Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Heller Alumni at Work

Heller alumni are dedicated to social justice around the world and across the United States, working to increase equity, inclusion and diversity in areas as disparate as early childhood education and gender justice in the Middle East. Here are some of their stories. 

Isaac Cudjoe, MA COEX '18

Heller Alumni Association Board President; co-CEO Peace First

"I remembered my teachings at Heller — about how important it is to be immersed in your community, about how important it is to listen to stakeholders' opinions, about how important it is to build things with your neighbors. I put the skills I learned into practice on a very local level."

Cudjoe credits the COEX program in particular for opening his eyes to the perspectives of people who grew up in conflict regions. "It wakes you up. You learn not to take your life for granted," he says. "You realize that there are people who are more experienced, better pooised, and smarter who should be leading decision-making about how we resolve conflict. When I left Heller, I realized it's such a unique place."

Learn more about Isaac's work.

Maryse Pearce, MBA/MPP'18

Maryse Pearce, MBA/MPP'18

Program Manager, Stonewall Community Foundation

"As a queer person living and working in New York, I’m in many ways a beneficiary of the work" of the foundation, Pearce says, whether she’s attending a talk about LGBTQ history at the Brooklyn Museum or enjoying a play written by a queer immigrant.

"I was drawn in by Heller’s social justice focus. I didn’t want to have to do a more traditional graduate program and translate that to the work I wanted to do. I wanted to be around people who cared about the same things I cared about."

Learn more about Maryse's work.

Kelcey Duggan, MPP'18

Kelcey Duggan, MPP'18

Research and Policy Associate, Community Resource Hub for Safety and Accountability

"I wanted to help work toward more change in the criminal justice system, rather than perpetuate it. That’s why I came to Heller for my MPP, where I focused on the intersection of gender and race and the criminal justice system." 

The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn the nation’s attention to police brutality and the tragic deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement across the country. As policymakers at every level of government seek new models for community safety, Duggan is working to provide them with the resources they need.

Learn more about Kelcey's work.

Freada Kapor Klein, PhD'84

Freada Kapor Klein, PhD'84

Partner, Kapor Capital; Co-founder, Project Include

“Diversity efforts in corporate America have failed miserably, despite billions of dollars and countless hours spent on diversity initiatives.”

She founded Klein Associates, a consulting firm specializing in reducing bias, harassment and discrimination in work environments. She then became a partner at Kapor Capital, a venture-capital firm that invests in startups that generate positive social impact. She also founded the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI) in Oakland, a nonprofit organization focused on closing the gap of access and opportunity for people of color in STEM. In May 2016, she co-founded Project Include, a nonprofit organization whose tagline is “to give everyone a fair chance to succeed in tech.”

Read more about Freada's work. 

Tarig Mohamed

Tarig Mohamed, MA COEX'16

Regional Program Manager for Africa and the Middle East, KARAMA

“I focus on gender justice because I truly believe that women and men are born equal. Society divides the roles and gives privileges to men over women... We promote women's empowerment, ending violence against women, and supporting peace and security processes through women’s organizations and activists in these countries. We also support advocacy and lobbying in high-level regional and international events to reflect women’s priorities.”

Read more about Tarig's work. 

Anne Douglass, PhD'09

Anne Douglass, PhD'09

Associate Professor and Executive Director, the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at the University of Massachusetts Boston

“There is no policy investment that offers a bigger return on investment than high-quality early care and education. Children who would otherwise be excluded from this opportunity are able perform alongside their more advantaged peers. The more I saw this firsthand, the more I wanted to address those inequities at a broader scale.”

Read more about Anne's work. 

James Miller, MBA/MPP’11

James Miller, MBA/MPP'11

Executive Director, LGBT Center of Raleigh

“Heller stepped up with a way I could conduct my own education and research that was relevant to the queer rights movement and HIV policy. Leveraging the knowledge of how and why policy is created and maintained gives you a unique perspective for changing it in the future.”

Read more about James' work. 

Megan Casey

Megan Casey, MA COEX'18

Communications and Operations Manager, Mediators Beyond Borders International

She’s dedicated her career to creating dialogues, especially in communities or countries where there are limits on conversation about taboo or difficult topics. As an interpreter for the U.S. Army in her home country of Iraq, “I got to see how language and communication can make a difference,” she says. She's worked with Places of Pilgrimage, which helps women from the Middle East and North Africa discuss topics like rape, leaving religion and women’s independence through intensive writing and theater workshops. Now, she's developing monologues and scenes that came out of the workshop that reflect her own experiences as a queer, Iraqi woman. 

Read more about Megan's work. 

Alexandra Bastien, MPP'12

Alexandra Bastien, MPP'12

Program Associate, PolicyLink

“I didn’t know I was going to become super passionate about asset building when I came to grad school. Literally in my first class at Heller, which was with Janet Boguslaw, I learned this language around asset building, the racial wealth gap and the hidden welfare state. It was an amazing experience.”

Read more about Alexandra's work. 

Kaytie Dowcett ‘99, MPP’15

Kaytie Dowcett '99, MPP'15

Executive Director, Waltham Partnership for Youth

“In this country, if you come to elementary school with a language other than English as your dominant language, it’s taught out of you. They teach you English at the expense of your first language. Then you get to middle school and you’re expected to learn a world language, which is rather ironic. There’s some recognition that having a second language is a skill, an asset, but we haven’t been doing it right. We say we value a multilingual community because being bilingual gives you access to more jobs, greater economic opportunity and it makes us better neighbors to one another. So why wait until middle school to teach a second language? If we can start that process earlier, why not? We’re saying that our diversity is an asset, so let’s really mean it, let’s operationalize it, let’s bring people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds together and be deliberate about learning from each other.”

Read more about Kaytie's work.