NLG Massachusetts Chapter in 2016
It’s been a year of transformation for the Massachusetts chapter of the Guild. As the saying goes, change is hard, but it is also necessary to our survival as an organization. Our evolution is ongoing and while it may not be easy, ultimately we are on our way to becoming more sustainable, more relevant, and more accountable to the communities we serve.
Last year the Board began the process of rewriting the Massachusetts chapter’s bylaws, which hadn’t been updated in a very long time, and in March of this year the membership adopted them. Among other things, the new bylaws made the Board leaner, and established four new standing committees: The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC), the Anti-Racism Committee, the Queer Caucus, and Next Gen, our mentoring program. Establishing these committees is a first step toward making the Guild a more inclusive and welcoming space for people of color, the LGBTQ community, and young folks. Already, with funds raised from Board members, TUPOCC was able to send a student of color to the Convention in New York this summer.
The Board is the most diverse it’s been in recent history – it includes people of color, queer and trans folks, activists, people from outside of the greater Boston area, new lawyers, and established practitioners. This, along with our smaller size, allows us to be more nimble.
Our dedicated and able Mass Defense Committee chair Jeff Feuer transitioned out of that position, which is now held by Makis Antzoulatos and Josh Raisler Cohn. They continue to reach out to community organizations and movements across the state, including Black Lives Matter in Worcester and Cambridge, pipeline protesters in West Roxbury, and the prison abolition movement. At our annual dinner this year, we are proud to have honored Young Abolitionists and Families for Justice As Healing.
The Litigation Committee continues its work on behalf of prisoners suffering from Hepatitis C and lack of adequate medical care. Our members continue to do legal and organizing work for and within communities facing institutionalized violence, from undocumented immigrants here in Massachusetts to indigenous people in North Dakota.
Despite the rockiness of transition, we are encouraged by the support of the membership, the Board, and our staff, and we are committed to building this chapter so that we can do the kind of radical legal work that the 21st century calls for. We can’t do it without you – if you are interested in joining a committee, email kt (email@example.com) or Carl (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also find us on Twitter (@NLGMass) and Facebook. And as always, we’d love to hear your ideas in person, so feel free to join us at any of the monthly Board meetings – held on the third Wednesday of the month from 6:00 to 8:00pm (call the office at 617-227-7335 for location).
– Carl Williams & kt crossman –