(BOSTON, MA) – On Friday, November 18, 2022, at the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport, ABCD will honor 16 Community Heroes – partners, collaborators, volunteers and leaders who uplift underserved and under-represented people and families throughout Greater Boston, and advocate for social, racial, economic and reproductive justice.
The Community Heroes Celebration is the first ABCD awards gala since 2019, and will feature keynote speaker, Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). WCVB-TV’s Karen Holmes Ward will serve as emcee. The evening begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., and the dinner and program at 7 p.m. The gala will also celebrate ABCD’s Diamond Jubilee – 60 years of combatting poverty in Greater Boston.
ABCD’s new President and CEO, Sharon Scott-Chandler, Esq., said, “ABCD has blazed a trail in every aspect of anti-poverty and social justice work in the Greater Boston area.” She continued, “I am honored and humbled to laud all of our 2022 Community Heroes in person after three years, and to take the helm of this organization after its 60 years of activism and service under the likes of Bob Coard, John J. Drew, Dr. Gary Gross, and our community partners and volunteers at-large.”
Of the gala’s keynote speaker, Scott-Chandler added, “Secretary Marcia L. Fudge has been an advocate for equity for low-income communities throughout her career. We look forward to her keynote address and to learning more about how future federal policy will impact the housing and homelessness crisis in Boston, and other cities and towns across the Commonwealth and the nation.” Scott-Chandler also expressed gratitude for federal funding over the years noting, “ABCD built several senior housing developments with HUD 202 grants, has been a HUD certified counseling agency since 2009, and provides many other housing programs and services. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with federal and state agencies to ensure stability and security for those historically excluded from opportunity. At ABCD, we believe that everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home and to build a future.”
A Woman of the People
Secretary Marcia L. Fudge’s career was also forged in the fire of advocacy, equity and social justice, having worked to help low-income families, seniors and communities across the country throughout her career. She served as U.S. Representative for the 11th Congressional District of Ohio from 2008 to 2021. Secretary Fudge believes that U.S. housing issues are not solved through a one-size-fits-all approach, and advocates policies and programs that can adapt to meet a community’s unique housing challenges. Under her leadership, HUD is working to eradicate growing homelessness issue in our communities, to end discriminatory lending practices and to ensure that U.S. fair housing rules open the door for those who have been systematically locked out of home ownership, making the dream of homeownership a reality for more Americans.
In 1999, Secretary Marcia L. Fudge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was elected the first woman and the first African American mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio. During her two terms, she prioritized improving the City’s tax base and expanded opportunities for affordable housing. Her career in public service began in the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office where she rose to the rank of director of budget and finance. Secretary Fudge earned a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and a Juris Doctor from Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall School of Law. She is a Past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a member of its Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter.
60th Anniversary, Diamond Jubilee
The diamond is symbolic of ABCD’s spirit and purpose since 1962, as well as that of the Community Heroes – able to withstand heat and pressure and shine brilliantly thereafter. The ABCD Hall of Fame will induct John J. Drew, who retired on June 30, 2022, after a storied 51- year career with the antipoverty agency, 13 as president and CEO. A national leader in the community action and nonprofit sector, Drew led the expansion of Head Start programs and launched several new youth programs, including WorkSMART, a year-round paid work and learning experience for disadvantaged youth. Financially astute, Drew facilitated ABCD’s acquisition of significant real estate, as well as initiated renovation and technology updates for state-of-the-art facilities for Head Start, ABCD’s two alternative high schools and the Urban College of Boston.
Dr. Gary Gross, who served as ABCD’s medical director for family planning for 41 years before retiring in March 2022, will be presented with the Lifetime Health Access Champion Award. A leader in essential and comprehensive family planning services, Dr. Gross helped form the Massachusetts Family Planning Consortium that outlined the initial grant application for Title X funding for Massachusetts, with ABCD as the grantee. He also partnered with Barbara Eck Menning, founder of RESOLVE, to establish the first-ever Title X funded program for early diagnosis and treatment of infertility within family planning sites, bringing traditionally out-of-reach care directly to the communities served by ABCD.
ABCD Hall of Fame
Previous ABCD Hall of Fame inductees include: Don Law, president, Live Nation New England; John L. Harrington, chairman, Yawkey Foundation; Edward M. Kennedy, former U.S. Senator; Robert M. Coard, former ABCD President and CEO; Bob Ryan, Boston Globe sports columnist; Melnea Cass, civil rights leader; Melvin Herbert (Mel) King, politician, community organizer and educator; Sargent Shriver, founder, Peace Corps & Head Start; Hubie Jones, social justice advocate and entrepreneur; Sara Ann Shaw, journalist and community activist; Lewis C. Eisenberg, partner, Cosgrove, Eisenberg and Kiley; Dr. Jean McGuire, former executive director, METCO; John Sasso, president, Advanced Strategies; Gloria L. Fox, former Massachusetts State Representative; James T. Brett, president and CEO, The New England Council; Byron Rushing, former Massachusetts State Representative; Edward J. Markey, U.S. Senator and Glenn “Doc” Rivers, Head Coach, Philadelphia 76ers.
On the Front Lines
The evening’s 16 Community Heroes have been nominated from across the region by ABCD neighborhood centers and programs for their selfless contribution of time, energy, expertise and compassion including: Debbie Amaral; Ana Berreondo; Felix Bezeredy; Nora Blake; Victor Brogna; Shon Brown; Clodagh Drummey; Reverend Barbara Dulin; Leneva Penton; Leandra Rivera; Fatima Ali – Salaam; Massachusetts State Representative John Santiago; Jessica Espiritusanto; Clare Sheridan; Anna White and Jenny Young.
Collaboration has been integral to ABCD’s winning methodology over the past 60 years, and still is today. In large measure, our Diamond Sponsor Slalom Boston is helping make the Community Heroes Celebration a success. General Manager of Slalom Boston, Russell Norris, reflected on their mission to align with organizations that make an impact on society. He said, “Working with ABCD is some of the most impactful and rewarding things we do to improve the lives of those in our community. I’m honored to be chairing this year’s Community Heroes Celebration, and for Slalom to be a partner as we celebrate the tremendous work of all those who have made such a huge difference and chart a course to eradicate poverty in the Boston community and inspire new leaders for tomorrow.”
Heroes never go it alone. Support for the evening is possible thanks to Diamond Sponsor, Slalom Boston; Emerald Sponsors, Paradigm Energy Services and State Street; Sapphire Sponsors, Advanced Windows, Inc., Casner & Edwards, Donna Coard, Emerson Swan, Hemenway & Barnes, LLP, K.S.O Carpentry, Point32Health and many generous individual donors.
For more information about tax-deductible tickets and sponsorship packages, visit abcdheroes.org or call Liz McCarthy at 617.620.6949.
Fighting the Battle Against Poverty, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
ABCD was a startup in the fight against poverty in America, launching in 1962 with a $1.9 million grant from the Ford Foundation. When Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964, ABCD was designated as Boston’s official antipoverty agency. As a Community Action Agency, it is served by a tripartite board comprised of representatives from the public sector, private sector, and neighborhoods.
The organization offers some 75 programs and services to assist and uplift under-resourced people and families through proven and innovative programs including Head Start and Early Head Start, youth development and career training, food security, housing and homelessness prevention, ESOL and immigration services, fuel assistance and climate equity & impact, elder services, and more.
In addition, ABCD has been integral to the establishment of several institutions including the community health center movement; the Women, Infants & Children Nutrition Program; the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Roxbury Multi-Service Center, Inc.; Urban College of Boston and many more. It has been notable for driving community participation, leadership building, and community engagement.
A Massachusetts-based nonprofit human services organization, ABCD provides disadvantaged residents in the Boston and Mystic Valley areas with the tools, support, and resources they need to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success. Each year, we serve more than 100,000 individuals, elders and families through a broad range of innovative initiatives as well as long-established, proven programs and services. For 60 years, ABCD has been deeply rooted in each neighborhood we serve, empowering individuals and families and supporting them in their quest to live with dignity and achieve their highest potential. For more information, please visit bostonabcd.org.