UEP welcomes eight mid-career Master of Public Policy (MPP) students this Fall. Having at least seven years of relevant professional experience, MPPers bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with the UEP community and Tufts overall. Learn more about them below.
Kesiah Bascom has spent the past 7 years working in the urban agriculture and food justice realm. Raised in a household with a large garden, she grew up valuing food and its unifying nature. Kesiah has found home in the Merrimack Valley Region, where she has resided for the past few years and launched OffBeet Composting Company. Prior to starting OffBeet Composting Co, she was the Community Program Manager at Mill City Grows, a food access organization in Lowell, MA, and she also worked at The Food Project as Assistant Grower, which deeply influenced her path. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University.
Nelson Butten emigrated to Lawrence, Massachusetts from Dominican Republic in 1993. He has over 20 years of experience in community development and organizing. He started his career in the non-profit sector as an AmeriCorps member and is currently the Director of Community, Family, and Student Engagement at Lawrence Public Schools. Prior to working for Lawrence Public Schools, he was the Director of Community Organizing and then a Co-Executive Director at Lawrence CommunityWorks, a very active and respected community development corporation in the City of Lawrence. Nelson earned a Bachelor’s degree from Cambridge College.
Hakim Cunningham is a very experienced community organizer, operations manager and organizational development consultant with a proven track record of developing effective governance for grassroots social justice groups. He has worked on very complex issues for over a decade in the nonprofit sector from direct services implementation, criminal justice reform, workforce development, economic justice, and environmental injustices. Hakim has spent the past 6 years working in the community with Boston Workers Alliance and the Boston Jobs Coalition. Hakim also holds a degree in Social Science from Roxbury Community College and a Bachelor’s degree in Management & Entrepreneurship from the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University.
Joceline Fidalgo is the Resource Development Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), where she oversees all fundraising efforts for the organization. Prior to working at DSNI, she served as an AmeriCorps member through the Mass Mentoring Partnership. Born and raised in Roxbury, Joceline is very passionate about the future of Boston’s neighborhoods and first got involved as a youth organizer in Dudley. She earned her BA in Lusophone Studies modified with African & African-American Studies from Dartmouth College, where she was one of only two students at Dartmouth to have written a thesis in Portuguese. Joceline loves to travel, especially to Portuguese speaking countries and spent a year volunteering for an international non-profit in Praia, Cabo Verde in 2012.
Shani Fletcher has pursued a career path that included bookselling, conference organizing, youth work, grant writing, and urban farming. Throughout her professional life, she has been committed to the social justice community of Eastern Massachusetts. She spent ten years in the youth development field, seven of them focused on raising funds through grantseeking. She then realized that her dual passions for social justice and gardening could be combined through a career in food justice. She became an urban farmer at ReVision Urban Farm in Dorchester, serving first as the Grower and then as the Farm Manager. She has served on the Board of Directors of Reflect and Strengthen, helped launch the Food & Land Team of Alternatives for Community and Environment, and graduated from LeadBoston, a social justice leadership development program for upcoming Boston professionals. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology at Wellesley College.
Gary Hoffman has been teaching at the secondary level for the Nashua School District in Nashua, NH for the past fourteen years. He has taught students from grades seven to twelve in courses ranging from psychology and economics to Asian, European, African and American history. He is also an elected member of the executive board of the Nashua Teachers’ Union, where he led a recent effort to change the formula for Nashua’s spending cap which generated nearly three million more dollars for vital municipal services, including the public schools. This past spring, he was honored to be elected by his local Democratic City Committee to represent Nashua at the State Democratic Convention. Gary holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from St. Michael’s College in Vermont and a Master of Arts in Regional, Social, and Economic Development from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.
Trina Jackson has nearly 20 years of community-based experience as an organizer, facilitator, and strategist in the social justice movement. As the Practice Leader for Community Engagement at TSNE MissionWorks, she directs the Inclusion Initiative, which funds racial and economic justice work within communities of color. She is also a founding member of the Network for Immigrant and African-American Solidarity (NIAAS), the Women of Color Roundtable for Reproductive Justice, and Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. She is the producer of Grown By Herself, a multimedia project honoring the gardening traditions of black women. Trina serves on the boards of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition and the Center for Story-based Strategy and on the national steering committee of the Black Immigration Network. Trina earned a bachelor’s degree from Goddard College.
Miriam Ortiz is the founder and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Student Immigrant Movement, a statewide youth-led organization which identifies, recruits and develops undocumented students to become politically and civically engaged. Miriam has been involved in community organizing and nonprofit work since moving to the Boston area in 2000. Originally from Mexico, Miriam’s research interests include economic development and higher education access in immigrant communities. Miriam has served various nonprofit organizations in managerial, strategic and operational capacities. Most recently she was the Chief of Staff at Italian Home for Children and Associate Director at Centro Latino, Inc. Miriam holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.