The Boston Bar Association (BBA) is proud to announce that Mayor Michelle Wu will receive the Voice of Change Award at the 2023 Beacon Awards for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, joining Citizens for Juvenile Justice and Fidelity Investments as honorees at the annual event.
The Beacon Awards, which recognize individuals, organizations, and corporations who are forging innovative paths toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive profession and greater community, will take place on January 19th at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter.
Mayor Wu will headline the event as the Voice of Change Award recipient, which recognizes a luminary leader in the legal community who has forged a new path and played an extensive role in advancing diversity and inclusion within the profession. Past honorees include Paul Lee, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and former Suffolk County DA Ralph Martin.
“I am delighted that the BBA’s Beacon Award committee has selected Mayor Michelle Wu as this year’s Voice of Change honoree,” said BBA President Chinh H. Pham. “The Mayor has been a tireless advocate for many causes near and dear to the BBA, including immigration and family rights, transparency in our city’s police department, and a more inclusive health care system dating back to even before her City Council days. Since her historic 2021 Mayoral victory, she has continued to be a true voice of change for the city’s most underserved communities. The BBA is proud to recognize that work at this year’s ceremony.”
Mayor Wu made history when she became the first woman and first person of color to be elected the Mayor of Boston and is the first Asian-American to hold the office. A former legal services attorney, Mayor Wu has used her position leading the city of Boston to be a voice for accessibility, transparency, and community engagement in city leadership.
Her lengthy resume of community advocacy includes work at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain, providing legal advice to low-income small business owners, as well as at the Medical-Legal Partnership at Boston Medical Center on immigration law cases for survivors of domestic violence. Before serving as Mayor, as a Boston city Councilor, she was the lead sponsor of Boston’s Paid Parental Leave ordinance and Healthcare Equity ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity—both of which were ultimately signed into law. She has also worked to create a more equitable and affordable housing policy in the city, calling for the de-commodification of housing through the expansion of cooperative housing, community land trusts, and community ownerships, as well as the establishment of a renters’ right to counsel, guaranteeing legal representation to tenants in eviction proceedings. Mayor Wu has also championed climate activism and environmentalism, including wetlands protection, bans on single-use plastic bags, and other policies as part of Boston’s Green New Deal. Additionally, she has voiced a desire to demilitarize the city’s police force and advocated for closing loopholes in the policy of the Boston Police Department regarding body cameras.
The Empowerment Award, which recognizes a powerful advocate working to create systemic change in the wider community by amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups and advancing civil rights, access to justice, and/or diversity & inclusion, will this year be given to Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CFJJ).
CFJJ is a nonprofit organization that works to reform the juvenile justice system for youth in Massachusetts, and the only independent, non-profit, statewide organization working exclusively to improve juvenile justice, and other youth-serving systems, in the Commonwealth. CFJJ has campaigned to decrease the interaction of law enforcement with children and pushed for legislation to keep them out of the justice system; this includes establishing partnerships with the National Juvenile Justice Network, Massachusetts Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, and Juvenile Justice Leadership Forum. Through its legislative agenda and advocacy campaigns, CFJJ does vital work with the goal of keeping more young people on the pathway to a successful future.
“We have the opportunity to celebrate powerful advocates who work each day to make the Boston community more welcoming,” said Lili Palacios-Baldwin, Beacon Award Committee Co-Chair. “The Mayor and all the staff at CFJJ certainly have different day jobs, but their shared vision of a Commonwealth that is more diverse, equitable, and inclusive unites them, and is the reason we are celebrating them on January 19th.”
The BBA’s Corporate Champion Award, which recognizes an in-house legal department that has been a leader in internal and/or external projects and practices that promote a more diverse and inclusive legal profession, will be awarded to Fidelity Investments.
Fidelity has done expansive work, both internally and externally, to promote a more diverse community. This work includes offering a multi-phased learning series designed to define allyship and build sustainable behavioral change across leader and associate work; the funding of 40 nonprofit organizations focused on responding to challenges that stem from racial inequity and social injustice issues; and participation in the Take on Race Coalition, which increases access to internet connectivity to students of color, among other projects and programs. Additionally, in 2020, Fidelity’s supplier diversity program spent $200 million into supporting businesses and services provided by women and minority-owned companies.
Fidelity has also focused on improving diversity within its ranks, which includes the voluntary disclosure of its workforce demographic data, which they maintain is a necessary step in holding themselves accountable for improvement. Since 2015, these efforts have resulted in an increase in BIPOC representation, with its non-white workforce increasing from 20% to 28% of its staff.
“The Committee is thrilled to celebrate Fidelity’s long history of intentional work in this space to make a difference by supporting the success, development, and inclusion of its employees,” said Bill Gabovitch, Beacon Award Committee Co-Chair. “We see the results of that intentionality with a strong Boston-based leadership team that has a significant amount of female and BIPOC leaders. Fidelity deserves recognition for its efforts to hold itself accountable and its commitment to making a difference.”
Join us on January 19 from 5:30-9:00pm for an evening of both celebration and inspiration as we highlight how our legal community—along with our corporate and government partners—is working together to create a new path forward toward a more diverse and inclusive legal profession in Greater Boston. For information on how to sponsor the event, visit our website or contact Mariah Hanlon