MassINC Announces Greg Torres Senior Fellows Program and Inaugural Cohort of Participants

Press Release

April 9, 2024 / BOSTON, MA – Today, MassINC announced the Greg Torres Senior Fellows Program designed to recognize and carry forward the legacy of Greg Torres, who served as CEO and board chair of MassINC for sixteen years before passing away in July 2023.

The fellowship program is designed to bring together professionals at the top of their fields into the MassINC Policy Center to help address some of the most pressing issues facing the Commonwealth including inclusive economic development, housing, education, climate, and civic engagement, among others.

“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone for MassINC,” said Joe Kriesberg, President & CEO of MassINC. “Greg was a towering figure at MassINC, and this is exactly the kind of program that he would have loved. It leverages the types of research, convening, and impact that he championed and that continues to bolster our unique mission here in the Commonwealth.”

Torres was President of MassINC and Publisher of Commonwealth Magazine (now CommonWealth Beacon) from 2007 to 2018. His achievements include the creation of The MassINC Polling Group, the launch of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, and the transformation to CommonWealth Beacon. He was also instrumental in advancing criminal justice reform in 2018 and a mentor to many leaders across various sectors in Massachusetts.

The inaugural cohort of Torres Senior Fellows includes a diverse group of professionals who will partner with MassINC staff for a two-year period. Recruited from the private, public, and non-profit sectors, and representing a diversity of lived and professional experiences from various geographic and racial/ethnic backgrounds, they include: Dina Fein, retired judge of the Massachusetts Trial Court, Housing Court Department, Western Division; Charlotte Golar Richie, former state representative, former commissioner on the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, and former senior executive at YouthBuild USA; Pema Latshang, Founding Executive Director, Teach Western Mass; Mary Wambui, Asset Manager of the Planning Office For Urban Affairs (POUA); and Leverett Wing, President and CEO of Commonwealth Seminar.

“This is exactly the right mix of people and issues,” said Maeve Duggan, COO of MassINC and who leads the Torres Senior Fellows Program. “The breadth of expertise and diversity of participants is such a powerful and appropriate way to honor Greg’s legacy.”

The program will serve as a laboratory for research and development, explore and test new policy and program ideas, and serve as a resource for community leaders across the state seeking to engage with new audiences, advance civic discourse, and gain new skills and perspectives. The program will also provide an opportunity to deepen MassINC’s ability to take on big issues facing our state by broadening its network of thought leaders.

During their tenure, Torres Senior Fellows will engage in a wide range of activities, including convening working groups to tackle complex challenges, organizing events and conferences, writing articles and reports, guiding ongoing MassINC research, facilitating introductions and partnerships, and collaborating with MassINC staff and interns.


Torres Fellows’ Planned Activities:

Dina Fein, retired judge, Massachusetts Trial Court, Housing Court Department, Western Division 

Dina served as a Housing Court judge in western Massachusetts for 21 years. After retiring from the bench, she was instrumental in designing City of Homes, a pilot project based in Springfield that repurposes distressed residential properties for affordable first-time home ownership. As a Greg Torres Senior Fellow, she will scale the City of Homes model to other Gateway Cities by developing a set of best practices, engaging housing courts, municipal governments, and nonprofit partners to assist jurisdictions in operationalizing their own projects. Her work will also be informed by a UMass Donahue Institute evaluation of the City of Homes pilot.

Charlotte Golar Richie, former state representative, former commissioner on the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, and former senior executive at YouthBuild USA

Charlotte brings a rich history of facilitating community conversations, most recently through a set of forums in partnership with GBH. As a Greg Torres Senior Fellow, she will organize a series of public convenings highlighting diverse voices and viewpoints to improve equitable community outcomes for all. Topics may include maternal health, strides in small business and local government, developing a new generation of local leaders, and how media shapes our collective narratives.

Pema Latshang, Founding Executive Director, Teach Western Mass 

Pema’s career in education has ranged from the classroom to district administration, reform advocacy, and beyond. In 2016, she founded Teach Western Mass to provide a holistic approach to teacher training and promote educational equity in the Western Massachusetts region, with a particular focus on educator diversity. As a Greg Torres Senior Fellow, Pema will conduct a case study on the story and success of Teach Western Mass and explore how to replicate the model statewide, sharing best practices for establishing Educator Preparation Providers (EPP) in other regions.

Mary Wambui, Asset Manager, Planning Office for Urban Affairs (POUA) and member of the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council 

Mary has tirelessly advocated for equity in Massachusetts’ clean energy transition. She has brought attention to the disparities in energy costs for consumers and the immense economic potential that the clean energy transition holds, particularly regarding job creation and the involvement of BIPOC and disadvantaged businesses. With state emissions reduction targets in place, Mary’s focus is on ensuring energy affordability for the most vulnerable communities in the state. As a Greg Torres Senior Fellow, Mary will work to enhance access to residential energy efficiency programs through advocacy and pursuing policies that prioritize disenfranchised communities. Her advocacy will also extend to promoting rate structures that safeguard low-income residents as communities transition to electrifying homes.

Leverett Wing, President and CEO, Commonwealth Seminar 

Leverett’s leadership at Commonwealth Seminar has shaped legions of civic leaders by demystifying the processes behind state government and building an alumni network of nearly 2,000 graduates to engage stakeholders and influence decision-makers statewide. Through a series of seminars with on-the-ground practitioners, Seminar participants learn the mechanics of legislation, administration, advocacy, media and public relations, and more. As a Greg Torres Senior Fellow, Leverett will launch a pilot of Commonwealth Seminar at the municipal level, with a particular focus on Gateway Cities.


About MassINC

MassINC’s mission for nearly 30 years has been to make Massachusetts a place of civic vitality and inclusive economic opportunity by providing residents the nonpartisan research, reporting, analysis, and civic engagement necessary to understand policy choices, inform decision making, and hold government accountable. The organization was founded in 1996 by a small group of civic and business leaders who believed that Massachusetts was missing accurate, thorough, and unbiased information to inform policymaking. MassINC conducts its work through three independent units: the MassINC Policy Center, CommonWealth Beacon and the MassINC Polling Group. Over the years, MassINC has achieved impact through rigorous, nonpartisan research, expert polling, and independent reporting of politics, ideas, and civic life.


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