Go Back

Marissa Block

Pearson Fellow Alum, MPP '19

Marissa Block believes in the power of rigorous evidence-based research to impact public policy. As an undergraduate at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, she won a Community Learning Initiative Research Fellowship to conduct econometric-based research on characteristics of students who apply to a school choice program. After graduating, she extended this interest to the international sphere as an economic research assistant with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). This independent US government foreign aid agency focuses on results and country ownership in order to reduce poverty through economic growth. Block’s analytical work supported the development of cost-benefit models—a key investment decision tool—of education projects in El Salvador and Côte d’Ivoire. Additionally, she is coauthor of an annual report that identifies and assesses trends in economic rates of return across MCC investments. 

Block’s focus on economics and international studies led her to study abroad at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where she studied economic development. She has also studied Arabic, taking intensive immersion courses at the University of Wisconsin and in Morocco at the Arab American Language Institute.

Outside the classroom, Block received a Davis Projects for Peace grant to assist an orphanage in rural Kenya. She led a campus-wide fundraising effort and traveled to Kenya to oversee building renovations and create a family sponsor program. She also managed student participation in two Model United Nations conferences, cofounded the Model Arab League at Trinity College, and tutored a small group of Iraqi student immigrants as a volunteer with House of Peace.

While at Harris, Marissa has worked as a research assistant for the UChicago Urban Labs, where she supported evaluations of education programs. She is also a staff writer for the Chicago Policy Review.

At The Pearson Institute, Block aspires to continue her data-driven approach to studying governance challenges of fragile states. In summer 2018, she interned in Delhi, India, with Evidence for Policy Design, a Harvard research center, where she will support capacity building policy research, focusing on how evidence is currently collected and applied to decision-making. She hopes to pursue a career in public service in economic analysis or program evaluation.

Baidoa, Somalia

Makeshift, temporary shelter made of plastic and clothing at a refugee center in Baidoa, Somalia.