Baruch MPA Grads Win Prestigious Excelsior Service Fellowships
November 4, 2021
Four Baruch College students—all recent MPA graduates of the Marxe School of International and Public Relations—were selected to participate in the highly competitive Excelsior Service Fellowship Program.
The two-year program propels top academic performers into the upper echelons of New York State government, giving talented graduates the chance to work alongside senior leaders at state agencies and play a policymaking role in the most pressing issues of the day.
Koami Dzidzonu, Emerson Lazellari, Gina Massari, and Kanisha Parfait are the latest graduates to receive this prestigious fellowship, joining a dynamic group of more than 30 Marxe School alumni who have participated in the program since its launch in 2013.
“We are proud of Koami, Emerson, Gina, and Kanisha as they join a long line of Marxe graduates who have been selected as Excelsior Fellows,” said Nancy Aries, PhD and Interim Dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. “Their commitment to public service and the values they underscore are inspiring. Each of them embodies both the leadership potential and value set that are the hallmarks of a Marxe education: Dedication, passion, and preparation to competently and creatively meet the challenges of today’s world. We look forward to seeing their careers flourish in the years to come.”
Meet the 2021 Fellows
Koami Dzidzonu (May ’21), MPA with a concentration in health care policy, is serving his fellowship with the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
Asked about the focus of his work, Dzidzonu says, “I am fortunate enough to work with the housing team to ensure that people with developmental disabilities can secure affordable and safe homes to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Housing is fundamental to our health. Without a roof over our heads, there is just no way we can expect to have optimal health…this is an excellent opportunity to be part of the solution and help make a difference.”
Gina Massari (May ’21), MPA, is currently working with the New York State Justice Center, an agency that supports and protects the health and safety of people with special needs.
Massari works in Project and Performance Management, leveraging her past experience in nonprofits and her education at Baruch to “make healthcare delivery systems more efficient and accessible,” she says. Massari also noted the unique insights this crop of fellows will gain amid current circumstances: “I am looking forward to seeing firsthand how a state agency operates, especially in this new Covid-19 landscape.”
Emerson Lazellari (May ’21), MPA with a policy analysis and evaluation concentration, is completing his fellowship with New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Lazellari credits his education at Baruch and the Marxe School for fueling his academic and professional growth, describing the fellowship as “the culmination of my graduate studies at Baruch College,” and saying, “I feel very proud to have the opportunity to put to use all that I’ve learned.”
He sees the fellowship as a stepping stone to future success in policymaking and using government as a platform to serve his community: “I am very excited for the challenges ahead…In the future, I hope to utilize my experiences and be an influential leader in the policymaking process.”
Kanisha Parfait (May ’21), MPA is working with the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, New York’s federally funded council under the Developmental Disabilities Act. Her focus there will be improving existing programming and services, as well as exploring the relationship between contracted service personnel, the population serviced, and the impact on their well-being — a relationship she would like to change. “Sometimes that next innovative project already exists and it’s just tweaking it to make it better for the time that we’re living in now,” Parfait notes.
In the future, Parfait says, “I am looking forward to partnering with other organizations that serve women in need.”