The Commonwealth Awards, given every two years by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), honor exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences. Mass Humanities Executive Director David Tebaldi received a 2017 Commonwealth Award for Leadership in recognition of his extraordinary service to the cause of using the humanities to improve civic life in Massachusetts.
Mass Humanities, the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has been led by David Tebaldi for more than three decades. He is the second longest-serving chief executive of a state humanities council in the country. During his long tenure, according to the MCC, “David has provided the citizens of the Commonwealth with inspired leadership, strong management and staff and board development, creative programming on topics both timely and timeless, passionate advocacy, impressive nurturing of small humanities organizations, and record breaking private fundraising.”
Tebaldi is responsible for developing the numerous innovative and highly acclaimed public humanities programs for which Mass Humanities is known, such as Mass Moments, the digital almanac of Massachusetts History, and the National Humanities Medal winning Clemente Course in the Humanities. The Clemente Course provides access to the transformative power of the humanities to adults living in low income neighborhoods in six cities across the Commonwealth.
Another of his accomplishments is permanently on display in the Massachusetts State House. The large-scale art work HEAR US commemorates the contributions of women to public life in the Commonwealth. The project was managed by Mass Humanities at the request of the state Senate and highlights six key women and the impact of their work on the laws of our state.
His newest undertaking, the Community College Public Humanities Centers Initiative (CCPHCI), promises to make the humanities even more accessible and useful to the residents of Massachusetts. The CCPHCI will marshal and supplement the resources of local community colleges to provide public humanities programs for both students and residents.
Ten other awardees were recognized by MCC this year in various categories. Paul Grogan of the Boston Foundation will join David Tebaldi in receiving a leadership award. Past winners include leading artists, writers, and scholars such as Yo-Yo Ma and David McCullough; world-class institutions like Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Peabody Essex Museum; and social innovators like the Boston Cyberarts Festival and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. The awards were presented at the Massachusetts State House during a Wednesday, February 15, 2017 ceremony that was free and open to the public.