Master of Public Policy (MPP)

Careers in Social Policy

Students make a huge investment in us, and in return, we make an investment in them that extends across their lifetimes. The Heller MPP alumni network is committed to social justice issues and connects current students to internships and jobs in the field.

As a Heller student, you will work closely with the Career Development Center to define your professional goals and build strategies to achieve them. Beginning with the online Career Academy the summer before orientation, MPP students regularly meet with career advisors, join professional development workshops and attend employer events throughout their time at Heller. 

Heller MPP students go on to positions in government and mission-driven organizations across the country. Typically, one-third of our alumni end up working in Washington, D.C., one-third are in Boston, with the remaining third spread throughout the U.S. In a recent survey of our 2018 graduates, 96 percent were employed or continuing their education a year after graduation.

Meet our alumni

Public sectorNonprofit sectorFor-profit sector

Public sector careers

Calvin Harris, MPP'10

Calvin Harris, MPP’10

Director of Communications, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott

“Breaking down the nuances of policies and communicating them in a coherent way is essential. I recognize how infrastructure issues lead to environmental issues that lead to public health issues that lead to a host of other matters,” he says. “I’m honored to work with a new generation of bold leadership that wants to tackle racial equity head-on, and build a system that truly works for everyone.”

Read more about Calvin’s work. 

Emilia Dunham, MBA/MPP'15 in a black suit

Emilia Dunham, MBA/MPP’15

Manager of Special Projects, MassHealth Office of Behavioral Health

From budget and contract management to meeting with sheriffs and corrections officers, Dunham’s responsibilities at MassHealth are broad and no two days are the same. Fortunately, she says, her Heller experience prepared her with the transferrable skills and resourcefulness needed to establish and grow a new program. “As an MPP/MBA dual degree student, I had to learn to be adaptable, to pick up a broad skillset that enabled me to take on this project and do whatever was needed for it.”

Read more about Emilia’s work.

Bishar Jenkins

Bishar Jenkins, MPP'20

Health Policy Fellow, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson's Office

Jenkins works on a range of portfolio items including health, gun violence, law enforcement and postal services. “I had a full circle moment when I was able to present my capstone research (concisely) into a policy one-pager for Congresswoman Rep. Frederica Wilson to commemorate World AIDS Day. I will most likely be incorporating the policy solution I selected for capstone into a bill after the new congressional session begins in January 2021. These full circle moments are definitely silver linings in this otherwise unsettling year!”

Learn more about Bishar's commitment to health equity.

Todd Swisher, MPP’16

Todd Swisher, MPP'16

Management Analyst, Office of Budget Management, City of Boston

“I remember studying American government with Professor [Michael] Doonan and learning about federalism and how it’s a distinct feature of our government to have power distributed among different levels. At the federal level, you can accomplish a lot with one swing of the bat. But that hasn’t been possible lately, given the politics. As I learned about how policy was moving on the state and local levels, I started shifting my focus.”

Learn more about Todd's work.

Tracy Choi, MPP'13

Tracy Choi, MPP'13

Housing and Community Development Supervisor, San Mateo County, California

“Every time I write a policy memo or make a presentation, I’m drawing on my Heller MPP. A lot of what I do is pump out memos, emails or papers about an issue and provide a policy recommendation to my director or our County Board of Supervisors to help them make an informed policy decision. Completing all the class writing assignments and presentation exercises really help me in my job now. I’m also able to succinctly summarize and communicate my work to other departments and stakeholder groups, given that affordable housing can be a complex issue.

With the poverty alleviation concentration, all of the courses on structural racism and the intersections of race and poverty help me have a deeper understanding and perspective as I do my job now. I can really see from a historical or racial injustice lens how to approach my work, because we serve the most vulnerable and underserved populations in the community.”

Learn more about Tracy's work. 

Greg Johnson, MPP'14

Greg Johnson, MPP'14

Town Administrator, Maynard, Massachusetts

“How do I feel good about what I do each day?” That was the question that drove Greg Johnson, MPP’14, to pursue a career in local public service.

He had just finished six years in the Marine Corps, where he’d gained management experience as an officer and was looking for a new career path. He chose the Heller MPP program and molded it to his own needs. He picked classes and a capstone project that would give him the tools and skills to succeed in local government, including an operations management MBA class and a housing and community development course at Tufts through the Boston Consortium.

Learn more about Greg's work.

Fran Hodgins, MBA/MPP'18

Fran Hodgins, MBA/MPP'18

Program Associate, Health Policy Commission

“I've always been interested in public policy and public sector work because of the potential to bring positive change to some of societies most pervasive challenges. However, before coming to Heller, I wasn't sure exactly what my focus would be. Through a combination of academic and real-world experiences during my time at Heller, I became more attuned to the role that government can play in addressing social determinants of health and other upstream factors that can improve population health and reduce inequities. The combined MPP/MBA program has given me the content knowledge and management skills to understand and analyze these issues.”

Learn more about Fran's work.

Kristen Whited Beals, MBA/MPP'15

Kristen Whited Beals, MBA/MPP'15

Asylum Officer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

“Heller is a great place for people who would like to be bridges. To get the tools you need to better communicate in an area you’re already passionate about. So, save all your research papers, your TCP (Team Consulting Project) paper and proposal writing projects.”

Read more about Kristen's work. 

Nonprofit sector careers

Erin Robinson, MPP’16

Erin Robinson, MPP'16

Campaign Manager for Early Childhood Policy, Center for American Progress (CAP)

Robinson draws on her Heller MPP skills to translate the research of CAP’s policy analysts and other data, such as showing them the availability of child care in their district and the true cost of providing quality child care. She also translates proposed solutions from grassroots leaders into legislative language and policies. 

“The biggest thing I learned at Heller is being able to summarize legislation succinctly,” she says. “We also learned a lot about cost-benefit analysis. When I’m sitting with the chief of staff for a senator and they ask me how much a bill costs, I can tell them, but I also make sure to include what that legislation would mean for families, child care providers, and even other businesses in their state.”

Learn more about Erin's work.

Nicole Rodriguez, MPP'14

Nicole Rodriguez, MPP'14

Research Director, New Jersey Policy Perspective

After graduating from Heller, Rodriguez got a fellowship with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where she was placed with the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. At the think tank, she worked as the lead researcher on policy campaigns for earned sick time, paid family and medical leave, and the $15 minimum wage — all of which were successful.

“When I was writing my policy reports and advocating at the Massachusetts State House, I had a jump-start because I had worked on these things in grad school,” she says. “I actually used the reports I had written. It was a perfect transition into my professional policy life.”

Learn more about Nicole'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.

Maryse Pearce, MBA/MPP'18

Maryse Pearce, MBA/MPP'18

Program Manager, Stonewall Community Foundation

“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.”

Pearce still draws on her classes, such as fundraising and development, practicing philanthropy, and financial management, as well as her fellowship experience at the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy, in her work today.

Learn more about Maryse's work.

Audrey Etlinger Cohen '07, MPP'10

Audrey Etlinger Cohen '07, MPP’10

High-risk Nurse Case Manager, Whittier Street Health Center

Mary I. Jagoda ’05 Endowed Fellowship and 2009 Heller MPP Segal Fellow

“I work with our highest-risk individuals: folks with multiple chronic health conditions and social challenges such as substance use disorder or homelessness. I act as a single point of contact with health care providers. I help patients set goals, navigate multiple providers, and connect them to resources in the community. I use my MPP every single day to help patients set goals that benefit themselves and the healthcare system as a whole, such as reducing readmission to hospitals, reducing Emergency Department usage, and keeping patients in the community instead of nursing homes. Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, I’m focusing on post-hospitalization education and connecting people with community resources to make sure they have what they need to self-quarantine.”

Learn more about Audrey's work. 

Brian Kennedy, MPP'16

Brian Kennedy, MPP'16

Policy Analyst, North Carolina Budget and Tax Center

“Almost everything I took out of the MPP program I’m using as a policy analyst,” he says, “especially the focus on writing and communicating succinctly. I’ve worked with a lot of other MPPs and I’ve learned that some schools send students out into the world as perfectly polished data analysts. Other schools, like Heller, send grads out with the tools to understand data and models, and also with the skills to understand whether a policy is going to help people or hurt people. The most important thing someone with this degree can do is speak up and make sure that the decisions we’re making will improve folks’ lives.”

Learn more about Brian'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. 

Toni Burke, MPP'09

Toni Burke, MPP'09

Vice President and Executive Director, City Year San José/Silicon Valley

“The level of discipline and rigor I learned at Heller has kept me and my organization sustainable and excellent in the work we've done. It's required an intensive strategy and relentless discipline, which I would have never gotten without the Heller School.”

Read more about Toni's work. 

Kaytie Dowcett ‘99, MPP’15

Kaytie Dowcett '99, MPP'15

Executive Director, Waltham Partnership for Youth

“The Children, Youth, and Family concentration prepared me with knowledge of the most current trends in youth programming, the principles of Positive Youth Development, and examples of effective youth programming throughout the country. I use this knowledge daily to inform the development of new programs and initiatives.”

Read more about Kaytie's work. 

For-profit sector careers

Brian Schon, MPP/MBA'11

Brian Schon, MPP/MBA'11

Co-founder, True Colombia Travel & Cannúa

“One of the best things that comes out of a school like Heller is the network and the depth of knowledge that you can get from other people connected to the school. We constantly sort of just bounced ideas off of each other. Over the years, we’ve gone to each other’s weddings, seen each other’s children. In addition, it’s been great watching my classmates’ career development. A few years after graduation, these people are directors of departments for state and federal level or different agencies and it’s neat to see them grow and have these tools that none of us had before.”

Learn more about Brian’s work.

Allison Ivie, MPP'13

Allison Ivie, MPP'13

Senior Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs, Center Road Solutions

“One of the most important skills I learned at Heller was writing policy memos,” she says. “Learning to be really concise in your language and getting your point across quickly. In any government or lobbying job, nobody has time to read academic papers.”  

Learn more about Allison's work. 

Charley Francis, MPP'10

Charley Francis, MPP'10

Assistant Director, Division of Leased Housing and Rental Services, Rhode Island Housing

“I like issues that have a big impact but might not be an issue everyone is focusing on, like housing. It’s a niche policy area, but if you think about it, it’s so basic: It’s not only about survival, but about outcomes like health, employment and more. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Read more about Charley's work. 

Ricky Ochilo, MPP/MBA'15

Ricky Ochilo, MPP/MBA'15

Relationship Manager, Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency

“Sometimes policymakers don’t understand the contextual issues at the community level. That’s why I wanted to focus on the role of policy analysis and research. How do you craft policy to change the situation and the negative aspects of policymaking to address the challenges in the community that you’re witnessing? I realized, to shift paradigms we were witnessing with respect to economic fragmentation, I needed to have the tools to champion all the outcomes I’d like to see and that’s what led me to Heller.”

Read more about Ricky's work. 

James Miller, MBA/MPP’11

James Miller, MBA/MPP'11

Former 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. I’ll be honest: the dual MPP and MBA was extremely difficult but so rewarding, because I learned more than I ever thought I could have. How can we fundamentally change policy using the capitalist system as it exists currently? That was super powerful for me.”

Read more about James' work.