The University of Massachusetts Amherst

SPP Students Named Civic Action Project Fellows

Headshots of the 2020 CAP Fellows

Six UMass Amherst School of Public Policy graduate students have been named fellows with the Civic Action Project, or CAP, which provides internship experience, training, and mentoring for the next generation of public service leaders. 

The Civic Action Project matches fellows with internship placements—this year, those include positions in federal, state, and municipal government—where they gain invaluable professional experience. Each participant also receives a $5,000 scholarship.

This year’s School of Public Policy fellows and their internships:

  • Derek Dunlea, Master of Public Policy & Administration/Master of Education: the Office of U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley
  • Julia Mathis, 4+1 Master of Public Policy: the Office of State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa
  • Adrienne Nunez, Master of Public Policy & Administration: the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
  • Whitley Plummer, Master of Public Policy & Administration/Master of Business Administration: the Metropolitan Area Planning Council
  • Ayla Thorntona, 4+1 Master of Public Policy: the Office of Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell
  • Alexander Shum, Master of Public Policy, Barr Foundation grant recipient: the City of Everett Planning Department

The School of Public Policy students join other CAP fellows from graduate public policy programs across Massachusetts. In addition to their internships, throughout the summer, the fellows will participate in weekly daylong meetings focused on professional development and public policy issues. Each week will address a theme relevant to the policy-making process, including campaign development, data and polling, funding and working with the media. At these seminars, the fellows will take part in roundtable training sessions with policy practitioners; meet with prominent leaders from government, nonprofits, academia, and advocacy groups; and have discussions about how to apply the lessons learned in the meetings to their internships and future careers.

Former Massachusetts Governor and 2020 presidential candidate Deval Patrick will join the fellows for a discussion on tools and strategies for making social progress through public policy at the first meeting, on June 4.

“The CAP fellowships are an incredible opportunity for our graduate students,” said Satu Zoller, associate director of the School of Public Policy. “They gain real-world experience in their area of professional interest, receive mentoring from public sector leaders, and have the chance to meet with and learn from a wide range of policy and public service experts. We’re proud and grateful to have six SPP students taking part in the program this year.”

Four School of Public Policy students were selected as CAP fellows in 2019, the program’s inaugural year. The Civic Action Project was founded by former state senator George Bachrach; Steve Crosby, who served as secretary of administration and finance to Governor Paul Cellucci and founding chair of the Mass. Gaming Commission; Ira Jackson, who was Massachusetts commissioner of revenue; and Judith Young, an attorney with a background in social justice, consumer protection, and legislative policymaking. 

“Real civic engagement must not be merely in the purview of government and organized advocacy groups alone,” the founders say in CAP’s mission statement. “It must also include a new generation of leaders from business, labor, academia, community organizations, and the media. This new generation must learn the practical skills needed to access and influence the intersection between policy and politics, business and government, civic engagement versus antipathy.”

This year’s internships and other programming will take place remotely to comply with social distancing protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the School of Public Policy: Established in 2016, the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy prepares students for leadership in public service. The program’s focuses include social change and public policy related to science and technology.

Contact: Maureen Turner, communications manager, School of Public Policy

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