News Releases
October 13, 2017

Boston Bar Foundation Announces 2018 Public Service Honorees

Press Release

In recognition of their engagement in the civic life of Boston and beyond, the Boston Bar Foundation is proud to present its Public Service Award to Nonnie and Richard Burnes at the 2018 John & Abigail Adams Benefit.

After 18 years in private practice as an attorney at the law firm of Hill & Barlow, Nonnie Burnes was appointed a Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court in 1996, where she chaired the Gender Equality Advisory Board and the Jury Management Advisory Committee. After leaving the bench in 2007, Judge Burnes continued her distinguished career as a public servant, serving as the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance until 2009.

Rick Burnes founded Charles River Ventures in 1970, and since then the firm has invested in over 450 early stage technology companies which have provided many high quality jobs for the region. Today, CRV remains one of the nation’s major venture capital firms. Together, he and Judge Burnes have championed philanthropic efforts focused on education and social support services.

“Judge Burnes and Rick Burnes are known throughout the region for their unwavering support of programs that enrich our community. Over many years, they have displayed a determination to create opportunities to educate and empower Boston’s young people,” Boston Bar Foundation President Anthony Froio said. “Their willingness to work collaboratively to achieve positive outcomes knows no bounds, and I am proud to honor them with the 2018 Boston Bar Foundation Public Service Award.”

Judge Burnes and Rick Burnes have a long and generous history of giving their time, energy and resources to numerous public service organizations and initiatives in Greater Boston.

Judge Burnes is a former secretary of the Boston Bar Foundation and former member of the Board of Trustees. She is also an Executive Fellow of the BBF, and has been a stalwart supporter of the organization’s mission to increase access to justice. She has been a staunch promoter of excellence in the legal profession, chairing the working group whose 2011 recommendations led to the creation and implementation of the Practicing with Professionalism Course for newly admitted attorneys.

From 2009 to 2012, Judge Burnes served as a Senior University Fellow at Northeastern University, where she currently sits on the Board of Trustees and chairs the Audit Committee. She also chaired the Board of Directors of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and served as the interim President and CEO in 2014 and 2015. She sits on the board of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, an international legal advocacy group for women’s health and reproductive rights.

Rick Burnes currently chairs the Board of Trustees of WGBH, which is responsible for governing both the radio and television stations and the WGBH Educational Foundation. He also sits on the Board of Trustees for Boston Plan for Excellence, which operates two Boston District Schools and trains teachers to drive exceptional student outcomes.

Rick Burnes was one of the founders of Boston Business Leaders for Education which works with individual Boston public schools and urges the legislature to support education reform in the Boston public schools. He was chair of the board of the Museum of Science and continues on the board. He is Vice Chair of the Sea Education Association training oceanographers.

Judge Burnes and Rick Burnes have worked to create opportunities for young people in Boston, in particular in the areas of public interest and civic engagement. They are dedicated supporters of Discovering Justice, an education nonprofit that teaches elementary and middle school students about the importance of civic responsibility, the justice system and the law’s role in a democratic society. In 1999, they played a major role in launching the Public Interest Law Scholars program at Northeastern University School of Law, creating a new resource for exceptional students pursuing social justice and public service.

On being told of their nomination for the Public Service award, Rick and Judge Burnes said, “We are honored to receive this award from the Boston Bar Foundation. The Foundation has always promoted the values we care about deeply – law, justice, a civil society and education as a means of supporting those values.”

Held annually, the John and Abigail Adams Benefit is the premier fundraising gala for the Boston Bar Foundation and the legal community, with the event’s proceeds directed to the work of the BBF as it expands access to justice for those in need and fosters public service and pro bono work by lawyers. This year’s gala will take place on January 27th at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Learn more about the 2018 event.