Letter to Professor Neenah Estrella-Luna

Today I post here a copy of a letter I sent to Professor Estrella-Luna.  Some six months after defending my thesis and earning my doctorate in the Doctor of Law and Policy program at Northeastern University, I want to share with her why her teachings have made me a better policy maker and budding academic.

Feel free to metaphorically look over her shoulder and read my letter.


February 12, 2017


Neenah Estrella-Luna, PhD
Doctor of Law & Policy Program
College of Professional Studies
Northeastern University
30 BV
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115


Dear Professor Estrella-Luna:


It has been nearly six months since I defended my doctoral thesis before you and the other members of the examination committee.  That is a great reason for me to reach out to you now to share with you some of my thoughts about you, your impact on me, and the DLP program.


When I entered the DLP program, I met you but didn’t quite know how to take you. Your clinical and critically honest assessment of each of us at that first Intensive Week entering the program was at once unexpected, enlightening, and—to be honest—a bit frightening.  Yet, you made it clear from that very first contact that you expected us to excel if we were to achieve our goal to graduate from the program.  You also made it equally clear that you would help and support us to reach that goal if we did our part to your very high but achievable expectations and standards.


Frankly, in all of my prior educational programs, whether undergraduate or graduate, I have never encountered a professor who published his or her expectations and goals as clearly and honestly as did you. All of us in Cohort VIII also learned that your clarity in expectations of and goals for each of us were coupled with your promise, on which you unwaveringly delivered, to support each of us to meet both.


You personally inspired me, and I can say with certainty all of the members of Cohort VIII, to push past our self-perceived limits to achieve the core goal of the DLP program.  By this I do not mean earning the degree of Doctor of Law and Policy (although that was quite nice, thank you).  Rather, I am talking about the program’s core goal of developing effective new policy entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and change agents. In my case, as someone with some prior public visibility in telecommunications law and policy, I know how I have already applied the many tools I learned in the program…tools you taught us…to help shift local, state and national telecom policy as it relates to a new regulatory framework for the deployment of the next generation of wireless facilities.  In that regard, I am altogether much more effective today than I was the day I entered the DLP program.


Of all of the tools and elements I learned from you in the DLP program, I believe the most important, at least so far, has been for me to consciously apply critical thinking to enable me to connect seemingly disparate concepts to achieve important policy goals.  Your multi-dimensional approach to problem identification and solving has helped me far better understand those who would otherwise be patent policy enemies and turn them into potential, if sometimes latent, policy allies.  It has also made me, I hope, a better budding academic.


I often find myself inwardly smiling for a moment or two knowing that in real life I’m applying the policy tools you lead us to understand, respect, and own. In the end analysis, you are to me at the very center of the DLP program.  You are the gravity chiefly responsible for drawing in, shaping and producing, and eventually flinging out fully-developed DLP program graduates who then may become their own policy gravity centers.


Warmly, your devoted policy disciple,


Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer, Esq., JD, LL.M, DLP
Member, NEU DLP Cohort VIII
PS:  I hope you do not mind, but given your importance to me and the DLP program, I am going to post a copy of this letter at www.JonathanKramer.com, which has apparently become one of the more popular sites on Internet to learn about the DLP program. –jlk


DLP Update From my Mentee, Opéoluwa Sotonwa

Opeoluwa Sotonwa, Member of DLP Cohort X

Opé Sotonwa
Member of DLP Cohort X

I have the great privilege of being the mentor of Opéoluwa Sotonwa, a member of NEU Doctor of Law and Policy program.  Opé is a member of Cohort X.  He is an advocate for the deaf and hearing impaired in a position that can truly make a difference; an accomplished attorney; a published author; and a particularly thoughtful individual.

I just finished a call with Opé during which he described his own progress through the DLP program, and recent and upcoming events. Frankly, I’m a bit envious of my young squire.

Okay, first some background. The DLP program has never been static.  It has continued to evolve in coursework, presentation, and faculty oversight over the past decade, arguably becoming something better with every passing year.

When I went through the program, which is taught in Boston, we spent two of our cohort “intensives” meetings in Washington D.C.  The D.C. trips focused on visits with law and policy leaders, including a meeting with a U.S. Senator, visits to policy think tanks, a visit to the U.S. Supreme Court, seminars with national and international law and policy leaders, and the like.

Okay, why am I envious of Opé?  Last month, during Cohort X’s visit to Washington D.C., they spent one-on-one quality time with Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.  How cool is that!  Reading the opinions then getting to Q&A with the man.  What a highlight!

Coming up last this year–to continue to make me envious of Opé–is the Cohort’s planned trip to London, England.  Heck, Cohort VIII never left the east coast, much less the continent.

Okay, I’m really happy for Opé and his mates in Cohort X.  I have got to figure out some way to get invited by the DLP program leaders to lecture in London to the Cohort about international telecommunications policy, which was the subject of my LL.M from Strathclyde University in Glasgow.  Perhaps they just need a chaperone. 

I’m donning my thinking cap right now!



Ted Johnson, DLP to Participate in the Electron Postmortem at UCLA/Hammer 1/17/17

Dr. Ted Johnson

UCLA Hammer Forum
Election Postmortem
Tuesday Jan 17, 2017 7:30PM PST

“Reflecting on the 2016 presidential election, UCLA political scientist Lynn Vavreck looks at the effectiveness of campaign ads, public policy scholar Theodore R. Johnson discusses the changing role of the black electorate, and University of California, Irvine, political scientist Michael Tesler examines the connection between economic anxiety and racial resentment. Moderated by Ian S. Masters, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and KPFK 90.7 FM radio host.”

For more information visit: https://hammer.ucla.edu/programs-events/2017/01/election-postmortem/

I’ll be there.  Will you?

PS: There will be a live stream of the event.  See more at the link above.


Dr. Rachel A. Meidl

All of us in Cohort 8 are incredibly happy on hearing the news that Dr. Rachel A. Meidl has been nominated by President Obama to serve a 5-year term as a Member of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

rachaelhoodingRachel receiving her doctoral hood, September 28, 2016. (Photo credit: Northeastern University.)

Dr. Meidl is an outstanding candidate, with a tremendous background that will make her an invaluable member on the Board.


What’s my Next Research Goal?

I’m evaluating possible research avenues now that I have the Post-Doc world ahead of me.  Given my thesis findings in Calabasas about community-wide perceptions regarding cell sites in neighborhoods, and the comments of my thesis review panel discussing my findings, I’m thinking about conducting a similar but more extensive and focused public opinion study in another one of the communities I work with in Southern California. It’s a community where new cell siting issues have been a particularly contentious and heated issue.

Like most cases in local government, those who show up to public meetings are often and commonly opposed to some issue or proposition.  Those who feel that they are not affected (or even supportive) of the issue or proposition don’t typically attend public meetings.  The result can be that a vocal minority can distort the perceptions of government decision makers leading to skewed decisions based on thin or no real evidence.

I’m not suggesting that a minority testifying against something at a public hearing is always wrong; only that a better basis for a community-impacting decisions by governments should be to base those decisions on broad community input, including those who don’t show up for meetings.