Celebrating the Honorees of the 2019 Community Advocacy Awards

By Ranelle Porter,

By Michael Givens | December 19, 2019 | 5 Minute Read

Eastern Bank has a powerful legacy of community advocacy across New England. Our dedication to supporting communities of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ population, and low-income families have helped us to stand out as a social justice leader. Our annual Community Advocacy Awards ceremony is an opportunity for us to acknowledge and honor the local leaders who are also making a difference across New England.

This year, Eastern Bank will honor those who have made great contributions to one of the most important parts of our communities: early childhood education. Throughout October, November, and December, Eastern Bank will present awards to a diverse group of individuals who have devoted themselves to ensuring that all children have access to quality education.

December 12th: Marolí Licardié

Marolí Licardié has served as the executive director of Family & Children’s Service of Greater Lynn since 2006. The organization provides resources for families such as home visits, emergency financial assistance, and parental education programs. Licardié has devoted herself to increasing the services offered by the organization, strengthening partnerships, and serving more families.

She was the executive director for the division of Family Services and Community Health at the Latin American Health Institute in Boston for 13 years and a developmental educator at Dimock Community Health Center for more than eight years. She holds a B.A. in Human Communication and Special Education from Morelos State University in Mexico and an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Tufts University. Learn more about why Marolí Licardié is this year’s Community Advocacy Award honoree.

November 22nd: Jon Firger

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Jon Firger at Boston Marriott Newton.

Jon Firger has been the executive director of Family ACCESS in Newton, Massachusetts since 2010. The organization provides early education and literacy services, abuse prevention programs, counseling, and parental support. Serving 5,200 parents and children in the Greater Boston area, Family ACCESS has grown substantially under Figer’s leadership.

He has led the organization through a re-branding process, a building renovation, and the addition of new classrooms and services. With 78 staff members and more than 80 volunteers, nearly 80 percent of the families the organization serves are from young families and immigrant communities. Read more about why Jon Firger is honored with Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Award.

November 7th: Zelma Khadar and Lucas Skorczeski, Acre Family Child Care

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Zelma Khadar and Lucas Skorczeski at Lenzi’s.

Zelma Khadar embodies community advocacy at its best. When her children were young, Khadar began bringing them to an Acre child care provider in Lowell, Massachusetts. Eventually, she joined the board of directors as a representative for the Acre parents. Her leadership while on the board eventually led to her joining the staff in 1998 as a coordinator for an Acre program providing financial education classes to residents of Lowell. Now Khadar is a co-executive director of Acre Family Child Care and manages the Child Care Department, where she oversees family child care provider and parent services.

Lucas Skorczeski is also the co-executive director of Acre Family Child Care and has worked for the organization since 2015. With almost a decade of experience working in children’s museums (most recently at the Discovery Museum in Acton, Massachusetts), Lucas has a strong commitment to understanding and developing the capabilities of children, family, and educators. Learn more about why Zelma Khadar and Lucas Skorczeski are this year’s Community Advocacy Award honorees.

November 1st: Peter Gilmore, Seacoast Community School

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Peter Gilmore at Wentworth By The Sea Country Club.

Based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Seacoast Community School educates more than 260 students between the ages of eight weeks and 12 and provides early childhood education access and before and after school programs. Peter Gilmore has been the executive director of the school since 2016 and comes from a long line of educators.

He earned a B.A. in History from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester and went on to earn a Masters of Education from Harvard University. Gilmore has spent most of his career working for independent schools and most recently was the head of school at Vermont Commons School before taking his position at Seacoast Community School. He also served on the board of directors for the Vermont Independent Schools Association (VISA). Read more about why Peter Gilmore is honored with Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Award.

October 31st: Sheri Adlin, South Shore Stars

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Sheri Adlin at Lombardo’s.

Sheri Adlin has spent more than 40 years in community advocacy and currently serves as the executive director of South Shore Stars, a position she’s held for 25 years. South Shore Stars works with children from birth to high school on subjects including school readiness, academic achievement, and healthy development.

Adlin has worked on a number of coalitions to support low-income and immigrant families. She has more than four decades of experience in program development, management, public policy, and classroom teaching. In addition, she has been the vice-president of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care (MADCA) for 20 years. As vice-president, she has advocated for policies to support affordable and accessible childcare. Learn more about why Sheri Adlin is this year’s Community Advocacy Award honoree.

October 30th: Cindy Horgan, Cape Cod Children’s Place, Inc.

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Cindy Horgan at the Hyannisport Club. Photo by Sarah Thornington / The Studio by the Sea.

As the executive director and family support coordinator of Cape Cod Children’s Place, Cindy Horgan has been involved in family support and education for years. With a mission to serve as a resource for families with young children, Cape Cod Children’s Place provides a range of programs such as support groups, family workshops, early childhood classes, referrals, and even personalized home visits.

In 2017, she oversaw the partnership of Cape Cod Children’s Place with a number of other local community agencies so the Children’s Place could better provide services for low-income families. And in January, she managed the critical partnership between Cape Cod Children’s Place and the Homeless Prevention Council and the Community Development Program to form an interagency alliance. This allowed each organization to continue to provide critical services for local families in need of support. Horgan holds an M.Ed from Wheelock College. Read more about why Cindy Horgan is honored with Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Award.

Learn more about the importance of early childhood education and see the list of recipients for Eastern Bank’s 2019 Grants For Good.

Juneteenth Community Advocacy Awards Honor Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond and Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | July 19, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

In the 1980s, as Boston’s lower-income communities suffered, two Harvard and Tufts-trained doctors wanted to make a difference. When Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D. and her husband, Dr. Ray Hammond, started the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in their living room, it began a movement that turned them into community activists, helped the disadvantaged find hope, and has personally impacted the lives of thousands.

In honor of Juneteenth 2019, the holiday celebrating the end of U.S. slavery, Eastern Bank recognized these two inspiring individuals with Community Advocacy Awards in honor of their positive impact on Boston’s underprivileged communities.

Who They Are and What They Stand For

As doctors, both Ray and Gloria have worked to heal the sick. However, the work they’ve done through their church giving hope and guidance to underprivileged youth, as well as initiatives like the Bethel Institute for Social Justice, have made them pillars of the Boston community. Together, they use their resources to provide social services, education, and guidance to thousands of high-risk youth and families within the Boston area. At the Community Advocacy awards, Eastern Bank CEO Bob Rivers described them as a “power duo,” and it’s easy to see why.

Dr. Gloria White-Hammond’s devotion to helping others has not only impacted Boston but the world. From 2001 to 2003, Dr. White-Hammond went to South Sudan, where, following the civil war, she helped free more than 10,000 enslaved people through an underground railroad. Back home in Boston, she realized that “high-risk” adolescents are also “high-potential” and simply need a strong support system. That’s why, in 1994, she founded Do the Write Thing, an initiative that’s served more than 200 economically disadvantaged girls in the Boston area. Since then, she has also co-founded such life-changing initiatives as My Sister’s Keeper, the end-of-life care ministry Planning Ahead, and Shatter the Silence, a faith-based organization of congregations that brings attention to sexual victimization in African-American communities.

As a community activist, Pastor Ray Hammond has also dedicated his life to helping high-risk youth in the Boston area and has been behind decades’ worth of initiatives, memberships, and papers. He is the chairman and co-founder of the Ten Point Coalition, a group of Christian clergy and lay leaders that is dedicated to raising awareness about the issues affecting underprivileged youth and teens. He is also the executive director of Generation Excel, a program which provides educational services, emotional support, and resources to allow youth from economically-disadvantaged communities to thrive, grow, and pursue academic achievements. In addition, he is an Executive Committee Member of the Black Ministerial Alliance and a member of the Strategy Team for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.

Community Advocacy at its Best

When Ray and Gloria first began their work, this future “power duo” could never have imagined how far their reach would extend—they simply saw that the youth in their area needed support and they worked to provide it. In 1998, Newsweek referred to their movement as “The Boston Miracle,” and for 30 years, they have shined a light on the difficulties faced by Boston’s disadvantaged communities. Today, they continue to strive to help these children achieve their full potential by fighting the numerous cultural, racial, and economic barriers that society puts before them. They say their mission isn’t to “save” people but to give them a helping hand, which allows these youth to achieve what they’re truly capable of.

Every year, Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Awards spotlight local leaders who have positively affected the Boston area. As CEO Bob Rivers explained, “Our advocacy work is also informed and guided by that of our growing network of community partners and friends, including so many of you who have joined us.” In 2019, there could be no better recipient of the award than these two Boston heroes. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and by investing in the youth, Ray Hammond and Gloria White-Hammond are paving the way for a better future.

Together, Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond and Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond founded the Bethel A.M.E. Church, and their decades of service toward social justice initiatives is why they were recognized with this award. Learn more about their Bethel Institute for Social Justice today.

Local Female Leaders Are Honored for Their Work with Community Advocacy Awards

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | December 28, 2018 | 5 Minute Read

As the oldest and largest mutual bank in the United States, Eastern Bank defines themselves by their genuine dedication to social justice within the New England community. They’ve stood up for the rights of immigrants, communities of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and other underrepresented populations. During the annual Community Advocacy Awards ceremonies, Eastern Bank will honor local leaders who have given their time and dedication to addressing the needs of the community.

All of the 2018 award recipients are women—a nod to this year’s targeted grant theme of advancing women—who have overcome steep challenges in their efforts to advocate for the well-being of others. Throughout the months of October and November, each of these women will be recognized for their accomplishments.

November 27th: Sue Chandler, DOVE Inc.

Doves are the international symbol of peace, and DOVE Inc. of Massachusetts stands for “Domestic Violence Ended,” an organization dedicated to assisting adults, teens, and children who have been victims of domestic violence, through services such as crisis intervention, hotlines, emergency shelters, and legal advocacy. With two decades of experience in nonprofit management, Sue Chandler has been instrumental in many of the organization’s initiatives. In addition to her work with DOVE, Chandler is also recognized for her service on the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual and Domestic Violence, her time on the Board of Directors for Emerge—which was the first batterer intervention program in the United States—and her prior work as director of the Community Advocacy Program for CCHERS, Inc. of Boston, a partnership of health center-based domestic violence programs in the Boston area. Learn more about why Sue Chandler is this year’s Community Advocacy Award honoree.

November 28th: Gina Scaramella, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center

Since 2003, Gina Scaramella has been making a difference through her work as the executive director of BARCC, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. As a nonprofit leader, Scaramella has promoted her cause to end sexual violence through media outlets like the Huffington Post and the New York Times, provided guidance to both the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and worked with the National TeleNursing Center to pair sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) with underprivileged and lower-income community health centers. Read more about why Gina Scaramella is honored with Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Award.

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award celebrating Gina Scaramella at the Charles Hotel.

November 15th: Deb Ansourlian, Girls Inc. of Lynn

Girls Incorporated is an organization with chapters all over the country, each one working tirelessly to ensure that the next generation grows up “Strong, Smart, and Bold.” Since 2011, the Lynn chapter of Girls, Inc. has been led by executive director Deb Ansourlian, providing a safe place for 1,500 girls, aged 5–18, to help them become the leaders of tomorrow. Even before joining Girls, Inc., Ansourlian was a champion for the underprivileged. Previously, she directed the Hattie B. Cooper Community Center, providing family community services to the Roxbury area, and worked for the United Cerebral Palsy nonprofit organization. Learn more about why Deb Ansourlian is this year’s Community Advocacy Award honoree.

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award celebrating Deb Ansourlian at the Salem Country Club.

November 6th: Andi Genser, WE CAN

Andi Genser has worn many hats throughout her career, but all of them have been dedicated to helping the New England community, particularly when it comes to children. After working as the Executive Director of Massachusetts’ largest and oldest Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, she helped to establish numerous childcare organizations over the years, including a national Institute for Leadership and Career Initiatives, an early childhood training program at Wheelock College, and the youth initiative BE SAFE, based at the AIDS Action Committee. Since relocating to Cape Cod, she has served as the executive director of WE CAN—Women’s Empowerment through Cape Area Networking—an organization which offers local women education, networking, and support. Read more about why Andi Genser is honored with Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Award.

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Andi Genser at the Hyannisport Club.

October 31st, Cathy Duffy Cullity Receives the New Hampshire Community Advocacy Award

In 1996, the New Hampshire chapter of Girls Inc.—a nonprofit organization that empowers young women—was only located in one city, had a budget of less than $400,000, and served only 45 girls a day. But that year Cathy Duffy Cullity took matters into her own hands and turned the NH Girls Inc. into a $1.8 billion powerhouse that delivers programs to 50 schools across New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont—the largest geographic region of any affiliate in the country. Today, she has cultivated her corner of Girls Inc. into an organization that provides school lunch catering, outreach programs, and free evening meals to any families or children in need, every night of the year. Learn more about why Cathy Duffy Cullity is this year’s Community Advocacy Award honoree.

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Cathy Duffy Cullity at the Manchester County Club.

October 23rd, the Merrimack Valley Community Advocacy Award Goes to Congresswoman Niki Tsongas

From 1973 to 2007, Massachusetts went without a female serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. The election of Niki Tsongas, a former social worker and lawyer who has spent her life fighting for social justice, changed all of that. In addition to her active involvement with the Massachusetts community through local events, she sits on the Committee on Natural Resources, takes part in the Congressional Arts Caucus, and advocates for victims of sexual assault in the military on the House Armed Services Committee. Read more about why Niki Tsongas is honored with Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Award.

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Congresswoman Tsongas at Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

October 1st, Phyllis Barajas is honored during Hispanic Heritage Month

From September 15th to October 15th, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and one of the most prominent Latinx leaders in the New England area is Phyllis Barajas. As the founder and CEO of Conexión, an organization that promotes the identification, development, and promotion of new Latinx and Hispanic leaders, Barajas’ work has built a stronger, more diverse future. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, her long career includes distinguished appointments by former President Bill Clinton, Harvard University, and Boston University.

Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Celebrating Phyllis Barajas at the Museum of Science.