Join the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Mass Association of Jewish Federations (MAJF) for a virtual Legislative Reception to honor outstanding public officials who have demonstrated their commitment to our community’s priorities. We will highlight JCRC’s work with Jewish Family Service of Metro West on Afghan Resettlement Efforts, our our work to secure funding for social service agencies and non-profit security, and show our appreciation to Governor Charlie Baker for his partnership throughout the years.

Meet our Honorees

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Senator Cindy F. Friedman 

Legislative Leadership Award

Senator Cindy F. Friedman was elected to the Massachusetts Senate on July 25, 2017, to represent the Fourth Middlesex District, which includes Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Woburn, and precincts 1-2 and 4-7 of Lexington. Prior to becoming a state Senator, Senator Friedman worked as a public school teacher, an executive in the high-tech industry, and later served for nearly a decade as chief of staff to the late Senator Ken Donnelly. Always a straight-shooter and a zealous advocate for the people of the Commonwealth, since her election Senator Friedman has distinguished herself as a thoughtful and policy-oriented member of the Senate. Senator Friedman has also distinguished herself as a champion for her district by securing millions of dollars in investments for local initiatives providing food assistance, infrastructure improvements, behavioral health services, and adult immigrant and refugee community engagement. Senator Friedman’s legislative agenda is informed by her decades of public activism, dating back to when she first marched to protect women’s reproductive rights in the 1970s. Since then, Senator Friedman has grown to be a vocal champion for fair labor laws, lowering prescription drug prices, and expanding access to timely, quality behavioral health care, particularly for children. Senator Friedman’s legislative priorities are also reflected in her committee, caucus, and working group memberships she has held since her election to the Senate.


Representative Ruth B. Balser 

Legislative Leadership Award

Representative Ruth B. Balser is the State Representative for the 12th Middlesex District, which includes roughly the southern half of the City of Newton. Now serving her twelfth term in the House of Representatives, Representative Balser continues to be an independent progressive voice, fighting for the values and priorities of her community. Representative Balser serves as a member of House Speaker Mariano’s leadership team as a Division Chair. As the first psychologist to serve in the Massachusetts legislature, Representative Balser brings a unique perspective. She has made mental health public policy a top priority. Recognized for her expertise and leadership on this issue, she was appointed the first House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and served in that role for two terms. She has championed many bills and budget amendments with the goal of expanding access to and quality of mental health and addiction services and reducing the stigma associated with these illnesses. She is credited with expanding mental health parity in Massachusetts, enactment of an omnibus children’s mental health bill, and protecting behavioral health in health care reform legislation. Representative Balser is also the lead House sponsor for the Public Lands Preservation Act, which would preserve open space in Massachusetts. 


Cambridge City Councilor Patricia Nolan

Legislative Leadership Award

Councilor Patricia Nolan is serving her second term on Cambridge City Council, after more than a decade on the School Committee. Her focus in public service has been accountability, inclusion, and thoughtful analysis to guide policymaking. Her first term included major initiatives addressing the climate crisis, promoting good governance and exploring how to enact bold transformative change. She has worked to bridge divides and bring the community together. Councilor Nolan received an A.B. from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and a Master of Public and Private Management [M.P.P.M] from Yale University’s School of Management. Her professional experience includes work with McKinsey, an international corporate consulting firm, with LISC (the nation’s largest intermediary serving community development corporations), and with the ICA Group, (specializing in worker-owned and community-based enterprises). She served as CEO of an environmental company and a telecom sales and marketing company. Councilor Nolan has been a consultant to a range of mission-based organizations and was Vice President for New England Businesses for Social Responsibility. She has served on many non profit boards, including Green Streets Initiative, Boston Worker’s Circle, Children’s Village, and ArtsFund. A native of Chicago, with stints in Stamford, Conn., New York, and Amsterdam she returned to Cambridge in 1991 and hasn’t left. Her husband, David Rabkin, a non-profit executive and software engineer, and she have two children in their early 20s.

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Zachary Crowley, Chief of Staff, Office of Senator Jason Lewis

Legislative Staff Achievement Award

Zach Crowley is the Chief of Staff in the office of Senator Jason Lewis. Zach has worked for the administrations of Governors Deval Patrick and Mitt Romney, for whom he served in government affairs roles at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; and the Department of Environmental Protection. Zach began his career at the State House in 2004 with House Minority Leader Brad Jones, and worked also for Representative Frank Smizik, former House Chair of the Environment Committee. Zach holds a mid-career MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a BA in History from Tufts University. Zach sits on the Social Responsibility Council for the First Parish in Bedford; and serves also on the board of the Burlington Youth Soccer Association. Zach and his wife Kelly live in Burlington with their children Rhys and Marin.


Haley Arnold, Director of Scheduling and Senior Executive Assistant to Governor Charlie Baker

Executive Staff Achievement Award

Haley Arnold currently serves as the Director of Scheduling and Senior Executive Assistant to Governor Charlie Baker. She graduated from Bridgewater State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2016. Upon graduation, Haley completed interning with the Governor’s Legislative Affairs Office and was hired as the Scheduling Assistant in the Governor’s Scheduling Department. In 2019, Haley was hired as the Governor’s Executive Assistant and now manages the scheduling teams for the Governor and Lt. Governor. For the past six years, Haley has overseen the daily schedules of the Governor and First Lady, scheduling press conferences, domestic and international trips, delegation visits, corporate meetings and business visits, and other gubernatorial events. Most recently, she has managed day to day scheduling and logistics as the Administration continues to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts.


Grace Robinson, Director of Operations for Governor Charlie Baker & Lt. Governor Karyn Polito

Executive Staff Achievement Award

Grace Robinson currently serves as Director of Operations for Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. She graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Political Science in 2014. Upon graduation, she worked on the Baker-Polito 2014 Gubernatorial campaign and then served on the Baker-Polito Inaugural Committee following Governor Baker’s win over his opponent. Over the past seven years in the Baker-Polito Administration, Grace has worked her way through the ranks, starting out as Briefing Coordinator to managing the Operations team in her current position. Since Governor Baker took office, Grace has overseen two Inaugural addresses, six State of the Commonwealth addresses, numerous Heads of State visits and two overseas missions to Israel and London, respectively. She has orchestrated countless Executive Order and bill signing ceremonies, press conferences, and other gubernatorial events directly related to the Governor and Lt. Governor’s daily schedule. Most recently, she has managed day to day operations and logistics as the Administration continues to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts.

Meet our Co-Chairs

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Dena Boronkay Rashes

Dena Boronkay Rashes is the Immediate Past President of the Board of Trustees of The Rashi School. In her decade plus of board service at Rashi she has held many roles, including co-chairing the $30 million campaign to build the school’s permanent home. Dena serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP), where she also serves on the Committee on Development and the Israel and Global Jewish Citizenship Committee. She is a member of Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) Board of Trustees, Endowment Committee, Israel and Overseas Committee, and is an alumni of JFNA’s National Young Leadership Cabinet. Dena serves on the Board and as a Vice-Chair of the Europe Committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and chaired the $20 million campaign for The JDC-Lauder International Youth Camp at Szarvas. Dena and her husband Michael live in Newton, MA and are the proud parents of four children.

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Dena Zigun Kowaloff

Dena Zigun Kowaloff has 20 years of leadership roles in consumer marketing and business strategy, particularly in the consumer products and retail sectors. Dena is currently the Sr. Director of Marketing for SharkNinja, where she leads the motorized kitchen appliance business. Prior roles include leading the Marketing department for Roche Bros. Supermarkets and Ian’s Natural Foods. Dena earned a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelors of Science in Communication from Cornell University. Currently, Dena serves on the boards of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston and Jewish Family Services of Metrowest. Dena lives in Framingham with her husband Noah.