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Governor’s Awards in the Humanities

The Massachusetts 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 an annual event. 

The 2021 Governor’s Awards

The 2021 celebration will be livestreamed from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on Sunday, October 24. Proceeds from sponsorships, ticket sales, and direct donations will be put to use in the coming year to maintain and enhance the Clemente Course, Reading Frederick Douglass Together, and other humanities-based programming that reaches people throughout Massachusetts. You can make a contribution at this link (select the 2021 Governors Awards designation).

In accordance with State-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, seating will be limited to 200. Seats are being reserved for friends and family of the award recipients, sponsors, and Mass Humanities board and staff members only.

As they honor the award recipients, sponsors are key to our fundraising success. Through payments of $2,500 or more, sponsors receive seats at the the Kennedy Library celebration, ad space, and special recognition in printed and online materials. Payments qualify as charitable contributions, minus $100 per seat for goods and services.

Use the form below to register for livestreaming or sponsorship, or to make a donation in honor of the award recipients.

John Burgess practiced corporate and international law at the firm WilmerHale for more than three decades. He currently teaches Law of the Sea at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has been a visiting professor internationally. Burgess spent a year at the U.S. State Department during the START Treaty negotiations. He is currently a member of the WBUR board of directors and chair of the governance committee. He has served as a trustee of the Roxbury Latin School; a director on the Mass Humanities board from 2003 to 2010, the final two years as chair; and as a member of several other boards.

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard. Gordon-Reed has won sixteen book prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 and the National Book Award in 2008, for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. She is the current president of The Ames Foundation of Harvard Law School. A selected list of her honors includes a Guggenheim Fellowship in the humanities, a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Award, and the Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Gordon-Reed served as a member of the board of trustees of Dartmouth College from 2010 to 2018. She was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011.

Sonia Nieto is professor emerita of language, literacy, and culture in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her teaching has spanned early elementary through doctoral education and her research has focused on the education of students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, with a special emphasis on Latin@ students. She is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and has written or edited 13 books, including a memoir, Brooklyn Dreams: My Life in Public Education. The first edition (1992) of her classic text, Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education, was selected for the Museum of Education Readers’ Guide as “one of the 100 books that helped define the field of education in the 20th century.” Dr. Nieto has received numerous awards including 9 honorary doctorates.

Heather Cox Richardson is professor of history at Boston College and the author of six acclaimed books about American politics, most recently How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America. Her books, West from Appomattox and To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party were Editor’s Choice selections of the New York Times Book Review. Richardson is a national commentator on American political history and the Republican Party. She is a leading #Twitterstorian, and the author of Letters from an American, a chronicle of modern political history that appears on Facebook and in newsletter format. With Professor Joanne Freeman, she is the co-host of the podcast Now & Then.

The 2020 Governor’s Awards

With your help, in 2020 we created an online awards program that rivaled the dinners of the past in celebrating the recipients and their importance to the cause of the public humanities — while surpassing our fundraising goal! Proceeds will be used in the coming year for programs serving the people of Massachusetts including the Clemente Course, Reading Frederick Douglass Together, and hundreds more through grants.

Watch the full program from October 25, honoring jessie little doe baird, Al Griggs, Lee Pelton, and Fredericka Stevenson, below.

2020 Sponsors



Amy and David Abrams, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
The Barr Foundation, in honor of Lee Pelton
The Beveridge Family Foundation, in honor of Al Griggs
John Burgess and Nancy Adams, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
Patty and Paul Gannon, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
K|B Private Wealth Management
Seth and Beth Klarman, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Mary and Kevin O’Connell, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
William and Lia Poorvu, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Arthur Rock, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
State Street Corporation
Cathy and Jim Stone, in honor of Lee Pelton
Cathy and Jim Stone, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Lisbeth Tarlow

Anonymous, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Community Foundation of Western MA, in honor of Al Griggs
Cooley Dickinson Health Care, in honor of Al Griggs
Dianne Doherty, in honor of Al Griggs
Nancy and Jim Edwards, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Emerson College, in honor of Lee Pelton
Friends of Al and Sally Griggs
Perrin & Bruns Grayson, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Colleen and Ron Hertel, in honor of Al Griggs
Dr. Stephen and Mrs. Darcy Immerman
John McGinn and Cary Davis, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Jack and Beth Meyer, in honor of Fredi Stevenson
The Mohegan Tribe, in honor of jessie little doe baird
Mount Auburn Hospital, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Troy and Pat Murray, in honor of Fredericka Stevnson
Michael Pappone and Diane Savitzky
Raymond James Financial Advisors Michael Serafino, Geoffrey Moore and Mark Teed, in honor of Al Griggs
Bill and Carol Sahlman, in honor of Fredericka Stevenson
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

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