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Governor’s Awards in the Humanities Dinner

Honoring excellence in Massachusetts

The Governor’s Awards in the Humanities recognize individuals for their public actions, grounded in an appreciation of the humanities, to enhance civic life in the Commonwealth. Each year the Mass Humanities Board of Directors selects nominees who are confirmed by the Governor of Massachusetts. Established in 2014, the awards are presented at the annual Mass Humanities benefit dinner. 

2019 Governors Awards Recipients

2019 Governor’s Awards in the Humanities
Sunday, October 27, 2019
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Columbia Point, Boston


2019 Governor’s Awards in the Humanities Honorees

Danielle Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She is widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America. Allen is the author of five books, including most recently Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017). She is a former chair of the Mellon Foundation board, and past chair of the Pulitzer Prize board. She is the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project at Harvard, providing the knowledge, skills, and capacities that citizens need in order to succeed at operating their democracy.
Watch Danielle discuss family, democracy, and the humanities.

Lee Blake is president of the New Bedford Historical Society and has worked as a teacher and administrator for over 40 years. Her efforts to reclaim the history of black people in the region include the restoration and preservation of the Nathan and Mary Johnson House, former home of Frederick Douglass and a site on the Underground Railroad. She has secured six grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for teachers’ professional development nationwide, and she received the National Park Service’s 2018 Robert G. Stanton Award for promoting and preserving the history of the Underground Railroad.
Read Lee’s essay on the impact of the humanities.

Nancy Donahue was a founder of the Merrimack Repertory Theater, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and she currently serves as board chair. She has helped revitalize Lowell over the past four decades as a board member—and in many cases a founder—of regional organizations, including the Cultural Office of Lowell, Lasell College, the New England Quilt Museum, UMass Lowell, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (where she served as the first woman board president), the former American Textile Museum, and the Whistler House Museum of Art, where she is now board chair.
Read Nancy’s essay on the culture of service.

Jeffrey Musman has practiced law for 45 years, the last sixteen as a Partner with Seyfarth Shaw LLP, concentrating in the areas of corporate and commercial law, real estate development, land use, and public and private finance. As a Nahant resident, Musman has served in many civic roles, including as a member of the Nahant Preservation Trust board since 1996. He is chairman emeritus of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts board, and serves as member and former board president of the Northeast ARC. He served on the Mass Humanities board of directors from 2009-2017, including one term as treasurer.
Read Jeffrey’s essay on life in Nahant.


Proceeds support programs that reach underserved communities such as the Clemente Course in the Humanities, which serves as a bridge to further education and civic involvement for low-income adults. Mass Humanities is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the use of history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to deepen our understanding of the issues of the day, strengthen our sense of common purpose, and enrich individual and community life.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorships start at the $2,500 Benefactor level and include benefits such as:

  • Advertisement in the program booklet given to all 350+ guests.
  • Recognition on Mass Humanities website, social media, press releases, and slideshow at event
  • Inclusion in displays and materials made for the event.
  • Seats at the dinner

A full list of sponsorship levels is available here. Contact Mass Humanities Director of Development and Communications John Sieracki for more information.

Past Honorees


  • Ellen Dunlap
  • David Harris
    Nancy Netzer
  • David Tebaldi


  • Henry Louis Gates
  • Sacha Pfeiffer
  • David Starr


  • Frieda Garcia
  • Atul Gawande
  • Lia Poorvu


  • Lowell Institute
  • Margaret Marshall
  • Margaret Stern Storm


  • Jill Ker Conway
  • Hubert E. Jones
  • Father J. Donald Monan
  • Malcolm Rogers

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