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Governor’s Awards in the Humanities Dinner

2019 Governor’s Awards in the Humanities Honorees

The Governor’s Awards in the Humanities recognize individuals for their public actions, grounded in an appreciation of the humanities, to enhance civic life in the Commonwealth. Each year the Mass Humanities Board of Directors selects nominees who are confirmed by the Governor of Massachusetts. Established in 2014, the awards are presented at the annual Mass Humanities benefit dinner. 

2019 Governor’s Awardees

Lee Blake is president of the New Bedford Historical Society and has worked as a teacher and administrator for over 40 years. Her efforts to reclaim the history of black people in the region include the restoration and preservation of the Nathan and Mary Johnson House, former home of Frederick Douglass and a site on the Underground Railroad. She has secured six grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for teachers’ professional development nationwide, and she received the National Park Service’s 2018 Robert G. Stanton Award for promoting and preserving the history of the Underground Railroad.

Danielle Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She is widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America. Allen is the author of five books, including most recently Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017). She is a former chair of the Mellon Foundation board, and past chair of the Pulitzer Prize board. She is the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project at Harvard, providing the knowledge, skills, and capacities that citizens need in order to succeed at operating their democracy.

Nancy Donahue was a founder of the Merrimack Repertory Theater, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and she currently serves as board chair. She has helped revitalize Lowell over the past four decades as a board member—and in many cases a founder—of regional organizations, including the Cultural Office of Lowell, Lasell College, the New England Quilt Museum, UMass Lowell, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (where she served as the first woman board president), the former American Textile Museum, and the Whistler House Museum of Art, where she is now board chair.

Jeffrey Musman has practiced law for 45 years, the last sixteen as a Partner with Seyfarth Shaw LLP, concentrating in the areas of corporate and commercial law, real estate development, land use, and public and private finance. As a Nahant resident, Musman has served in many civic roles, including as a member of the Nahant Preservation Trust board since 1996. He is chairman emeritus of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts board, and serves as member and former board president of the Northeast ARC. He served on the Mass Humanities board of directors from 2009-2017, including one term as treasurer.

2019 Awards Dinner Photos


As we work together to strengthen our democracy, having greater access to the inspiration and wisdom the humanities provide is crucial. The 2019 benefit dinner honoring Danielle Allen, Lee Blake, Nancy Donahue, and Jeffrey Musman raised more than $200,000 for programs that bring the humanities to underserved communities.

Honoring our Donors

We are filled with gratitude for the response to this year’s Governors Awards in the Humanities Dinner and our annual Fall Forum. Thanks to your support, Mass Humanities will bring new audiences to the humanities in 2020. 

Our special thanks go out to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, Jill Lepore, honorees Danielle Allen, Lee Blake, Nancy Donahue and Jeff Musman, and their families and friends. 

The Donahue Family
Lia and Bill Poorvu
Spencer, Sullivan & Vogt
Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts
W.E.B. Du Bois Center at University of Massachusetts Amherst
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
Gourmet Caterers
Darcy L. Immerman
Nahant Preservation Trust
New Bedford Historical Society
Michael Pappone and Diane Savitzky
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
WGBH Boston

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