GAPPS-ICMA 2023-2024: Treasurer Rachel Boward

The Graduate Association of Public Policy (GAPPS-ICMA) – International City/County Management Association (ICMA) is the primary organization for the UConn School of Public Policy (SPP). Its goal is to serve as a social and intellectual forum for students pursuing a degree or certificate in the School. GAPPS-ICMA is committed to public service, professional development, and having fun. Throughout the academic year GAPPS-ICMA hosts a number of events that enrich students’ social and academic experiences.

GAPPS is an International City/County Management Association (ICMA) student organization.

A photo of GAPPS-ICMA Treasurer Rachel Boward

Masters of Public Administration (MPA) student Rachel Boward is this year’s GAPPS-ICMA Treasurer. Her interest in public service was fostered at an early age as she saw her mom volunteering in the Pittsburgh area. Throughout her life she recalls her mom helping provide free tax return assistance, organizing donation drives and providing transportation to refugees for prenatal and postnatal appointments. For Rachel’s mom public service is non-optional and her lack of hesitancy to help others regardless of comfort zone inspired a sense of obligation within Rachel. 

Though she new public service would be apart of her adult life, Rachel was not quite sure how initially. She explains, “I started my undergrad career not really knowing what I wanted to do. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree not having gotten much closer to an answer. Along the way I’d considered continuing school to get a JD or an MLIS or even an MPA. I thought for a while that public service might be what I do outside of my 9-5.” During the pandemic she started researching MPA programs while working as an Administrative Assistant at a psychiatric hospital and completing a Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Organizational Change.

SPP faculty and class offerings attracted Rachel to UConn. With a desire for experiential learning she saw the opportunity to be a Graduate Research Assistant and intern through the Internship and Professional Practice Program (IPP) program as valuable opportunities. During her first year with SPP she supported Professor Jinhai Yu public budgeting research, and is currently co-author to a budgeting literature review that is under consideration for publication. This fall Rachel will join Professor Yu at the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management’s Annual Conference. She notes, “I’m excited to use this opportunity to not only expand on my presentation skills but also to network with researchers and practitioners from across the United States.” We look forward to recapping her experience at the October conference in Denver!

This academic year Rachel will be completing her IPP internship with the Town Manager’s Office in the Town of Windsor, Connecticut. The opportunity to interview at a variety of organizations across the State was influential in her decision to move eight hours from home to join the SPP network. Rachel began her internship earlier this summer, which is an option afforded by some internship hosts. All IPP interns must begin their placement by late August and continue their placement through May. With the Town of Windsor, Rachel has been able to explore her focus areas of local government and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Since starting her internship she has met with a variety of municipal leaders in order to better understand their roles, challenges and managerial styles. She has also attended Development Team Meetings in preparation for presentations to the Town Planning and Zoning Commission. Rachel has also attended monthly meetings to review progress on capital projects focused on the wealth of public and private projects. 

Her first project involved compiling a COVID-19 timeline of federal, state and local actions taken from January of 2020 through the end of the federal Public Health Emergency earlier this year. This information will be utilized to address future public health emergencies. Additional initiatives have included identifying possible actions for SustainableCT recertification for the Town and engaging with residents and different Town services that engage with the Office. Rachel adds, “The research skills I expanded upon during my Graduate Assistantship have also come in handy. I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks about the struggles towns are facing in redeveloping empty office parks post-pandemic.” This fall Rachel hopes that her coursework in urban and regional policy, project management and social policy will inform her work. She hopes to gain additional experience with financial management and the local government budgeting process throughout the academic year. 

With GAPPS-ICMA Rachel hopes to develop additional leadership skills. She is excited to connect with new and returning students through educational and social programs to enhance SPP student experience. Her favorite SPP memory so far has been Tuesday night trivia at Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue, and she cites PP5340: Introduction to Public Policy and Management as her most influential course due to the memo writing. Rachel encourages incoming students to, “Stay organized, interested, open, and engaged!” After graduation she looks forward to beginning her career in public service, and hopes to further explore opportunities in economic development and local and state government. Best of luck to Rachel and all of our SPP interns this year!