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Mayor Kim Janey, Transgender Rights Advocate Jennifer Levi, to Serve as Inaugural Fellows for the Berry Institute of Politics at Salem State University

Fellowship program launches spring 2022

This spring, the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics (Berry IOP) at Salem State University is launching a new fellowship program featuring former Boston Mayor Kim Janey and Jennifer Levi, the Transgender Rights Project Director for the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). Through this program, students will have opportunities to meet one-on-one and in small groups with these prominent leaders. 

As inaugural Berry IOP fellows, Janey and Levi will visit campus multiple times throughout the spring semester to host student office hours, lead class lectures, offer chances to gather over a meal, and coordinate workshops or additional guest speakers. The fellowship program is designed to bring leading voices in politics and activism and expand opportunities for Salem State students with an interest in civic and political engagement. 

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the time and wisdom that Mayor Janey and Director Levi will be offering our students this spring,” said President John Keenan. “There is an invaluable amount of knowledge and inspiration that will come from students having interactions with these remarkable leaders who have lessons to share about making a difference. Welcoming these inaugural fellows to our campus is a true honor and will have a lasting impact on our students.”  

Janey was the 55th Mayor of the City of Boston, making history as the city’s first woman and first Black mayor and leading Boston through unprecedented challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to serving as mayor, Janey was elected to the Boston City Council as the first woman to represent District 7 and in 2020 was elected by her peers to serve as President of the most diverse City Council in Boston’s history. Devoting her life to public service, Janey has 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. In her role at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, she championed systemic policy reforms to increase equity, excellence, access, and opportunity in Boston Public Schools. Prior to that, she worked as a community organizer, advocating for affordable, quality childcare. 

"As a daughter of educators and as Boston's former Mayor, I am excited to engage students at Salem State University and share insights that I hope will inspire the next generation of civic leaders," said Janey.

Levi serves as the Transgender Rights Project Director for the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and professor of law at Western New England University. They led the legal fight against President Trump’s transgender military ban in both Doe v. Trump and Stockman v. Trump. Levi was also co-counsel in two landmark marriage equality cases, winning the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Massachusetts (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003) and Connecticut (Kerrigan v. Department of Public Health, 2008). A nationally recognized expert on transgender legal issues, Levi has dedicated their career to fighting for the rights of women; children; the poor; and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) clients. 

“I am beyond excited, as one of two inaugural Berry IOP Fellows, to work with Salem State students on the most pressing political LGBTQ+ issues of the day,” said Levi. “What gives me hope for our future is the passion and energy new voices and visionaries bring to the work.”

The spring 2022 fellowships kick off the Berry IOP’s new fellowship program, in which the IOP will invite prominent journalists, activists, policymakers, and other public servants to campus each spring semester. These distinguished professionals will share their knowledge, skills, and experiences with students who are exploring and pursuing careers in politics and public service. 

“Through one-time and ongoing engagement, Fellows will serve as resources and mentors to students, supplementing what they are learning through their academic courses,” said Samantha Giffen, coordinator for the Berry IOP. “We are pleased that these inaugural fellows will kick off a program aimed at broadening students’ horizons as they determine how they want to make an impact on the world.”  


About the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics

The Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics was established in 2019 and aims to engage and inspire a diverse community of learners to pursue careers in political and public service. The Berry Institute of Politics (Berry IOP) is nonpartisan and expands political engagement at SSU and in the North Shore by bringing policymakers, political leaders and public officials to campus. It also convenes public and private sector leaders to discuss and move forward issues of significance to Massachusetts. The Berry IOP leads Salem State’s voter engagement; hosts political discussions and debates; supports students with career interests in politics and public service; and awards competitive scholarship offerings in the areas of government, politics, civic engagement, non-profit and other means of public service.

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