MPA Student Fosters Cultural & Capital Prosperity

Headshot of Lizzette IrizarrySchool of Public Policy (SPP) Masters of Public Administration (MPA) student Lizzette Irizarry found a passion for public service early on in her life. While growing up her family emphasized gratitude, kindness and the importance of giving back. She explains, “Growing up as a first-generation Latina, I learned the significance of community firsthand. From neighbors to non-profit organizations, schools, and churches, I witnessed how everyone came together to support one another.” Through the intertwining of family values and personal experience she sought a career path rooted in leadership, policy-making, development, and fostering cultural and capital prosperity for our communities.

Since sophomore year Lizzette has taken graduate level coursework alongside her bachelor’s through SPP’s Fast-Track program. She notes, “What truly drew me to the program was the sense of camaraderie among faculty and students, all united in our mission to advance public service across various focus areas.” The Internship and Professional Practice (IPP) also played a role in her decision to pursue the program. Through the IPP Lizzette has been able to bridge theory with real-world experience, obtain insight into public administration principles and gain work experience at a nonprofit. The financial aid component of the IPP was also an important factor as the program provides a stipend, medical benefits and tuition scholarship. 

While completing her MPA this year, Lizzette is serving at Community Partners in Action (CPA), and is working in the areas of advocacy, development and policy. Currently she is actively engaging in the crafting of the agency’s 2023 annual report. She is also coordinating outreach efforts, engaging stakeholders and participating in strategic meetings. Lizzette is also tasked with researching and facilitating the grant writing process, which utilizes skills from her SPP classes. 

This year Lizzette has facilitated community workshops on voter registration/education, pardon processes, and testimony to support H.B. 5242: An Act Concerning the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Records on Housing Opportunities. Her work to advocate for housing as a basic human right has been in collaboration with American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT) Smart Justice, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and Greater Hartford Legal Aid. She adds,

Recognizing the barriers faced by Connecticut residents with criminal records, we strive to address the 550+ legal obstacles hindering their access to safe housing and successful community reintegration. These experiences allow me to engage with stakeholders, arrange collaborative meetings, and contribute to positive change within the agency and community at large.

Lizzette’s internship allows her to explore her MPA interests in the intricacies of grant writing, effective management practices and enhancing organizational efficiency. She says, “pursuing my MPA allows me to deepen my understanding of these areas and prepares me to make meaningful contributions to the field upon graduation.” We can not wait to see where she takes her SPP skill sets next!

More about Community Partners in Action (CPA) with Lizzette: 

CPA, with a rich history spanning 150 years, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering community and providing services that promote accountability, dignity, and restoration for individuals affected by the criminal justice system. Committed to creating an inclusive and equitable workplace, CPA actively advocates for the rights of those within the criminal justice system.

Operating across various locations in Connecticut, including Hartford, Waterbury, Hamden, and Manchester, CPA offers a comprehensive range of direct services. These include Transitional Housing, Work-Release Programs, Reentry Welcome Centers, Alternative in the Community (AIC) Centers, the Prison Arts Program, Early Intervention and Screening, Community Court Services, and Juvenile Pro-Social Services. Furthermore, CPA collaborates with councils and government agencies to enhance community services and advocate for and with our participants.

For more information about Community Partners in Action (CPA), please visit their website