Introduction: Graduate Research Assistant, Jim DeArruda

Hello, I’m Jim DeArruda, a Graduate Research Assistant at the UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center. I just began in the Fall 2017 semester. I began matriculation toward a Master’s in Public Policy in Fall 2015 by starting with the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Policy.

I came to the PPC after a 25-year career in newspapers (the last 20 at the same one), and the transition feels just right. The completion of my BS in Business Management plus my graduate studies wonderfully informed my past few years as an editorial writer, but I’m ready to put my effort into assisting the great academic research done at the PPC. In my first few weeks, my expectations have been well met, thanks to my new colleagues, some of whom have been my instructors. I consider myself very fortunate to be in this place right now.

I live in Dighton, Mass., in the home my father grew up in, and in which I raised my three children. I like doing things around my house by myself, whether it’s crafting tools, making home repairs or making jellies or other foodstuffs from the land around my home.

In Dighton, I’m the chairman of the Historical Commission, the secretary of the Council on Aging, and the Historical Commission representative to the Community Preservation Committee. My participation in town government has been rewarding and challenging, and is another example of how my graduate education has made other parts of my life richer.

I have spent most of my life living around and working in Southeastern Massachusetts. Generations of my family have worked on farms and in textile factories of Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford, so the work done at the PPC is very important to me. I consider it a privilege to be able to contribute to it.

Introduction: Undergraduate Research Assistant, Nathaniel Roberts

My name is Nathaniel Roberts. I am sophomore Political Science/Economics Double Major at UMass Dartmouth. I am a lifelong resident of Fall River. Fall River is a community that has been often overlooked and ignored due to a poor economic situation. The degrees I am working towards will help me put Fall River back on the map, hopefully one day as its political leader.

Interning here at the Public Policy Center is a step forward towards that goal. I am looking forward to having a deeper understanding of data analysis, something I think all future policy makers should have, and something I have wanted to attain since taking AP Statistics in high school.

I am most excited to be able to work in a field more closely related to my future goals and interests, since last summer I worked in a bread factory, and the summer before that in a kids’ youth camp.

Anna Marini – introduction

Hello my name is Anna Marini and I have just started as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Public Policy Center. I am at the final stages of acquiring my Master’s of Public Policy at UMass Dartmouth, and have really loved the program – courses and professors (2017 graduation!). I’m thrilled to be working at the PPC and to participate in detailed and meaningful data analysis, studies, and evaluations; putting to work all that I’ve learned over the years. The staff here are great and I’m looking forward to learning from them.

I come to the PPC with a Master’s in Health Administration and years of experience in hospital management in Boston teaching hospitals (Brigham and Women’s, Children’s and Tufts). I’ve also worked as a consultant doing business development in health care and have managed and sold a small manufacturing business. I have maintained a deep connection to all things health care related through the years, and currently serve on the Patient and Family Advisory Committee at Beth Israel Deaconess-Plymouth. I’m looking forward to working on some health care related projects at the PPC.

I live in Cape Cod (Bourne), but over the last few years have become more knowledgeable about the SouthCoast region. First, during travels here (my daughter attends Bishop Stang High School) and second, from participating in the Leadership SouthCoast program (2015 graduate). I’ve grown to really love the region. I’m really looking forward to the opportunities presented by the PPC and to contributing to its work.

Joy Smith- Introduction

Hello everyone, I’m Joy, one of the new Graduate Research Assistants at the Public Policy Center. I just recently graduated from UMass Dartmouth, where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. I decided to continue my education at UMass Dartmouth to pursue a Master’s of Public Policy with a concentration in Environmental Policy.

This past summer, I interned at the Westport Land Conservation Trust as the Stewardship and Special Projects Intern. There, the idea of having a career protecting land, and ultimately benefiting our environment, became a passion. The summer prior, I interned at the Westport River Watershed Alliance where I assisted the Education Director with summer programs. We taught children about the different types of habitat around Westport and the types of animals and insects who reside in these areas. With my background in land management and outreach, I’ve got a lot to learn about policy and data analysis. I’m extremely excited to work at the PPC and alongside such an amazing group of individuals.


It is with a heavy heart that I announce the end of my tenure as a research assistant at the Public Policy Center. For Trevor, Jason, and myself, the contract is up on June 30, and while there is some consolation in knowing that the three of us are leaving here with our MPPs and research skills honed over the last two (or in my case, three) years, it’s a tough position to give up. I know speak for all of us when I say that our experience here has been invaluable and that we are appreciative of the opportunities the assistantship has afforded us. But dwelling on the past makes me sad, and I know that there are bright futures ahead for all of us. In September, Trevor and Jason will be heading to UMass Boston to earn a Masters in Applied Economics and a Ph.D. in Public Policy, respectively.

As for myself, I will be staying local, very local actually, because on July 1, I will be starting as a Research Associate at the PPC. I’m excited to be able to stay on board here and contribute to the Center’s mission of informing evidence-based policy making and acting as a resource for the region that I’ve always called home. During the coming year, I will have an expanded role in our research, and I am excited to be able to devote myself full time; no more weekend nights tossing pizza dough on the side, or day-long POL 585 draft editing sessions. While I will help continue the PPC’s work in the cities of New Bedford and Fall River, I also look forward to cutting my teeth on our larger, regional research. Most importantly, I am grateful to be able to continue working with the extraordinary, supportive team here, and I look forward to being able to share my experience with the next cohort of graduate research assistants.

Census Publishes Commuting Data for Massachusetts!

We are super excited at The Public Policy Center that Massachusetts has finally joined the rest of the country in releasing the data that is used in the production of two important Census Bureau data products: Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) and LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES). The LODES data will be instrumental in a recently launched study of the economic connections between southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island by allowing us to look at commuting patterns at the city and town level (formal announcement forthcoming). This data was just released yesterday afternoon and I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with the data via the Census’s OnTheMap tool. Here are a couple of the data visualizations that I produced using OnTheMap:

This first image shows the inflows and outflows for the Southcoast of Massachusetts in 2014 (defined here to include Swansea, Somerset, Fall River, Westport, Dartmouth, Freetown, New Bedford, Acushnet, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Rochester, Marion, and Wareham). According to the LODES data, 41,463 people who work on the Southcoast live elsewhere, 66,613 people who live on the Southcoast work elsewhere, and 76,289 people both live and work on the Southcoast.

This next image shows the distance, direction, and volume of commutes into the Boston Workforce Investment Area. The color indicates distance and the size of each slice indicates volume. This graph suggests that the greatest number of people commute from South of Boston, while people to the West and Southwest travel the longest distances. In 2014, an estimated 6,844 people commuted from the Southcoast to the Boston Workforce Investment Area. Meanwhile, 8,192 commuted from the Southcoast to the workforce investment area for Greater Rhode Island.


Now it’s time to learn how to work with the raw data so I can develop customized data processing algorithms. Fun!

Introduction – Holly Stickles

Hello Everyone,

My name is Holly Stickles and I have recently joined UMASS – Dartmouth’s Public Policy Center as a Graduate Research Assistant. While I am quite new to the program, I am no stranger to UMASS – Dartmouth where I recently earned a B.S. in Finance. During my undergraduate studies, I was fortunate enough to have interned at the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board. There, I assisted in the creation of models for workforce development and helped to market programs to local stakeholders. I also interned at Community and Economic Development Authority of Wareham, where I helped reconcile funding budgets while completely redeveloping the organization’s policies and procedures manuals to maximize efficiency. That being said, I am excited to put my acquired skills set to use within the parameters of this new role and, all the while, I am hoping to develop more knowledge in the field while pursuing an advanced degree in Public Policy.

2015 APPAM Conference

I just attended the Association for Public Policy and Analysis (APPAM) fall conference in Miami with Mike Goodman and Nick Anguelov. This was my first time attending and presenting at a major research conference. My poster was on the potential effect of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on risk perception. I conducted this work with Chad McGuire and Mike Goodman. The NFIP was created to help share risks with flood-prone communities with the hope of mitigating risky behavior through insurance price signaling (Anderson, 1974). Prior research suggests that insurance premiums do indeed act as a proxy for risk (Browne & Hoyt, 2000; Petrolia et al., 2013; Siegrist & Gutscher, 2006). The problem is that current premiums collected annually are not enough to cover the claims paid by the program, which suggests a subsidy. As subsidies lower the price of insurance, they signal a lower level of risk. We examined the relationship between the proportional cost of the insurance (premium divided by value insured) and the average policy value at the municipal level for the 331 Massachusetts towns for which data are available. We found that proportional cost was significantly negatively correlated with average policy value, suggesting that higher valued properties pay proportionately less for their insurance. The people who stopped by my poster seemed interested in the project and were generally unaware of the NFIP.
The selection of sessions and interests seemed endless, and I found myself choosing between multiple sessions for each timeslot. The most interesting sessions to me were on managing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) data and analyses of family and sick leave policies. I met some great scholars and had some interesting and impactful conversations about research across disciplines. Some of these conversations were helpful as I prepare applications for doctoral programs, and others helped refine my research interests and exposed me to new data sources. Overall, this was a fun and influential experience. I am grateful for the support I received from the Public Policy Center, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Anderson, D.R. (1974). The National Flood Insurance Program: Problems and potential. The Journal of Risk and Insurance, 41(4), 579-599.

Browne, M.J., & Hoyt, R.E. (2000). The demand for flood insurance: Empirical evidence. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 23(3), 291-306.

Petrolia, D., Landry, C., & Coble, K. (2013). Risk preferences, risk perceptions, and flood insurance. Land Economics, 89(2), 227-245.

Siegrist, M., & Gutscher, H. (2006). Flooding risks: A comparison of lay people’s perceptions and expert’s assessments in Switzerland. Risk Analysis, 26(4), 971-979.

Introduction: Senior Research Associate Elise Korejwa

This is Southcoast native Elise Korejwa, returning from Oregon to join the public policy team at my alma mater. (Some of you may remember me by my maiden name Elise Rapoza.) I officially joined the staff at The Public Policy Center (PPC) on September 1st. I bring with me two master’s degrees from Oregon State University in statistics and public policy, which I will use to expand the research capabilities of the PPC.

My research experiences include program evaluation, economic impact analysis, indicator tracking, and empirical research using qualitative and quantitative methods. The fields in which I have conducted research include regional economic development, environmental sustainability, tax policy, and health care. Most recently, I have conducted an economic and budgetary impact assessment of electric vehicle adoption and a mixed-methods case study of state tax credit auctions. I consider myself to be more a methodologist than a subject-area specialist, and look forward to applying sophisticated research techniques to a broad range of research topics.

Having grown up here, I have a deep love for this region and hope to help this area realize its amazing potential. I can be found at live music shows, art gallery openings, and in our beautiful natural areas.

Introduction: Summer Intern Brendan McDonald

My name is Brendan J. McDonald II, and I will be a senior this fall at B.M.C Durfee High School. I am a Fall River native and will be a fourth generation Durfee graduate. I came to Durfee after a nine-year parochial education. This small school and highly structured environment provided me with a unique understanding of the human race. It taught me to never judge, appreciate diversity, expect problems to arise, and to work to solve those problems with hardwork, dedication, and belief in the cause.

The city of Fall River and attending Durfee allow one to experience and witness the trials and tribulations our community faces. Being a part of the 2015 Public Policy Internship Program will allow me to be a part of the solution, creating ways to better serve our community. This summer we are researching the mobility of Section 8 housing in Massachusetts. We hope to identify any problems with Section 8 and the mobility of its recipients.

This September, entering my final year at Durfee, I plan to focus on the challenges our generation faces. To bring a more tactical approach to the debate team, I will encourage my peers to strategically attack our problems and uncover beneficial solutions.

In regards to my future and goals, the college application process has begun with assessing which options are best for me. I have a multitude of options to apply to, but my first choice will be the U.S Military Academy at West Point. There, I will gain perspective on a national level, making our nation a better place to live.

In conclusion, I will leave you with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt,  to better understand my approach to life and my future: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” One has to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that one meets it with the best one has to give. This is not a dress rehearsal, it is our life, so let’s make a difference.