Leticia M. Ripalda

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy - 2003

EOHHS, Refugee & Immigrant Services & Senior Manager
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Health & Human Services
Leticia Ripalda

How did your Wagner experience prepare you professionally for what you are doing today?

Wagner made me into a well-rounded professional in a variety of ways. Case discussions prepared me to confront essential issues and to evaluate potential outcomes before making decisions. The analytic toolkit I gained while studying at Wagner differentiates me from my peers in government— which tend to shy away from quantitative analyses. The institutional and historical knowledge I learned in the policy classes has allowed me to foresee the feasibility of different strategies and how to execute them successfully.

Describe your current job.

I have spent the last 15 years in government administration. In my current job, as manager of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, I get to design policies and programs which directly impact the resettlement and integration of refugees in Massachusetts. Given my legal background, I am also responsible for ensuring state regulations align with Federal regulations in programing and individual eligibility for public benefits. Working in the refugee field is a balancing act that requires fine political skills to balance the interest of state and federal elected officials, as well as, close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), state agencies and Voluntary Agencies (Volags) working at the national and local levels. Wagner prepared me well to ensure that at the end of the day, and despite of lobbies advocating in opposite directions, refugees are the only ones benefiting from our policies.

What are the advantages of the Wagner alumni network?

The alumni network is vast, strong, and diverse. It is also well-organized and provides you with chances to connect with other graduates as well as to network for future employment opportunities. In Boston, where I currently live, the alumni group is very active and ranges widely in age and employment.  The monthly gatherings bring a sense of community where individuals celebrate being part of Wagner and therefore, NYU.