2019 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients
Commencement Speaker/Honorary Degree Recipient:
Abby Maxman, President and CEO, Oxfam America
Abby Maxman joined Oxfam America as its president and CEO in 2017. She brings over 25 years’ experience in international humanitarian relief and development to her position. Prior to joining Oxfam, she served as Deputy Secretary General of CARE International in Geneva, providing leadership of the Secretariat and across the CARE confederation. She previously served as Vice President of International Programs & Operations for CARE, overseeing regional management units and their country offices in East and Central, West and Southern Africa; Latin America and the Caribbean; Asia; the Middle East/Europe; and in regional and country leadership and management roles since 1995. Prior to CARE, Maxman worked with the U.S. Peace Corps, German Agency for Technical Cooperation, UN World Food Programme, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She has a B.A. in history and political science from Colorado College and a Master of International Administration from The School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Honors Convocation Speaker/Honorary Degree Recipient:
Alexis Agrinsoni’09, Regional Recovery Manager, American Red Cross Los Angeles Region
Alexis Agrinsoni graduated from Becker College in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Following graduation, Alexis started his career in Worcester at the Motivating Youth Recovery center (MYR), working with adolescents recovering from substance abuse. In 2011, Agrinsoni returned to his hometown of Boston to work with at risk youth at the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF)—the very organization that inspired him to pursue his dreams of attending college. His work at MYR and HSTF fostered his passion for serving youth and ultimately led him to pursue a master’s degree in social work from Boston University in 2015. His experience in graduate school expanded his interests in social justice. His search for new opportunities guided him to Los Angeles, California, where he now works for the American Red Cross as Regional Recovery Manager, assisting individuals and communities affected by disasters.
During his time at Becker, Agrinsoni was president of his class in his sophomore year, active in clubs and organizations, and built homes with Habitat for Humanity during spring break.
Honorary Degree Recipient:
Senator Harriette L. Chandler (Democrat-Worcester)
Senate President Emerita
Senator Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester) is currently the Massachusetts Senate President Emerita, and previously served as the Senate President from December 2017 to July 2018. She is the chair of the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy, vice chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and also serves as Co-Chair of the Prevention for Health Caucus and Co-Chair of the Legislature’s Oral Health Caucus. She began her political career when she was elected to the Worcester School Committee in 1991. She served on the Worcester School Committee from 1991-1994, three terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1995-2001, and became the first Worcester woman to be elected to the Massachusetts State Senate when she was elected in November of 2000.
She is currently in her ninth two-year term in the Senate. She has moved up through leadership positions in the Senate, starting out as Assistant Majority Whip and then becoming Majority Whip, Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Leader, and Senate President. She was the second woman in Massachusetts history to serve as Assistant Majority Leader, the second woman in Massachusetts history to serve as Majority Leader, and second female Senate President.
She is actively involved outside of the State House as well, serving as a Co-Chair of the Reforming States Group Steering Committee of Milbank Memorial Fund, which represents members of the legislative and executive branches of state governments and focuses on health care reform. She is also the President of the 2017-2018 Executive Board of the Women’s Legislative Network of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a State Director of Women in Government, and corporator of the YWCA, Worcester Art Museum, and Greater Worcester Foundation. She is a member of the United Way of Central Massachusetts, Worcester Women’s History Project, Worcester Democratic City Committee and the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee.
She currently represents the City of Worcester (wards 1-4, inclusive; ward 8, precincts 2-4; and wards 9 and 10), and the towns of: Boylston, Clinton (precincts 3 and 4), Holden, Northborough (precincts 1, 2, and 4), Princeton, and West Boylston.
Senator Chandler earned degrees from Wellesley College (B.A.), Simmons College Graduate School of Management (M.B.A.), and Clark University (Ph.D.). She holds honorary degrees from Worcester State College, Honorary Doctorate of Public Administration ’88 and Clark University, Honorary Doctor of Laws ’16.
Honorary Degree Recipient:
Sarah Harrington Williams, former member of the Becker College Board of Trustees; Co-Founder, Treasure Hunt Farm (Rutland, MA)/Trustee, Sarah H. Williams Treasure Hunt Farm Foundation
Sarah Harrington Williams, former Becker College trustee, started Treasure Hunt Farm—a 39-acre animal sanctuary in Rutland, MA—with her late husband, Jefferson E. Williams LJC’42 (the first graduating class). Jefferson also served on the Leicester Junior College and Becker Junior College Board of Trustees. Over the years, Sarah H. Williams has been a generous supporter of the College.
Animals at the Farm have been rescued or reside there because of their owners’ financial circumstances. After owners have brought their animals to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University (Grafton, MA) and learn what treatments, surgeries, or ongoing care might be needed, they may decide not to continue. That is when Tufts reaches out to Williams. Rather than euthanize the animal, the Sarah H. Williams Treasure Hunt Farm Foundation may pay for whatever is needed for the animal’s care and then welcomes it to a forever home at the farm. Williams is committed to each animal’s safety, welfare, comfort, and health, and to providing for their care for the rest of their lives. Her 39-acre farm serves as a model for protecting animals in need and is a testament to her passion and commitment for their well-being.