Lauren Costello has established herself as an Executive Director of CCS Fundraising, a strategic fundraising firm that partners with nonprofits for transformational change.
While at Northeastern, Lauren worked for two research centers, studied abroad in Amsterdam, participated in an affordable housing development competition, won an award, and blogged about her adventures. She graduated in May 2016 with a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Policy.
This is Lauren’s Northeastern story…
Before coming to Northeastern, Lauren Costello worked for an economic development agency in New Bedford, a vibrant working port in South Coast Massachusetts.
With a background in economics, her work focused primarily on offshore wind development, workforce development, and a bit of land use planning. However, she decided that in order to progress in her career, she needed a broader skillset.
“The MS in Urban and Regional Policy program offered much of what I was looking for: experiential learning opportunities, applied research, and an incredibly engaged faculty. In my two years at Northeastern, I focused on economic development, urban policy and planning, and climate change/sustainability issues.”
Lauren studied abroad in Amsterdam in the fall semester of her second year, and took two courses while at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
She credits the “Urban Studies” course as one of her most transformative.
“The Urban Studies course was a deeper dive into the topic of urban studies through a more academic lens. I think I was able to really build out my research and written ability here.”
For Lauren, studying in Amsterdam was an opportunity to really focus on what drives her intellectually. She kept a blog, 6 Hours Ahead, where she shared her studies, adventures, and journey. Lauren’s favorite post is “A Non-Amsterdammer’s Guide to Biking in Amsterdam.”
In the video below, she captured what it’s like to bike in Amsterdam and how it differs from Boston.
While at the Dukakis Center, she wrote EDSATs (Economic Development Self-Assessement Tools), and she was a co-author of the 2014-2015 Greater Boston Housing Report Card. Her research focused on economic development, housing, and demographic analysis.
In her time working for professor Matthias Ruth in the Resilient Cities Lab, Lauren was part of a team thinking about urban sustainability, adaptability and governance. They were charged with mapping out the systems that make an urban area like Boston operate efficiently, and the ways in which it can be extra vulnerable after a significant weather event due to climate change.
“Both of these experiences brought me closer to my academic work. I felt like my studies were being applied in real time, and I was contributing substantively not only to the discussions in my classroom, but to my own research.”
During her final semester at Northeastern, Lauren was part of a team of four students from the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and six architects from Boston Architectural College competing in an Affordable Housing Development Competition, hosted annually by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Their proposal called for the development of seven acres of land owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph in South Framingham into 85 units of new rental housing for seniors, families with children adopted from the foster system, and transitional youth.
The proposal also incorporated the construction of a community center and road/walking path connections to a proposed school on an adjacent site. Lauren documented her final capstone project through her blog Completing the Capstone.
“I would say that my time abroad expanded my world view when I needed it most. I was living in a comparative urban environment – my discussions in Amsterdam always looped back to Boston, and vice versa. My academic work in both cities has made me a more effective and efficient researcher. I am applying my studies in the work I do every day.”
Lauren received the School Spirit Award from the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (SPPUA) in May 2016, which recognizes a student who with their academic achievements, outstanding service to the university and larger community, and commitment to putting research into practice, embodies the SPPUA spirit.
The photo on the right was taken during the awards ceremony and captures the moment Lauren learned she was receiving the award.
Upon graduation, Lauren started working for the Boston Planning and Development Agency within the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) as a Senior Research Analyst. She was in charge of thinking critically about OWD’s programs and initiatives and how OWD can best learn and evaluate its success. She credits her success to “PPUA 6509: Techniques of Program Evaluation” course.
Now, Lauren serves as an Executive Director of CCS Fundraising, where she draws heavily on her research experience to execute on anything from a feasibility study to a capital campaign.
“Northeastern is a school for individuals with vision and passion. My classmates were diverse in their interests and focus, and I run into alumni all the time. I think if you have an idea of where you would like to go, and you have no problem asking for what you need to get there, Northeastern is the place to make it happen. I carry that passion for what I do through to my work here every day.”
“I aim for my career to be filled with a lot of interesting twists and turns. That appreciation for flexibility and a shared interest in making things happen is what drew me to Northeastern in the first place. I view my graduate education to be a solid foundation to continue to build much, much more.”
Learn more at:
School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs—Northeastern University