Igdalsky

Boston College School of Social Work (M.S.W.)

This summer, Leah will create a survey for Boston residents with disabilities about their priorities for accessibility in the City of Boston, which will inform the Mayor’s Commission on Disability’s work. She will also create an outreach plan for the survey, with the goal of reaching and hearing from residents in all neighborhoods of the city.

Learn more about Leah

Leah graduated from Brandeis Univeristy in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and Hispanic Studies. Her fellowship mentors are Dan Kennedy (Northeastern University) and Kaiti Jones (Boston College School of Social Work).

Misti Jeffers

Brandeis University (PhD in Social Policy)

This summer, Misti will be working closely with partners at the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services to improve best practices around juvenile confinement and working with youth dually-involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. She will primarily be supporting efforts to mark the 10-year-anniversary of the JDAI implementation in Massachusetts by exploring the successes and challenges of the initiative and its impact on youth development and public safety.

Learn more about Misti

Misti graduated from East Tennessee State University in 2012 with a B.A. in Child Psychology and Human Services. She holds an M.A. in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University. Her fellowship mentors are Tiziana Dearing (Boston College School of Social Work) and Justin Pasquariello (East Boston Social Centers).

Reed Jordan

MIT (M.A. in City Planning)

This summer, Reed will be working with a team at DHCD on a performance management review process to support effective use of operating expenses and capital repairs for the state funded public housing program. He’ll also be working to identify where and how the state can advance its moderate income housing production agenda.

Learn more about Reed

Reed graduated from Carleton College in 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science. His fellowship mentors are Brian Doherty (Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District) and Zoe Weinrobe (Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly).

Andrew Kim

Harvard Medical School (M.D.)

This summer, Andrew will be working with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Andrew’s first major project aims to understand the advanced care planning process specifically in vulnerable populations that lack decision making capacity, including those with disabilities, mental health disorders, and/or vulnerable legal status. This will likely involve a multi-institutional study, which he hopes to publish as an academic paper and/or a white paper to guide future policy around this issue.

Learn more about Andrew

Andrew graduated from Brown University in 2013 with a B.A. in Human Biology. He holds an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. His mentors for the fellowship are Renee Landers (Suffolk University Law School) and Jessica Hohman (Harvard Medical School).


Michael McClurkin

Harvard Medical School (M.D.)

Michael will work on a variety of health equity issues at the Office of Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez.

Learn more about Michael

Michael graduated in 2013 from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a B.A. in Biological Sciences. He is currently pursuing a joint MD/MPP at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. His mentors for the fellowship are Travis McCready (Massachusetts Life Sciences Center) and Danny Vazquez (Harvard Medical School).


Julie Miller

Boston College School of Social Work (PhD)

This summer, Julie will work with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs to manage the stakeholder input process for the newly-formed Governor’s Council to address Aging, curating best practices and developing a rubric to evaluate aging initiatives statewide. She will also implement research projects about holistic longevity planning, technology, and innovations that support healthy and purposeful aging.

Learn more about Julie

Julie graduated from Northeastern University in 2009 with a B.S. in Human Services and American Sign Language. She holds an MSW from the University of California, Berkeley. Her mentors for the fellowship are Ben Forman (MassINC) and Colleen Dawicki (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston).



Kara Runsten

MIT (M.A. in City Planning)

This summer, Kara will work at the City of Boston Office of Environment, Energy, and Open Space focusing on the Climate Ready Boston initiative. She will work across departments and with project funders to create and publish a public mechanism to track progress on the various facets of the initiative. Additionally, she will develop evaluation criteria and capture lessons learned from three ongoing local resilience planning processes to inform future work in other districts.

Learn more about Kara

Kara graduated from Stanford University in 2013 with a B.A. in Public Policy. Her fellowship mentors are Vivien Li (RiverLife) and Holly Elwell (Trust for Public Land).

Morgan Shields

Brandeis University (PhD in Behavioral Health Policy)

This summer, Morgan will work in the office of Representative Kay Khan. Morgan will draft two policy briefs for the Representative. The first will focus on Bill H3587 entitled “An Act to increase effectiveness and improve outcomes for treating persons with severe mental illness in our communities.” The second brief will describe Massachusetts’s current system for monitoring critical incidents (e.g., abuse, neglect) and general quality of care within inpatient psychiatric care, including residential substance use facilities.

Learn more about Morgan

Morgan graduated from the Honors College at Kent State University in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology. She holds an M.A. in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Kanika Singh

Harvard Kennedy School (MPP)

This summer, Kanika will be working for the City of Boston’s Broadband and Digital Equity team within the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). This effort will involve engaging with City departments and partner non-profit organizations to identify and understand how specific vulnerable populations use technology to interact with local government. Further, she will identify how the City learns about technology needs and modes of engagements, asset map the City’s knowledge regarding these technology needs, document how the City engages with this group, research best practices regarding the issue, and provide recommendations and a framework for similar projects in the future.

Learn more about Kanika

Kanika graduated from Trinity University in 2013 with a B.A. in Economics and Urban Studies. Her mentors for the fellowship are Phil Puccia (Consultant) and Anna Isaacson (Boston University).

David Tisel

MIT (M.A. in City Planning)

David will work with Rep. Denise Provost on her legislation for a Tenant Right of First Refusal. Modeled on the successful District of Columbia program that David worked on prior to graduate school, this law would give Massachusetts tenants the right to match 3rd party offers on their homes, decreasing residential displacement and increasing homeownership. David will assist with writing and editing the bill, as well as planning for hearings and working to advance the bill through the Housing Committee. 

Learn more about David

David graduated from Oberlin College in 2013 with a B.A. in Politics (High Honors) and Economics. His mentors for the fellowship are Jim Segel (Jim Segel LLC) and Margaret Keaveny (Cambridge Housing Authority).

The 2017 Rappaport Insitute Fellows, with Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport

Photos and biographies courtesy of the Rappaport Institute at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.