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Claudia Pazmany

SPRINGFIELD — Following an eight-month search and interview process, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services (MLKFS) named Claudia DeVito Pazmany as its new chief Development officer. She will be responsible for developing a sustainable institutional development effort to both support existing programs and expand them to serve the emergent needs of the organization’s clients. Pazmany had served as a volunteer member of the MLKFS development committee before being appointed to her new position.

“Claudia’s dedication to building the beloved community is evident, not only because of her volunteer service to our organization, but also based on her entire career of helping others succeed,” said Shannon Rudder, president and CEO of MLKFS. “She has a long history of social-change fund development mixed with a proven track record of rebuilding and repositioning organizations and nonprofits for success.”

Pazmany comes to MLKFS with 23 years of relationship building, strategic planning, innovative leadership, financial acumen, and visionary critical thinking, most recently serving as executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. Her experience includes a history of professional fundraising with a career total of raising more than $15 million in a development capacity for other location organizations, including the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts and Providence Ministries. She also serves as volunteer, advisory board member, and former board president of CHD’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, a development committee member of the United Way of Franklin & Hampshire Region, and as a 2020 and 2021 EforAll Pioneer Valley mentor.

In October 2021, Pazmany received a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives for her leadership role in supporting Amherst’s small businesses throughout COVID, leveraging more than $2 million in small-business assistance. She was honored with the Family 2022 Outreach Center’s Helen Mitchell Community Service Award for conceptualizing and implementing a program that provided restaurant relief while feeding families who were disproportionately impacted by COVID. She was also honored as a 2023 BusinessWest Difference Maker along with Amherst Business Improvement District Executive Director Gabrielle Gould for their partnership and leadership to build a stronger community throughout COVID.

“I am deeply honored to step into this inaugural role at MLKFS,” Pazmany said. “I am eager to develop relationships and engage the community to further the inspired vision of its newest president and CEO, Shannon M. Rudder, whilst connecting its rich history to a strengthened role it can play in ensuring MLKFS for our future generations.”

Pazmany earned a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in French and business from UMass Amherst, and an MBA from Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. She earned a program leadership certificate from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Rose Colon, chair of the board of directors of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services (MLKFS), announced the addition of the following new board members: William Davila, Byron Jones, Rania Kfuri, Dr. Yolanda Marrow, Awildo Morales, and Kimberly Robinson Williams, who will fill the Dora D. Robinson legacy board seat.

“The mission of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services is profound and sometimes, given the rising needs of our community, a challenging one,” noted Shannon Rudder, president and CEO. “We are grateful for the time and expertise that our new board members — indeed, all our board members — offer us as we ensure the transformational work of MLK Family Services and the ultimate dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of creating a thriving, beloved community right here in our region.”

Davila is vice president of Diversion, Shelter & Housing for the Center for Human Development Inc. in Springfield, as well as a licensed independent clinical social worker in Massachusetts and a licensed clinical social worker in Connecticut.

Jones is a digital strategist and government contractor for the International Trade Assoc. (ITA) through Platinum Technologies (PT78) and has 19 years of business and digital strategy experience.

Kfuri is a Philanthropy officer at the Baystate Health Foundation and has more than 20 years of development and related experience.

Marrow is a pediatric trauma and Acute Care Surgery program manager at Baystate Medical Center and has 31 years of healthcare experience.

Morales is a branch manager and Retail Banking and Security officer for Monson Savings Bank and has over 12 years of financial-services experience.

Williams is Managing Partner of FDR & Associates LLC, which offers engagement with companies, organizations, and individuals committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). She has more than 27 years of experience working in HR, development, alumni relations, and DEI positions.

Other members of the MLKFS board of directors include board chair Rose Colon (board chair), Maurice Powe (vice chair), Darren James (treasurer), Siobhan Spruill (clerk), Eddie Corbin, Dr. Mia Chandler, Joyce Davis, Bobby Hartsfield, Calvin Hill, Jacquelyn Lee-Washington, Damon Slocumb, Dr. Allison Sullivan, and Jeffrey Sullivan (chair emeritus).

Class of 2024

President and CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services

She Wants to Galvanize a Community to Effect Positive Change

Shannon Rudder

For her 12th birthday, Shannon Rudder didn’t want a present from her mother; instead, she wanted to redecorate her bedroom.

So she did, and she remembers some of the things she hung on the walls, like the Indigenous Ten Commandments and a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, along with the quotation, “live, think, and act. Be inspired by humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony.”

She remembers that message because she internalized it at a young age, and it has informed every stop along her career journey — and the difference she has been able to make at each one.

“It’s embedded in me,” Rudder said as she sat with BusinessWest in her office at Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services in Springfield. “I feel like I can be a part of creating humanity in my immediate area. I might not be able to change the whole world or the whole city that I’m in, but I’ve always felt compelled to make an impact in a positive way with compassion and love. And I’m responsible for my thoughts because those become actions. Very early on, that idea led me to be a person of integrity, of deep compassion, and of advocacy.”

Perhaps that’s why, after considering a corporate career in college, she eventually embarked on a series of roles at organizations with a social mission, from MotherWoman and Teach Western Mass to Providence Ministries and, now, MLK Family Services, where she stepped a year ago into the very big shoes of the late Ronn Johnson, who steered the ship there for more than a decade (and was also honored by BusinessWest as a Difference Maker in 2020).

Simply put, Rudder said, “I just think I have been called to contribute to important causes, and I go after that.”

Her first nonprofit job was in Buffalo, N.Y., where she grew up, for an organization called Women for Human Rights & Dignity. “It just like cracked me open, like, ‘oh, the skills that I have and the compassion that I have … they can be aligned, and I get paid to do awesome, impactful work?’

“I might not be able to change the whole world or the whole city that I’m in, but I’ve always felt compelled to make an impact in a positive way with compassion and love.”

“That was all about women’s empowerment,” she added. “We did alternatives-to-incarceration programs and domestic-violence support and non-traditional education and housing. I was really young, and I had a little baby, and I was doing this good work, but also learning how to run a business.”

Since then, Rudder has taken care to align with causes that are important to her, moving into work with fair housing and civil rights in the Buffalo region before moving to Western Mass., where her first pathway to organizational leadership was at MotherWoman, a nonprofit focused on maternal health and well-being, where she served as executive director.

Later, she was executive director for Providence Ministries Inc., a nonprofit advocating for and supporting marginalized populations across programs dedicated to food security, addiction recovery, housing, clothing, and workforce development. That role opened her eyes to many types of need and further honed her sharp sense of empathy.

“I remember my grandmother saying, ‘but for God’s grace, there go I’ — meaning, in a blink of an eye, your situation could change, and you could be on the other side of needing services like that,” she said. “We’re all part of the same journey.”

Shannon Rudder

Shannon Rudder with the two youth emcees from last month’s MLK Day celebration.

She also served as deputy director of Teach Western Mass, a nonprofit startup working toward educational equity in partnership with more than 30 schools. Her duties included fiscal and operational oversight, knowledge-management systems, data and impact, communications, equity and belonging, human-resource management, overall team culture, and supervision of cross-functional teams.

“I’ve been really intentional about the causes that make a difference to me, approaching it from the perspective of, ‘OK, this agency’s mission is really clear, the heart and the compassion are here, and I get to make sure it lasts for a long time by building the infrastructure, the operations systems, the fundraising and return on investment, and all the important scaffolding that needs to be in place so that the business aspect of it can thrive.”

The clear thread woven through all these roles has been a focus on equity and making sure everyone has access to the resources they need to live healthy, meaningful lives, she explained. “I picked causes that are doing the important work of amplifying the voices of those that have often been silenced or marginalized.”

By using her own voice, compassion, and business acumen to do so, Rudder has become a true Difference Maker.


Lifetime Support

At MLK Family Services, she shares with Johnson, her late predecessor, an approach to the work from a public-health standpoint, considering how the social determinants of health affect all areas of life.

“Sure, we can triage and put Band-Aids on stuff — people are hungry now, so let’s make sure they have food — but let’s dig a little deeper: how do we actually get a grocery store in an area that is in need?” she said.

“I remember my grandmother saying, ‘but for God’s grace, there go I’ — meaning, in a blink of an eye, your situation could change, and you could be on the other side of needing services like that. We’re all part of the same journey.”

“I also want to make sure that MLKFS as a whole, operations and programs, is operating from a trauma-informed place,” she went on, citing a philosophy that takes into account the unique, often traumatic experiences of an individual’s life and how that informs what they need.

“How do we approach our programs and ensure that the people working with our kids are helping to break that, or making sure that those kids have resources like mental-health counseling? How do we make sure we’re helping to embolden and empower them, and then actually building the bridge to get them access to the things that they need?”

The current programs offered by MLK Family Services are many and diverse, and include:

• The Family Stabilization Program, funded through the Department of Child and Family, offers support to families to keep their children safely at home and in the community by advocating for the well-being and rights of all children and ensuring parenting support.

Shannon Rudder’s work at MLK Family Services lifts up children in many ways.

Shannon Rudder’s work at MLK Family Services lifts up children in many ways.

• The MLK Food Pantry provides emergency food services to community members in Hampden County. The program relies on donations from grocery vendors and is a member of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The pantry operates at the MLK Community Center weekly and also hosts the Food Bank’s mobile market twice monthly.

• The Clemente Course in Humanities is a transformative educational experience for adults — an opportunity to further their education and careers, advocate for themselves and their families, and engage actively in the cultural and political lives of their communities.

• The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Tour helps young people explore their academic journey by visiting multiple college campuses in a single trip. These tours equip participants with a solid understanding of the history, culture, and traditions that have shaped the schools’ collective legacy. In addition, students, parents, and counselors are engaged in a year-long series of workshops.

• The King’s Kids afterschool programs serve up to 130 children at two locations. Programming is aimed at helping students become academically successful by nurturing their character building, critical-thinking skills, and creativity. Students are offered homework help, STEAM enrichment, literacy support, cultural experiences, and recreational and holistic well-being.

• Youth between ages 13 and 22 are invited to participate in the weekly Night Spot program, which empowers them to be critical thinkers and community builders while preparing them for life in high school, college, and beyond. Night Spot offers advocacy services for a variety of needs, including handling life’s complications, navigating the court system, and ensuring safety in a safe, drug-free environment.

• Beat the Odds is a Springfield-based youth mental-health coalition led in partnership with the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts. Hosted at MLK Family Services, the program focuses on breaking the cycle of stigma and barriers to youth mental healthcare. In 2023, this program launched a public-awareness campaign called “I Am Not My Mood.”

“How do we make sure we’re helping to embolden and empower them, and then actually building the bridge to get them access to the things that they need?”

• King’s Kids Summer Camp is a full-day camp for children ages 5-12. Meanwhile, a new partnership with Springfield Empowerment Zone schools provides summer enrichment programs to Springfield middle- and high-school students in partnership with agencies across Massachusetts.

• DCR Summer Nights Program is a transformative, statewide initiative that enriches the lives of urban youth ages 13 to 21. MLK Family Services is one of the sites providing safe, inclusive, and fun activities (both recreational and educational) during evening hours. Participants enjoy gaming competitions and tournaments in a variety of sports, enriching arts activities, health and wellness workshops, career explorations through guest speakers, and off-site excursions.

“I can’t wait to jump in with the community and do a strategic plan where they begin to inform us what they need, so we’re not sitting here thinking, ‘oh, I think it would be cool if we created this experience,’” Rudder said. “Does the community need that? We know that the community is ever-shifting and changing. So to really meet the needs of the community, we need to hear from them, and I’m excited about doing that.”

The MLK King’s Kids dance troupe performed at MLK Day this year.

The MLK King’s Kids dance troupe performed at MLK Day this year.

It’s a way to go beyond Johnson’s ‘teach a man to fish’ credo and make sure people are fishing in the right ponds.

“If we say we’re going to listen to the community, then we have to go into the community and say, ‘OK, we heard you. How are we going to work at this together?’” Rudder said. “It’s our job to provide the resources and the tools, but I want them to be a part of that solution, whatever that looks like.”


Thinking Ahead

Rudder has plenty of goals for the center, from broading the trauma-informed piece to launching a full capital-needs assessment.

“I want to make sure our center is there for decades to come, so that means a lot of capital improvement. Our food pantry needs a new home; we’re just bursting at the seams.

“I also want to do economic-development training,” she added. “We do a really good job with HBCUs and also college readiness locally, and I want our kids to dream big — but college might not be for them. So how do we equip them to realize their dreams and potential? I want to do some vocational training, some entrepreneurial things, all STEAM-based approaches to things.”

One idea from Providence Ministries she’d like to being to MLK Family Services is ServSafe training. “We can get them certified in management and actually have hands-on teaching of kitchen skills and culinary skills. And then, how do they make money off of that? So, we’ll teach them business acumen and then link them to opportunities for jobs,” she explained. “I’m just excited to hear what our community’s needs are and finding a way — again, through the public-health lens — of making sure that we meet those needs.”

To accomplish all that, Rudder relies not only on the center’s staff, but also about 120 volunteers. And she finds it gratifying that she’s following King’s philosophy of not working solo, but galvanizing an entire community to accomplish positive change.

“One adage I grew up with is, ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’ And I’m really blessed; I’m really fortunate in my life,” Rudder told BusinessWest. “So that’s my responsibility — to leverage those things that I’ve been blessed with into doing good, into impact. This is fun, and it is fulfilling to me.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services (MLFKS) received a $50,000 grant from the MassMutual Foundation as part of MassMutual’s inaugural Economic Equity Grant program, a collaboration of the MassMutual Foundation with MassMutual’s employee business resource groups (BRGs), which serve as an integral component of the organization’s DEI strategy. MLKFS is one of eight organizations to receive a grant.

“We currently operate the fourth-largest food pantry in the region with very little financial support while our community’s needs continue to grow,” said Shannon Rudder, president and CEO of MLKFS. “In addition to addressing food insecurity, we are also dedicated to enhancing our youth STEAM-based educational programs. This grant will assist us in both endeavors; we are extremely grateful to the MassMutual Foundation for their steady support.”

MassMutual’s employee BRGs support initiatives that drive organizational results; increase employee engagement; and foster awareness, respect, and inclusion within the workplace. More than one-third of MassMutual’s employees participate in its eight BRGs, representing Black/African-American, Asian, and Hispanic/Latino/Latinx communities; members of the LGBTQ+ community; individuals with disabilities and their caregivers; members of the armed forces, veterans, and military family members; young professionals; and women.

“We are stronger when we come together as a community. This is true internally as well. Working with our MassMutual BRG colleagues, we selected grant recipients that align the individual BRGs’ philanthropic interests with the MassMutual Foundation’s mission of building financial resiliency,” said Dennis Duquette, head of MassMutual Community Responsibility and president of the MassMutual Foundation. “Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services’ food pantry addresses a critical need for families struggling to make ends meet, and we are proud to help them expand their impact.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Adam Gomez and state Rep. Bud Williams joined legislative colleagues, community members, and youth across Western Mass. for the 2024 MLK Day Collaborative Community Event at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. This collaborative celebration was hosted by Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, Community Music School of Springfield, and Springfield College to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

“The theme for today’s annual celebration is ‘Living the Legacy. Continuing the Dream,’ and over the course of this weekend in Springfield, we’ve honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and dream,” Gomez said. “Dr. King’s legacy is immortalized by his call for civil and economic rights for all people in his iconic ‘dream’ speech. His reminder that ‘an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ compels us to reflect on the progress we have made and the challenges that still lie ahead”.

Williams remarked on Dr. King’s enduring spirit as an inspiration for youth. “We’ve had a lot of monumental tasks that we have done in this country, but there’s plenty of work to do — more work to do. Our youth must continue dreaming and break barriers in the process.”

Waleska Lugo-DeJesús, CEO of Inclusive Strategies, also spoke during the program. “In a world marked by persistent social and racial inequities, the message of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. resonates with unwavering relevance,” she said. “The struggles for justice and equity persist, demanding our collective attention and action.  As a presenting partner helping coordinate the MLK Day Celebration for 11 years, we are grateful to Senator Gomez, Representative Williams, and the Springfield delegation who serve our community.  Today is a critical reminder that we all have a role to play.  I hope everyone joining us today seeks inspiration and recommitment toward positive social change.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services (MLKFS) has wrapped up an almost-year-long search for a new leader. After an extensive search campaign and interview process, Aieshya Jackson, chair of the board of directors of MLKFS, announced that Shannon Rudder will be the next president and CEO of the organization.

“The task we undertook upon Ronn Johnson’s passing was to find someone who shared our values as keepers of the dream while simultaneously having the exemplary skills and experience to build on Ronn’s success,” Jackson said. “We found that person in Shannon, who has spent her career putting her business skills and entrepreneurial spirit to work in service to those who need help the most.”

Rudder, who will join MLKFS on March 13, most recently served as deputy director of Teach Western Mass, a nonprofit organization working toward educational equity in partnership with area schools. She also served as executive director of Providence Ministries Inc., an organization supporting the needs of marginalized populations by addressing food insecurity, addiction recovery, housing, clothing, and workforce development. She earned her MBA and her BBA, the latter magna cum laude, from Medaille College.

“What I love about Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services is that it really takes into account all of the community members,” Rudder said. “I want to ensure that the legacy continues because it’s important and has been around for 45 years. It’s important that it continues because the needs continue.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The board of directors of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services has elected attorney Rose Colon as vice president.

“We are thrilled to have Rose move into the role of vice president. With her legal background and many years of service in the Springfield area, she will continue to support our mission in being keepers of the dream,” board President Aieshya Jackson said.

Colon practices in the Probate & Family courts of Western Mass. for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Prior to that role, she was the first Latina assistant district attorney in Berkshire County. She is also an adjunct professor at Bay Path University in its Legal Studies & Criminal Justice Department.

Colon earned a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from Bay Path University in Longmeadow and her juris doctorate from Western New England University School of Law.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The board of directors of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services has elected Aieshya Jackson as president, and the organization announced that Karon Forde has been appointed director of Youth Programs.

“We are so excited to have Aieshya leading our organization as her management and financial skills are critical for our continued growth,” said Patricia Bernard, vice president of Operations and Finances. “Bringing Karon to Springfield is also exciting and a real plus for the children we serve.”

Jackson is a business manager for the Springfield Library Department and has more than 15 years of financial-services experience. She is a graduate of Bay Path University, where she earned a master’s degree in healthcare management. She also attended the Connecticut School of Finance and Management.

Forde had served as the Community Center director for the Police Athletic League in Brooklyn, N.Y. She has more than seven years of experience working directly with youth as well as serving as an administrator of after-school programs. She earned a bachelor’s degree in values, ethics, and social action from Allegheny College.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services (MLKFS) announced that this year’s Social Justice Awards will honor the organization’s former President and CEO Ronn Johnson, who passed away in January. The organization also announced that the Justice Resource Institute has stepped forward as the first event sponsor.

“The Social Justice Awards generated the support every year that Ronn needed to help MLKFS continue to be keepers of the dream,” said Calvin Hill, chairman of the MLKFS board of directors. “Now it is an opportunity for the community and area organizations to honor Ronn’s work and help keep that dream alive.”

The 2022 Social Justice Awards will continue to be a virtual event this year and will take place Saturday, April 23 at 11 a.m. Michael Weeks, president and CEO of the Providers Council, will be the keynote speaker. The awards will honor individuals and organizations that met, if not exceeded, King’s challenge: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”

This year’s honorees are Barbara Gresham (education), Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr. (lifetime achievement), Bishop Talbert Swan II (race relations), CMSS and Eileen McCaffery (arts and culture), Doris Harris (health advocacy), First Church of Christ in Longmeadow UCC (faith-based initiative), MassHire Springfield and Kevin Lynn (economic development), and Thomas Morrow and Julius Lewis (entrepreneurship).

Individuals and organizations interested in supporting Johnson’s work at MLKFS through sponsorship or a donation should contact Lenise Williams at (413) 736-3655 or [email protected], or visit mlkjrfamilyservices.org/donate.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The board of directors of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services has elected Aieshya Jackson as vice president and Darren James as treasurer.

“Aieshya and Darren have stepped up to take on more responsibility just when our organization needs it most,” said Calvin Hill, chair of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services. “They bring critical skills to our leadership team and an integral part of our future.”

Jackson is a business manager for the city of Springfield Library Department and has more than 15 years of financial-services experience. She is a graduate of Bay Path University, where she earned a master’s degree in healthcare management. She also attended the Connecticut School of Finance and Management.

James is a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual and has more than eight years of financial-services and operations experience. He earned a bachelor’s degree from American International College with a concentration in communications and business.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc. (MLKFS) appointed Zaida Govan as vice president of Youth Services. She will direct all educational programming, including after-school, summer, and college-readiness programs.

“The needs of the youth in our community have increased greatly,” said Ronn Johnson, president and CEO of MLKFS. “Zaida will help us to carry on the vision of Dr. King and respond to those needs. While our core focus remains the Mason Square community, the need has grown, and the people we serve come from all neighborhoods, even beyond the borders of the city of Springfield.”

Govan is a licensed clinical social worker and an accomplished community organizer who has worked with the Mason Square Health Task Force and its Drug Free Communities efforts. Her community work also includes serving as a board member of Wellspring Cooperative Corp. and Wellspring Harvest Greenhouse, as well as a board member of the League of Women Voters of Northampton. She is president of the Indian Orchard Citizens Council and president of the Springfield Community Land Trust, whose mission is to bring permanent, affordable housing to Hampden County. She also started community-garden efforts in both the Indian Orchard and Mason Square neighborhoods.

Govan attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Springfield College, including a master’s degree in social work and human services.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc. (MLKFS) announced the addition of three new members to its board of directors.

“Our mission and services have expanded to meet in part the incredible needs of the community during this time of hardship,” said Calvin Hill, MLKFS board chair and vice president of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement for Springfield College. “Therefore, adding additional and talented hands to our leadership will assist us in fulfilling the words of Dr. King as we attempt to do more for others.”

The MLKFS Emergency Food Pantry now helps more than 500 people, and after-school and night-spot programs support literacy and academic achievement essential for the life success that disrupts the cycle of poverty. MLKFS also runs a historically black college-tour program. Funding for such socially focused programming continues to become increasingly limited at a time when needs are especially pressing.

At the regular meeting of the board on Jan. 21, the board voted unanimously to accept the three new nominees Rose Colon, John Garvey, and Dr. Allison Sullivan.

Colon is a criminal-defense and personal-injury attorney based in Springfield. She engages in all aspects of criminal-defense and civil personal-injury litigation. She earned her paralegal certificate from the American Bar Assoc., earned a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in legal studies at Bay Path University, and earned her juris doctorate at Western New England University.

Garvey is the founder of Garvey Communication Associates Inc., a Springfield-based digital public-relations and marketing agency. He is a graduate of Marquette University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences with honors, and of American International College, where he earned a master’s degree in organizational development with an emphasis on strategic planning. He is a volunteer at Wild Care Cape Cod, a former board member of Valley Venture Mentors, and a past mentor for the startup accelerators MassChallenge and SparkHolyoke/EforAll.

Sullivan is lead faculty for the Occupational Therapy doctorate program at American International College. As an occupational therapist and educator, she has dedicated her 27-year career to improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan, working in day-habilitation services, school-based occupational therapy, and residential settings. She is the chair of the MAOT Western Massachusetts Mental Health Special Interest Group, a certified group-exercise and yoga instructor, and the co-founder and leader of #OTalk2US, a Twitter chat for occupational therapists with tens of millions of views of tweets carrying this tag.

Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Amherst College, a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Springfield College, and a doctorate in occupational therapy from Temple University. She currently volunteers as an advisory board member for Lighthouse and a board member and social media committee chair for Allen Cognitive Network, and serves on the human rights committee for Viability.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A mural inspired by the death of George Floyd that will pay tribute to unarmed people of color killed by police, titled “Say Their Names,” is being painted on the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services building, located at 3 Rutland St. in Springfield.

In addition to the mural, there will be an adjacent area where members of the community are encouraged to share their own tributes and remembrances. The project is organized by Common Wealth Murals, organizer of Fresh Paint Springfield, and Rosemary Tracy Woods, executive director and chief curator of Art for the Soul Gallery. The mural is hosted by Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services of Springfield.

The mural was designed and is being painted by internationally known muralist and graffiti artist Wane One from New York City, with assistance from two additional muralists, Nero and Souls. Wane One painted the East Columbus Avenue parking garage during the Fresh Paint Springfield Mural Festival in 2019 and a mural for the Friends of the Homeless shelter on Worthington Street in Springfield.

The mural, which will include the phrase “Say Their Names,” will feature the names of the more than 60 unarmed people of color who have been killed by police in the U.S. in the past 12 months (from June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020). The people whose names are included on the mural are those whom police reported as unarmed when killed. The names and demographics of those killed, as well as the circumstances of their death, were drawn from the research by Mapping Police Violence.

According to the project organizers, “we were inspired to create this mural by the death of George Floyd. We believe more must be done to prevent the excessive use of force by police, which disproportionately harms people of color. We hope this mural will create a space for public and communal mourning, inspiration, and conversation. We believe free expression and community conversation during a time of heightened tension increases the likelihood of peaceful and constructive action. We hope that this mural will help people heal, process emotions, gain new understanding, and inspire concerted effort to eliminate individual and systemic racism.”

Wane One has been an active and progressive participant in the New York City graffiti community for 36 years, and has painted more than 35 public murals in New York City and around the world. He has designed for hip-hop groups and artists like Gangstarr, Jeru the Damager, and Group Home, as well as brands such as Nike, Reebok, New Balance, and RYU.