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December 7 at The Huntington Theater
Thank you for joining Massachusetts’ brightest leaders as they shared the stage and a favorite poem in support of Mass Poetry.

Thank you so much to all who were able to attend a remarkable evening, as exceptional leaders from diverse fields read a poem and reflected on its connection to their life and work. The evening was a fundraiser for Mass Poetry’s many wonderful programs. This event was co-sponsored by the Favorite Poem Project at Boston University.

                                               David McCullough, Sr.

                                               David McCullough, Sr.

Our readers included:

David McCullough Sr., Pulitzer Prize- winning historian & author

David McCullough, Sr. is an author and historian who has twice won the Pulitzer Price and the National Book Award, as well as received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His two Pulitzer Prize winning books, Truman and John Adams, have been adapted by HBO into a tv film and miniseries.  

Diane Patrick, Former First Lady of MA, Co-Managing Partner, Ropes & Gray

Diane Patrickis co-managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s Boston office. She has over thirty years of experience representing and advising employers in connection with a broad range of labor and employment-related matters. She provides strategic counseling to clients regarding their compliance with federal and state employment laws, represents clients before the National Labor Relations Board as well as other federal administrative agencies, counsels employers on matters involving wage and hour regulations, and provides general advice on employment policies and practices. In addition to her years in private practice, Diane served for eight years at Harvard University as both University Attorney responsible for Harvard’s labor and employment matters and as the University’s Associate Vice President of Human Resources.

Robert Pinsky, Former U.S. Poet Laureate

Robert Pinsky is a poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. He is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his poetry.

Julie Burros, Boston’s Chief of Arts and Culture

Julie Burros is the Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, a cabinet level position reporting directly to Mayor Martin J. Walsh. As the department head for the MOAC, she leads Boston Creates, the cultural plan for Boston, the Boston Cultural Council, which makes grants to artists and organization, and the Boston Art Commission, which commissions and approves public art. Burros trained as an urban planner and is a 20-year veteran of municipal government public service. Prior to moving to Boston in late 2014 she served as the Director of Cultural Planning for the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs since 2000.

Andre Dubus III, Guggenheim winner & author, House of Sand and Fog

Andre Dubus III is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestsellers, House of Sand and FogThe Garden of Last Days (soon to be a major motion picture) and his memoir, Townie.  His novel, House of Sand and Fog was a finalist for the National Book Award and was made into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Ben Kingsley. His new book Dirty Love has been listed as a New York Times “Notable Book,” and a Kirkus “Starred Best Book of 2013.” He’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for Fiction and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Jody Adams, Celebrity Chef of Rialto

Jody Adams is a James Beard Foundation Award winning chef and restauranteur in Cambridge and in 2007 became the sole owner of Rialto in Harvard Square. Jody is dedicated to feeding not only those who can afford to eat in her restaurants but also the millions here and around the world who cannot. 

Ed Harding, Anchor WCVB TV (Channel 5)

Ed Harding is co-anchor for the NewsCenter 5 early evening and late newscasts. Previously, he co-anchored the EyeOpener and NewsCenter 5 at 11 p.m. Harding joined the EyeOpener team in 2000 and added his duties at 11 p.m. in 2004. Prior to joining the EyeOpener, he had been the weekend sports anchor and reporter for Channel 5 since 1988. Before joining WCVB, Harding was sports director and principal sports anchor for WISH-TV, the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis. While in the Midwest, Harding won two Indiana Associated Press awards and was named Best TV Sportscaster by Indianapolis Magazine.

Margaret McKenna, Civil rights attorney & President of Suffolk University

Margaret A. McKenna, president of Suffolk University, is an educator and lawyer who has spent her career advocating for social justice. She began her career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, served as the deputy counsel in the White House, as undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education and led the education transition team for President Clinton. In higher education, she was the VP of Radcliffe College, president of Lesley University for 22 years and a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. She was appointed Suffolk’s 10th president in 2015, the first woman to lead the University.

David McCullough Jr., Wellesley High School English Teacher & Author

David McCullough, Jr. is a teacher of English at Wellesley High who became famous for his commencement speech that dramatically questioned the prevailing, narrow conception of success. He went on to expand the speech into a full length book, You Are Not Special, and Other Encouragements. He has appeared on CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, NPR and PBS. 

Charles Kravetz, General Manager, WBUR

Charles Kravetz is the general manager of WBUR, which is widely regarded as one of the leading NPR stations in America. It has been honored countless times, most recently winning the Edward R. Murrow Award for the best radio station in America. Before WBUR, Kravetz was the president and general Manager of NECN (New England Cable News). He oversaw the largest regional news channel in America, reaching 3.7 million homes in all six New England states. NECN is the only regional cable news channel ever to win the George Foster Peabody Award and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Broadcast Journalism Award, the highest honors in the television news industry.

Michael Brown, Founder of City Year and Julianna Devasto, City Year Boston AmeriCorps member

Michael Brown is the co-founder and CEO of City Year. Since 1988, City Year has partnered with public schools in 26 urban, high-poverty communities across the U.S. and through international affiliates in the U.K. and Johannesburg, South Africa. Julianna De Vasto is newer to service. She is a City Year Boston AmeriCorps member on the Wellington Management Team serving with the McKay K-8 School, a dedicated community of students, teachers and families.I think of Michael and Julia as living proof of  the power, the opportunity and the poetry of  “service”.

Joan Wallace-Benjamin, President of The Home for Little Wanderers

Joan Wallace-Benjamin joined The Home for Little Wanderers in 2003 as President and Chief Executive Officer. Under her guidance, the agency has gained prominence, becoming a leader in innovative programming for underserved populations and expanding its role of advocacy for all children. Joan serves on the Board of Directors of Bridgewater State University and was appointed by Governor Patrick to co chair the Families and Children Requiring Assistance Advisory Board. She graduated from Wellesley College and received her Ph.D. from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Joan was named one of Boston magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women. 

Larry Weber, Digital marketing pioneer and CEO of Racepoint Global

Larry Weber is a globally known expert in public relations and marketing services. Passionate about the convergence of technology, the web and communications, he is a frequent public speaker on the future of building communities online. He founded one of the industry’s first interactive marketing agencies, Thunderhouse, and has worked with world-class clients including AT&T, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Microsoft, and many more. In 1987, Larry started his own public relations company, The Weber Group, which became the world’s largest public relations firm. He is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX), the largest interactive advocacy organization in the world.

Peter Wolf, Musician, songwriter

Peter Wolf is a rhythm and blues, soul, and rock and roll musician and painter known as the lead vocalist for the J. Geils Band from 1967 to 1983 and for a successful solo career with writing partner Will Jennings.

Tom Ashbrook, Host of WBUR's “On Point”

Tom Ashbrook is host of NPR's daily interview and call-in show "On Point" from WBUR Boston. He was raised on an Illinois farm, was a champion sheep shearer, and spent ten years in Asia and many as a newspaper correspondent and editor before coming to public radio after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Boston has been his adopted home since 1981.

Yvonne Tran, student

Yvonne Tran is a high school senior who plans on majoring in computer science. She enjoys reciting poetry, and participates in the Poetry Out Loud competition at her school, annually, where she has earned second place and honorable mentions. Yvonne has had the honor of being a part of a poetry MOOC, taught by poet Robert Pinsky at Boston University. When asked who her favorite poet is, she usually responds with, "probably Catullus." Aside from computers and poetry, Yvonne loves acting in plays, drawing and painting, writing, and doing her best.


All proceeds from this event fund Mass Poetry’s many programs, including PoeTry on the MBTA, which replaces ads with poems; Student Days of Poetry, where we reach over 6,000 students annually, mostly in underserved schools; Common Threads, a community reading program that reaches all across the state and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, the second largest poetry festival in the U.S., which brings together thousands of poetry lovers every year. With your support, we’ll do even more in the coming year.

Watch highlights from Evening of Inspired Leadership in 2014 & continue reading for an interview with our 2015 organizer Kirun Kapur, by Jacquelyn Malone.

What were some of the highlights of last year's event?
It was a great night with an amazing lineup. The Governor, Duval Patrick, read. And the former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis talked about a poem that was one of his mother’s favorites. Bill Littlefield sang a song/poem. I was amazed to see such a wonderful lineup of Massachusetts leaders and to hear them express a love for a poem they had been close to – for many – since childhood.

Last year was the first year of this fund raiser. Did we learn anything we'd like to change or anything we definitely want to retain?
Last year’s event confirmed what we have long believed—that poetry is important to people from all walks of life; that it guides and inspires a wide range of leaders; that we need poetry if we want to foster creative, compassionate, powerful pioneers in every field; and that there is nothing like sharing poems, out loud, together, as a community.  

 What has been the most surprising part of your job?
I have always believed in the power of poetry, but working on this event has brought that home in a whole new way. It has given me the chance to talk to people from all different fields—entrepreneurs, politicians, actors, writers, students, Hollywood talent agents and clergy—truly, all kinds of amazing folks, from all walks of life. To hear them tell me about the poems that have mattered to them—sometimes even quoting a remembered line or two—has been deeply moving and a wonderful, joyful surprise.

What has been the most enjoyable part?
In addition to what I just said, the chance to work with the amazing Mass Poetry team who do so much poetry and for people—creating programs for thousands of school children, putting poetry on the T, bringing poems and politicos together—all on a shoestring budget. That’s been a true pleasure.

Besides the readings, why else would someone what to attend this event?
Events like these showcase what we value as a society—in our art and in our leaders. Come to An Evening of Inspired Leaders because words matter, because poetry matters. Come because we want to cultivate and celebrate truth, beauty, empathy and inspiration in the leaders of today and leaders we are raising for tomorrow.

We’d like to thank Kirun for her work on this exciting evening!