Introducing the 2021 Mid-Career Master of Public Policy Cohort

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UEP welcomed eight new students into its mid-career Master of Public Policy program in Fall 2021. These students bring at least 7 years of relevant professional experience into the program and help enrich learning for all in the UEP community. This cohort includes five Neighborhood Fellows, who are urban leaders of color receiving full tuition scholarships. Below are brief descriptions of each MPP student in reverse alphabetical order (*Neighborhood Fellow).

Joselyn Yrayta-Mart has over a decade of experience working in the non-profit world. She is currently the Client Intake Manager at TSNE (Third Sector New England) and was a Program Manager at Compass Working Capital working with families on building assets through the power of the Family Self Sufficiency Program. She is a life-long advocate and is passionate about implementation. She strongly believes in social justice and equity and brings that lens into the work that she does. She is also a board member at the Bridge at 211 to be connected to another passion of her: the arts. Her policy interests are at the intersections of race, housing, DEI, and implementation best practices.

Reginauld “Reggie” Williams* is a strategic communications executive with over a decade of advocacy, content strategy, and media relations experience. Currently, Reggie serves as the director of communications at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a leading think tank advancing racial and economic justice through equitable policy solutions. Prior to joining MassBudget, Reggie held roles on the Innovation and Government & Regulatory Affairs teams at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and served as development director at the Transformative Culture Project. As a small business advisor, Reggie leverages design thinking to train entrepreneurs to explore ideas and develop go-to-market strategies with the Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative. Reggie attended Morehouse College where he studied international relations and ethical leadership and graduated Cum Laude from Endicott College with a B.A. in Liberal Studies. In his commitment to philanthropy in service, Reggie serves on the President’s Council for the Dimock Center.

Renée Scott grew up in rural Vermont, worked at a wildlife preserve in Texas, graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Environmental Planning, and briefly lived in Iowa, before moving to Somerville. Once there, she worked for a Latin American-based environmental non-profit and started a portrait photography studio, which was one of the first businesses in the revitalized Ames Envelope Complex. In 2014, she co-founded Green & Open Somerville, a community organization which has advocated for stronger sustainability in the citywide zoning overhaul, collaborated on a first-of-its-kind native planting ordinance, worked on depaving projects and native plant gardens, and has tried to stop artificial turf from taking over Somerville’s few grass fields. Renée has served on Somerville’s composting task force, the open space acquisition task force, Somerville Climate Forward’s consumption and waste group, and was a LOCUS strategy leader for Union Square redevelopment. In 2019, realizing something was missing, she enrolled in Tufts’ Community Environmental Studies certificate program, which led to the MPP program.

Elliot Rivera* is a first-generation Salvadoran from Worcester Massachusetts, and presently calls Providence, Rhode Island home. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Youth In Action in Providence, focusing on the intersection of healing, leadership, and collective positive social change work through the development of BIPOC youth. He brings extensive experience as a non-profit executive, researcher, fundraiser, manager, evaluator, educator and community organizer in a myriad of settings (non-profit, municipalities, public education, higher education, community based and health care). He was a founder and Associate Researcher & Evaluator at the Collaborative For Youth & Community Justice, centering the power of youth and communities in research. Currently he serves on the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island After School Network and the Association of Fundraising Professionals of RI. Elliot’s focus through his studies is developing intergenerational access and knowledge on policy and power to create long term, community led positive social change.

Monique Tú Nguyen* is a passionate change-maker on the leading edge of social justice. She is the Executive Director of Matahari Women Workers’ Center which is making strides in advancing rights for low-wage workers, women, immigrants, and their families and is largely known for their leadership in passing the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2014. As a skilled facilitator, strategist, and community organizer she has spoken on women’s leadership and empowerment, community base-building, workers’ rights, racial justice, and immigrant rights at events and in the media. She recently received the 2021 Immigrant Hero Award from Immigrant Learning Center, was selected as a 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Fellow, and was a 2018 Move to End Violence Movement Maker.

Elvis Méndez* is the Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts. Elvis previously led organizing efforts for the National Guestworker Alliance, Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative and Warehouse Workers for Justice. He has a bachelor’s degree in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Elvis was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Framingham Massachusetts. He lives in Northampton with his wife and daughter. 

Brian Jordan is the Director of Communications for the Boston Housing Authority, where he works to elevate and empower low-income families and communities across Boston. In the last three years he’s worked on issues related to racial and economic inequality, public safety and policing, food and hunger, transportation, education, renewable energy, environmental sustainability, and job training. After he graduated from Northeastern University, he spent five years working in and around Maine politics, working and volunteering on numerous campaigns and policy initiatives, including food policy, local pesticide ordinances, a mayoral campaign, a same sex marriage referendum, and two statewide political elections. After returning to Massachusetts, he managed a national program celebrating exemplary teachers and educators across the United States.

Daphne Principe-Griffin* is Chief of Staff for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. She brings more than 25 years of experience addressing issues of equity and reducing opportunity gaps for children, youth, and families in underserved communities both locally and nationally. She has served as the Executive Director of Scholar Athletes, a state-wide youth-serving organization and as Boston’s first Latino-American appointed Chief of Human Services in the Menino Administration overseeing seven city departments with a combined budget of over $29 million. Prior to her career in the Mayor’s Cabinet, she was the Executive Director of Boston Center for Youth & Families, Boston’s largest public human service agency. She also served as the Executive Director of the Blue Hill Club, Boys & Girls Club of Boston. Principe-Griffin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. She is originally from Puerto Rico and is the proud mother of two daughters.

Nichole Catsos is a dedicated food system professional working to create equitable food systems through sustainable local agriculture. Nichole worked as a farmer for many years before moving into the nonprofit sector. She has previously worked as project manager for The Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit committed to healthy food access, managing farmers’ markets, and overseeing the organization’s adult nutrition education program. Currently, Nichole is serving as the Grants Manager for The Food Project, a local organization working at the intersection of youth development and food justice. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Arizona State University. Nichole is interested in finding practical policy solutions to food insecurity while promoting equity in agriculture.