Recapping “Beyond Thoughts and Prayers” Panel Discussion

Beyond Thoughts & Prayers: Strategies to Eradicate Anti-Black Police Violence

Graphic showing the 6 panelists for the June 25, 2020, Beyond Thoughts and Prayers eventOn Thursday, June 25, 2020, the UConn Department of Public Policy partnered with Professor Brandi Blessett, Associate Professor and Director of the Masters of Public Administration Program at the University of Cincinnati, to present a conversation discussing solutions to the police violence against black people in our country. UConn Professor Thomas Craemer moderated a panel of six experts in law enforcement to discuss topics such as defunding police departments, building relationships between local police and their black communities, and offering a more diverse police force to mirror the communities they represent.

Ivonne Roman, Relationship Manager at the Center for Policing Equity, provided findings from her research on recruitment of women into law enforcement and what women bring to the position.  Studies show that there is less use of excessive force when women police officers are on the call. She also provided insight into the current system for officer accountability. Everyone agreed that police officers have to be held accountable for their actions and that incidents where someone is killed or excessive force is used need to be reviewed by an unbiased investigator.

Jack Mewhirter, Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Cincinnati, was asked about the militarization of some police forces.  This is a federal program that offers military equipment to local police departments which is disproportionately deployed into communities of color. This deployment is left to the decision of state officials and it is up to citizen outcry to restrict the use of this equipment.

The other panelists, including Frank Adderley, Chief of Police, West Palm Beach Police Department, Rob Kenter, Director of Law Enforcement Field Engagement at the Center for Policing Equity, and Brandi Blessett, offered their thoughts on the impact that defunding police departments would have and the idea of creating positions for mental health professionals in the department to offer their expertise when there is a case of mental distress or homelessness in the field. This often diffuses the situation and leads to less arrests. The police are left to handle the more violent issues.

Brian Williams, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia, suggested that we need to deconstruct and then reconstruct.  We need to reimagine the types of communities that we want and then invest in their change.  These means the community must have input into the policies and procedures.

The panel agreed that change has to start at a grassroots level and that the community has to be involved. There also has to be accountability. Whether it be policy or training, the affects have to be followed up on and evaluated.  Is it working?  Are we getting the results we want? Change is going to take time, but change is necessary.

Defining Moments with UConn DPP

Defining Moments with UConn DPP

Jason Jakubowski, MPA '01
Jason Jakubowski, MPA ’01

The Summer Edition of UConn Today was recently released and features two members of the Department of Public Policy’s (DPP) network! This edition, entitled “Our Defining Moments,” highlighted Jason Jakubowski, MPA ’01. Jason is the CEO and President of Foodshare, and was featured for the nonprofit’s emergency distribution system at Rentschler Field, which has been providing food to Connecticut families since March.

Associate Professor Thomas Craemer
Associate Professor Thomas Craemer

Associate Professor Thomas Craemer was also interviewed by CLAS alum Maya A. Moore about reparation payments for American slavery in an article entitled “The New Reparations Math”. The interview occurred just before campus closed mid-way through the spring semester. Craemer discusses various points of reparation payments throughout global history and provides an anecdote about his friendship with a Holocaust survivor who received one of these payments.

Moore’s “In the Moment” note at the bottom of the article addresses the impact of COVID-19, telling a story that many have experienced throughout this pandemic. Loss, confusion, waiting and trying to find routine are some of the hallmarks that Moore highlights. In this ever-changing time the DPP hopes that you and yours are remaining healthy and safe. Know we are here to support you.

Passing of Ashley Hyon, A Positive And Dedicated DPP Alum

The  Department of Public Policy (DPP) is sad to report the passing of one of own. Ashley Hyon, a 2017 MASR alum passed away earlier this week. A supportive alumnus who helped us engage with prospective students across the globe, Ashley was a positive and dedicated member of our network. She embodied the DPP’s commitment to leadership and investigating important problems facing our world. We will miss her and her infectious laugh and spirit.

During this ever-changing time we hope that you and yours are remaining healthy and safe. Know we are here to support you.

– The Department of Public Policy Faculty and Staff

Beyond Thoughts and Prayers: Strategies to Eradicate Anti-Black Police Violence

Beyond Thoughts and Prayers:
Strategies to Eradicate Anti-Black Police Violence

On June 25th, the Department of Public Policy (DPP) and the University of Cincinnati will be hosting a webinar from 5pm - 7pm entitled “Beyond Thoughts and Prayers: Strategies to Eradicate Anti-Black Police Violence"

Modern anti-Black police violence predates the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. This present-day abuse continues a long tradition of Black population control dating back to the days of slavery. Violence against Black people is often accompanied by anti-Black bias in the criminal legal system (including the courts, probation, and parole) and has devastating consequences for Black communities across the nation. Our panelists will come together to think constructively about strategies to eradicate police violence against Black people in the United States. During this conversation we want to interrogate ways to bring about change in order to bring solutions to fruition.


Thomas Craemer

Thomas Craemer, an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy, obtained a political science doctorate from the University of Tuebingen, Germany (2001), and Ph.D. from Stony Brook University, New York, (2005). His research focuses on implicit racial attitudes and race-related policies like slavery reparations.


Brandi Blessett

Brandi Blessett is an Associate Professor and Director of the Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Cincinnati. Much of her recent work acknowledges the disproportionate effects the criminal legal system has on people and communities of color. Her research focuses on administrative responsibility, disenfranchisement, and social equity.

Jack Mewhirter

Jack Mewhirter is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati. He studies the emergence of society and the policy tools available to correct them. His work examines the organizations charged with the implementation of policies, the factors that impact organizational effectiveness, and the evaluation of implemented policies.

Rob Kenter

Rob Kenter is the Director of Law Enforcement Field Engagement at the Center for Policing Equity, a nonprofit   research center and think tank. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration from Old Dominion University and served over 30 years with the Norfolk Police Department before retiring in 2020.

Brian Williams

Brian N. Williams, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Public Policy in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. As a scholar committed to action research, he examines the interplay between race, policing, and public governance. His work is devoted to redesigning policies and practices that improve police-community relations.

Ivonne Roman

Ivonne Roman has 25 years of experience in policing, serving every rank from police officer to police chief, in the Newark Police Department. In 2017, she established the Women’s Leadership Academy (WLA) within the Newark  Police Superior Officers’ Association, to increase female representation in law enforcement.

Frank Adderley

Frank Adderley is the Chief of the West Palm Beach Police Department. Previously, he served for 10 years as the first African-American Chief of Police in the City of Fort Lauderdale. He is Past President of the Broward Chiefs Association, serves on the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Dangerous Narcotics and Drug Committee, and is a former member of the Florida Commission on the Status of Black Men and Boys.

On June 10, 2020, DPP Department Head Mohamad Alkadry shared his thoughts with students and colleagues:

Dear Colleagues and DPP Students,

We are very saddened by the events that brought anti-Black police violence to the forefront of our national dialogue. After the COVID-19 Pandemic reminded us of the importance of professional public servants to protecting our communities, the murder of George Floyd came to highlight the disparities of outcomes of administrative actions and public policies for people of color. It was beyond devastating to watch George Floyd pleading for his life for nearly 9 minutes without any compassion from other officers who watched him get killed by another officer. Nothing excuses that behavior.

We have seen too many people of color unnecessarily die at the hands of people who are supposed to protect them. The murder of George Floyd is not an isolated incident and it is not one without policy remedies. Therefore, we wanted to provide a forum for our students and colleagues to engage in how we can avoid tragedies like this in the future.

Colleagues from UConn and the University of Cincinnati, and I, are inviting you to a discussion about strategies and policy actions to prevent excessive use of force and violence by law enforcement professionals against people of color.

You will hear from academics and practitioners about strategies to prevent future incidents. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

I hope you will join us on Thursday, June 25th at 5 PM.

Sincerely yours,

Mohamad G. Alkadry

To RSVP to this FREE webinar, please complete this registration form. The webinar link will be sent to you upon registration.

Rising Up and Celebrating the DPP Class of 2020

Rising Up and Celebrating the DPP Class of 2020

On the evening of Friday, May 22nd the Department of Public Policy (DPP) celebrated it’s 2020 graduates with a global online contingency to celebrate the 68 graduates. Our graduates included students from the Master of Arts in Survey Research (MASR), MPA Fellows, Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs.

The evening included remarks by the DPP’s Department Head Mohamad Alkadry, UConn President Thomas Katsouleas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Dean Juli Wade, and DPP alums Melissa McCaw, Damara Cockfield and Alyssa Goduti. Associate Professor Kerri Raissian served as the mistress of ceremonies.

The program began with opening remarks by Professor Alkadry, who talked about public service values and how our network has responded to crisis. From students to alums, our members have worked alongside community partners to provide food, mental health services and personal protective equipment among other supports to neighborhoods across the country. It was noted that many entered our department in the hopes of “making a decent living while making a difference”, and already the Class of 2020 has done so much to serve.

President Katsouleas
Thomas Katsouleas, UConn President

President Katsouleas spoke next and added that in addition to “making a decent living while making a difference” our grads would also be “make living more decent”. The President highlighted the recent rankings of our Department as the DPP stands among the Top 40 for Public Affairs programs, and among the Top 10 in the specialty of Public Finance and Budgeting.  This year DPP interns provided over 36,000 hours of labor to state agencies, municipalities and nonprofits, noted the President. Throughout the evening this sentiment of serving the State was highlighted by numerous speakers. One anecdote that made many smile was when the President spoke about his transition to the University and an interaction with the Executive Director of Education Research at Gallup. This director was the DPP’s very own Stephanie Marken, who happily informed the President of her affiliation with the University as a MASR alumnus. At the of end of his remarks, President Katsouleas encouraged the graduates to “Go forth and make good policy. And go forth and make good huskies forever”.

Dean Wade was next to the podium and spoke about how our graduates were a good example of CLAS values within higher education but also in a global context. She encouraged the graduates to continue thinking broadly and creatively across disciplines. The students were noted for their ability to see problems from a wide range of angles, and they were urged to continue doing so. At the conclusion of her remarks, the Dean congratulated the graduates on their achievement.

Melissa McCaw
Melissa McCaw, Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management

Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management for the Lamont Administration and DPP alum Melissa McCaw, MPA 2014 spoke next. Recently, McCaw was named a “Woman of Distinction in Connecticut” by the Hartford Courant and was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s “Power 50”. McCaw began her remarks by saluting the graduates and commending them on their hard work in joining the alumni ranks of the DPP. She spoke of how the DPP’s largest graduating class was “finishing large and strong”. On behalf of Governor Ned Lamont and Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, McCaw shared a “…sincere and abundant gratitude for [the graduates] commitment to public service”. It was important to McCaw that she highlight the achievements of DPP faculty and their impact on the graduates and alumni like herself. She noted how the graduates have already helped in pushing the state forward through their service and how they are “…defined by resiliency and an uncanny capacity to recover quickly.” Her remarks concluded with the words “Pursue your service with honor, resiliency and passion”.

The DPP’s student speaker for 2020 was MPA Fellow Padraig Barry. Barry compared the students to gems who entered the program with some “…starting off a little rough, some forming, but all requiring a little polish”.  With some research, Barry investigated the regalia for the day. Though many students were unable to obtain their cap and gown before the pandemic, Barry made sure to tell the students they would “…fly like the mighty peacock should”, a statement highlighting the peacock blue regalia of the graduates. He provided a brief history of the mortarboard and noted how it symbolized the holding of cement that would be utilized for building a strong foundation, like that of a DPP education in the pursuit of public service.  At the conclusion of his remarks, Barry quoted his fellow countryman Oscar Wilde and stated, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

The naming of the DPP’s 2020 award recipients began with the presentation of the DPP’s Distinguished Alumni Award to Damara Cockfield, MPA 2005. Cockfield has spent the last 15 years of her career at Booz, Allen, Hamilton as a military health subject matter expert and founded on process improvements in medical care for wounded, ill, or injured service members. She began remarks by addressing the cultural significance of graduating during a time of uncertainty, she completed her bachelor’s months after 9/11. These moments, she noted were opportunities to “investigate important problems” and live the DPP mission to provide “…high quality policy analysis, program evaluations, and survey research for investigating important public problems facing Connecticut and the nation”. Throughout the pandemic, Cockfield has been able to expand public health resources for the communities she serves. She spoke to how “every day a lesson is learned that can be taken forward into the next day”. A reminder we all need to keep moving forward and improving the services we provide.  After Cockfield spoke, the remaining award recipients were named. For a full list of awardees and Pi Pi Alpha Inductees please see our Annual Awards news story.

Kerri Raissian
Kerri Raissian, Associate Professor

Once the awards were completed and the GAPPS-ICMA Officers were highlighted for their service, Professor Raissian began reading the names of the graduates. At the conclusion of the list, the mikes were un-muted, and the graduates and their families roared with applause in celebration of their accomplishments. Shortly after, Alyssa Goduti, MPA 2002 who serves as the President of the DPP Alumni Council welcomed the DPP’s newest alums to a network that now stands at over 1,200 alums. Currently Goduti is the President & CEO of Ädelbrook as well as an adjunct faculty member of the DPP. Goduti shared her deep enthusiasm for making a difference, and how this common thread is shared among all DPP alums. She talked about how this enthusiasm is a secret to success and she hopes that the graduates “…do something [they] love and continue to find enthusiasm for what [they] love”. Similar to what we tell our students at orientation, Goduti emphasized how the graduates have a strong academic foundation, enthusiasm, and network of support that can help them “realize their dreams to make a difference”. A difference the DPP has been promoting for the last 48 years.

The celebration concluded with final remarks from our Mistress of Ceremonies Professor Raissian. Throughout the celebration Professor Raissian provided anecdotes about our speakers and spoke to how their words and experiences show the impact of public service in our communities. She summarized President Obama’s commencement speech from earlier in the week and highlighted a need to “not be afraid”, to “do what is right”, and to “build community”. Three pieces of advice that our graduates have already taken to heart. Our celebration ended with the Alicia Key’s song “Underdog” in tribute to the public servants who have risen to the occasion and our students who will continue to rise in the years to come.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020, may you continue to rise up and meet every challenge that you face.

For a full list of 2020 graduates please see our earlier Celebration article to honor Commencement 2020.

Celebrating the Class of 2020

Join us in Celebrating the Class of 2020!

Congratulations to all our graduates! Over the past few years, you have put in valiant efforts in your courses, made new connections, and gained invaluable experiences in the public and nonprofit fields. We are sad not to be celebrating in-person, but wish our graduates well in their bright futures.

Our virtual celebration will be held on May 22, 2020, from 4:30 – 5:30pm. To RSVP for our virtual event, please complete the Virtual Celebration RSVP form.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 Graduates!

Master of Arts in Survey Research:
Kelly Bell • Zachary Bikus • Caitlin Divver • Jacquelyn LaCoste • Shauna Robinson


MPA Fellows:
Andrea Alexander • Padraig Barry • Dana Begin • Michael Bzdyra • Boyd Canfield Jr. • Maria Cappuccitti • Tara Downes • Carease Gadson • Melanie Goodin • Maureen Goulet • Michelle Huggins • Jessica Muirhead • Charlotte Nelson • Olivia Otto • Kara Sene • Theodore Shafer • Kendra Shakir • Judy-Ann Staple-Stewart • Dyshawn Thames


Master of Public Administration:
Kyle Abercrombie • Valeria Alfano • Adriano Cirioli III • Michael Cocchiola III • Sarah Croucher • Jillian Cundari • Rachel Dzialo • Kelly Flannery • Alexandra Garcia • Lauren Gauthier • Benjamin Hensley • Grant Hobbs • Autumn Ives • Keron Johnson • Najoua Khadrany • Rosa Kleopoulos • Katharine Lange • Megan Leavenworth • Karla Little • Rachel Mascitelli • Conor Merchant • Brendan Mitchell • Claire Morris • Hannah Nguyen • Nicholas Pigeon • Shirley Pilkey • Michael Powell • Michael Proscino • Thomas Scheinblum • Amanda Sierpinski • Samantha Staffin • Samuel Sweikert • Tiffany Tran


Master of Public Policy:
Frederick V. Augur • Steven Della-Giustina • Haley Gillman • Lauren Goulet • Peter Hopko • Catherine Lindsay • Carol Miranda • Noah O’Connor • Andrew Oravecz • Alison Riith • Nicole Simonsen • Jessica Weaver


Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Public Management:
Benjamin Christensen • Michael Mallery Jr. • Amanda Sierpinski • Jessica Weaver


Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management:
Bryan Bierman •  Todd Crevier • Lauren Gauthier • Keron Johnson • Lian Kish • Rachel Mascitelli • Somaya Mcdermott • Shi Pu • Robin Rodrigue • Dennis Rinaldi


Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management:
Adriano Cirioli • Benjamin Hensley • Rosa Kleopoulos • Noah O’Connor


Graduate Certificate in Survey Research:
Frederick V. Augur • Tara Downes • Lauren Goulet • Catherine Lindsay

Current 2020 Job Placements & Promotions
(continually updated)

  • Fredrick V. Augur, MPP – Stanford University Law School, Candidate ‘23
  • Steven Della-Giustina – UConn Law, Candidate ’23
  • Tara Downes, MPA Fellow – Assistant State Comptroller, State Of Connecticut Office of the State Comptroller Kevin Lembo
  • Kelly Flannery, MPA – VAWPP Special Assistant, University of Connecticut
  • Benjamin Hensley, MPA – Strategic Development and Initiative Specialist, Capital Workforce Partners
  • Peter Hopko, MPP – Leadership Associate, State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management
  • Carol Miranda, MPP – Data Analyst II, Beacon Health Solutions
  • Andrew Oravecz, MPP – Coordinator for Youth Development, Education, and Literacy, University of Connecticut
  • Shauna Robinson, MASR – Health Associate, Mathematica

Have news to share? Let us know at!

A Letter From Department Head Mohamad Alkadry

A Message from the Department Head

DPP Professor and Department Head Mohamad Alkadry stands in front of the UConn Hartford Times Building.
Mohamad Alkadry, professor and head of the Department of Public Policy, at the UConn Hartford campus on September 5, 2017. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Dear Students, Alumni, and Friends,

Much has happened in our world since our January newsletter. Our economy is struggling and the organizations that typically employ our students and interns are witnessing unprecedented fiscal and/or service demand challenges. Our students are learning online for the rest of the Spring semester as well as all Summer Session courses. Our community was not able to celebrate our alumni, students, staff and faculty at the DPP Annual Alumni Awards and PPA Induction Ceremony. And, we were not able to hold our ceremony to honor our graduating students. However, there is much to celebrate even during these times.

We are living through a pandemic lock-down that tests the core of public service and articulates like no other time the relevance of the public sector in responding to crises like this one. Ironically, proponents of a smaller public sector suddenly see the relevance of government in aiding the economy and society out of a messy crisis. DPP alumni are at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 crisis in Connecticut. They are working hard to ensure that public services are not disrupted because of a drastic drop in state and local government revenues. They are working hard to ensure that food banks’ stock and distribution networks are able to meet the drastic increase in demand for services. They are working on procuring masks and ventilators that will save lives. They are leading mental health service organizations that are providing even more services in a challenging social distancing environment.

We have always been proud of the contributions of our alumni to the welfare of people, but we have never been prouder than today. On behalf of our faculty and staff, I want to express our gratitude to our alumni who are at the forefront of the public and nonprofit sectors’ response to this crisis.

Congratulations to our MPA, MPP and MASR Class of ’20. Congratulations to the alumni, students, staff and faculty recipients of awards. Congratulations to the students who were inducted in our honor society. Many thanks to students, staff, faculty and alumni for all they have done to survive and to help others during this crisis.

Sincerely yours,

Mohamad G. Alkadry, Ph.D.
Professor & Head

Spring 2020 Alumni Job Updates

Spring 2020 Alumni Job Updates

We take great pride in our Alumni and their accomplishments. This spring, we have some exciting news about several of our alumni:

Lara Beecher accepted a International Trade Analyst position with a federal contractor at the Department of Commerce, ITA. Lara graduated with her MPA in 2016 with a certificate in Leadership and Public Management.

Liana Cunningham accepted a Senior Director of Education & Training position at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. Liana received her MPA from in 2015.

Kyle Livernoche was named the Acting Assistant Chief of Planning at Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Kyle graduated with an MPA in 2018.

Doug Shipman accepted a new position as the Executive Director of the Windsor Historical Society. Doug was previously the Senior Nonprofit Support Program Officer for The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Doug received his MPA in 2016.

Tyler Terbrusch was named a Senior Analyst at McLagan. Tyler completed his MPP in 2019 along with a Master of Science in Quantitative Economics.

Diane Valesky Diaz is the new Vice President of Municipal Credit Research position with DWS Group. Diane graduated with her MPA in 2014.

Have an alumni update to share? Email the to be featured on our social media and in our next newsletter!


A One Credit COVID Course and Public Policy

A One Credit COVID Course and Public Policy

Specializing in Disaster Response, there is arguably no better person to have helping COVID-19 response than our own Professor Amy K. Donahue. Last month Professor Donahue assisted in the development and distribution of the University’s one-credit COVID-19 course.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts on Health, Business and Society” finished May 1st and drew upon faculty from Allied Health, Public Health, UConn Health, Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, Pharmacy, Nursing, Psychology, Management, Finance and Public Policy. 

The course provided a multi-disciplinary guided approach through the science of the virus, the social impacts, and business, financial and legal implications.

Over 5,000 students attended the course making it the most popular in University history. The course was highlighted by the Hartford Business Journal (HBJ) and UConn Today.

This fall the course may expand to a 3-credit opportunity as information continues to evolve and update.

Addressing Child Neglect and Policy-making with UConn DPP and SSW

Addressing Child Neglect and Policy-making with UConn DPP and SSW

April was Child Abuse Awareness month, and Department of Public Policy (DPP) Associate Professor Kerri Raissian and School of Social Work (SSW) Assistant Professor Megan Feely with their collaborators published both a brief and alert with UConn’s Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH) on preventing child neglect.

Their briefing argued that researchers and policymakers should address “Preventing Child Neglect” by “looking at the problem through a macro lens”. This brief was also co-authored by Research Specialist Helene M. Marcy of Educational Psychology and InCHIP (Affiliate) and undergraduate researcher Daniel Schwartzman. 

In order to conduct macro-level research the brief recommends:

  • A standard definition of child abuse and neglect.
  • To clearly delineate the causes of neglect.
  • Access to data on neglect and economic factors.
  • To collaborate across disciplines.

Later in the month Dr. Raissian and Dr. Feely published an alert with Assistant Professor Lindsey Bullinger from Georgia Tech and Assistant Professor Will Schneider from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their alert was issued by The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and addressed “Practical Steps to Prevent Child Neglect in the COVID-19 Pandemic“.

The alert addresses the risk posed by “…drastic changes to families’ financial well-being, community resources, and overall concern for society..” in regards to child well-being. The impact of child-serving agencies and their decision makers were noted for being able to “…help reduce the risk of child neglect.”

UConn Today featured the alert through an article entitled “As Families Struggle During Pandemic, Children At High Risk for Neglect”.