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Council’s convention draws 1,200 to celebrate diverse sector

The Providers’ Council celebrated the dedication, diversity and passion of the human services sector Monday, Sept. 25, with more than 1,200 attendees at the 42nd Annual Convention & Expo: We’re All In.

Held at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel in Boston, the Council welcomed Gov. Charlie Baker, EOHHS Sec. Marylou Sudders and keynote speaker Steve Pemberton. Additionally, the Council presented its annual Awards of Excellence and the prestigious Peer Provider Awards. Some photos are available here

“Having held the Health and Human Services and ANF (Administration and Finance) jobs, I think I understand more than most what we need to do to serve the most vulnerable people in our communities,” Baker said. “And I want you to know how proud you make me as your governor for the work you do each and every day.”

Pemberton, the chief diversity officer for the international Walgreens-Boots Alliance and author of the memoir A Chance in the World, set the tone for the day with an inspiring and uplifting keynote that drew two standing ovations.

Pemberton grew up in the Massachusetts foster care system of the 1970s not knowing if he had parents or any family at all. With odds stacked against him, a baby sitter once said he didn’t have a chance in the world. 

“What happens when you come into the world an inheritor of something you didn’t ask for?” Pemberton said, recounting everyday people who had an impact at different stages in his life. “I have to get across how important you are to answering that question … Imagine the impact and the power of what you do when it comes back 35 years later - you changed the arc of a life.”

Peer Provider Awards, nominated by other members for making significant contributions to their communities and/or the state’s human services sector, were presented to four organizations: Cambridge Family and Children’s Service (nominated by Communities for People); South Middlesex Opportunity Council (nominated by Advocates); Tapestry (nominated by ServiceNet); and Venture Community Services (nominated by HMEA). 

The day, which also included 34 workshops and featured nearly 80 exhibitors from around the country, was made possible, in part, by Diamond Sponsors Citizens Bank and USI Insurance Services.