Category: News

Photo/Reba Saldanha  June 17, 2020

Welcome Discovering Justice’s New Executive Director

Discovering Justice is excited to welcome Matt Wilson as our new Executive Director.

Wilson has a three-decade history as a nonprofit executive in the Commonwealth, most recently finishing a seven-year stint as the founding Executive Director of MASSCreative, the state’s advocacy group for the arts and creative community.

“Matt brings a history of building and managing nonprofits that educate, prepare, and engage students and Massachusetts residents in civic actions,” said Tony Jordan, board president of Discovering Justice. “We are excited that he is bringing his energy, experience, and passion for positive change to Discovering Justice. Especially in the current environment, Matt is the kind of leader we need to take Discovering Justice into the future and best serve our constituents.”

For thirty-six years, Wilson built and ran community-based initiatives for a healthier and more vibrant Commonwealth. As a community organizer, public advocate, fundraiser, and trainer, Wilson has worked with residents to help them envision, realize, and build their capacity and power for change. He has led campaigns for a cleaner environment, affordable and accessible health care, and increased investment in the arts.

“I am excited about the opportunity to help grow Discovering Justice’s programs that help students understand how the legal system works and how they can act to create a more just Massachusetts,” said Wilson. “There has never been a more important time to engage in civic action and ensure that our democracy is vibrant and holds our leaders accountable. I look forward to working with our dedicated staff to continue Discovering Justice’s two-decade-long history of working with judges, teachers, lawyers, and civic leaders to teach students about the judicial system and to work for justice.”

Wilson was the founding Executive Director of MASSCreative, the statewide advocacy voice for Massachusetts’ arts, cultural, and creative community. Under his direction, MASSCreative grew to more than 400 organizational members with 25,000 individuals taking part in public education and advocacy actions. In his tenure, arts funding in the Commonwealth doubled and his advocacy work helped implement state policies to increase access and participation to quality arts education.

As the Director of Toxics Action Center from 1989 to 2005, Wilson built the organization from scratch to a New England-wide resource for hundreds of neighborhoods working to protect themselves from pollution threats.

Wilson graduated from Dartmouth College earned a Masters of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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2018-19 Volunteer Impact

This year, Discovering Justice volunteers conducted Courthouse tours for nearly 2,000 visitors, served over 3,000 students through our field trip program, and dedicated over 4,000 hours to after school programming.

A huge thank you to all of the incredible volunteers who worked with us in May and June.

Annapurna Balakrishna, Leciana Barbosa, Andrew Barreira, Kevin Boyle, David Brown, Sabrina Chartrand, Ain Clinto Cerbito, Jacky Chong, Priscilla Cobb, Alisa De Dominics, Garrick Dust, Dean Elwell, Mark Este, Jonathan Feinberg, Eric Fist, Elicia Flemming, Betsy Gabrielson, Claire Gardner, Lauren Godles-Milgroom, Nathalie Hart, Lisa Jacobson, Hervens Jean-Baptiste, Rachel Jellinek, Julia Jonas-Day, Anastassia Korin, Thomas Kreeger, Tim Krumreig, Cheryl Lomaglio-Puleio, Allyson Lowitz, Amy Mahler, Emmylou Manwill, Sarah Marshall, Rajon Mitchell, Jenn Mori, Katie Moxam, Yani Ngo, Lydia Nicholls, Claire Nivolla, Jane Peachy, Marrissa Persichini, Graham Porell, Taisha Richmond, Maryrose Robson, Shawn Rossier, Annabel Rodriguez, Karen Rutherford, Jasmine Sadeghani, Suzanne Schlossberg, Meaghan Sheridan, Hillary Sullivan, Xiaxoue Sun, Julie Thames, Jane Triano, Joe Veilleux, Harry Wang, Ning Yang, and Liuyang Yu

If you’re interested in working with the next generation of civic leaders and getting involved with our programs, contact Johnny Sadoff at jsadoff@discoveringjustice.flywheelsites.com

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#MA Civics for All

The Civics Project Trust Fund will ensure that schools have the resources to provide every young person in the Commonwealth with high-quality civic education necessary to be participants in our democracy.

The budget amendment has strong support from the House, and will be introduced in the Senate on Wednesday, May 8th. 

Want to advocate for the amendment and make your voice heard? Contact Senate Ways and Means Chair, Michael Rodrigues; Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair, Cindy Friedman; Senate Education Committee Chair, Jason Lewis; and/or your local Senator.

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Boston and Gateway Cities

Last month, we celebrated another successful season of after school programming in Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, and Worcester. The success of our Stand Up For Your Rights and spring Mock Trial programs wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated school partners, volunteer attorneys, and middle school students-turned-lawyers.

Match Middle School Students from Team Foley and Lardner with the Honorable Andrew R. Grainger at “An Evening to Stand Up For Your Rights” in Boston.
Forest Grove Middle School students with the Honorable Timothy S. Hillman and volunteer attorneys from Middlesex Corporation and Mirick O’Connell at “An Evening of Mock Trials” in Worcester.
Henry J. Robinson Middle School students with the Honorable Leslie Donahue at “An Evening of Mock Trials” in Lowell. The team was mentored by volunteer attorneys Scott Hulgan, Sarah Spofford, and Daryl Zule.
Guilmete Middle School students with the Honorable Mark Newman and volunteers from the Law Office of Sandra Gutierrez and the Law Office of Joanna Rodriguez at “An Evening of Mock Trials” in Lawrence.
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An Evening to Stand Up for your Rights

In the spring of 2016, approximately 3,500 BPS students successfully staged a classroom walk-out in protest of public school budget cuts. We’re excited to announce that members of the UMass Boston Practicum Community Research Project on the 2016 BPS Student Walk-out Movement will be speaking at An Evening To Stand Up For Your Rights on Tuesday, May 21st.

Andrew King, a PhD Candidate in Public Policy, McCormack Graduate School at UMass Boston, Mariette Bien-Aime Ayala, a Research Assistant and PhD Candidate in Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies at UMass Boston, and BPS student walk-out leaders will discuss their experiences and speak to the impact of youth-led social change.

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Congratulations to the Winners of our Essay Contest!

We’re excited to announce that two students have been selected to read their essays on leadership and activism at our upcoming gala, and present the 2019 Champions of Justice award to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (above) and Conan Harris.

Congratulations to Sapna Malhotra, a second grader from the Eliot School, and Essence Smith, a junior from Excel Academy Charter High School, for their passion and hard work! Hear what they have to say at “Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Leaders” on Friday, May 31st at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter.

“Across this nation, young people are leading the way, which has been the case for every social movement throughout our history. They are organizing and mobilizing and calling us to action, making plain the high stakes the next generation faces, from gun violence to climate change to the future of work to the solvency of social security” – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley
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Looking for Volunteers

We’re looking for volunteer docents to conduct tours on the following dates. Please contact Johnny Sadoff at jsadoff@discoveringjustice.flywheelsites.com if you’re interested and available!

  • Wednesday, May 22nd – 11:00am-12:00pm – Weston Council on Aging
  • Tuesday, May 29th – 10:30am-11:30am – German International School
  • Wednesday, May 29th – 2:00pm-3:00pm – The Boston Lawyers Group

A huge thank you to all of the incredible volunteers who worked with us in April:

Kevin Boyle, Zeta Crawford, Pascal David, Julia-Jonas Day, Betsy Gabrielson, Kathryn Gillis, Lauren Godles-Milgroom, Carolyn Hoffman, Sam Hurst-Macdonald, Lisa Jacobson, Hervens Jeanbaptiste, Rachel Jellinek, Anastassia Korin, Elaine Leete, Kaleigh Lightbourne, Palmetta Lightbourne, Allyson Lowitz, Claire Nivola, David Pearson, Jane Peachy, Alicia Pierozzi, Linda Robrish, Shawn Rosier, Jasmine Sadeghani, Jessica Sadeghani, Suzanne Schlossberg, and Kevin Wessel

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Discovering Justice’s Annual Gala

With the help of countless sponsors, supporters, and event attendees, our annual gala raised more than $500,000 in support of our civics classroom, field trip, and after school programs!

Huge thanks to our incredible keynotes Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Conan Harris, the talented student performers from Haley Pilot School, and our brilliant student speakers for being a part of this unforgettable celebration of civic engagement and youth empowerment.

DJ student Sapna Malhotra’s standing ovation-worthy introduction of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Conan Harris.
Haley Pilot School’s brilliant performance of “CHH,” an original song from their HipHopera about the life of civil rights attorney, Charles H. Houston:
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Civics Bill Signed into Law

On November 8, 2018, Governor Charlie Baker has signed Bill S.2631 into law, giving Massachusetts one of the nation’s most innovative statewide civic education programs. We at Discovering Justice are proud to have played a role in the development of this bill and are excited to help empower a new group of civic leaders!
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