A consultant at Manatt Health, Bean is using her MPP skills to expand access to healthcare and improve services for vulnerable populations.
Headshot of Aliya Bean
Aliya Bean

Aliya Bean, MPP’21 was a few months away from graduating high school when her school mounted its annual “Own Your Peace” week. She was about to take the stage to tell the school her story of struggling with her identity and sexuality. At the time she was out to only a few of her friends, but she wanted to make sure younger students struggling with similar issues knew they were not alone.

Getting up on the stage, she had no idea that speech would change the direction of her life.

“I got an overwhelmingly positive response, and I found out how much I loved storytelling,” Bean said. People she had not spoken to before told her how much they appreciated her speech. “I learned the value that personal storytelling can have in changing policy and changing how things work for the better. It was a formative experience and shaped who I became.”

During college at Brandeis University, Bean worked at Greater Boston PFLAG, an organization dedicated to creating safe and inclusive environments for members of the LGBTQ community, speaking to students across Massachusetts. Before her senior year, she spent the summer in Washington DC working for PFLAG National as a policy and legislative intern, and she realized she loved DC and working on federal policy.

She went on to work for the DC-based National Partnership for Women & Families. When she joined, the battle to repeal the Affordable Care Act was raging and Bean got thrown into the middle of the fight. Although she had no health care experience at the time, she loved the complexity and fluidity of the topic.

Bean later joined the US House of Representatives’ LGBTQ Equality Caucus, a caucus led by the seven openly LGBTQ members of the House, where she could combine her interest in LGBTQ policy and health care. Bean served as the interim executive director for seven months, where she helped lead the passage of the Equality Act, worked on access to healthcare for the transgender community, and wrote a bill about long-term care for LGBTQ older adults. Eventually, she realized she wanted to improve her quantitative abilities to round out her toolbox of skills and study health policy in a more formal setting.

“When I visited Harris, I fell in love with the people. Everyone really loves their area of policy and cares about making a difference. Harris felt like the perfect program.”

Bean said she learned a lot in the MPP program, including how to think more analytically. “I really enjoyed Program Evaluation with Fiona Burlig. If you had told me a stats class was going to be my favorite class at Harris, I would have laughed at you,” Bean said. “All the skills I learned in the Core I have been able to apply to real policy issues and feel confident about in my work.”

Bean currently works as a consultant at Manatt Health. “Over the last two years, I’ve been mostly working with states to help redesign, innovate, and transform their Medicaid programs. Broadly, I’ve been working to expand access to healthcare and improve services for the most vulnerable populations.”

She said the Harris curriculum provided her with skills integral to her daily work. “A huge part of being at Harris is learning to be a good problem solver. My ability to solve problems and be methodical about it is key to my work. And while my policy interests may evolve,” she added, “my desire to do government work, focus on evidence-based
policy, and uplift marginalized communities will never change.”