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Who We Are

Our mission

We create opportunities for the people of Massachusetts to transform their lives and build a more equitable Commonwealth through the humanities.

We do this through grants, programs, and partnerships with nonprofits around the state. Our work is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mass Cultural Council and the generosity of our donors.

We support a thriving humanities ecosystem in Massachusetts. Humanities organizations and institutions serve towns and cities in every corner of the Commonwealth, creating free public events, innovative digital projects, and community conversations that bring people together to understand our shared lives and diverse traditions.

What are the Humanities?

The humanities are the cornerstones of our democracy, the tools by which we comprehend the past, forge new ideas and express ourselves as participants in a free society. History, literature and philosophy help us respond to essential questions: What is the right thing to do? What do I owe to my family, my community, my country?  When we come together to address these questions, to learn and share our stories, we practice the public humanities.

Our Core Values

We believe the humanities include those studies and interpretive practices that illuminate our deepest concerns and reflect our individual and collective aspirations.

We believe the humanities offer us tools for making sense of our lives and making our way through the collective life we share.

We believe the people of Massachusetts can thrive only when the humanities are accessible to all residents.

We believe in promoting an equitable and inclusive society that recognizes all people’s perspectives, especially those who have been marginalized and underrepresented.

We believe the humanities must be part of decision-making at every level, from the street corner to the classroom to the town meeting and the state house.

We believe in opening routes of engagement and doing so with integrity and accountability.

We believe in being innovative, responsive co-creators and partners.

Our Strategic Plan

Our Strategic Plan establishes the organization’s values and goals as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2024. Responding to the ideas offered through extensive engagement with our stakeholders, the plan calls on Mass Humanities to implement seven key initiatives, with annual outcomes set for each of the three years. At this pivotal point in the evolution of our democracy, we believe the humanities, created by and for the people, can lay the groundwork for a better future.

Our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Values Statement

Inclusion. We value many voices in our decision-making processes, operations, evaluation and programs. We live this value by constantly striving for transparency, full participation, meaningful reflection and addressing past practices of exclusion in our organization that may have served as barriers to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

Creating Opportunities. We value opportunities for connection where we learn, experience, and share  in the richness of the Commonwealth. We live this value by continuing to fund and run programs in historically excluded communities in Massachusetts, engaging in challenging dialogues internally and externally. We develop strategies to strengthen our relationships with community members.

Equitable Access. We value systems and structures that create equitable access to opportunities connected to the humanities. We live this value by addressing existing barriers to funding, programs and experiences that have excluded specific communities. We provide mentoring, support and proactive outreach to reduce the perpetuation of these barriers to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

Diverse Representation. We value the strength of multiple perspectives to tell a more complete story of the Commonwealth. We live by this value by ensuring that our programs support a range of diverse voices and experiences. Our internal processes recognize and value the unique contributions of diverse staff and board members. Our work is driven by a commitment to ethically amplify narratives that have been historically erased or minimized in the humanities.

Our Impact in Massachusetts

See how our work is strengthening Massachusetts from the Berkshires to Boston. Read our 2022 Annual Report

  • $1M+
    In Grants Awarded
  • 177
    Clemente Students
  • 24
    Reading Frederick Douglass Together Events
  • 116
    Organizations Funded

Our Staff

Brian BoylesExecutive Director

Brian has spent his life weaving stories to make sense of the past, present and people. As a kid in post-industrial Pittsburgh, he grappled with the feeling that the not-too-distant past was better.

As a DJ in New York’s East Village, he learned to create space for all sorts of people to speak their truths on the air.

As Director of the Louisiana Humanities Center, Brian put together programs, traveling exhibitions and publications as a way to repair and renew dialogue in post-Katrina New Orleans.

During his decade-plus tenure at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Brian served as publisher of 64 Parishes, LEH’s award-winning quarterly and New Orleans and the World: 1718–2018, an anthology commissioned by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

His first book, New Orleans Boom and Blackout, explores the conflict, ambitions and secret histories of post-Katrina New Orleans as it prepared for the 2013 Super Bowl.

Brian brings to Mass Humanities his conviction that this moment in time calls for the humanities more than ever.

Brian tells, shares, and reimagines stories from his home in Leverett. Read his newsletter.

bboyles@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 100

Latoya BosworthProgram Officer

Latoya (Toya) has always had a voice but was often too afraid to use it or felt unheard if she did. Through the arts as an outlet, amazing mentors and spirituality, she has not only found her voice but now works to inspire others to use theirs.

Toya began her career in nonprofits at 19 before transitioning over to special education in multiple capacities for 18 years. Latoya has taught as an adjunct professor in education and human services. She also self-led many community initiatives centered on mentoring, activism, and advocacy.

Toya tells, shares and reimagines stories from her home in Springfield, MA.

lbosworth@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440 ext. 109

Jill BrevikDirector of Development

Jill brings a decade of experience in nonprofit development, planning, project management, and partnership-building using a collaborative, community-centric approach.

Prior to joining Mass Humanities, she led development and program expansion efforts for an organization with the mission of supporting families during the early childhood years.

Currently, Jill’s a board member at LightHouse Holyoke and serves on the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center’s grantmaking committee. She has also served on the board and co-chaired the development committee for Dress for Success Western Massachusetts.

She holds an MS in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University and a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Vermont.

Jill lives in Amherst and enjoys writing and exploring new places.

Jill serves as the Director of Development for Mass Humanities.

jbrevik@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 105

 

Sarah CarrollGrant Writer

Sarah Carroll is a lifelong resident and lover of New England. She began her career as a potter and language arts teacher in Worcester, studying professional ceramics for two years at the Worcester Center for Crafts following graduation from McGill University, where she studied anthropology. Alongside her work in the arts and education, Sarah has been a disability advocate and ally since her teens, culminating in a 19-year career in program management, development, and government relations with Best Buddies International. Sarah now lives and works in Watertown, where she helps adults learn to love clay as an instructor at Indigo Fire Studio. When not writing grants and making pots, Sarah loves walking in the woods with her spouse, Dana, and their dog, Phoebe.

scarroll@masshumanities.org

 

 

Wes DeShanoCommunications Manager

Wes has been a storyteller for as long as he can remember. Growing up in a small town outside of Seattle, Washington, he developed a passion for making documentary-style videos (about any topic under the sun) with his friends. What began as a rewarding passion project blossomed into a fascination with visual rhetoric and a career in communications. 

Prior to joining Mass Humanities, Wes served as the communications director for the UMass Amherst College of Education. In this role he developed creative ways to express the college’s social justice mission, including curating an annual magazine, crafting immersive stories for the website, and producing short films about students and faculty. 

His appreciation for the humanities stems from his experience as a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, where he studied postcolonial literature and literature of the environment. It was during this time that he deepened his critical awareness of systemic oppression and issues of representation–and, importantly–developed the ability to write about these topics with conviction. He believes that art, film, literature, music, and all forms of creative expression have the potential to create more equitable futures. 

Wes holds a B.A. in English literature and Public Relations from Gonzaga University and an M.A. in English literature from the University of Kentucky. He is based in Palmer, Massachusetts. 

wdeshano@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440 ext. 102

Diane FeltnerDevelopment Manager

Diane Feltner was born and raised in Cambridge, MA and currently resides in Ware. Diane previously worked in the Ware Public School system as an afterschool program coordinator. She received her BA from Baypath University and a Master’s Degree in Business from Nichols College in Dudley.

Diane serves as the Development Manager for Mass Humanities.

dfeltner@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 101

Deepika FernandesFiscal Officer

Deepika is the Fiscal Officer. She manages accounting, budgeting, human resources and all of the Foundation’s financial systems.

dfernandes@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 108

Marie PellissierProgram Officer

Marie Pellissier started her career in the public humanities as a Junior Intern at Old Sturbridge Village while she was in her teens. Since then, she’s worked as a digital humanist, teacher, museum educator, tour guide, researcher, and writer. She has worked in museums large and small, and also brings experience from her time working for the National Endowment for the Humanities. A food historian by training, Marie will complete her PhD in History from the College of William & Mary in 2024. She earned an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago and a BA in History from Boston College. When she’s not reading a good book, Marie’s favorite place to walk is along the shores of Cape Cod Bay.

mpellissier@masshumanities.org

413-584-8440 ext. 104

Raeshma RazviProgram Officer

Raeshma Razvi has loved stories and the public spaces that cultivate them since childhood; she and her three sisters considered the public library in Aurora, IL a second home. Since then, education, film productions and work have taken her internationally to Egypt, India, and Jerusalem; and nationally to Chicago, NYC, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The youth filmmaking grant program she managed at Cal Humanities received the national Schwartz Prize for outstanding work in the public humanities.  For  solo and collaborative projects that center storytelling, community, the media arts and social justice, Raeshma has received fellowships and grants from the Creative Work Fund, Open Society Institute, the Doris Duke Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the NEA, California Arts Council and more. Raeshma holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Northwestern University and an MFA in Film/Video Production from Columbia College.  She loves walking through the New England woods in all seasons, preferably with her dog Freya. 

rrazvi@masshumanities.org

413-584-8440 ext. 106

Katherine StevensDirector of Grants and Programs

Katherine grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. With a $1.55 D.C. Metro pass and a ride down the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere, she could make her way to all the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall. She will always love good infrastructure, free time, and free spaces for culture and history.

In 2014, Katherine earned her Ph.D. in American Studies at Harvard University. While studying, she co-created the “Harvard and Slavery” project. Through that work, she learned the importance of speaking unspoken histories without fear and saw the wealth that can be gained by changing who has power and who is heard. In 2018, she came to Mass Humanities, drawn by the opportunity to make it possible for people to find and tell their own stories.

Katherine provides the infrastructure for people to find, tell, and reimagine their stories from her home in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She lives with her dog, Romeo, who puts up with her learning the fiddle.

kstevens@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 103

Our board

  • Yves Salomon-Fernandez - Chair(Greenfield)
    Yves Salomon-Fernandez

    DR. YVES SALOMON-FERNANDEZ is the President of Urban College of Boston (UCB), an affiliate institution of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Prior to joining UCB, Dr. Salomon-Fernández served as Senior Vice President for Operations Planning at SNHU. Before SNHU, Yves led several community colleges as president in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

    In addition to leading UCB, Dr. Salomon-Fernández currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Inclusive Economies initiative that creates private-public partnerships to ensure full economic participation in urban and rural communities. She is also a former member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Development Advisory Council and a former Corporator of Greenfield Cooperative Bank. Dr. Salomon-Fernández periodically serves as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and Johns Hopkins University Press.Yves Salomon-Fernández is a current member of the Board of Directors at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). She also serves as a member of the Board of Double Edge Theater, located in rural western Massachusetts. Yves is the former Chair of the American Council of Education’s Learner Success Lab Advisory Council and member of Job for the Future’s Policy Leadership Trust. 

    Yves emigrated with her family from Haiti and is a graduate of Boston Latin School. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston and holds a certificate from the University of Oxford. Her master’s degree is from the London School of Economics, and her Ph.D. is from Boston College. In addition to English, Dr. Salomon-Fernández is fluent in Haitian Creole, French, and Spanish.

  • Marita Rivero - Vice-Chair(Brookline)
    Marita Rivero

    MARITA RIVERO life’s work has been to capture the stories that help us find one another across our differences.  She brings experience as a senior public broadcasting executive, museum president and board member in the areas of arts, education and preservation.  A Tufts graduate. She currently works on a consulting basis. In 2018 she joined the Bunker Hill Community College Foundation Board following her tenure as BHCC Board Chair.  Her interest in telling the full American story was at the heart of the Museum of African American History’s refreshed marketing and outreach effort.  As former Chair of the National Trust for Historic Presentation she saw the 2017 launch of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.  Her work as WGBH VP, General Manager Radio and Television included expanding radio to WGBH News, WCRB Classical, WCAI-FM, relaunch of WORLD digital television channel, and creation of online lecture service, The Forum Network.

     

  • Lennie Alickman - Treasurer(Provincetown)
    Lennie Alickman

    LENNIE ALICKMAN is a Massachusetts native, graduating from Andover High School in 1979. She studied painting and received a BFA from Syracuse University in 1983. Beginning in Boston and moving to Los Angeles, Lennie worked for The Boston Company until 1999. Most recently, she was a Senior Managing Director for First Republic Bank in Los Angeles. In 2012, her passion for art was calling so Lennie retired from private banking to pursue a professional career in the arts. She moved to Provincetown from Los Angeles full-time in 2012, and shows her paintings at the Stewart Clifford Gallery in Provincetown. Lennie is the Treasurer and on the Board of Trustees at The Provincetown Art Association and Museum. She was elected to the board in 2019.

  • Erin Williams - Secretary(New Salem)
    Erin Williams

    ERIN I. WILLIAMS is the Cultural Development Officer for the City of Worcester, MA and the Executive Director of the Worcester Cultural Coalition (WCC), a public private partnership consisting of 78 cultural organizations in partnership with the City of Worcester. With Erin’s leadership, the Worcester Cultural Coalition was presented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts highest award, as the Creative Economy Catalyst. In 2017 she received the Champion of Artists award at the Massachusetts statehouse. Ms. Williams has served on the Governor’s Creative Economy Network and Public Art Commission, is a founding board member of MASSCreative; board member of Discover Central Massachusetts, and has been a member of Americans for the Arts Local Arts Agency Executive Leadership Forum; Western MA Arts Alliance founding member, in addition to many local community organizations. Erin founded the 1974 Meetinghouse Inc. and served as the executive director for the state MA #1 community based cultural center and served as the co-director of the Wilma Project and Big Small Theaters in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of Smith College, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Cum Laude Smith Scholar and University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a frequent speaker on the role of creative city making. Erin is a firm believer that creativity sparks the economy and most importantly, builds community for all. #MakeArtEverywhere!

  • Paul D. Bosco(Concord)
    Paul D. Bosco

    PAUL D. BOSCO is a technology executive and advisor to early-stage ventures and visionary founders across the internet, ed-tech, digital health, bio-compute, and social impact sectors. He also serves in board, trustee, and advisory roles to foundations, corporations, universities, and private investors with a focus on strategy, innovation, digital transformation, entrepreneurial capacity, and talent. He was previously a vice president and general manager at Cisco, founding and scaling the business unit that delivers industry leading digital infrastructure to securely connect our homes and lives to the Internet. At Cisco he led or sponsored $1.2B in strategic software and internet startup investments and acquisitions. Paul also served as site executive for the Cisco New England Development Center, supporting partnerships with regional non-profits, museums, schools, and communities. He previously led research and development teams in the IBM High Performance Computing and Communications unit. Paul has contributed to and coauthored winning NSF, ARPA, and HHS internet, digital media, and education proposals, including a focus on underserved communities.  He holds a BS from Lehigh, MS/MBA from RPI, SM from Yale, and is a PhD ABD from MIT. He was a 2018 Harvard ALI Fellow focused on internet futures and the digital divide, social enterprise and entrepreneurship, and education and workforce development for the future of work.  Paul is based in Cambridge and joined the MA Humanities board in 2021.

  • Scott Casper(Worcester)
    Scott Casper

    SCOTT E. CASPER Scott was appointed the eighth president of the Society in December 2020. A historian of the nineteenth-century United States, he has been associated with AAS for three decades, beginning as a Peterson Fellow in 1990. Before joining AAS he served as dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and as Foundation Professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno. Scott is the author of Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine (2008) and Constructing American Lives: Biography and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (1999), which won the book prize of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing. He is the editor, co-editor, or co-author of seven other books, including A History of the Book in America, volume 3, The Industrial Book (with Jeffrey D. Groves, Stephen W. Nissenbaum, and Michael Winship) and Perspectives on American Book History: Artifacts and Commentary (with Joanne D. Chaison and Jeffrey D. Groves). Scott has received fellowships from the National Humanities Center, Winterthur, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, among other institutions. He served on the boards of the American Council of Learned Societies, Nevada Humanities, Maryland Humanities, and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance; edited the annual “Textbooks and Teaching” section of the Journal of American History from 2008 to 2018; and was acting editor of The William and Mary Quarterly in 2008-09. Scott has worked extensively with K-12 educators through the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the Center for Civic Education, and the Northern Nevada Teaching American History Project, and he has been on the faculty of Rare Book School since 2017. He holds an AB in history from Princeton University and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from Yale University.

  • Deborah Hall(Worcester)
    Deborah Hall

    Deborah Hall is CEO of YWCA Central MA. She has over 30 years of experience working with survivors of domestic violence and addressing the intersection of race, gender, and community violence. She is social justice advocate and an art lover.  She has served in leadership positions for several programs throughout MA, RI, and MO addressing issues of homelessness, violence, and substance abuse. She holds a BS in Political Science and African American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and a MS in Nonprofit Management from Worcester State University. She currently serves on the boards of   Worcester Eastside CDC, Worcester Business Improvement District, Worcester Education Collaborative and Jane Doe, Inc. She is a frequent speaker on gendered violence and violence in the lives of Black women. She is the founder of Worcester Black History Project, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Worcester Cultural Plan, and a member of the American Antiquarian Society.

  • Candace Lee Heald Community Foundation of Southeast Mass (Mattapoisett)
    Candace Lee Heald

    CANDACE LEE HEALD has served as the Director of AHA! New Bedford’s 2nd Thursday FREE Art and Culture Night since 2007. Previously, she was Vice-President of Program, Education and Exhibitions at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where she oversaw educational and public programs, exhibitions and library functions as well as visitor services and volunteers. Lee’s undergraduate degree in American History is from Brown, her Master’s Degree in American History and Museum Studies is from the University of Delaware and her Ph.D. is from Lesley University. In 2019, Lee was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from MA Arts Educators. She served on the Governor’s Creative Economic Development Council as well as other non-profit boards. Lee joined the Mass Humanities board in 2018.

  • Lawrence R. HottFlorentine Films (Northampton)
    Lawrence R. Hott

    LAWRENCE R. HOTThas been producing documentary films since 1978, when he left the practice of law to join Florentine Films.  His awards include an Emmy, two Academy Award nominations, a George Foster Peabody Award, the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, the Erik Barnouw Award, five American Film Festival Blue Ribbons, fourteen CINE Golden Eagles, screenings at Telluride, and first-place awards from the San Francisco, Chicago, National Educational, and New England Film Festivals.  Hott was the Fulbright Fellow in Film and Television in the United Kingdom in 1994 and Fulbright Specialist in Vietnam in He received the Humanities Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities in 1995; a Massachusetts Cultural Council/Boston Film and Video Foundation Fellowship in 2001; and the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism in 2001. He is on the board of MaineMedia in Rockport, ME and is now producing The Niagara Movement: The Early Battle for Civil Rights for national PBS broadcast. 

     

  • Stephen Immerman(Salem)
    Stephen Immerman

    STEPHEN IMMERMAN retired as President of Montserrat College of Art in the summer of 2018. Prior to Montserrat, Steve served for thirty years in a variety of administrative capacities at MIT. He graduated from SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Albany, and the University of Pennsylvania with specializations in psychology, higher education, and organizational and leadership development.  Steve has served on over thirty non-profit boards and currently serves as Board Chair for The Cabot Performing Arts Center. He lives in Salem, MA with his wife Darcy, Senior Vice President for Resiliency at AECOM, and immediate past Chair of the Northeast ARC board of directors.

  • Imari Paris JeffriesKing Boston (Boston)
    Imari Paris Jeffries

    IMARI PARIS JEFFRIES In June 2020, Imari Paris Jeffries was named Executive Director of King Boston. Paris Jeffries brings a wealth of experience from the nonprofit management, racial equity, community activism, education reform, and social justice sectors, and has served in executive roles at Parenting Journey, Jumpstart, Boston Rising, and Friends of The Children. He serves as a Trustee of the UMass System and on the boards of United South End Settlement Houses, MA Budget and Policy Center, and Governor Baker’s Black Advisory Commission. 

     Imari most recently was the Executive Director of Parenting Journey. Previously he served as Chief Executive Officer of the Italian Home for Children, Chief Operating Officer of Jumpstart for Young Children’s Inc., as interim CEO of Boston Rising, and as Executive Director of Friends of the Children-Boston. Imari has extensive professional experience in public, national, and nonprofit leadership.  He committed to equity and justice and has supplemented his work with volunteer service on boards.  These have included Jumpstart, the African American Federation of Greater Boston, Save the Harbor, Save the Bay, the Elizabeth Peabody House, the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership, the Edward Brooke Charter School, The Providers Council, and Third Sector New England. 

     Imari is a three-time graduate of UMass Boston and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. through UMass Boston’s Higher Education Program. He earned his BA in 1997, MEd in 1999, and his MA in 2003 from the University of Massachusetts.  A veteran, Imari served from 1991-1996.  He currently lives in Hyde Park with his family.

  • Dr. Michelle Toni McComb(Springfield)
    Dr. Michelle Toni McComb

    Michelle Toni McComb relocated to Springfield MA from Hartford CT in June of 2006. Through involvement in her new local church, Toni was given the opportunity to become a volunteer camera person for the Springfield City Council meetings. This was an eye opening experience and sparked an interest in her local community and the need for change. Toni later became a volunteer mentor for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department through the All Inclusive Support Services program and has been serving individuals returning to the community for over 14 years. For the past 5 years she has also served on the Community Accountability Board also through the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department.

    Toni is a graduate of the Clemente Course in the Humanities class of 2017 and currently holds a B.S. in Human services through Springfield College, a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies and Doctorate in Divinity through the New York Christian Bible College. Toni is also a certified chaplain and loves to serve the community both spiritually and naturally.

  • Kristin McGurn(Boston)
    Kristin McGurn

    Kristin McGurn is co-managing partner of Seyfarth’s Boston office, a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment department, and a co-chair of the Health Care, Life Sciences & Pharmaceuticals group. She is an experienced litigator, whose knowledge spans federal employment law, analogous state common law, and statutory claims, including Title VII, ADEA, FMLA, ADA, FLSA, civil and equal rights, fair employment practices, and wage payment claims. She counsels and defends scores of employers in many business sectors, with an emphasis on matters affecting the health care and pharmaceutical industries.

    Kristin also helps nonprofit and for-profit businesses negotiate and draft employment policies, contracts, and covenants. She prosecutes and defends all manner of employment-related disputes, including agency enforcement actions and discrimination, harassment and retaliation, pay equity, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, nonsolicitation, unfair competition, and whistleblower claims.

  • Gage McWeenyWilliams College (Williamstown)
    Gage McWeeny

    GAGE MCWEENY is Director of the Oakley Center for Humanities & Social Sciences and Professor of English at Williams College.  He received his B.A. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in English from Princeton University.  As Director of the Oakley Center, he convenes groups of scholars across a range of disciplines to foster the exchange of new research, as well as to nurture intellectual collaborations and communities.  His research and teaching interests most often center on the interrelation of literature and thinking about our social world, especially in nineteenth-century Britain.  He also frequently teaches or writes about the history and theory of the realist novel, sexuality and gender, virtual worlds, and contemporary experimental writing. He is the author of a study of Victorian literature and the thin but powerful social bonds of modern urban life, The Comfort of Strangers: Social Life and Literary Form (Oxford UP, 2016), and co-edited the Longman Cultural Edition of Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times. His writing has appeared in Novel: a Forum on Fiction, Victorian Poetry, and in the art journal Cabinet, and he has been a contributor of numerous reviews and essays on literature and culture for BBC Radio 3 and 4. He has also taught at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. He is currently at work on a study of the aesthetics of distraction and attention in the nineteenth century and beyond.  He lives in Williamstown with his wife and four children.  He joined the board in 2020.

  • Michael MeltsnerNortheastern University (Boston)
    Michael Meltsner

    MICHAEL MELTSNER is the George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law. Professor Meltsner was first assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1960s. During his career, Professor Meltsner has served as dean of Northeastern Law School, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and has served as a consultant to the US Department of Justice, the Ford Foundation and the Legal Action Center. In 2000, he was named a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin and conducted research on German constitutional law. He returned to Northeastern in 2005 after serving as the director of the First-Year Lawyering Program at Harvard Law School. Professor Meltsner has received the Hugo Bedau Award for excellence in death penalty scholarship, was awarded an honorary doctorate by John Jay College (CUNY) and has been described as the “principal architect of the death penalty abolition movement” in the United States. “His novel Mosaic about a civil rights era murder will be published by Quid Pro Books in 2022.”

  • Jacob Miller(New Bedford)
    Jacob Miller

    Jacob Miller is a Vineyard Offshore Tribal Lead. He works to build and maintain collaborative relationships with tribal governments and members of tribal nations.

    Jacob has many years of government and community development experience. He most recently worked as a Senior Policy Advisor and Community Development Director in the office of Massachusetts State Senator Mark Montigny. He has worked as a union organizer with the Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council AFL-CIO, a grassroots coordinator with Opportunity Nation, and led multiple community development projects in the United States and United Kingdom.

    Jacob holds a bachelor’s in Political Science and English from the University Massachusetts Dartmouth where he was named a Truman Scholar. He spent two years in the United Kingdom as a Marshall Scholar completing a master’s in management from the University of Cambridge and a master’s in Building and Urban Design in Development from the University College London. He is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree at UMass Law.

  • Kyera SingletonRoyall House and Slave Quarters (Somerville)
    Kyera Singleton

    Kyera Singleton is Executive Director of Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in the Department of American Culture. For the 2021-22 academic year, she was an American Democracy fellow at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University. She has held prestigious academic fellowships from the Beinecke Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

  • David Slatery(MCC Liaison) Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • Rajini Srikanth UMass Boston (Lexington)
    Rajini Srikanth

    RAJINI SRIKANTH is a Professor of English and Dean of Faculty at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is also affiliated faculty of the Asian American Studies Program,  the Human Rights minor, and the graduate program in Critical Ethnic and Community Studies Professor Srikanth is the author of two monographs, Constructing the Enemy: Empathy/ Antipathy in US Literature and Law (2012) and The World Next Door: South Asian American Literature and the Idea of America (2004), and the co-editor of multiple collections, including Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Rights: History, Politics, Practice (2018), The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature (2016), a special issue on Islamic feminisms of the International Feminist Journal of Politics (2008), White Women in Racialized Spaces: Imaginative Transformation and Ethical Action in Literature (2002), and A Part, Yet Apart: South Asians in Asian America(1998). In addition, she has numerous essays in peer-reviewed journals and chapters in collections. Her publications and teaching span Asian American literature, human rights, pedagogy, and comparative race and ethnic studies. Rajini is co-recipient of grants from the Ford  Foundation ($100,000 in 2007 to organize and host an international conference on Islamic feminisms) and the National Endowment for the Humanities ($100,000 in 2018, to develop and implement a three-course cluster in environmental humanities). She was elected to the board  in 2018.

  • Aaron Vega(Holyoke)
    Aaron Vega

    Aaron Vega served four terms as Holyoke’s State Representative and before that, two terms as an at-large city councilor. Prior to his life in the public sector Aaron was a documentary film editor for nearly 15 years, working for HBO, TLC, PBS and most notably being part of Ken Burns editorial team for Jazz.

    Aaron lives in Holyoke with his wife Debra, who is a former radio City Rockette and current dance and yoga teacher. They have a son Odin who has also taken to the stage and dance in between practicing guitar and playing Mindcraft.

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Our history

In 1965, Congress passed the founding legislation of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This eloquent document states clearly:

Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.
It must therefore foster and support a form of education, and access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants.

We take that message to heart at Mass Humanities. As the state affiliate of NEH since 1974, we have partnered with local non-profit organizations to bring history, philosophy, and literature into the everyday lives of people in communities across the Commonwealth. From Adams to Provincetown, Springfield to Boston and everywhere in between, we help people celebrate their stories, reflect on issues in their neighborhoods, and imagine the future for themselves and their families.

Mass Humanities receives major support from NEH and the Mass Cultural Council as well as our generous private donors. A private 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Mass Humanities is committed to responsible stewardship of public and private resources through the guidance of our statewide board of directors and the creative, efficient operations of our Northampton-based staff.

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