Author: ljf02004

Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps Selects Yahaira Escribano, MPA 2019

Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps Selects Yahaira Escribano, MPA 2019

Yahaira Escribano, MPA 2019

Yahaira Escribano has been selected as a participant in the Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps (CLC), a six-month program to be held in Hartford beginning this June.  The program is designed for young people (ages 18 – 25) to come together and develop projects that address opportunities and challenges in their community. It includes three local in-person trainings, local mentorship, online coaching, and funds to support team projects. At the first training in June, Community Leadership Corps members will be placed on a team with other CLC Members to complete a group project in their community over the course of the six-month program.

To be considered for acceptance into CLC, Yahaira completed an application that included six “essay”/open-ended questions.   For example, one of the questions asked to describe a situation in which you embraced a new process, idea, or way of thinking that was a departure from the old way of doing things. What did you learn about yourself and about change? Another question asked to describe a challenge in your community that you believe you have the power to bring people together to help solve. What will you do to help solve it? What do you imagine your community will be like as a result?

Yahaira, a recipient of the 2019 MPA Academic Excellence Award and Inductee into the Pi Pi Alpha Honor Society, will be working in a team to design and implement a community project to address some of the challenges and opportunities Hartford faces.

Congratulations, Yahaira!


Pi Pi Alpha Honor Society Inducts 2019 New Members and Names 2019-2020 Council

Pi Pi Alpha Honor Society Inducts 2019 New Members and Names 2019-2020 Council

Poster showing the 2019 PPA Inductees and CouncilTwenty-three MPA and MPP students were inducted into the Pi Pi Alpha (PPA) Honor Society at the 2019 DPP Awards Presentation and PPA Induction Ceremony on April 17, 2019.

Pi Pi Alpha is the honor society for graduate professional students in public administration and public policy.  PPA encourages and recognizes outstanding achievement, supports graduate public service education and invites membership of students who have completed at least half of their program coursework maintaining a 3.7 GPA.  Membership fees and donations support student professional development and social events such as the annual ‘PPA Meet and Greet’, Mock Interview Night – to prepare students for IPP interviews, special professional development training and panels, and PPA Professional Development Scholarships.

Congratulations and welcome to the new PPA members: Lynne Alexander, Andrea Alexander, Alecia Alleyne, Fabiola Bachinelo, Mariah Brennan, Maria Cappuccitti, Zane Carey, Hannah Casey, Shubham Dhakal, Yahaira Escribano, Carease Gadson, Abraham Hilding-Salorio, Daniel Innes, Sneha Jayaraj, Smriti Kattel, Matthew Lenczewski, Katherine Reilly, Miranda Richard, Joshua Schreier, Peter Towey, Luke Switzer and Joanna Vitarelli.

Congratulations to the officers of the PPA Council 2019-2020:  Anthony Naples, President; Sara Nagle, Vice President; Jessica Seabrook, Secretary; Mike Izadi, Treasurer; Yahaira Escribano, Membership and Doug Shipman, Scholarship

Mohamad Alkadry Receives 2019 Outstanding Service Award


Mohamad Alkadry Receives 2019 Outstanding Service Award

Alyssa Goduti, MPA 2002 and President of the DPP Alumni Council, presents Mohamad Alkadry with the 2019 Outstanding Service Award.

Mohamad Alkadry, Professor and DPP Department Head, is a recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Service Award.  Since taking the position as Department Head in 2017, Dr. Alkadry continuously supports the work of DPP’s faculty and staff, students and alumni. He has expanded DPP’s degree programs with the addition of the MPA Fellows Program and has broadened DPP’s community outreach with the implementation of the Public Service Executive Leadership Collaborative.  Under Mohamad’s leadership the department’s recruitment efforts have expanded and social media has become a strong tool in sharing DPP faculty, student and alumni accomplishments.  With Dr. Alkadry’s commitment, DPP continues to be one of the highest ranking MPA programs by U.S. News and World Report.

Alyssa Goduti, MPA 2002 and President of the DPP Alumni Council, presented the award to Dr. Alkadry at the DPP Annual Awards and Pi Pi Alpha Honor Society Induction program on April 17, 2019.

DPP Organizes and Hosts Gun Violence Conference in Hartford


Department of Public Policy Organizes and Hosts Gun Violence Conference in Hartford

The April 4 and 5, 2019 meeting, “Correlates, Causes and Solutions for Gun Violence,” attended by gun violence researchers, government officers, elected officials, and community workers, focused on addressing efforts to reduce violence in Connecticut and across the country.  Expert speakers, including DPP faculty Dr. Kerri Raissian and Dr. Jennifer Dineen, spoke to the meeting’s key theme of when gun violence is treated as a public health crisis, there is lot to learn about ways to prevent fatalities.

Dr. Dineen joined a panel discussion of researchers and practitioners from government and community organizations to discuss specific areas of gun violence. Dineen offered that only a very small proportion of children who die from guns die in mass school shootings, but that those shootings capture the public’s and the news media’s attention.

Included in her remarks, Dr. Raissian noted that the idea that without access to guns, people will figure out ways to commit violent crimes is false in the case of domestic violence. “There is no substitution when guns are restricted,” she said. “We don’t stop killing people with guns and start killing them with knives. We just stop killing people.”

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Alumnus Christopher D. Brechlin Hosts CT Housing Coalition Workshop


Alumnus Christopher D. Brechlin Hosts CT Housing Coalition Workshop

Chris Brechlin presents (March 2019)

On March 20th, the Connecticut Housing Coalition invited Christopher Brechlin to host a workshop entitled “Mostly Exciting Ways to Use Census Data for Understanding Your Community.”  The presentation focused on how the Census Factfinder and IPUMS data sets can help housing professionals explore and learn about the communities they serve.  In addition, Chris took a look at housing needs, neighborhood-level demographics and interesting trends.  Attendees of the workshop gained new ideas and learned helpful Excel templates that will speed up future projects that work with Census data.

Chris Brechlin earned his Master of Public Policy with an advanced certificate in Business Analytics in 2018, and serves as the Senior Program and Data Analyst on the Planning, Research, and Evaluation team at the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.  He is a specialist at helping mission-driven organizations leverage data and technology for social good.  Additionally, Christopher sits on the boards of Hands on Hartford and the Greater Hartford Young Democrats.

Governor-elect, Ned Lamont Names Alumni, Melissa McGraw to Top Job at the State Office of Policy and Management

Governor-elect, Ned Lamont Names Alumni, Melissa McGraw to Top Job at the State Office of Policy and Management

DPP is proud to announce that Melissa McCaw, MPA ’14 and 2017 recipient of the DPP Distinguished Alumni Award, has been named by Governor-elect, Ned Lamont to serve in his administration as the state’s budget chief at the Office of Policy and Management.  Ms. McCaw brings more than 17 years of budget experience at the state, city and university levels, notably her current position for the City of Hartford as Chief Financial Officer and Budget Director for the past three years.  We are sure that Melissa will be missed in Hartford as she brings her skills and experience back to the state level. Congratulations, Melissa!

To learn more visit

UConn Department of Public Policy Joins PPIA

UConn Department of Public Policy Joins PPIA

DPP is pleased to announce that we have recently become a member of PPIA, Public Policy & International Affairs Program. ” The Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) is a not-for-profit that has been supporting efforts to increase diversity in public service for over 30 years. PPIA believes that our society is best served by public managers, policy makers, and community leaders who represent diverse backgrounds and perspectives. To achieve this goal, PPIA has an outreach focus on students from groups who are underrepresented in leadership positions in government, nonprofits, international organizations and other institutional settings. Furthermore, international affairs are increasingly mixed with local concerns. Addressing such global issues make diversity a critical goal in professional public service.”  DPP is looking forward to working with PPIA and its membership.

Check out the featured article on DPP in the PPIA Winter Newsletter.

GAPPS/ICMA Holds Community Service Day

GAPPS/ICMA Holds Community Service Day


GAPPS members volunteer at Keney Park.

On Saturday, November 17, 2018, GAPPS/ICMA gathered at Keney Park in Hartford for their first community engagement project of the year.  Department of Public Policy graduate students worked with park organizers on the Keney Park Sustainability Project, an urban agricultural center educating the public on urban gardening, wildlife preservation, native plant species and aquaponics systems.  Working with Park volunteers, students helped to prepare the greenhouses for winter, including moving and replanting, trimming fresh swiss chard, and preparing temperature control blankets to preserve vegetables.  Emily Garfinkel, second-year graduate student and Secretary, GAPPS/ICMA noted “It was a great experience to learn all about urban community partnerships, including Knox, a nonprofit organization fostering local community gardens.”  In addition, the students heard about volunteer efforts to engage the community in environmental projects.  GAPPS/ICMA plans to build more community partnerships during the academic year to engage DPP students in projects throughout Hartford.

DPP Launches a Mentoring Effort to Connect Alumni and Students

Mentoring has been shown to benefit professional productivity and success for both mentors and mentees. This fall the Department of Public Policy (DPP) will announce the kickoff of the DPP Alumni-Student Mentoring Network!  The program was developed in response to alumni and student feedback in favor of more alumni-student engagement and professional mentoring opportunities.  With a national network of over 1,000 alumni, DPP alumni represent a wealth of professional experience across the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

Alumni and students will be contacted by email and invited to sign up as mentors and mentees.  Once mentors and mentees sign up, DPP staff will organize a mentoring kick-off lunch meeting for mentors and mentees to meet.  Mentors and students will plan a mentoring schedule that will work for them. While this is initially being launched as a student-alumni event, there are future plans to include mentoring of recent graduates.

If you’d like to participate in the mentoring network or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Candace Fitzpatrick at:

Dr. Kerri Raissian co-authors “Washington Is Biased Against Babies” (Wall Street Journal)


Kerri Raissian“Washington Is Biased Against Babies” (WSJ Op-Ed, July 26, 2018) co-authored by Dr. Raissian, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, UConn and Dr. Leonard Lopoo, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, considers “policies encouraging underpopulation pose a long-term threat to America’s vitality.”  Drs. Raissian and Lopoo address the impact, nationally and internationally, of declining populations and attempts to increase fertility.  Focus is given to policies that both intentionally and unintentionally result in reduced fertility potentially working against working women who want to have children and a notable decline in America’s future workforce.

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