Internship with Massport an “unbelievable experience” for Hanover native

Kate Cahalane, inaugural awardee of Lowell L. Richards, III Fellowship for Leadership and Public Service, evaluated affordable housing practices in Boston


BOSTON—Kate Cahalane didn’t major in public policy. She doesn’t have a formal background in economics or community development. “I majored in Global Studies and French,” says Cahalane, “but it definitely feels like I’ve picked up a third major.”

That’s thanks to Cahalane completing an eight-week internship with the Massachusetts Port Authority’s department of Economic Planning and Development. As the inaugural awardee of the Lowell L. Richards, III Fellowship for Leadership and Public Service, Cahalane spent her time at Massport assessing the role of the agency in contributing to the supply of affordable housing on or in proximity to its properties.

The resulting report, entitled Affordable Housing in Boston: A closer look at the role of a transportation agency in community building, analyzed the economic issues of producing affordable housing and made several recommendations for Massport’s future community building activities.

“I learned so much,” said Cahalane, who graduated from the University of Vermont last fall. “As a recent graduate, to have accomplished something at the end of it, it’s very exciting.”

The Lowell Richards Fellowship was established by Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership in honor of the longtime co-chairman of its board of directors and his twenty-nine year dedication to MBHP’s mission.

It was fitting that the first Lowell Richards Fellow was hosted by Massport, especially working in the department Lowell led for more than 10 years. “We were very pleased to be the host site for the first fellow of the Lowell Richards Fellowship,” said Jim Doolin, chief development officer at Massport. “Lowell was a visionary leader, city builder, and dedicated to public service.”

Cahalane reflected on how she came to know Richards through the fellowship. “I met with several of his former colleagues, many of whom wanted to help me simply because they heard I was the Lowell Richards fellow,” said Cahalane. “I came to understand something that he was so passionate about: the vast reach one person can have on his community.”

Cahalane was also inspired by meeting Karen Richards, Lowell’s wife. “Kate is Lowell’s friend,” said Karen. “While they never met in person, Kate exhibits the qualities that Lowell was most drawn to: commitment to her community and a desire to make a difference.”

For the inaugural year, fellowship nominees were chosen from students taking part in the Boston- and Vermont-based DREAM Project, a youth mentoring program which Lowell was passionate about.

“The thing Lowell cared most about in the world was helping young people,” says Karen. “If there was a young person in the room, he wanted to know them, listen to them, and encourage them. Through the fellowship, Lowell has brought MBHP, Massport and DREAM together to launch the next generation of ‘bright young leaders’ in public service.”

The connection to the DREAM program was also very important to Cahalane. A former youth mentor, she currently serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA in White River Junction, supporting DREAM mentors at Dartmouth College. Cahalane’s future plans include attending graduate school and pursuing her interest in public service and development.

MBHP is currently accepting applications for the 2014 Lowell Richards Fellowship. To download an application, visit, or contact Completed applications are due February 3, 2014, by 4 p.m.

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