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 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 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 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 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 2020
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’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.
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 Morotn Tenzer and the faculty and staff of the Department of Public Policy for this award.
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 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 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!
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 created her own focus area in preventative and public health while pursuing her MPA. She also won best capstone project in her graduating year. After graduation she conducted clinical PTSD research trials at military treatment facilities and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers nationwide. Damara worked at Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corporation as a military health subject matter expert. While there she focused on process improvements in medical care for wounded, ill or injured service members. Currently, Damara is the Chief of Clinical Quality Improvement at the National Capital Region Market.
DPP Outstanding Service Award
This award is given to a member of the DPP community for their service to the department.
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