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Joelle Juarez

Master of Public Administration, Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy, and Social Change

Graduated in 2019

Service to others is, and will forever remain, my passion. More specifically, through my various life and work experiences, I have seen how important it is for each individual to have equitable opportunity to access housing and citizenship despite their background.

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Joelle’s Path

I am a firm believer that having access to justice should be a right, not a privilege.


Prior to Northeastern, I acquired the skills and knowledge of a versatile leader who exemplifies a public service mindset which is at the core of Northeastern’s MPA program. While working for immigration law firm Costa & Riccio, LLP, I assisted immigrants in various stages along the path to lawful permanent resident status and U.S. citizenship. Because this filing process has helped many disadvantaged individuals who have immigrated to the United States, it generates a harmonious social justice mission that compliments my desire to serve the public good.

Further, through my experiences at advisory firm Rothschild & Co., I had the unique opportunity to manage and prepare research requests from bankers in seven offices located in North and South America. I applied effective means of gathering, interpreting, and analyzing data in a global context that ultimately supported the information needs of the Mergers & Acquisitions and Restructuring busineses. I gained invaluable knowledge compiling and presenting relevant information, as I worked collaboratively with my research team. 

As a Mexican-American woman, I am grateful to have connected with a wide variety of people, learning from and engaging in their different cultures and ways of life. I have communicated with individuals in their native languages not only to help refine individuals’ interests and needs, but also to help zealously advocate for and exceed expectations of public service. I have the ability to connect with individuals from a diverse range of cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

I decided to pursue my MPA degree because I felt that it was a great way for me to advance my leadership and management skills, namely in a future career in law, policymaking, and public management. I was able to do so by complimenting my MPA degree with a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy, and Social Change.

I became well-versed in policy, management, and the non-profit sector. As a result, I believe that my MPA degree will open up many job opportunities centered around public service and government. It has deepened my understanding of society and has prompted me to think critically about the current problems of today and how to competently address them in the future.

Overall, the MPA program at Northeastern strengthened my communication and leadership skills, and further prepared me to make a change and influence decisions in my community

What courses did you take that changed your thinking on a subject or influenced what you chose to study or do in the future? How so? 

The courses that I took to complete my Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy, and Social Change changed my thinking on the nonprofit sector. I confirmed the notion that nonprofit organizations fill in the gaps that the public and private sectors have failed to address. As a result, nonprofits are in a position of financial strength because they have access to markets in every sector. Even so, I found it surprising to learn that they are less about the revenue they can make, given the capitalistic tendencies of our nation. Here, chasing money is not smart business, and instead, it is more important for nonprofit leaders to examine their funding strategy closely and to be disciplined about the way that they raise money. A nonprofit funding plan must account for the real cost of doing business, identify viable market(s)/funders and effectively compete in those markets. I believe that nonprofit status can provide a powerful position from which to pursue social change.

What research projects did you participate in, and how did you apply your classroom knowledge to those projects? How did those projects enhance your education?

For my last semester at Northeastern, I participated in a Capstone project with three classmates under the supervision of Professor Bosso and Professor Landsmark.

My Capstone team was tasked by Redgate, a Boston real estate developer, to produce economic revitalization strategies that could be implemented in Revere. These strategies build upon the existing infrastructure in a region that has robust transportation options and development potential. Together, we presented the following 4 recommendations to Redgate and the City of Revere:

  1. Construct a Revere Greenway: to increase accessibility and promote walkability along Revere Beach Parkway
  2. Build a Mixed-Use Marina: to utilize the city’s waterfront and to create more recreation opportunities, promote the community, and fuel the local economy
  3. Create a “pop up” Amusement Park: to provide summer and winter activities that increases interest and investment in the city
  4. Make Revere a Food and Brewery Destination: by showcasing local cuisines and supporting the establishment of new restaurants and brewpubs

My team applied a mixed-method approach to collecting data. We examined and collected qualitative and quantitative data to identify factors that may impact Revere’s appeal as a redeveloped entertainment and recreation destination for the region. We applied our classroom knowledge to this project by conducting the following:

  • A literature review of previous case studies
  • A comparative analysis of approaches used in similar urban areas
  • Combining Revere GIS maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content to create a compelling, user-friendly digital story map via ESRI and ArcGIS
  • In-person site visit
  • Discussion with Redgate and local Revere officials

Here, I took the role of liaison between Redgate and my Capstone Team. It served as an opportunity for me to apply my leadership and communication skills by properly managing my team’s weekly tasks. I also took initiative to present our Final Presentation to Redgate and Revere City Officials at Revere’s Museum of History. 

How do you think the experiential aspect of your Northeastern experience will make a difference in the world?

The experiential aspect of my Northeastern education taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to: it’s all about having a growth-mindset than a closed-mindset. At the end of the day your only limit is yourself, and it was great to know that I too could be successful in various roles during my MPA experience.

Did you complete an internship or fellowship?

Yes, I completed two internships during my MPA program. I had the opportunity to collaborate with Theodore C. Landsmark: Distinguished Professor, Public Policy and Urban Affairs; Director, Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. In this position, I researched U.S. housing law and policy with a Boston focus on low and moderate income tenants and homeowners. And further, I conducted research on the role of the financial crisis, race, gentrification, and urban inequality in the Boston housing market. My work resulted in the development of Dr. Landsmark’s Fall 2019 graduate Housing Policy course.

In addition, I worked alongside Alicia Sasser Modestino: Associate Professor with appointments in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics at Northeastern University. In addition to collaborating with Dr. Landsmark, I collected, assessed, and managed incoming data for Dr. Alicia Sasser Modestino including an ongoing project that evaluates the impact of Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEPs) in Boston. I was initially hired to do data entry for Professor Modestino, however, I quickly took over managing all other undergraduate research assistants on the SYEPs project. I ensured that they understood the task and connected them to the resources that they needed.

What are your next steps?

I have grown tremendously through my Master’s Degree program and can confirm that my long-term goals haven’t changed. Instead my commitment to my community and the greater good has been strengthened, and I have confirmed for myself that a law degree will help me fulfill my goals.  I believe that a combined education in public policy and law is critical for understanding the structure of public interest. One of my greatest strengths is mobilizing and engaging others, and with a J.D. degree, I will gain a deeper understanding of management and leadership in public service.

What else would you like people to know?

Not only has this year and a half given me a clear and specific motivation for pursuing a legal education, it also sparked a competitive runner in me. I began running as a way to find my inner strength. And surprisingly, I found something I was good at, and something that was truly my own. It was just: Joelle vs. the miles. 

Nothing made me happier than waking up at 6am, putting on my clothes, and tying my On Cloud running shoes. I would chug a cup of coffee, drink some water, stretch, and head out the door of my Beacon Hill apartment. Yes, some days were harder than others. Yes, it was cold. And Yes, I always found myself going back for more. A lot of people looked at me in shock when I would say I completed my morning run in 24/30 degree weather. The weather was yet another obstacle I had to overcome and it was freeing. Nothing felt better than knowing I tackled the elements of the day. If I can run in the cold, Boston cold*, then I can do anything right? Over time I noticed that I started to find my inner peace once more. 

I have always enjoyed fitness, however never truly believed that I had what it took to be an athlete. Now that I’ve been a runner for the past year, I can confirm that I am ready to take on new challenges. The energy of the community kept me going, and it was rewarding to know that I too could “run like the boys.” I was even faster than a few. At the moment, I have successfully completed two half marathons within 3 weeks of each other, and I plan to run more. I want to show everyone that you can surpass in all things that you do. Running has increased my efficiency & productivity in all things. I hope to share this with all those I encounter. 

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