An Excel-Lent Journey Chelsea’s Vanesa Perea Will Attend Harvard University

Vanesa Perea, who enrolled at Excel Academy East Boston in the fifth grade and graduated from Excel Academy High School in June, will begin her studies at Harvard University as a member of the incoming Class of 2023.

Admission to the world’s most prestigious college culminated an eight-year journey of educational enrichment and academic achievement for high honor roll student Vanesa Perea at the Excel charter schools, whose mission is to prepare students to succeed in high school and college, apply their learning to solve relevant problems, and engage productively in their communities.

Excel Academy High School graduate Vanesa Perea of Chelsea will be attending Ivy League school Harvard University in Cambridge

Perea, whose parents, Jose Perea and Luz Piedrahita, are originally from Colombia, was a shining example as a member of the first graduating class at Excel, which opened its new high school on Bremen Street in East Boston at the beginning of her sophomore year.

She attended the Kelly School in Chelsea through grade four before entering Excel in the fifth grade.

Many accomplishments and school activities at Excel

Excel does not select a class valedictorian or have an academic ranking system, but Vanesa’s achievements in all aspects of school life speak for themselves.

She had an outstanding grade point average and received a number of academic honors including the school’s Mathematics Award and National Honor Society Award. She was treasurer of the National Honor Society.

This year Vanesa took Advanced Placement courses in Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, and Literature and Composition. Other AP courses were taken in Language and Composition, U.S. History, Biology, Spanish, and World History in her two prior academic years.

“I like STEM,” said Vanessa, explaining the concentration of courses in science and mathematics.

Vanesa also took her talents to the athletic fields where she competed in varsity soccer and served as team captain for two seasons. She was also a member of the Excel track team.

One of her most recognized accomplishments was founding the school newspaper, “The Howler,” and serving as editor of the publication. The school presented a graduation award named in honor of Vanesa and her classmate, Evelyn Rodriguez, the other co-founder of the newspaper. That award went to the newspaper’s founding duo.

She was the backstage director for the Music Club and served on the Student Council for two years.

Vanesa also volunteers as an English tutor for immigrants at a center in East Boston.

Receiving the acceptance letter from Harvard

Vanesa applied to Harvard in its Restrictive Early Action program. She received notification of her acceptance in December.

“December 13,” said Vanesa, recalling the day she learned that the next stop in her career would be in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “I was very excited. I called my mom and I said, ‘Mom, I did it!’

She had enjoyed the positive learning experiences at the Crimson Summer Academy and the summer classes at Harvard she took last summer in Introduction to Biomedical Ethics and Expository Writing.

She is considering a major in Biology, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics and Economics at Harvard.

“I’m going to explore a little and see which field of study I really like so that I can end up doing something that I’m passionate about,” related Vanesa, who may pursue a pre-medical school path or a future career in consulting. She has received a full scholarship from Harvard.

Praise for her teachers and college counselor

Vanesa said she was grateful to the teachers at Excel, particularly her junior-year Mathematics teacher, Sarah Hafele.

“Ms. Hafele is a lot like me – I really love math and she shares that passion,” said Vanesa. “I like math tutoring so I asked her if I could tutor some of her math students. During my senior year we started a math tutoring, honors pre-calculus program which went really well. She’s a very kind person.”

Vanesa also credited Excel counselor Nicole Repp for her assistance and guidance in the college application process (Vanesa was also accepted in to the UMass/Amherst honors program).

“Ms. Repp began advising me in my junior year and working on essay preparation and she was very helpful,” said Vanesa.

This summer, Vanesa is teaching Mathematics at the Excel Academy summer program in Chelsea.

Support and encouragement from CSC member Kelly Garcia

One of Vanesa’s proud supporters at Excel is schoolteacher Kelly Garcia, a Latina member of the Chelsea School Committee (CSC).

“I heard Vanesa’s story and I wanted to let the people know – she’s from Chelsea and she makes us all proud,” said Garcia. “There are many obstacles against us, but she is one that is breaking all barriers and stereotypes and I want her to be celebrated and recognized in her beautiful city of Chelsea.”

Garcia said she hopes Vanesa’s success story as the daughter of immigrants “will inspire students to keep working hard and know that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”

Gratitude to her parents

Vanesa’s father, Jose, is a driver for a senior center while her mother, Luz, is a teaching assistant at an early childhood learning center.

“My parents have set a great example for me with their hard work,” said Vanesa. “They are my motivation.”

Another positive role model is her older brother, Jhonatan, a Chelsea High School graduate who just received his degree in Biology from Boston University. He works at the Boston Medical Center.

“Jhonatan set a very good example,” lauded Vanesa. “I never knew the extent of how good a role model he was until I went through my own college process and realized how incredible a school Boston University is. He accomplished it first and I want to be like him.”

Looking back at her career in the Excel system, Vanessa said, “I’m very happy I attended Excel. It’s been a great experience. The people at Excel inspired me to pursue my goals.” Chelsea Soldiers’ Home awarded $100 million to replace

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Women’s Sports Pioneer: Chelsea Native Lee-Nieves Receives MIAA Distinguished Service Award

Women’s Sports Pioneer: Chelsea Native Lee-Nieves Receives MIAA Distinguished Service Award

Johanna DiCarlo (right) presents the Massachusetts Women in Athletics Distinguished Service Award to JoAnne Lee-Nieves at the 2019 Girls and Women in Sports Day program Feb. 1 at Faneuil Hall, Boston.

When the Title IX law was first enacted, leading to increased athletic opportunities for females in the mid-to-late 1970s and setting the foundation for the explosion of high school girls’ sports that exists today, there was a Chelsea woman just getting started in coaching.

She was a pioneer in every sense, introducing the joy of organized sports participation to Boston girls, teaching them about teamwork and sportsmanship, instilling self-confidence in her student-athletes, and providing lessons about life that they would carry beyond the basketball court.

JoAnne Lee-Nieves was a woman ahead of her time, recognizing right away the importance of athletics for girls as an extension of the classroom. Her players at Jeremiah Burke would achieve phenomenal success on the court. Long before ESPN started bringing attention to women’s sports, Lee-Nieves was building a program and sending her athletes on to college.

For four decades, Lee-Nieves earned multiple championship and coach-of-the-year awards. No one did it better in Boston than Lee-Nieves.

Last Friday, in an impressive ceremony at historic Faneuil Hall in the city where Lee-Nieves became a high school coaching giant, she received one of the MIAA’s most prestigious awards.

Before a capacity crowd of female high school athletes, athletic directors and many of her former colleagues in the profession, Lee-Nieves accepted the Massachusetts Women in Athletics Distinguished Service Award.

One could only imagine how very proud her parents, the late Charles Lee and Jeanette Weiner Lee, would have been to see JoAnne’s amazing career recognized so deservedly in such an awesome setting as Fanueil Hall.

Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson understands the magnitude of his cousin JoAnne’s statewide award and the immense contributions that she made to high school sports. His own daughter, Lucia Robinson-Griggs, is a former high school athlete and now a women’s basketball coach at MIT.

“JoAnne is a very outstanding individual who has achieved a lot in teaching and coaching,” said Robinson. “This is very special for me that she was recognized for all the hard work that she has done throughout the years. She is a true pioneer in women’s high school sports in Boston. It’s a tremendous honor and I congratulate Joanne. We in Chelsea are all proud of her.”

In a tribute to JoAnne that appeared in the Girls and Women In Sports Day souvenir booklet, Jeremiah Burke Guidance Counselor Ron Innes said, “JoAnne was a very reliable and dedicated teacher who was well respected by her students as well as faculty and staff. Her knowledge about her chosen discipline (Physical Education) and ability to reach and connect with students made her a truly exceptional teacher. These great qualities carried over to the many sports she coached. Her teams always played the game with great discipline and pride.”

Burke Athletic Coordinator Sean Ryan had nominated Lee-Nieves for the award. Said Ryan, “Her ability to engage a veteran or a newcomer to the sport make her special. We evaluate a coach by how their team progresses during the year, and JoAnne’s team each year plays their best toward the end of the season. She truly provides each student-athlete with a memorable experience.”

In her acceptance speech, Lee-Nieves was humble and gracious. She thanked the MIAA for the recognition, but focused her remarks on encouraging the young ladies in the audience to work hard and pursue their dreams.

As she left the stage and walked to the VIP area where she and husband Juan Nieves were seated, you could sense that JoAnne Lee-Nieves was touched by this lifetime-achievement recognition from the state’s official governing organization for high school sports.

It was indeed a special day for a special teacher, coach, and role model.

CUTLINE

Johanna DiCarlo (right) presents the Massachusetts Women in Athletics Distinguished Service Award to JoAnne Lee-Nieves at the 2019 Girls and Women in Sports Day program Feb. 1 at Faneuil Hall, Boston. JoAnne Lee-Nieves and her husband, Juan Nieves, are pictured following the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award.

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Chelsea Community Honors Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At Annual Celebration: Robinson-Griggs Delivers the Keynote Address

Chelsea Community Honors Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At Annual Celebration: Robinson-Griggs Delivers the Keynote Address

Keynote speaker Lucia Robinson-Griggs receives a standing ovation for her speech from the audience, including her parents, Linda Alioto-Robinson and Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, and City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

The People’s A.M.E. Church, led by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Whitley, and the Chelsea community honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual breakfast and awards ceremony Jan. 21 at Chelsea High School.

The Rev. Whitley and the Planning Committee put together another impressive tribute to the late Dr. King, the civil rights leader who dedicated his life to promoting unity and delivered one of American history’s greatest speeches, “I Have A Dream,” on Aug. 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino, State Rep. Dan Ryan, Council President Damali Vidot, Councillors Leo Robinson, Joseph Perlatonda, and Enio Lopez, School Committee Chair Richard Maronski and member Yessenia Alfaro, CBC President Joan Cromwell, Latimer Society Co-Director Ronald Robinson, and Roca Executive Director Molly Baldwin led a slate of dignitaries in attendance at the tribute that featured, singing, dancing, awards, and inspirational speeches.

The Chelsea Hub, a network led by the Chelsea Police Department and comprised of 27 different agencies, received the prestigious Spirit Award in recognition of its ongoing efforts to help people facing difficult challenges. Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, Capt. David Batchelor, Officer Sammy Mojica, Community Engagement Specialist Dan Cortez, and Roca Assistant Director Jason Owens were among the award recipients.

The highlight of the program arrived when Lucia Robinson-Griggs stepped to the podium and delivered the keynote address.

Robinson-Griggs, who holds degrees from Bentley and Lesley and is a former high school and college scholar-athlete, rose to the occasion with a heartfelt and eloquent address to the people of Chelsea.

“I’d just like to start by saying thank you so much for inviting me to be here today to celebrate Chelsea while honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Robinson-Griggs, adding that she was honored to be the keynote speaker after receiving the Young Adult Dreamers and Achievers Award in 2018.

She noted the “I Have A Dream” and “We are all created equal” theme of the program, stating, ‘it’s incredible how relevant [Dr. King’s famous speech in 1963] still is here in 2019.”

She encouraged members of the audience to carry on Dr. King’s legacy “even when it isn’t easy to do so.” She said everyone should work for a better Chelsea in the years to come.

“So my words today are going to be a charge for the people in this auditorium to reach beyond this room and change the perspective,” said Griggs-Robinson.

She singled out the Chelsea High student choir (who performed at Gov. Baker’s inauguration), the Latimer Society (in encouraging careers in STEM), and the award recipients, The Chelsea Hub and others, as being positive influences in the city.

Briggs-Robinson cited her personal experiences as an associate head coach of the MIT women’s basketball team, relating how the coaching staff encourages its players to be “a part of the solution and be a builder, to find the good somewhere and work to help build up someone else.”

She said that people should be positive in their actions and in their interactions with others, that even a small act of kindness or an inspiring phrase or a compliment can have a profound effect on starting to change another person’s life.

“Kindness catches on,” said Robinson-Briggs. Strive to be someone’s builder every day. Be their bright spot and give hope that we can be the generation to make Dr. King’s dream a reality.”

Robinson-Briggs received a warm, standing ovation as she returned to her seat beside her parents, Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson and Linda Alioto-Robinson, and City Manager Tom Ambrosino in the front row of the auditorium.

The Rev. Whitley concluded the impressive program by having all audience members join hands and sing “We Shall Overcome.”

And in an unsung but important gift to the community, CCCTV Executive Director Robert Bradley and Technical Director Ricky Velez videotaped the entire two-hour program and tribute to Dr. King, including Robinson-Griggs’ remarks, for broadcast on the local television station.

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Chief Kyes Named First-Ever Chief of the Year

Chief Kyes Named First-Ever Chief of the Year

The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association has named Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes as its Chief of the Year

Police Chief Brian Kyes has been selected as the first-ever Chief of the Year by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
The announcement came this week, and added to two other recent accolades for Kyes

the first-ever such award handed out by the organization.

This week, the executive board of the organization announced that Kyes was the recipient of the award, particularly for his advocacy in getting the municipal police training fund passed last summer.

“The Executive Board of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association is pleased to announce that the first recipient of the ‘Chief of the Year’ Award is Chief Brian A. Kyes of the Chelsea Police Department,” read the announcement. “Chief Kyes serves as the Chair of the Mass. Chief’s Legislative Committee, as well as being the President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association, a member of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and a member of the Municipal Police Training Committee. Chief Kyes was instrumental in advancing our legislative efforts towards a dedicated funding source for the training of municipal police officers in Massachusetts, which culminated with Governor Charlie Baker signing into law House Bill 4516…”

The award carries a $500 donation from the association to the charity of the recipient’s choice. In this case, Kyes has chosen The Jimmy Fund as the charity.

“I was notified last week that I also have received the first annual Police Chief of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association,” said Kyes. “I am incredibly humbled by this recognition and am honored to recently have received three awards, which all mean a great to deal to me and my family. The last month or so has been pretty good for me and the Chelsea Police Department in terms of some nice totally unexpected recognitions.”

On Oct. 29, Kyes received the Gregory A. Madera Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys at the Law Offices on Mintz & Associates. On Nov. 30, Kyes also received the Law Enforcement Person of the Year Award from the North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council Foundation (NEMLEC) at the Four Oaks Country in Dracut.

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Ledia Koco Receives the Paul Harris Fellow Award

Ledia Koco Receives the Paul Harris Fellow Award

Rotary President-Elect said that Ledia Koco was a wonderful example of the importance of the Interact Club at Chelsea High School.

Koco, 25, was a member and president of the CHS Interact Club during her four years at the school. Interact Club is sponsored by the Chelsea Rotary Club and introduces students to the club’s service to the community and its international reach.

For her outstanding efforts as an Interact leader and senior facilitator of Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) her 1,000 hours of community service, and her continued work in the community, Koco was honored as the recipient of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellow Award at the club’s Installation of Officers Reception at the Homewood Suites Hotel.

Past President Allan Alpert handled the formal presentation of the award to Koco.

“All Paul Harris Awards are important and very distinguished, but this one is a little more special because it’s the members of the Rotary Club that honored you by making you a Paul Harris Fellow for all the things that you have done in your very short time here,” said Alpert.

Koco is the daughter of Luan and Manjola Koco, who are originally from Albania. A former model who finished as first-runnerup in a major pageant, Ledia graduated in 2011 from Chelsea High where she was an honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society. She continued her education at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, receiving her degree in International Relations and Spanish.

Koco continued her membership in RYLA while at Bucknell, teaching other students in work force development. She is a member of the Chelsea Enhacement Team, which is a volunteer organization who participates in community service such as beautification efforts in the city.

“Ledia is the administrative assistant to the Chelsea City Council and probably the youngest person that has ever held that very distinguished honor,” said Alpert.

Koco humbly accepted the prestigious award.

“This is such an honor – I’m overwhelmed right now,” she said. “I just want to say that I feel incredibly honored to be gifted the Paul Harris Fellow Award, especially because it helps raise millions of dollars for the Rotary Foundation.”

Koco said her commitment to public service began early in her life.

“I always knew I wanted to make a difference, especially having emigrated to the States from a Third World country, Albania,” said Koco. “But it wasn’t until I joined Interact and started doing community service, that I realized how much of an impact you can make starting from the bottom up. I didn’t need a fancy job or to be an adult to make a difference. Through Rotary and Interact, I was able to give back to my community regardless.”

She thanked the Rotary Club for presenting her a college scholarship, along with helping to build her leadership skills.

“The irony here is while Rotary is recognizing me, I feel like I should really be recognizing Rotary,” she added thoughtfully.

Koco concluded her remarks by thanking her mentors, including her favorite high school teacher, Ilana Ascher, the Chelsea City Council, Council Clerk Paul Casino, and “my parents, the hardest-working people I know –

I want to thank you for your unconditional love and support.”

Koco received a warm ovation from the many Rotary members and guests in attendance.

“This was an outstanding honor for one of Chelsea’s young adults who is making a difference in our community,” said Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson. “I wanted to be here tonight to join the Rotary in this much-deserved recognition of Ledia’s contributions to Chelsea with this prestigious award. I congratulate her on behalf of all my colleagues in city government and the citizens of Chelsea.”

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TILL Central of Chelsea Presented an Appreciation Award to City Manager Tom Ambrosino for His Outstanding Work on Behalf of till Central.

TILL Central of Chelsea Presented an Appreciation Award to City Manager Tom Ambrosino for His Outstanding Work on Behalf of till Central.

On May 8, members of TILL Central Chelsea participated in a community service project planting flowers in Chelsea Square.

Pictured at the award presentation ceremony are (from left): Chinaza Okparaoko, Paula Jean, Stephanie Stevenson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Bruce Nicole, and Cordelia M. TILL Central Chelsea is an organization that assists people with disabilities and helps local organizations such as the Salvation Army, St. Rose Church, and My Brother’s Table in Lynn.

Pictured at the award presentation ceremony are (from left): Chinaza Okparaoko, Paula Jean, Stephanie Stevenson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Bruce Nicole, and Cordelia M. TILL Central Chelsea is an organization that assists people with disabilities and helps local organizations such as the Salvation Army, St. Rose Church, and My Brother’s Table in Lynn.

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Police Captain Batchelor is Honored

Police Captain Batchelor is Honored

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Chelsea Police Captain David Batchelor was honored for his outstanding work with Chelsea HUB, which is a team of designated staff from community and government agencies that meet weekly to address specific situations regarding individuals facing elevated levels of risk. Chelsea HUB develops immediate, coordinated and integrated responses to these situations through the mobilization of resources. Pictured at the award presentation during a HUB training program Monday at Homewood Suites Hotel are (from left): Dan Cortez, community engagement specialist, Chelsea Police Department, Jason Owens, an assistant director at Roca, Capt. David Batchelor, award recipient, and Melissa Walsh, director of Chelsea Thrives, The Neighborhood Developers.

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Matt Siegel to Emcee Eighth Annual ALS & MS Walk for Living

Word spread quickly.

Excited residents and participants take off under the balloon arch at the beginning of last year’s LFCFL Walk for Living. This year’s walk will take place on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Excited residents and participants take off under the balloon arch at the beginning of last year’s LFCFL Walk for Living. This year’s walk will take place on Sunday, Sept. 25.

The Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL), the only urban model skilled nursing Green House in the world caring for individuals with ALS – was opening a second home for individuals living with ALS.

Within days, the new Dapper McDonald ALS Residence was filled with a diverse mix of residents in terms of ages, occupations and geographic locations. These residents, many of whom are completely immobilized, are now able to live more independently by controlling the lights, turning on the TV, opening doors and raising window shades – all through the use of their eyes.

The 8th Annual ALS & MS Walk for Living, a fundraiser to support these neurological specialty residences and its residents, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m. at 165 Captains Row on Admirals Hill. The Dapper McDonald ALS Residence marks the third neurological specialty residence within the award-winning Leonard Florence Center. The Steve Saling ALS Residence and the Slifka MS Residence opened in 2010. The revolutionary technology, dedicated support staff and nurturing home environment enable the residents to live as independently as possible.

“This year’s Walk for Living will honor Bill and Sharon Stein; major benefactors of our ALS Residences,” said Barry Berman, CEO of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation. “Their extreme generosity has changed the lives of our pALS.”

He added, “We also wish to thank our local communities, businesses, residents and their families. Clearly, their support of the Walk, year after year, is truly invaluable.”

Beloved radio personality Matt Siegel, host of “Matty in the Morning” on KISS 108 will once again act as emcee and kick-off the two-mile walk. Major corporate sponsors include Donoghue, Barrett & Singal, Lundgren Management (AHOA), M&T Bank, Kayem Foods Incorporated, ShiftGear, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, A-1 Lighting Service Company, Genzyme and Eastern Salt.

Independent Newspaper Group is the media sponsor.

Immediately following the walk, there will be a BBQ hosted by Chili’s, doughnuts provided by Dunkin Donuts, face painting, live dance performances, a petting zoo, a photo booth and a raffle. There is a $10 donation fee to participate in the Walk, which includes a Walk for Living tee shirt, the BBQ and all the activities. Registration begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday, September 25; the Walk begins at 10 a.m.

The Walk for Living is one of the few walks that are dog-friendly.

Without a doubt, the extraordinary ALS and MS residents reflect the very essence of the Walk – and the Center. Ten years after his ALS diagnosis, Patrick O’Brien, produced and directed TransFatty Lives, which won the coveted “Top Audience Award” at the prestigious Tribeca and Milano Film Festivals, among other honors. Steve Saling, an architect who helped design the Center, was told to he had two to five years to live at the time he was diagnosed with ALS in 2008; today Steve travels throughout the country, giving presentations and speeches through a voice activated computer. Bonnie Berthiaume, the first multiple sclerosis resident to move into the Leonard Florence Center, noted that the LFCL changed her life by giving her the freedom to attend Red Sox games, the theatre and weekly outings.

Tony Epifani, 47, a World Cup Soccer player from Syracuse, whose wife, son and daughter reside in New York, was confined to one room day after day, ultimately feeling lost and disconnected from the world. Now, after moving to the Dapper McDonald Residence, he is fully ensconced in the day-to-day activities at the Center. Together, these ALS & MS residents demonstrate how they live life to the very fullest every single day.

“I am excited to emcee the 8th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living,” said Matt Siegel. “The Leonard Florence Center for Living residents are an inspiration to us all, with their courage, determination, humor and zest for living.”

Support the ALS & MS Walk for Living by sponsoring or joining a team, or making a much-needed donation at www.walkforliving.org. For more information, call Joelle Smith at 617-409-8973 or email walkforliving@chelseajewish.org.

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“Superstar” Prosecutor Lauded for Service to Residents of Chelsea

A Suffolk prosecutor assigned to Chelsea District Court was honored recently for her community-minded work in and out of the courtroom, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

During the 13th Annual Suffolk Awards, held last month at Suffolk University Law School, prosecutors, advocates, civilian investigators, and support staff were honored for their outstanding efforts on behalf of the communities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.

Assistant District Attorney Stacey Pichardo was recognized with the Brian J. Honan Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and Commitment to the Communities We Serve – among the highest honors presented each year, and one that Conley said every prosecutor should aspire to.

“Stacey is not only an outstanding prosecutor,” Conley said. “She’s also a dedicated advocate for the people and communities she serves. She represents the very best of what it means to be a Suffolk prosecutor – diligence, integrity, fairness, and passion for public service.”

The award is given each year in honor of late Suffolk prosecutor and Boston City Councilor Brian Honan. It was delivered by Honan’s brother, State Representative Kevin Honan, who said, “As a teacher, as a prosecutor, and as a city councilor, my brother Brian had a vision of inclusion that welcomed everyone, no matter who they might be or where they might hail from. Assistant District Attorney Stacey Pichardo lives out that vision today. In her current assignment, she serves the people of Chelsea and Revere, and in particular their large immigrant communities, with compassion, respect, and the highest level of professionalism.”

In addition to her day-to-day work arraigning, assessing, trying, and disposing cases in Chelsea court, Pichardo took part in this year’s Advanced Trial Training program, which brings young prosecutors and defense attorneys together from across Massachusetts to hone their trial advocacy skills. One of her mentors in that program, a senior prosecutor assigned to the DA’s Appellate Division, described her courtroom skills as “fantastic” and said she had a “polish” that was far beyond her three years on the job.

In addition to her work in the courtroom, Conley said, Pichardo has also spoken to Chelsea youth through the Summer Youth Employment Program; to Boston Public Schools students participating in Conley’s Overcoming Violence program; and to participants in the Latina Women Moving Forward program, which connected her with other young women of Latina ancestry. Pichardo, who was born in the Dominican Republic, recounted the experience as particularly gratifying because, she said, “Pursuing a profession as a doctor or lawyer in my culture was routinely viewed as a path reserved only for men. It is very rewarding to have an opportunity to show young Latina women differently and perhaps inspire them to pursue their goals.”

Pichardo has earned the respect of police officers, detectives, and administrators in the course of her work, as well. After speaking to criminal justice students at Bunker Hill Community College on the role of the prosecutor earlier this year, the students’ professor – Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes – called Pichardo a “superstar” who earned the class’ admiration and gratitude.

“The entire class was absolutely thrilled with her classroom presentation and could not stop asking questions throughout. There were students who I have never heard speak over the last month or so that had numerous questions for Stacey,” Kyes wrote in a letter to Conley praising Pichardo. “She represented your office as well as the law profession with class, professionalism, and dignity.”

Revere Police Chief Joseph Cafarelli echosed those thoughts, saying, “We have enjoyed a professional relationship with Stacey Pichardo during her tenure at the District Attorney’s Office and look forward to continuing that relationship. The award is well deserved.”

Assistant District Attorney Stacey Pichardo, center, receives the Brian J. Honan Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and Commitment to the Communities We Serve from Honan’s brother, State Representative Kevin Honan. With them are (from left) Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley; Honan’s mother, Mary Honan; and his sister, Clare Coughlin.

Assistant District Attorney Stacey Pichardo, center, receives the Brian J. Honan Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and Commitment to the Communities We Serve from Honan’s brother, State Representative Kevin Honan. With them are (from left) Suffolk District Attorney
Dan Conley; Honan’s mother, Mary Honan; and his sister, Clare Coughlin.

A 2008 graduate of Norwich University with a degree in criminal justice and Spanish, Pichardo went on to study at Suffolk University Law School. She interned alongside Suffolk prosecutors in East Boston Municipal Court and in Conley’s Gang Unit before she was hired as an assistant district attorney in 2013.

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Roca’s High-Risk Young Mothers Program Wins National Award

The Roca, Inc. High-Risk Young Mothers Program is honored to be a recipient of the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s inaugural Accelerating Change Award. The award recognizes programs and initiatives that have demonstrated a commitment to reach diverse populations of young women and girls of color and create opportunities for their well being and success.

Young women and girls of color—especially those involved in or at risk of involvement in public systems like child welfare and juvenile justice—face a unique and alarming trajectory that puts them at risk of poor outcomes in life. To spotlight organizations, programs and practices that interrupt that trajectory, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is recognizing initiatives such as Roca’s High-Risk Young Mother’s Program for our compelling and creative interventions to make a difference in young women and girls’ everyday lives. Roca and four other organizations were selected after a nationwide competition.

“Roca exists to disrupt the cycle of poverty and disconnection that ensnares young people,” said Rosie Muñoz-López, director of Roca’s High-Risk Young Mothers Program. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done to support our young women to become good parents and attain self-sufficiency, and because of this award, we’ll have the opportunity to begin sharing the lessons we’ve learned with others who want to make a difference on behalf of young women and girls of color at a national level.”

Along with national recognition, a small honorarium to support our work and an opportunity to join a network of similar high-performing initiatives, members of Roca’s High-Risk Young Mother’s Program will attend United State of Women Summit hosted by the White House next month. The United State of Women Summit will rally women and girls across the nation and abroad to discuss key gender equality issues, such as economic empowerment, educational opportunity, health and wellness, violence against women, entrepreneurship and innovation and leadership and civic engagement.

“Organizations like Roca are changing the narrative about young women and girls of color,” said Tashira Halyard, CSSP senior associate and lead for the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare. “Too many of our girls and young women of color are placed on a path toward negative outcomes after experiences with public systems that are meant to protect them and support them. Rather than perpetuating what is often an ‘abuse-to-prison pipeline,’ these organizations are lifting up and supporting our young women and girls of color as crucial to our nation’s future.”

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