Our founders were forward-thinking individuals who contributed greatly to the furtherance of social justice in Massachusetts and inspired subsequent generations of civil rights leaders. Our founders are:
Richard L. Banks
Hon. Frederick L. Brown
Hon. Paul J. Liacos
Hans F. Loeser
William F. Looney, Jr.
Frank I. Michelman
Hon. David S. Nelson
James D. St. Clair
On the occasion of our 45th anniversary, we established the Founders Award in recognition of the pivotal role that our founders played in championing civil rights and laying the groundwork for the ongoing work of challenging discrimination. The award is given to an individual “for carrying on the pioneering efforts of the organization’s founders through extraordinary career contributions to enhancing social and economic justice.”
In 2013, the inaugural Founders’ Award was given to Brent Henry, Vice President and General Counsel of Partners HealthCare, for his commitment to excellence in health care and his longstanding public service aimed at improving social and economic disparities.
In 2014, we honored Evelynn Hammonds, former Dean of Harvard College, and currently Professor and Director of Harvard’s Program for the Study of Race and Gender in Science and Medicine, for her lifelong commitment to race and gender equality.
In 2015, we honored Jackie Glenn, Global Chief Diversity Officer at EMC Corporation, for her leadership in diversity and inclusion strategies and programs.
In 2016, we honored Mark Roellig (General Counsel) and Dominic Blue (Deputy General Counsel) of MassMutual for promoting diversity in the legal profession.
In 2017, we honored James Gallagher, General Counsel of Manulife Financial and John Hancock Financial Services for his leadership in the community.
In 2018, on the occasion of our 50th anniversary, the award was given to our founding law firms.
In 2019, we honored the Legal and Compliance Department of Vertex Pharmaceutical for their leadership in the community.
In 2020, we honored Paul Francisco, Ivonne Garcia, and Jamie Whitney of State Street Corporation for their unwavering commitment to diversity.
Keeper of the Flame Award
We also commemorate the legacy of Rosa Parks by recognizing the accomplishments of a contemporary civil rights leader. Born on February 4, 1913, Rosa sparked the civil rights movement on December 1, 1955, when she refused to yield her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. What followed was the legendary drive to defeat Jim Crow practices throughout the country. Rosa’s heroic campaign fight civil rights injustices spanned decades. In 1987, Rosa, along with Elaine Eason Steele, inaugurated the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. In recognition of her historic efforts, Rosa received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor in 1999. On October 24, 2005, at 7:20 p.m., with friends and family near, Rosa claimed eternal rest.
In 2019, we honored Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), to mark the 15th anniversary of our unique medical-legal partnership with MGH in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
In 2018, on the occasion of our 50th anniversary, we honored our surviving founders: Prof. Frank Michelman and Judge Frederick Brown.
In 2017, we honored John B. Cruz III, President and CEO of the Cruz Companies, for his lifelong commitment to diversity and community inclusion.
In 2016, we honored Cynthia Mark, Chief of the Fair Labor Division in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, for her distinguished social justice advocacy.
In 2015, we honored MassVote, a civic engagement organization, for its leadership and advocacy on voting rights.
In 2012, we honored retired Judge Judith Dilday of the Probate and Family Court of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, at a reception featuring keynote speaker Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns.
In 2011, we honored Prof. Margaret Burnham of Northeastern University School of Law at a reception featuring keynote speaker Judge Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
In 2010, we honored Gail Snowden, CEO of Freedom House, with the Keeper of the Flame Award at a reception featuring keynote speaker Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2009, we honored Barbara Arwine, Executive Director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.