It’s seemingly mundane details, like more accessible bus schedules for Massachusetts residents, that push Josh Robin to stay ahead of the transportation curve. Robin is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s first director of innovation, overseeing projects that make commuting easier for people all over Massachusetts.
“We look for small projects that will touch users of the state’s transportation systems in meaningful ways,” says Robin, who majored in political science and landed the job after working for the Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, first as a co-op and later as a staffer.
On that list are technologies that make it easier for drivers to obtain fast lane transponders and for commuters to purchase tickets using their cell phones. Under Robin’s leadership, Boston became one of the first major cities to open its transit data to smartphone app developers.
“It’s like running a little startup within the MBTA,” says Robin.
Next-generation cities • Nicole Fichera, AMD’11
“Northeastern’s architecture program has a very strong urban design, advocacy, and policy focus, especially in terms of postindustrial cities like Boston,” says Nicole Fichera, who graduated with an architecture degree. “That got me thinking early on about how a city with an industrial character can exist in a 21st century economy.”
Today, Fichera leads Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s effort to transform an underdeveloped section along the city’s waterfront into the new Innovation District.
The chance to build a neighborhood from scratch doesn’t come around often. Fichera got involved in Boston’s Innovation District—a hub for startups and high-tech companies—as a designer with the design firm Hacin + Associates, where she started as a co-op. After graduating, she quickly transitioned to full-time employee, focused on developing new public spaces to foster networking and creativity.
“Being the Innovation District manager is kind of a dream come true—a way to turn my side obsession into a full-time job.”
Healthy policies • Asha Cesar, AMD’11
While working toward a BA in communication studies, Asha Cesar always had her sights set on a path in public health.
The field had long interested her, but it was a mixture of volunteer experience and interdisciplinary academic curriculum that cemented her career decision. She was accepted to the Master of Public Health Program at The George Washington University, and headed to Washington, D.C.
Today, Cesar is finishing her degree while working full time as a health policy analyst for the National Governors Association, an organization that shares best practices and provides policy analysis to gubernatorial offices. This spring, she’ll be spearheading an NGA-sponsored workshop on health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act for several state delegations.
“I hope to leverage my personal, academic, and professional experieces to inform and influence health policy at the state and federal level.”