Michael Devon Powell (MSW ’14) was recently named as an inaugural Women’s Leadership Fellow for the administration of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Powell will serve a one-year term working in the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services as a Senior Health Policy Analyst.
Here, Powell, a marathoner who is fluent in Azerbaijani, talks to BC Social Work about how she hopes to begin to shape her career during the course of the fellowship, while sharing her passion for service with her new colleagues.
Give us a sense of what it means to be a part of this first class of Women’s Leadership Fellows, and to work closely with the Patrick Administration.
It is first and foremost an honor to count myself among the first cohort of Massachusetts Women’s Leadership Fellows. Back in the spring, the Patrick Administration created the fellowship to give women with advanced degrees the opportunity to serve in senior positions in the government of the Commonwealth. Women bring a unique skill set to the workforce. When women succeed, families, communities, and our nation as a whole succeed.
What can you tell us about the responsibilities and initiatives that you will be working on?
I will be serving as the Senior Health Policy Analyst in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. My work involves assisting the Director of Health Care Policy and Strategy in health care policy research and analysis as well as assisting the Health Care Innovation Program Director with the State Innovation Model (SIM) grant. The SIM grant focuses on health care delivery system transformation with the aim of improving health system performance for residents of the Commonwealth. Currently, I am taking the lead on the evaluation plan and compiling a quarterly progress report for the grant.
What do you hope to accomplish during this fellowship?
My greatest hope is to show the value of looking through a social work lens especially when it comes to our health care system. I also hope to share my passion for service, gain more experience in government leadership and management, and to build my network.
How does the fellowship match with your career goals, and how do you envision it moving you forward into the future?
Growing up in Washington, DC as the child of a public servant meant that I was no stranger to politics and government. I can remember showing up to career day as a third grader wearing a pants suit and fake government ID telling everyone I was Secretary of State. You could say that public service has always been a career goal of mine. This fellowship is a huge opportunity for me to learn and grow as a public servant at the state level. My colleagues and mentors in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services will help to shape my career in many ways.
Tell us about your time at BC Social Work, and how BC prepared you for your current work.
I came to Boston College with the intention of going Global Practice but after spending a semester in Boston, I knew I wanted to stay. My first field placement was at Catholic Charities with the Government Affairs Committee. It was a great introduction to legislative affairs and intergovernmental relations in the Commonwealth. In order to gain more experience in health care, I decided on the Boston Public Health Commission for my second field placement. While there, I assisted on the Out of School Time Initiative as part of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Obesity and Hypertension Demonstration Project. My placement helped me to gain experience in project management, evaluation, and the development of technical assistance.
A number of professors had a great influence on me during my time at Boston College, most notably Marylou Sudders and Summer Hawkins. Their passion for the intersection between health care and social work was a constant motivator for me.