I had the amazing good fortune of being born into a large, multi-cultural family. My parents met shortly after the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. At the time, my father had just returned from Vietnam and was living with his family on Ethel Street in Roslindale. My mother was a nursing student at Boston University. They married and settled on Harlem Street in Dorchester. In 1969, Boston was not the same welcoming place it is for interracial couples as it is today. My parents chose to start their family in Cambridge.
I am the oldest of their five children and I have a 14 year old daughter. I also am the guardian and have custody of my 5 and 9 year old nieces. I am happiest when I am with my family and my dog Cassius.
I attended Buckingham Browne and Nichols and prior to graduating from high school in 1989, was selected onto an Elite New England School Girls Lacrosse Team. We won a National Championship and I received a lacrosse scholarship to attend the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At the end of my freshman year, three women’s sports teams were eliminated due to budget cuts. Not a single men’s team was impacted by the budget. With no legal background, I was instrumental (along with several other fabulous women) in organizing with lawyers to file a Title IX lawsuit. Ultimately, the University reinstated all of the women’s teams and that experience is what sparked my interest in the law. I captained the lacrosse team for the two years after it was reinstated.
Immediately after graduating in 1994, I went to Northeastern University School of Law. While there, I served as the first legal intern in the history of the National Basketball Players Association and interned with United States District Court Judge Robert E. Keeton. After graduating in 1997, I clerked for one year on the Massachusetts Appeals Court and then went to Georgetown University Law Center where I obtained a Masters in Law. While there, I worked for the National Football League Players Association.
After graduating from Georgetown in 1999, I came back to the Commonwealth to work as a Field Attorney at the National Labor Relations Board in Boston. The NLRB safeguards employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their collective bargaining representatives. There, I conducted elections, acted as a hearing officer, investigated unfair labor practices and prosecuted violations of the National Labor Relations Act. I fought for rights of worker’s, many of them poor, undocumented, people of color.
In 2002, I left the NLRB to join the law firm of Bingham McCutchen. Over my four years at Bingham, I worked on first amendment, labor and employment, complex civil litigation and criminal defense matters. I also had the pleasure of working on several matters with Ralph Martin, the former Suffolk County District Attorney, who was a partner at the firm. I was hand selected to participate in a District Attorney rotation in Plymouth County at the Brockton District Court and learned a great deal working with the talented Assistant District Attorneys there.
In 2007, I joined the United States Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts as an Assistant United States Attorney. As an AUSA, I prosecuted and defended a variety of cases ranging from fraud to employment discrimination, from forfeiture to sexual violence and child abuse (Adam Walsh), from gun trafficking and narcotics cases to assisting with public integrity matters.
In 2011, I received a call asking me to join Governor Deval Patrick’s administration as the first person of color to serve as the General Counsel of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Six months later, the Board of Directors voted to have me also become the first female General Counsel of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
During my time at MassDOT and the MBTA, I led and managed over 150 people including both legal departments, both audit departments, as well as an external audit function, the claims department, parts of both HR functions, labor functions and personally handled the high level negotiations for the conversion to All Electronic Tolling, the Office of Diversity and Civil Rights while overseeing multiple state and federal regulatory inquiries into ODCR and its practices. The inquiries focused on the lack of policies and procedures within ODCR and could have resulted in the loss of federal funding. I was responsible for negotiating the resolutions of each inquiry and implementing policies and procedures that made us complaint. Additionally, I oversaw and managed thousands of cases during that time. Finally, I worked closely with the Secretary of Transportation and the General Manager of the MBTA handling all of the legal work for the largest procurement in the history of the Commonwealth at the time (The Commuter Rail Procurement).
In 2013, I was recruited to become the Chief Legal Counsel of the Massachusetts Port Authority. While at Massport I reported directly to CEO Tom Glynn and the Board of Directors. I worked to increase the minimum wage at Logan Airport well before the wage was raised in the Commonwealth and personally oversaw and led the 12+ month internal and external NTSB investigation into a plane crash that resulted in 7 deaths.
I was accepted into and attended a 6+ month intense, change management and leadership program at Harvard Business School, where I focused my attention on incentivizing change when there is a monopoly (like in government).
Survival & Intention
After I graduated from the program at HBS, I was ready to take on the world. Then, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For the next 18+ months, I underwent treatment and multiple surgeries. I am happy to report that I am completely healthy and cancer free now, but that diagnosis deeply impacted me and my family’s life. I realize that every day is a gift and I chose to work only on the things that matter most to me. I am fully committed to becoming the next DA of Suffolk County and changing the criminal justice system.