The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Shantel Palacio

Shantel Palacio
Administrative Education Officer
New York City Department of Education

Degree & graduation year: Master of Public Policy and Administration 2011

Current position: Administrative Education Officer with the NYC Department of Education

What I do:
I work with the Department of Education's Office of School District and Charter Partnerships. I am responsible for overseeing the lease review process for charter schools and reporting my findings to senior leaders. I work with our finance teams to issue nearly $40 million in lease assistance to nearly seventy schools. 

The best part of my job:
This is my first time working with charter schools. I enjoy learning and broadening my understanding of how this sector works. I have developed a strong understanding of the policies, structures, and politics of the largest education system in the country.

I've have worked on many big initiatives with DOE senior leadership, but nothing is more rewarding than visiting schools and connecting with students. Working in our central office can feel disconnected, but walking into a school is a reminder that I came here to support schools in low-income communities like the one I grew up in. The real champions are the teachers and principals who inspire students despite real challenges. Seeing this in action and helping to inspire students never gets old.

How the UMass School of Public Policy prepared me:
I was able to work closely with professors to gain the critical thinking and analytical skills I needed to be successful in the field. I worked with amazing professors who were invested in my growth and development. I even coauthored research with Professor Michael Ash and presented that research at the statehouse in Massachusetts.  

Advice to students considering a degree in public policy:
Take the initiative in shaping their course work.  SPP is small enough to develop real connections with professors, but UMass is big enough to customize your education to develop an expertise in your area of interest. I took classes in economics, international education, social justice, even business. Students must take advantage of the network and create opportunities for themselves.

Future plans:
I plan to get a Phd in education policy to research best practices for building greater platforms for parents and community leaders in shaping their schools. I want the policy process to be more accessible and less confusing for parents to navigate. I have also started a company to combat stereotypes by creating a platform for residents to share their voices and discuss their projects.