Economics & Community

From the small businesses, nonprofit groups, and public-private partnerships that strengthen our communities, to the economic research and policymaking that can impact entire industries and nations, Suffolk professors, students, and alumni are working at the micro and macro level to build a better world from the ground up.
Suffolk professors, students, and alumni are conducting economic research and doing hands-on policymaking work that has an impact at the micro and macro levels. Through public and private partnerships, and nonprofit groups, Suffolk is bridging the gap between business and community.

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Moakley Center for Public Management

Suffolk University’s Moakley Center for Public Management is actively engaged in the local community, fostering public discourse, supporting and advising community organizations, and providing educational opportunities to build human capital in the public service industry.


Suffolk has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (now the Department of Children and Families, or DCF) to create iWorks. The six-week summer internship program provides job training, work experience, and financial education to young adults. To date, it’s helped hundreds of young people get jobs and manage financial matters.

Center for Community Engagement

The Center for Community Engagement creates lasting connections between Suffolk students, nonprofits, and community-based organizations through a number of projects. Service learning combines community service with classroom study. Some programs included in the center are Jumpstart and Alternative Break, both of which offer students a chance to participate in meaningful service projects at home or abroad during school breaks.

Center for Entrepreneurship

Suffolk’s Center for Entrepreneurship is a resource for students, alumni, and the general public. Located in the heart of downtown Boston, the Center provides a central workspace where students, alumni, faculty, and business owners can collaborate.

Center for Innovative Collaboration and Leadership

The Center for Innovation and Change Leadership aims to foster a spirit of innovation at Suffolk through events, awards, and fellowships. In 2016, the CICL awarded two Suffolk students $2,000 Innovation Fellowships to pursue their ideas, including an improved model for community redevelopment and On Board Boston, a nonprofit that teaches skateboarding and perseverance to at-risk youth.

The New Workplace Institute

The New Workplace Institute is a multidisciplinary center devoted to creating psychologically healthy, productive, and socially responsible workplaces through research and public education. Founder and director David Yamada is also director of the Labor & Employment Law Concentration at Suffolk Law.

Intellectual Property & Entrepreneurship Clinic

Students in Suffolk Law’s Intellectual Property & Entrepreneurship Clinic provide free legal services to clients of limited means with a focus on intellectual property, including copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. Students can gain hands-on experience in a fast-evolving field, honing the fundamental skills of counseling, advocacy, and transactional practice.

The Center for Real Estate

Suffolk’s Center for Real Estate, led by Executive in Residence Richard Taylor, offers professional development opportunities that provide practical, hands-on training on the latest concepts, principles, and best practices in the real estate industry. With a case-study approach, the program examines the relationship between real estate principles and community economic development in urban markets.

Undergraduate Areas of Study

Economics Major At Suffolk, economics students will analyze slow economic growth and persistent unemployment in many advanced countries. They’ll also study rising income inequality, health care costs, climate change, volatile oil prices, government deficits and debt levels, immigration, and currency crises. (Also available as a minor.)

Public Service Minor The Sawyer Business School’s Institute for Public Service is the ideal training ground for future public servants who want to build a career through helping their community. Our graduates work in state, local, and federal government, nonprofit management, health policy, advocacy, community and government organizations, and human resource management. (Also available as a minor.)

Social Impact Minor The social impact minor teaches students how to address social and economic problems home and abroad. Here, students study the major issues while also getting hands-on experience implementing solutions in these areas.

Sociology Major At Suffolk, Sociology majors can choose from a number of specialized concentrations. Specializations include Youth & Community Engagement, General Sociology, Crime & Justice, and Health & Society.

Government Major The Suffolk University Government Department seeks to cultivate thoughtful, active, and responsible global citizens. Students may choose among four concentrations, including International Relations, American Politics, Law and Public Policy, and Political Theory. The Government Department offers undergraduate students excellent preparation for further study in graduate or professional schools, as well as careers in government, business, not-for-profit, and politics.

Politics, Philosophy & Economics Major This interdisciplinary program, the first of its kind in the Boston area, prepares students to grapple with current and enduring social issues, with coursework spanning policy, ethics, and economics.

Graduate Areas of Study

Master of Public Administration Suffolk’s MPA program emphasizes community engagement, collaborative public management, innovation, and network governance as fundamental to implementing public and social policy. As one of only five New England schools fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), students will learn to anticipate, respond to, and lead change. Concentrations include State and Local Government, Nonprofit Management, Information Systems, Performance Management, and Big Data Analytics, or Community Health.

Certificate in Nonprofit Management This certificate program covers administration in a public sector context as well as finance, human resources, and other topics specific to nonprofit business environments. It can be taken as a 15-credit program full-time in as little as one semester or part-time in two semesters. 

Juris Doctor Suffolk Law students can gain practical experience in our nationally ranked clinical programs, where student-attorneys help represent real-world clients in areas like housing discrimination, immigration, and more. Students can concentrate in Labor and Employment Law or choose an area of focus such as Law and Public Service, Corporate Finance, Small Business, and Nonprofits, or Real Estate and Land Use, among others.

In Defense of the Consumer

Suffolk Law research professor Kathleen Engel argues in the New York Daily News that the CHOICE Act, a bill rolling back certain consumer protections of the Dodd-Frank Act of the Obama era, will put consumers at risk and plays into the hands of predatory lenders.

Her editorial, “Your consumer protections, on the brink of destruction in Congress,” appeared on June 7.

In her editorial, Engel argues that the CHOICE Act removes regular federal oversight of debt collectors and private student loan lenders and “revokes the CFPB’s power to enforce laws that prohibit unfair, abusive, and deceptive practices in consumer transactions.”

Engel, a national authority on consumer credit and mortgage regulation and author of the 2011 book “The Subprime Virus: Reckless Credit, Regulatory Failure and Next Steps,” serves on the Consumer Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and was a member of the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board from 2008 to 2011.

Engel also recently published an article arguing for policies that would “expand localities’ power to protect against actions by financial institutions that threaten or impose costs on communities.”

In “Local Governments and Risky Home Loans,” published in Southern Methodist University Law Review, she also introduces models for local regulation of home mortgage lending. Cities and towns across the nation face the blight of foreclosed and abandoned homes, even though many tried to stop the risky loans before they took their toll on residents and neighborhoods.

Make Bank, Give Back, Repeat

Ask Ernst Guerrier BS ’91, JD ’94 what shaped his life growing up in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood and he has a ready response: working at the local fish store. “It was no glamour job, smelling of fish all the time,” the real estate and tax lawyer says. “The funny thing is, now I own the building that store was in.”

Those working-class roots have defined Guerrier’s life path and career as an attorney. He came to Boston from Haiti at age 7, the son of a cab driver and a hospital worker. It’s impossible to get through a chat with the father of two without hearing the words “giving back to the community” and “making time” for young people. And that’s exactly what Guerrier has done since earning his law degree and forging a multimillion-dollar practice in Dorchester that focuses on the concerns of those living in Boston’s largest and most diverse neighborhood.

Guerrier arrived at Suffolk as an undergrad planning to earn a political science degree and focus on civil rights. Then he met Richard J. Trifiro JD ’57, HLLD ’87, the late Boston lawyer and philanthropist, who was committed to city youth. When Guerrier told Trifiro his ambitions, Trifiro responded, “No way, you’re working in real estate and taxes.”

“He wanted me to be financially successful so I could be a benefactor to others,” Guerrier explained. “And he was right.”

“Ernst never forgets where he came from,” says Anthony R. Ellison, an attorney who shares office space with him. “It is amazing to me the level of commitment he has for young people.”

“Since I graduated, I have never received a call from a prospective student when I said I don’t have the time, because I recall Dick and how he always had the time,” Guerrier says. “This man was worth millions, and when he was asked, ‘Why do you go down to Mattapan to meet a bunch of kids?’ he’d say, ‘Well, if I can help one kid, that’s all that matters.’ And that really stuck with me. We do make a difference.”

Ernst was recently elected to the Suffolk Board of Trustees.

A Veteran of the War on Poverty

Had Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) existed when its president and CEO John J. Drew, MBA ‘75, was a child, his would have been just the kind of family the anti-poverty organization was founded to help.

Born in Boston’s then-gritty Charlestown neighborhood, Drew and his four siblings were raised in a Somerville housing project. His father worked the graveyard shift as a shipper at a milk plant while his mother stayed at home to care for their children.

“There weren’t a lot of options,” Drew says. “The usual thing in my neighborhood was that you’d get a job at 16, or maybe you’d be a crook.”

Drew says he has “a visceral reaction to people being poor and not getting any help. I don’t like when people are treated as beggars and takers. We should be doing whatever we can to make things better.”

At the helm of the largest nonprofit human services agency in New England, he’s doing just that, overseeing more than 100 different community and social service programs. But it doesn’t end there. “Part of my job here is to be an advocate; I’m the public voice for a lot of people who don’t have a voice, and I can easily articulate the needs of these people because I’ve been there.”

In the faces of those who turn to ABCD for such crucial services as child care, job training, fuel assistance, and foreclosure prevention, Drew sees how harsh circumstances can defer dreams and how easily people can slip through the cracks without help. That’s what’s kept him at the organization for most of his professional life.

“I came in for six months to help out, and 41 years later, here I am,” jokes Drew, now in his 70s, who has been at the helm of ABCD since 2009. “In a way, there was never a good chance to leave, because there was always something to be done.”

Drew was recently awarded the 2017 Moakley Center Public Service Award.

“Suffolk is about community. I'm in my second semester at Suffolk and I couldn't be any happier. I have run cross-country, emceed Fall Fest, played my dream role of Hermione in dinner theatre, gone on an Alternative Spring Break trip, worked in an internship, and so much more. The people I have met have become my family, and I know that Suffolk will always be my second home.”
Shannon Alessandroni Spanish & Government Double Major, Class of 2019