WESTFIELD—Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will address Westfield State University students during the university’s 178th undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 20. The commencement ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
“Westfield State University is honored to have Attorney General Healey offer her valued insight with our graduates at our commencement,” said Westfield State University President Dr. Ramon S. Torrecilha. “Attorney General Healey’s exemplary work as a public servant and her impressive list of professional achievements align well with the university’s emphasis on civic engagement and the strength of our criminal justice program.”
Attorney General Healey has been recognized for her advocacy efforts for underserved populations. Following her first-ever run for an elected office, Healey was sworn in as Attorney General on January 21, 2015. Notable efforts during her term include launching the Community Engagement Division which brings the Attorney General’s Office and its work into neighborhoods and communities across the Commonwealth. Under her leadership, the Earned Sick Time law and the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights were passed. In May of 2015, her office became the first state agency to offer paid family leave for all employees.
Since taking office, Healey has tackled issues touching the lives of residents across Massachusetts, including the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic, escalating health care costs, workers’ rights, and student loan costs. She has focused on strengthening consumer protections and on improving our criminal justice system.
In November 2016, Healey established a hotline for Massachusetts residents to report bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence following post-election reports around the country of harassment and intimidation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants.
Prior to the election of Healey as its leader, she spent many previous years working in the Office of the Attorney General under then Attorney General Martha Coakley. Healey’s leadership roles included service as Chief of Business and Labor, Chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, and Chief of the Civil Rights Division.
As Chief of the Civil Rights Division, Healey made national headlines as the lead attorney in Massachusetts’ fight against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). She led the effort to challenge the act—which defined marriage solely as between a man and a woman—arguing that it violated the U.S. Constitution by interfering with Massachusetts’ sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents. Massachusetts became the first and only state in the nation to file a complaint against the act; and in 2010, the U.S. District Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional.
In her other roles under then Attorney General Martha Coakley, she helped defend the Massachusetts buffer zone law, which protected women from being harassed at reproductive health care centers. She also shut down predatory lenders that were wreaking havoc on Massachusetts communities and oversaw a team that worked with homeowners to help make their loans affordable.
Healey’s early legal career included work as a clerk for Judge David Mazzone in the United States District Court in Massachusetts, as a junior partner at the international law firm Wilmer Hale, and as a Special Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County.
Healey received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. At Harvard, she served as captain and point guard on the women’s basketball team and upon graduation, she spent two years playing the sport professionally in Europe before returning to the U.S. to complete her law degree. In 2006, she was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
Other professional accolades include the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s 2016 Friends of Labor Award for her work promoting economic security and fair labor practices; the Disability Law Center’s Francis X. Bellotti 2015 Civil Rights Award for her commitment to equal access for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth; and the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association’s 2012 Kevin Larkin Memorial Award for Public Service for her leadership and continued work to protect the civil rights of all citizens of the Commonwealth. Healey also received honorary degrees from Salem State University and her alma mater, Northeastern University School of Law.
“Attorney General Healey serves as a role model to our students, having dedicated her career to the causes she is most passionate about,” said Class of 2017 Council Member Jonathan Cubetus of Forestdale, Mass. “Her personal and professional stories alone provide great inspiration and her remarks will be particularly poignant as the Class of 2017 begins the next chapter of its future.”
Tickets are required to attend Westfield State University commencement. For more information, visit http://www.westfield.ma.edu/commencement.