JCRC Legislative Reception
Thursday, March 18 at 5pm
Dale Okonow & Leah Robins, Co-Chairs
Join JCRC and the MA 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. JCRC works with these public officials to advance the priorities of the organized Jewish community in Boston and ensure funds in the State Budget are allocated to support social service agencies and protect vulnerable non-profit institutions.
The reception will include a Special Remembrance for Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, a fearless advocate for justice and equality.
Legislative Award Recipients
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito
Excellence in Leadership AwardAbout Lt. Governor Polito Expand
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito was sworn in for a second term as the 72nd Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 3, 2019, after a first term focused on moving Massachusetts forward through bipartisan, results-driven leadership. Since taking office with Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito has visited and partnered with leadership in all 351 of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, signing Community Compact agreements with every municipality on more than 800 smarter ways to deliver services. Additionally, under her leadership, the Seaport Economic Council has directed more focus and support to helping coastal communities address their unique challenges and economic opportunities. Lt. Governor Polito has worked closely with local officials to encourage housing production through the Housing Choice Initiative, improve roadways, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, pathways, and intersections through the Complete Streets program, and invest in on-the-ground, proactive projects to address climate change impacts through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program. As co-chair of the STEM Advisory Council, Lt. Governor Polito has encouraged further opportunities in STEM education to inspire more students to get involved in these important fields and better connect them to good careers. As chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Lt. Governor Polito and a diverse team of professionals have brought innovative approaches to combating domestic violence. Lt. Governor Polito is a lifelong resident of Shrewsbury where she owns and operates a commercial real estate development firm and lives with her husband, Stephan M. Rodolakis, and their two children.
Senator Will Brownsberger
Legislative Leadership AwardAbout Senator Brownsberger Expand
Senator Will Brownsberger is the State Senator for the 2nd Suffolk & Middlesex District, representing Belmont, Watertown, and parts of Allston, Brighton, Back Bay, and Fenway. Senator Brownsberger serves as the Senate President Pro Tempore and the Chair of the Senate Committee on Redistricting, and has previously served as the Senate chair of the joint committees on Judiciary and Public Service. Prior to his 2011 senate election, Will served as State Representative for the 24th Middlesex District for five years, and before that, as a Belmont Selectman for three terms. From 1992 – 1998, Will served as a Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General under Scott Harshbarger, working as Asset Forfeiture Chief in the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, and as Deputy Chief Prosecutor in the Public Protection Bureau. In 2001, Will became a defense attorney in private practice, doing a high volume of court appointed criminal defense work. While serving as Assistant Attorney General and through his years as a Selectman, Will taught, consulted, and conducted research on criminal justice issues, holding positions at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions, Boston University School of Public Health’s Join Together Program, the Kennedy School of Government’s Program on Drugs and Crime, and Harvard’s Interdisciplinary Working Group on Drugs and Addictions.
Representative Denise Garlick
Legislative Leadership AwardAbout Representative Garlick Expand
Representative Denise Garlick was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, representing the 13th Norfolk District, comprised of 40,000 individuals living in Needham, Dover and Precincts 1 and 2 in Medfield. She currently serves as the Vice Chair of the House and Joint Committees on Ways and Means, which is responsible for crafting the state’s annual budget and considering all legislation affecting the finances of the Commonwealth. Denise has spent her entire career dedicated to public service and advocating for the rights of others. Before serving in state government, Denise sought to effect change in her town as member of Needham’s Board of Selectmen, as Chair of the Needham Board of Health and as a Town Meeting Member. Denise Chaired the Senior Center Exploratory Committee which resulted in the building of the Center at the Heights. Additionally, as a Select Person, Denise partnered with the powerful Community Coalition to ensure the restoration of the Great Hall in the Needham Town Hall. In one of her first votes as a member of the Needham Board of Health in 2005, Needham became the first municipality in the country to raise the age of tobacco purchase from eighteen to twenty-one. Her dedication and experience as a member of local government has yielded results at the state level: This past session the legislature voted ‘yes’ to adopt a statewide Tobacco 21 law, making Massachusetts the sixth state in the country to implement this law. In 2006, Denise founded and chaired the Needham Coalition for Suicide Prevention, which continues its work today and serves as a model for communities across the United States. Denise remains committed to raising awareness and was a leader in implementing provisions of the 2014 Gun Violence Reform legislation which increased efforts for suicide awareness and prevention. As a registered nurse, Denise recognizes healthcare is a human right and not a privilege. Ensuring quality care for all residents of the Commonwealth, including our most vulnerable populations, is one of her priorities. As Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder, Denise spearheaded the Opioid Bill that focuses on prevention, pain management, strengthening the healthcare workforce, expanding the behavioral health system, and expanding access to care and treatment. Representative Garlick serves at the national level as the Chair of the Health Public Policy Committee of the Councils of State Governments and was one of 20 legislators nationwide who serve as a National Conference of State Legislatures Opioid Policy Fellow. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving health and the health care system in the Commonwealth. Representative Denise Garlick has previously served as the Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recover, Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and on the Joint Committees on Public Health and Healthcare Financing. Denise and her husband, Russell, are long-time residents of Needham, Massachusetts and proud parents of four young adults.
Representative Chynah Tyler
Legislative Staff Achievement AwardAbout Representative Chynah Tyler Expand Chynah Tyler was born and raised in Roxbury, MA which established a special place in her heart for the district. She credits programs offered to her as a youth with an authentic sense of pride as a Boston native. This pride, coupled with much prayer encourages her to represent the residents of Boston.
She attended Boston Public and Charter schools. In addition to being a dedicated athlete, she excelled academically and was accepted into the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University. Upon completion of high school and simultaneously graduating from the Crimson Summer Academy, she continued her education earning her Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in Law, Policy, and Society from Northeastern University.
She began her career as a Case Manager for Federal Inmates assisting those nearing release with securing employment, housing, and most importantly, community support. Tyler realized there are a host of barriers that contribute to recidivism. Because of that, grew to understand the importance of the role state government plays in delivering valuable resources to the most vulnerable populations.
Her career focus shifted as a Legislative Aide in the Massachusetts State Senate, working to secure funding for programs like Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT), community college reform, environmentally-friendly organizations, as well as volunteering at the Probation Department of the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court.
In 2016, at just 26 year old, Tyler ran a successful campaign to succeed long-time incumbent for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, representing the 7th Suffolk District. She is currently serving her third term as a Massachusetts State Representative, and is the Vice-Chair of the Public Health Committee and Chair of the Boston Delegation and recently, named Chairwoman of the MA Black and Latino Caucus.
Legislative and Policy Director, State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues
Legislative Staff Achievement AwardAbout Jeremy Spittle Expand
A native of Rockport, Massachusetts, Jeremy’s passion for public service was instilled in him at a young age during a middle school field trip to the Massachusetts State House and deeply inspired by the presidency of Barack Obama. This passion propelled him to get through college, leading him to graduate from Salem State University with a Bachelor of Science in Regional Planning and Development and Suffolk University with a Master of Science in Political Science. Over the last 13-plus years, Jeremy has gained invaluable hands-on experience working on Beacon Hill, where he has cultivated and currently maintains a number of successful relationships with external partners and across state government, and invests most of his time providing government affairs expertise and support to State Senator Michael Rodrigues. Jeremy currently resides in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife Mandee and their twin 6-year old daughters, Emma and Sophia.
Legislative Reception Co-Chairs
Dale Okonow is a past Co-chair of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP) Annual Campaign, and he is currently Co-chair of the 2021 CJP Acharai Program. He is a member of the Board of Directors and Development Committee of CJP and, in the past, served on the Board of Trustees of the Temple Beth Elohim Endowment and the Board of Trustees of The Rashi School. In addition, Dale serves on the Board of Trustees and the Governance Committee of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Boston, where he founded the Parkinson’s Family Support Program at that social services agency. Dale also serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of ImpactIsrael, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Our Generation Speaks, an organization that fosters cooperation and relationship building between Palestinians and Israelis through start-up business ventures.
Leah Robins is a JCRC Board Member, Vice Chair of JCRC’s Membership Committee, VP of Tremont Street Shul in Cambridge, and was co-chair of JCRC’s ReachOut! program for several years. As Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Leah’s work focuses on clean energy and environment-related initiatives and legislation in collaboration with several state and regional coalitions and committees. Before joining MAPC, Leah served as the Director of Legislative Affairs at the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), which works in partnership with families and communities to keep youth safe from abuse and neglect. Previously, Leah worked in the Massachusetts State House as a Legislative Aide to State Representative Carolyn Dykema.
The Legislative Reception is Generously Sponsored by:
The New England Patriots Foundation