BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser recognized Waleska Lugo-DeJesus Thursday for her distinguished career of social justice and racial advocacy, presenting the longtime community leader with a citation as part of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus’ Latinx Excellence on the Hill presentation.
Lugo-DeJesus is the Director of the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley, which educates community members on the impacts of racism and how to foster inclusion. The Springfield resident also serves as Commissioner to the Massachusetts Art & Cultural Council representing the city as Vice-President and volunteers as a liaison at Springfield Public Schools’ “Race Matters” taskforce. Previously, Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Lugo-DeJesus as Commissioner of Commonwealth Corps, where she promoted civic engagement throughout the state.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Lugo-DeJesus worked as Co-Chair for the Western Mass United for Puerto Rico Coalition, helping displaced families on the island.
"Waleska has dedicated her life towards advocating for social justice, and just as importantly, educating community members on the dire consequences of racism and bigotry,” said Sen. Lesser. “We are lucky to have her in our community, where she fights every day for a fairer and more inclusive society."
The Latinx Excellence on the Hill ceremony is an annual event put on by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus at the State House. Caucus Chair Representative Carlos Gonzalez of Springfield was this year’s MC.
"I feel this acknowledgement is a way to embrace all people, and I am able to hear the stories of so many individuals throughout the state who are dedicated to economic and social justice in so many dimensions,” said Lugo-DeJesus. “This is a way to help build a stronger community and just Commonwealth."