Benefit Dinner


True Stories

2017 Governor’s Awards in the Humanities

A Dinner to Benefit the Public Humanities in Massachusetts

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fairmont Copley Plaza

138 St. James Avenue, Boston

5:00 Reception | 5:30 Dinner and Governor’s Award Presentations

The Governor’s Awards in the Humanities will be conferred upon three leaders in recognition of their public actions, grounded in an appreciation of the humanities, to enhance civic life in the Commonwealth.

2017 Honorees

Read about our three 2017 Honorees

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Gates has authored or co-authored twenty-one books and created seventeen documentary films. His six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), which he wrote, executive produced, and hosted, earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program—Long Form, and many other honors. Gates’s latest film is the six-hour PBS documentary, Africa’s Great Civilizations (2017).

The recipient of fifty-five honorary degrees and numerous prizes, Gates was a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981, and in 1998, he became the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal. He was named to Time’s 25 Most Influential Americans list in 1997, and to Ebony’s Power lists in 2009, 2010 and 2012. He serves on a wide array of boards, including the New York Public Library, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Aspen Institute, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and the Brookings Institution.

Sacha Pfeiffer

Sacha Pfeiffer was a member of the Boston Globe Spotlight Team whose stories on the Catholic Church’s coverup of clergy sex abuse won them the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, among other honors. That reporting is the subject of the 2015 movie Spotlight, in which Pfeiffer is played by actress Rachel McAdams.

At the Globe, Pfeiffer has also produced investigative series on corporate boards, shoddy home construction, and financial abuses by charitable foundations; covered legal affairs and the Massachusetts courts; and written for the Sunday magazine, travel pages, and food section. She currently writes about wealth, philanthropy and nonprofits, and still does investigative work.

In the broadcast realm, Pfeiffer has been the host of “All Things Considered” and “Radio Boston” at WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, and a guest host of NPR’s nationally syndicated “On Point” and “Here & Now.” Her on-air work won a national 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award for broadcast reporting and numerous awards from the Associated Press and the Radio & Television News Directors Association.

David Starr

David Starr is the longest-serving news executive in the Advance Publications newspaper group (formerly Newhouse Publications) which, in addition to newspapers, owns Conde Nast magazines, the American City Business Journals and other publications. He was the longtime publisher and then president of the Springfield Republican.

Starr was the driving force in turning Springfield from a decaying downtown to a vibrant inner city in the 1980s and ‘90s. He was president of Springfield Central, the city’s downtown revitalization organization, from 1979 to 1995. Starr has been active in a number of Springfield organizations, including the Springfield Symphony, WGBY, and the Library and Museums Association. He was a founder of the Springfield Business Friends of the Arts as well as the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. He served on the board of the Massachusetts Cultural Council for 31 years and was a director and chairman of the American Arts Alliance from 1989 to 1992. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, Starr was a member of a unit in Austria that arrested several high-level Nazi officials at the end of World War II.


The Springfield Republican - in honor of David Starr
The Boston Globe (in kind)
Hertel & Konish Wealth Management Group
The Hutchins Family Foundation – in honor of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The Fairmont Copley Plaza (in kind)
Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
McCarter & English LLP
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Wells Fargo Foundation in cooperation with Wells Fargo Advisors
Big Y – in honor of David Starr
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts – in honor of David Starr
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation

Sponsorship Opportunities:

Sponsorships start at the $2,500 Benefactor level and include benefits such as:

  • An ad in the program booklet given to all 200+ guests.
  • Recognition on Mass Humanities website.
  • Inclusion in displays and materials made for the event.
  • Seats at the dinner.

Please download sponsorship details (pdf) to see specific benefits for different levels of sponsorship. Questions? contact John Sieracki.

The Proceeds:

Proceeds support programs that reach underserved communities such as the Clemente Course in the Humanities. Mass Humanities is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the use of history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to deepen our understanding of the issues of the day, strengthen our sense of common purpose, and enrich individual and community life.

The Awards Dinner follows the Mass Humanities 2017 Fall Forum:

What’s New about Fake News?

Boston Public Library, Rabb Auditorium
700 Boylston Street, Boston
2:30 – 4:30 PM, Sunday, October 15, 2017

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