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”.


Feeding Connecticut with Foodshare and Jason Jakubowski

Feeding Connecticut with Jason Jakubowski

Jason Jakubowski
Jason Jakubowski, CEO and President of Foodshare

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought intense hardships for many families around the country. In Hartford and Tolland counties, Foodshare works to provide millions of meals each year. A member of Feeding America, Foodshare has worked to provide up to date information regarding access to food assistance in the area.

Jason Jakubowski is the President and CEO, and we are proud to say a 2001 MPA alum! Jakubowski and the Foodshare team consist of staff and volunteers who have been working to distribute food and protective equipment to families across Connecticut.

Foodshare’s Partner Programs Coordinator Yahaira Escribano, is also MPA alum. Escribano has been working to ensure that all programs meet food safety standards while building and strengthening relationships. 

With a large portion of their volunteer force in the at-risk population, they have had to rely on the generosity of the community to fund overtime for staff and purchase additional food packages for the community. Foodshare has most recently opened up a new donation center at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

To Jason, Yahaira and all the staff and volunteers at Foodshare, thank you for all of the work you have been doing to provide food assistance to residents in the Greater Hartford area!

For more information about Foodshare and Feeding America programs in your local area please visit Feeding America’s  Find Your Local Food Bank page to see ways to volunteer or find food.

Melissa McCaw Named to Hartford’s 2020 Power 50

Melissa McCaw Named to Hartford’s 2020 Power 50

Photo of Melissa McCaw
State Secretary of OPM, Melissa McCaw

Last week, UConn DPP Alumna Melissa McCaw was named one of Hartford Business Journal’s 2020 Power 50. Coming in at #24, McCaw is noted for her major role regarding policy and fiscal decisions that impact communities across the State. 

Currently, McCaw serves as the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management for Connecticut. She brings 18 years of finance and operations experience in government and education to OPM, graduating with her Masters of Public Administration in 2014. 

Lately, the Office of Policy and Management has been integral in Connecticut’s COVID-19 response – working around the clock to develop economic projections and deliver needed aid to communities around Connecticut.

Congratulations Melissa!


Take An Online Summer Course with UConn’s Department of Public Policy

Take An Online Summer Course with UConn’s Department of Public Policy

Whether you are fulfilling an undergraduate requirement or earning electives towards a graduate degree, UConn’s Department of Public Policy is offering a variety of online courses this summer! At the undergraduate level, the DPP is offering a Content Area 2, a W, and a course on research methods. At the graduate level the DPP is offering coursework in Nonprofit Management and Survey Research. Please see our summer offerings below.


  • Nonprofit Management
    • PP 5324: Grant Writing & Fund Development – SS1 (June 1 – July 2): This course provides the student with the essential knowledge of the tools and practices for developing a funding portfolio that supports the work of a nonprofit organization. While the course looks at diverse funding practice it provides specific guidance on grant and proposal writing and government contracts.


  • Survey Research
    • PP 5388: Introduction to Multipopulation Survey Research Methods – SS1 (June 1 – July 2): This course provides an introduction to methods for designing multilingual and multicultural survey research projects. It will also introduce some of the key considerations for designing multinational surveys. Students will be introduced to unique methodological considerations for multilingual/multicultural studies throughout the project life cycle, including: sampling, questionnaire design, fielding, data interpretation and analysis.
    • PP 5332: Advanced Quantitative Methods – SS2 (July 13 – August 21): This course covers a number of basic and advanced statistical methods for public policy and survey research. Students will review some of the basic concepts of statistical analysis, study methods for hypothesis testing appropriate to frequency counts and percentage, discuss methods to analyze data in interval and ratio scale format, and study quantitative methods for conducting and analyzing multiple regression. Students will also explore minimizing error through scale construction and the use of exploratory factor analysis. The end of the course will provide a very brief introduction to the basic ideas underlying confirmatory factor analysis.


  • Undergraduate Coursework
    • PP 1001 Introduction to Public Policy – May Term (May 11 – May 29): Public policy history and institutions, government administration and systems, policy analysis, contemporary policy issues, polling and influences on policy making. (Content Area 2)
    • PP 3020W Cases in Public Policy – SS1 (June 1 – July 2): Exploration of policy analysis using case studies on various contemporary policy topics.
    • PP 2100 Survey Research Methods – AS2 (July 13 – August 21): Theory and practice of surveys, including overall project design, questionnaire development, sampling, methods of data collection and data analysis.


Interested in taking a summer course or enrolling in a program? Contact Outreach Coordinator Lian Kish at to learn more.

DPP 2020 Teaching Recognition Awards

DPP 2020 Teaching Recognition Awards

Faculty Teaching Recognition Award: The first Distinguished Faculty Award, voted on by students, goes to a core faculty member who:  “has intriguing research, accessibility to students, and engaging teaching style.”  This year’s award goes to Bill Simonsen. Bill’s research focuses on public finance, financial management, capital finance, citizen participation techniques, and public policy. He teaches “PP 5340: Introduction to Public Policy and Management”, “PP 5370: Applied Research Design”, “PP 5373: Budgeting in Public Service Organizations”, and “PP 5376: Applied Quantitative Methods”. 

Adjunct Faculty Teaching Recognition Award: The second Distinguished Faculty Award, also voted on by students, goes to an adjunct faculty member who:  “has accessibility to students and engaging teaching style.”  We have two winners this year!

Penny Davis

Penny Davis

Penny teaches “PP 5365: Human Resource Management”, and comes to the DPP with 2o years of public sector experience across all dimensions of Human Resources. She has a track record of partnering with business leaders to develop solutions from design to implementation, and has practiced working within highly unionized environments. Currently, Penny is the Chief Human Resources Officer for the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS).

George O’Brien

George O'BrienGeorge teaches “PP 5325: Labor-Management Relations, Negotiations, and Contract Management”, and has practiced labor and employment law for more than forty years. Currently George works at Littler Mendelson, and is a longtime member of the New Haven Inn of Court and the Executive Committee of the Labor and Employment Section of the Connecticut Bar Association. He has also served on the boards of Connecticut nonprofit organizations involved with the arts, education, legal services and charitable activities. Fun fact about George, he met his wife in the Hartford Times Building where he now teaches!

2020 DPP Annual Awards & Pi Pi Alpha Induction

Special Edition Newsletter:

2020 DPP Annual Awards & Pi Pi Alpha Induction

Greetings from the DPP and welcome to a Special Edition Newsletter! Due to COVID-19, we are taking our Annual Awards and Pi Pi Alpha Induction online.

Each year, the DPP network comes together with our students and their families to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our students, alumni, and faculty.

We are delighted to introduce you to this year’s award winners and Pi Pi Alpha Honors Society inductees.

MPA Academic Excellence

Awarded to the students earning the highest cumulative GPA in the MPA program.

Jillian Cundari, MPA 2020

Jill is graduating with her MPA and MSW this Spring. Currently, she is interning at the Roots Center for Advanced Recovery in Manchester, CT. Jill also works as an Outreach Assistant with the DPP. She completed her Internship and Professional Practice (IPP) last year with Ädelbrook Behavioral and Developmental Services in Cromwell. 


Benjamin Hensley, MPA 2020

Ben is completing his IPP at Capital Workforce Partners as a workforce development intern. He works specifically on strategic development and as a data specialist. Currently, Ben is also a Graduate Assistant with UConn’s Sustainable Global Cities Initiative (SGCI).



MPA Fellows Academic Excellence

Awarded to the students earning the highest cumulative GPA in the MPA Fellows program. This year we have three recipients!

Andrea Alexander, MPA 2020

Andrea Alexander, MPA Fellows 2020

Andrea started her professional career at Yale University. For the past 19 years, Andrea has worked in human services contracting for the State of Connecticut. Andrea currently serves in a centralized contracting unit housed at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.  After completing the UConn Leadership and Public Management certificate program in 2017, she decided to move fully into policy and management. She admires the flexibility of the MPA Fellows Program, which allows her to take classes at a pace that integrates what she is learning into her career.


Maria Cappuccitti, MPA 2020

Maria Cappuccitti, MPA Fellows 2020

Maria previously served with the Department of Social Services’ Programmatic Division.  She currently serves at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Central Contracts Unit. Maria credits her opportunities within the State of Connecticut to the Finance undergraduate degree she earned from UConn. She sees the MPA Fellows Program as helping her become a well-rounded effective leader.



Jessica Muirhead, MPA 2020

Jessica Muirhead, MPA Fellows 2020

Jessica is currently the Senior Program Manager at the Capitol Region Council of Governments. For ten years she worked in higher education, most recently in UConn’s History Department, and previously in Brown University’s Department of Geological Sciences. In 2015, she was awarded the inaugural UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Staff Excellence Award. Prior to the MPA program, Jessica obtained her B.A. in Psychology from UConn.


MPP Academic Excellence

Awarded to the student earning the highest cumulative GPA in the MPP program.

Frederick V. Augur, MPP 2020

Fredrick is completing his IPP internship at the CT Sentencing Commission as a Policy & Research Intern. Van conducts policy research where he drafts reforms on mental healthcare in prisons, the sex offender registry, and racial and socioeconomic disparities. He recently decided to pursue further education at Harvard Law School.


MASR Academic Excellence

Awarded to the student earning the highest cumulative GPA in the MASR program.

Shauna Robinson, MASR 2020

Shauna graduates with her Master of Arts in Survey Research this spring. She recently accepted a new position as a Health Associate for Mathematica. Previously Shauna worked as a research analyst for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).



David B. Walker Award

This endowment honors David B. Walker, former director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and Director of UConn’s MPA program, who passed away in 2013. Dave dedicated his career to mentoring and supporting future leaders to influence government and politics to improve our country. This award is given annually to recognize a student in the program who exemplifies tireless dedication to public service.

Esam Boraey, MPP 2021

Esam Boraey, MPP 2021

Esam came to Connecticut after an extensive career in the nonprofit sector. He previously worked across the Middle East, Egypt, and the USA to build democracy and empower youth through grassroots organizing techniques. Currently he serves on the board of several local nonprofits. He was honored for his defense of human rights with several awards including Personality of the Year for fighting for human rights in the Middle East by the National Center for Human Rights. Esam is committed to serving the public in a volunteer capacity.

Albert G. Ilg Fellowship in Local Government

Albert G. Ilg Fellowship in Local Government was established in 1998 in honor of Al’s 32 years of distinguished service as Town Manager of Windsor, CT.  Al’s continued student mentoring and gifts to this endowment are greatly appreciated! This award is given to students who demonstrate local government and public sector interest and this year there are two recipients!

Claire Morris, MPA 2020Claire Morris

Claire graduated with a B.A. in English and a minor in Communication from UConn in 2014. Previously Clair worked in accounting at a mechanical services company in Vernon. She is currently interning with the Town of Southbury in the Fiscal Office.  She hopes to continue her career in local government after graduation.


Kevin Fitzgerald, MPA 2021

Kevin Fitzgerald, MPA 2021

Kevin’s research and public service focuses on urban planning, economic development, and public finance. He currently organizes business development and creative place making initiatives in the Town of Berlin. Kevin is also assisting with the creation of the City of Hartford’s 2035 Plan of Conservation & Development. A life-long Connecticut resident, Kevin graduated with his B.A. in Political Science and Urban & Community Studies in 2018. He plans to further study and contribute to equitable economic development and sustainable transportation initiatives in the hopes of improving the quality of life in Connecticut


The Morton J. Tenzer Fellowship Fund

The Morton J. Tenzer Fellowship Fund Award was established in 1993 upon Mort’s retirement from UConn.  Mort’s relentless advocacy for public administration education is one of the reasons our department exists! This fellowship is given to incoming MPA students who have demonstrated the highest levels of undergraduate academic achievement. 

Christopher Lamperelli

Chris is honored to be a recipient of the Morton J. Tenzer Fellowship Fund Award. After graduating from Quinnipiac University in 2017, Chris began work at Truth in Advertising, a consumer education nonprofit located in Madison, CT. While working as a project manager, Chris learned the just how much nonprofit organizations can make a difference. After two and a half years he decided to go back to school to receive his MPA from UConn. He would like to thank Morton Tenzer and the faculty and staff of the Department of Public Policy for this award.


DPP Distinguished Alumni Award

This award is given to an alumnus who exhibits strong leadership and exceptional communication skills while maintaining a high ethical standard.

Damara Cockfield, MPA 2005

Damara Cockfield

While pursuing her MPA, Damara created her own focus area in preventative and public health. She also won best Capstone project in her graduating year. After graduation, she started her career conducting clinical research trials (PTSD + TBI) at military treatment facilities and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers nationwide. For the last 11+ years, Damara has worked at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. as a military health subject matter expert, focusing on performance/process improvement and wounded, ill and/or injured Service member care. Currently, she is the Chief of Clinical Quality Improvement at the National Capital Region Market (Defense Health Agency).

DPP Outstanding Service Award

This award is given to a member of the DPP community for their service to the department.

David Garvey

David Garvey

For over twenty years, Dave been a practitioner, editor, research, teacher, and education designer in the nonprofit field. Dave directs the Nonprofit Leadership Program, Encore!Connecticut, and the DPP’s Internship programs. The Nonprofit Certificate has helped to strengthen the education, communication, and research infrastructure of the Connecticut and American nonprofit sector. Encore!Connecticut, is an award-winning experience and skills transition program for individuals transitioning from the private to nonprofit sector. This year the IPP program provided 36,000 ours of internship work for public and nonprofit organizations across Connecticut. 

Pi Pi Alpha Honors Society

Pi Pi Alpha is the Honors Society for graduate professional students in public administration and public policy. It is open to all students who maintain a 3.70 GPA or higher after completing at least half of their coursework. Below are this year’s inductees.

Adriano Cirioli • Alexandra Garcia • Andrew Oravecz • Autumn Ives • Ben Hensley

Boyd Canfield • Bridget Inzirillo • Carol Miranda • Charlotte Nelson • Claire Morris

Dana Begin • Dyshawn Thames • Fredrick V. Augur • Haley Gillman • Hannah Nguyen

Jessica D. Weaver • Jessica Muirhead • Jillian Cundari • Judy-Ann Staple-Stewart

Kara Sene • Katherine Lange • Kelly Flannery • Kendra Shakir • Kyle Abercrombie

Kyle Cipriano • Lauren Goulet • Maureen Goulet • Megan Levenworth • Melanie Goodin

Michael Bzdyra • Michael Cocchiola • Michelle Huggins • Nicholas E. Pigeon

Nicole Simonsen • Noah O’Connor • Olivia Otto • Padraig Barry • Peter Hopko

Samantha Staffin • Sarah Croucher • Shirley Pilkey • Steven Della-Giustina

Tara Downes • Tiffany Tran • Timothy Bergin

DPP Ranked 9th in Public Finance & Budgeting and 38th in Public Affairs

DPP Ranked 9th in Public Finance & Budgeting and 38th in Public Affairs

UConn’s Department of Public Policy (DPP) is proud to announce that the U.S. News & World Report continued to rank the Department’s public finance and budgeting offerings 9th in the nation. The DPP’s public affairs program was also ranked 38th. This public affairs ranking represents a jump of nine spots up from last year. A total of 284 public affairs programs made the 2021 rankings.

Department Head and Professor Mohamad Alkadry announced this achievement to the DPP faculty, students, staff and alumni:

Congratulations to all of us. This achievement is a testament to the scholarly work of my colleagues and the leadership and management of our public affairs programs in the Department of Public Policy.

Hartford Has It, and DPP’s downtown Hartford home have allowed DPP to enhance its initiatives and partnerships throughout Connecticut. This year our MPA and MPP students will complete 36,000 hours of  internship work for public and nonprofit organizations in CT. In 2020-21, it is estimated that DPP students will complete 41,100 hours of internship service. The DPP plans to place over 75 students in paid internships across Connecticut during this upcoming academic year.

Last year, DPP also delivered a total of 1,200 hours of continuing education hours for public and nonprofit officials through the Public Service Executive Leadership Collaborative (PSELC). The Collaborative will be entering its third year this fall.

Earlier this month the DPP relaunched Encore!Connecticut, a retraining program designed to help corporate professionals transition to managerial careers in Connecticut’s nonprofit sector. The DPP delivers nearly 1,600 hours of retraining as part of this program.

Interested in joining the DPP this fall? Admissions for the 2020-2021 academic year are still in progress. Our preferred deadline for fall 2020 is May 15th. For more information please see our online inquiry form. The DPP admissions staff would be happy to assist you.

None of these initiatives would be possible without our network. MPA & MPP Program Director and Professor Eric Brunner noted, Our recent rankings are a testament of hard work and quality of our faculty, staff, alumni, and students. We look forward to our next year ahead and wish everyone health and happiness!

To keep up to date with our department please visit us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Have news, a job posting, or an event to share? Email us at! We are always happy to support and spread the positivity of our network!

The University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy (DPP) is committed to high quality research, teaching and service in the areas of policy analysis, public management, public financial management, nonprofit management and survey research.

The DPP offers top-ranked and nationally recognized masters degrees in:

  • Public Administration (MPA): focusing on management and leadership with opportunities to pursue an executive track
  • Public Policy (MPP): focusing on policy analysis and program evaluation
  • Survey Research (MASR): focusing on qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis

Students are also able to tailor their degree through focus areas and graduate certificates in:

  • Nonprofit Management (NPM)
  • Leadership and Public Management (LPM)
  • Public Financial Management (PFM)
  • Survey Research (SRC)

The DPP network of faculty, staff, students, community partners and over 1,200 alumni continue to serve their communities as leaders in the State of Connecticut and across the globe.

What’s Ahead with UConn DPP: March 10 – March 27

What’s Ahead with UConn DPP: March 9 – March 27

    Here’s the next two weeks with DPP:

    • Monday, March 9
      • College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources Career Night (3:30pm – 7pm, Student Union Ballroom)
    • Tuesday, March 10
      • Professional Development: Microaggressions 
      • UConn Hartford Fast-Track (FT), MPA, & MPP Info Session  (12:30pm – 1:30pm in HTB, Room 209)
      • Information Table (11am – 12pm in Hartford Campus Atrium)
    • Wednesday, March 11
      • 55 Farmington Lunch and Learn Information Session (12:00am – 1:00pm)
    • Monday 16-20: Spring Break! Stay healthy out there y’all and rest up for the final few weeks!
      • PSELC: Evaluation for Publicly Funded Programs (9:00am – 4:00pm in HTB, Room 208)
    • Monday & Tuesday, March 23 & 24: LOB Internship Information Sessions (10:00am – 11:00am)
    • Wednesday, March 25
      • Spring Career Fair (11am – 3pm in Gampel Pavillion)
      • UConn Storrs Fast Track & Survey Research Info Session (12:30pm – 1:30pm in Class of 1947 Room)
      • UConn Storrs Fast-Track (FT), MPA, & MPP Info Session (4:00pm – 5:00pm in Instruction 1102)
    • Friday, March 27
      • Workshop: GIS for Research, Practice, and Policy (9:00am – 4:00pm in HTB, Room 217)

    Follow us on social media to see the DPP in action!

    What’s Ahead with UConn DPP: February 24 – March 6

    What’s Ahead with UConn DPP: February 24 – March 6

      We have altered our format here at the Department of Public Policy (DPP). Instead of giving you a weekly recap of events that are already showcased on our socials, we have decided to present a bi-weekly “What’s Ahead with UConn DPP” to feature what is to come with the Department.

      Here’s the next two weeks with DPP:

      • Monday, February 24: Lunch and Learn at 450 Columbus (12pm – 1pm)
      • Tuesday. February 25: Online Fast-Track (FT) & Survey Research Info Session (12:00pm – 12:30pm)
      • Wednesday, February 26
        • FT & Survey Research Info Table (11:00am – 1:00pm in Zachs Atrium)
        • FT & Survey Research Info Session (12:30pm – 1:30pm in HTB 209)
      • Friday, February 28
        • Next Generation Workforce Forum (9:00am – 11:00am at the Legislative Office Building)
        • Non-Profit & Service Career Fair (11:00am – 1:00pm on the 3rd floor of the Student Union)
      • Monday, March 2: GAPPS-ICMA Elections (3:00pm – 4:00pm in HTB 406)
      • Wednesday, March 4
        • MPA Fellows Info Session (12:00pm – 1:00pm in HTB 406)
        • UConn Stamford Career Fair (1:30pm – 4:00pm)
        • Mock Interview Night (6:15pm – 9:00pm on the 4th floor of HTB)
      • Thursday, March 5: Online Nonprofit Management Info Session (12:00pm – 12:30pm)

      Weekly Recap: Political Science Info Session

      Weekly Recap: Political Science Info Session

      Last Week:

      • IPP candidates attended Resume Review sessions with the Center for Career Development last week in preparation for their internship applications. The next step is Mock Interview night on March 4th.
      • On Wednesday, the DPP attended a Research Workshop Lunch Series with DPP, School of Social Work, and The Rudd Center.

      This Week:

      • Monday, February 17th is the last day to send in your GAPPS-ICMA officers interest form. Open to all currents students on campus for the 2020-2021 academic year!
      • Catch us in Storrs this week on Wednesday, February 19th!
        • Information Session for Political Science Students from 12:30-1:45PM
        • MPA/MPP Information Session in OAK 438 from 12:30-1:30PM
      • Watch out for our staff and faculty on classroom visits in Storrs and Hartford campus this week, too!