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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 Bay 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 Impact in Massachusetts

Each year, Mass Humanities supports hundreds of projects across the state through grants, strategic partnerships and our signature programs. In 2021, our work served more than 190 Massachusetts communities. 2021 Annual Report

  • $1.7M
    In Grants Awarded
  • 209
    Clemente Students
  • 24
    Reading Frederick Douglass Together Events
  • 198
    Organizations Funded

Our Staff

Brian BoylesExecutive Director

bboyles@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 100
Brian leads Mass Humanities, working with communities, scholars, and supporters to advance the council’s mission. Brian joined the organization in 2018 following 11 years at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, where he served as publisher for 64 Parishes magazine and directed public events at the Louisiana Humanities Center. A graduate of Tulane University, he lives in Leverett with his wife and two children. Follow him on twitter @brianwboyles.

Jen AtwoodProgram Officer

jatwood@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440 ext. 106
Jen Atwood is originally from California and has a in B.A in Technical Theater and an M.S. in Arts Management.  Jen previously was the Manager of the Local Cultural Council Program at Mass Cultural Council and Director of East Somerville Main Streets and has experience with community development, local partnerships and volunteer management.  Jen loves working with Massachusetts communities and telling their stories through a cultural lens. She leads Mass Humanities’ partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program.

Latoya BosworthProgram Officer

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

Latoya previously worked in the Springfield public school system for 18 years, most recently as District Behavior Specialist. She brings a wealth of experience from education to crisis intervention to family stabilization, as well as her own mentoring and arts program. Latoya has also worked as an adjunct professor for Springfield College. She holds a PhD, Human Services from Capella University, an M.S. in Non-profit Management & Philanthropy from Bay Path University, and a B.A., Sociology Minor in Social Work from Western New England University. She leads Mass Humanities’ Reading Frederick Douglass Together program.

Diane FeltnerExecutive Assistant

dfeltner@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 101
Diane Feltner was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Ware. Diane previously worked in the Ware Public School system as an afterschool program coordinator and most recently as an Executive Assistant with Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester. She received her BA from Baypath University and a Master’s Degree in Business from Nichols College in Dudley.

Deepika FernandesFiscal Officer

dfernandes@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 108
Deepika is the Fiscal Officer. She manages accounting, budgeting, human resources and all of the Foundation’s financial systems.

John LyndsDirector of Communications

jlynds@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440 ext. 104

As Director of Communications for Mass Humanities John oversees the strategic communication efforts for the council statewide. John joined the organization in 2022 following 21 years as a partner, editor and senior reporter at the Independent Newspaper Group based in the Boston area. During his two decade career as a journalist, John covered a wide array of topics, including breaking news, investigative reports, politics, development, features on non-profits, businesses and community leaders as well as documenting community initiatives and events.

John is the 2017 recipient of the East Boston Chamber of Commerce Prosperity Award; the 2017 recipient of the East Boston Athletic Board Special Recognition Award; and the 2012 recipient of the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Community Hero Award.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, he lives in East Boston with his wife and two children.

Gina OcasionClemente Program Coordinator

gocasion@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440 ext. 107

Gina is originally from California but now calls Western Massachusetts home. She received her doctorate in English and American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016. She was part of the founding faculty for The Clemente Course in Springfield, MA, and became the Academic Director in 2018. Gina is passionate about open access education and as the Clemente Program Coordinator she works to support the student scholars, faculty, and host institutions that make each Clemente site successful.  

 

Katherine StevensDirector of Grants

kstevens@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 103
Katherine guides grant applicants through the application process and manages the Reading Frederick Douglass Together program. She earned her PhD in American Studies from Harvard University and BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

Enix ZavalaDirector of Administration

ezavala@masshumanities.org
413-584-8440, ext. 102
Enix grew up in Holyoke, MA and currently resides in Belchertown. Prior to joining Mass Humanities, Enix served for 15 years as the Senior Manager at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. She was an Adjunct Professor at BayPath College and Springfield Technical Community College. Enix received a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy, along with a certification in Strategic Fundraising, from BayPath College.

Sara Seng / HEARD Strategy & StorytellingCommunications

sara@heardstrategy.com
781-244-8085

Sara and HEARD lead all communications efforts for Mass Humanities. HEARD Strategy & Storytelling is a Worcester-based firm.

Our board

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

    YVES SALOMON-FERNÁNDEZ Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández is a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and future-focused thought leader with a deep passion for the humanities and the liberal arts. She currently serves as Senior Vice President for Operations Planning at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Most of her career has been in higher education, serving as an administrator, researcher, and adjunct faculty. Dr. Salomon- Fernández most recently served as President of Greenfield Community College, located in rural western Massachusetts. She is passionate about bridging the rural and urban divide while using technology to provide greater access to the world beyond our immediate surroundings.

    Yves currently serves on the Board of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, where she joins her colleagues in advocating for greater integration of the liberal arts across the curriculum. She also serves on the boards of Double Edge Theater and Urban College Boston. She is a former Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Development Advisory Council member. In addition, Yves previously served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Dr. Salomon-Fernández 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. from Boston College. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation. Yves is fluent in French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish. She is the proud mom of two teenagers.

  • 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!

  • Edward Augustus(Worcester)
    Edward Augustus

    Edward M. Augustus, Jr. is the first Chancellor in Dean College history. As Chancellor, Mr. Augustus reports directly to the Board of Trustees and works closely with Dean College President, Kenneth Elmore. Chancellor Augustus has worked in public service for more than 30 years. He was appointed as the City Manager of Worcester in 2014. As City Manager, he focused on continuing Worcester’s economic development renaissance, supporting education and youth, and making city government inclusive for all residents of New England’s second-largest city. Prior to his appointment as City Manager, Chancellor Augustus, a native of Worcester, served as Director of Government and Community Relations at the College of the Holy Cross. His career began at the age of 23 when he was appointed to the City of Worcester’s Human Rights Commission. A few months later, he was elected to the Worcester School Committee, becoming the youngest person ever to hold elected office in Worcester. He served on the School Committee for two terms. Building on his commitment to education, Chancellor Augustus moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked in President Bill Clinton’s United States Department of Education from 1992 to 1998. Augustus also served as U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern’s Chief of Staff in Washington from 1998 to 2004.He served two terms in the Massachusetts State Senate, representing Worcester’s 2nd District. Ed is a graduate of Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Suffolk University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

  • 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.

  • Lyell Franke - Governor's Appointee(Duxbury)
    Lyell Franke

    LYELL FRANKE is a 1973 graduate of Wheaton College in Norton Massachusetts with a BA in Art History. She completed her masters at the New York School of Interior Design in NYC and the New England School of Art and Design in Boston, MA. She is a longtime resident of Duxbury where she and her husband built a home and raised their three children. Lyell volunteered for many organizations in Duxbury while raising her children, the Duxbury Creative Arts Council, the Duxbury Cultural Council, the PTA, the Duxbury Education Foundation, Crossroads for Kids, Cranberry Hospice and the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society among other local cultural organizations. She has been an active member of the Duxbury Yacht Club for many years and has served on many committees as well as the Board of Directors. She is an Overseer and former board member of the South Shore Conservatory. She was on the steering committee of the Duxbury Classical Chamber Music Festival and has served on their Executive Committee for 15 years. She is currently a Senior Associate at the MFA having served as a museum guide for 14 years and having worked on the annual Art in Bloom fund raiser during her four year tenure as an MFA Associate. Lyell and her husband started a retail business in Duxbury with two other partners and served as an owner/buyer for 25 years. She is a proud mother of three grown children and seven grandchildren. She was appointed to the board by Governor Baker in 2019.

  • Bruce Grinnell (North Adams)
    Bruce Grinnell

    BRUCE GRINNELL recently concluded a fifty year career as a practicing attorney working primarily in Berkshire County. A graduate of Deerfield Academy, Williams College and Boston University School of Law, he moved to Williamstown in 1968 after clerking in the Federal District Court in Boston. Beginning as a single practitioner, the practice grew to seven attorneys with offices in Pittsfield and Williamstown. For the past fifteen years, Bruce restricted his practice to mediation. Grinnell was a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, served as a trustee at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, was trustee and Board Chair of the former North Adams Regional Hospital, chaired the successful Capital Campaign there, raising over eleven million dollars. He was also a founder and president of the local ABC program in Williamstown. He was elected to the board in 2017.

  • 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.

  • Jackie Jenkins-Scott - Governor's Appointee(Belmont)
    Jackie Jenkins-Scott

    JACKIE JENKINS-SCOTT is a nationally recognized leader with more than three decades of experience in senior and executive leadership positions in higher education and public health. She was the 13th President and the first African-American President of Wheelock College, serving from 2004 – 2016. She was appointed to the board by Governor Baker in 2017.

  • Peggy Kemp(Medford)
    Peggy Kemp

    PEGGY KEMP served in the Boston Public Schools for more than 30 years as a teacher, department head, and headmaster. As Headmaster of Fenway High School from 2003-2016, Peggy helped to transition the pilot school into one of Boston’s leading secondary schools. During her tenure, Fenway’s faculty and students were recognized for high academic achievement by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Commendation School), the U.S. Department of Education (National Blue Ribbon School), by the Gaston Institute of UMASS/Boston (one of only two high schools in Boston where Latino students excel) and by the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (boys of color performing above average academically). She was awarded a Service Excellence Award for School Leadership by the City of Boston in 2009. She has served as a lead liaison on school reform initiatives in Philadelphia, PA, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Jefferson County, KY and has worked in higher education at Northeastern University as associate director of a regional math and science center and at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as the director of the Office of School Partnerships. In 2001, she was recognized by the Boston Higher Education Partnership for outstanding contributions and in 2014 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Emmanuel College. She is a graduate of Berea College and Harvard Law School. She was elected to the board in 2017.

  • Amy Macdonald WBUR
    Amy Macdonald

    AMY MACDONALD is Director of CitySpace, the state-of-the-art events venue at WBUR, where she oversees all of the programming.  Years ago, Amy worked at WBUR as a producer for “The Connection” under the helm of host Christopher Lydon. In between her stints at WBUR, she was the Forum Producer at the JFK Library, organizing the Library’s lecture series.  A graduate of Smith College, she has a Masters in Communication from Stanford University and Masters in English from Boston University. She was elected to the board in 2017.

  • 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.”

  • 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 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.

  • Willis G. WangBoston University (Boston)
    Willis G. Wang

    WILLIS G. WANG is Vice President and Associate Provost for Global Programs, and Deputy General Counsel at Boston University. He is the senior international officer responsible for strategic and major global initiatives. In addition, he manages the Global Programs Office which consists of study abroad programs with in-country operations in 15 countries, immigration support to thousands of international students and scholars, an ESL school, and operational support services facilitating the global activities of BU faculty. Willis also oversees a London-based academic internship non-profit, and is a trustee of Sea Education Association. As Deputy General Counsel, and since joining BU in 1998, his legal practice focuses on international ventures, corporate transactions, tech transfer, endowment investments, research, employment, and environmental matters. Prior to BU, Willis was in-house counsel at an MIT spin-off environmental technology company and the EPA. Hailing from Missouri, Willis has lived in
    Massachusetts since 1988 with a brief detour in DC.

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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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