Graduating Students Receive School of Public Policy Honors

From Left: Pammy Eisner with Martha Fuentes-Bautista and Alex Plowden with Ellen Pader
From Left: Pammy Eisner with Martha Fuentes-Bautista and Alex Plowden with Ellen Pader

The School of Public Policy (SPP) honored two outstanding students at its graduate reception on May 9.

Pammy Eisner received the Philip Hertz Scholarship Award, while Alex Plowden received the M.V. Lee Badgett Award for Social Justice. Both received their Master of Public Policy degree through SPP’s 4+1 program.

“Pammy’s and Alex’s commitment to public service and social justice embody the core values behind these two awards, as well as core values of the School of Public Policy,” said Satu Zoller, SPP’s associate director. “We’re excited to see what they do next, and we’re confident that they’ll continue to work for a better world.”

The Hertz award was established in 2004 by alumnus George Hertz, ’69, MPA ’73, a member of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Advisory Board, in honor of his father, Philip Hertz, a lifelong public servant. The scholarship recognizes academic achievement, commitment to public service, and potential to make outstanding contributions in public policy and management.

Eisner, who studied political science as an undergrad, has been a key member of the UMass World Librarians project, which bridges the digital divide to bring academic resources to students and educators in Malawi. She was the first UMass student selected for the Students for a New American Politics (SNAP PAC) Campaign Fellowship and interned at Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit focused on child safety.

Last year, Eisner was a graduate policy intern at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, where she authored a policy report on the use of opioids in nursing homes. She plans a career in the nonprofit or government sector working on advocacy and policy issues.

The M.V. Lee Badgett Award for Social Justice was established in 2016 in honor of Badgett, a School of Public Policy and economics department faculty member whose research and public scholarship have helped advance social equity. It is awarded each year to a graduating student whose work focuses on social justice and who demonstrates potential for future contributions to social equality. 

Plowden, this year’s Badgett Award honoree, received a degree in Informed Regional Planning from the individual concentration bachelor’s degree program in 2018. He has interned for Massachusetts Peace Action in Cambridge, where he worked on foreign policy issues including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nuclear disarmament and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. He served as media and operations coordinator for the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. 

Plowden served as a teaching assistant for professor Ellen Pader’s “Transforming Your World: An Introduction to Community Engagement” course, which elevates the voices and stories of frontline workers on campus through an oral history project. He served on the working group for the Building Bridges arts engagement project and is involved in a project to create a campus-wide makerspace. He hopes to find work at a human or civil rights nonprofit.