Nine win Shattuck awards as Boston’s unsung heroes

Two weeks ago, Liz Henderson bolted from her office on Southampton Street to help a man who had passed out on the sidewalk from an apparent drug overdose.

When she reached him, the man had no pulse. She quickly administered the overdose-reversal drug Narcan.

“I did chest compressions until I finally got a pulse,” she said Thursday, just after the recovering man had walked by her office in the men’s homeless shelter.

For Henderson, director of Emergency Shelter Services for the city, it was all part of a day’s work — juggling crises and administrative matters. At the homeless shelters she oversees, many of her clients are dealing with substance abuse problems, she said.


Henderson is one of nine city employees receiving this year’s Henry L. Shattuck Public Service Awards, which honor the “unsung heroes that make the city work,” said Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, which organizes the awards.

Now in its 30th year, the awards honor public service workers who demonstrate an outstanding dedication to keeping the city on its feet, Tyler said. This year’s award ceremony is set for Thursday at the Seaport Boston Hotel.

“The city really depends on the city employees to maintain a viable city that provides the services necessary and makes it attractive for those who live and work in Boston,” Tyler said. “It’s an honorable profession that should be recognized and honored.”

Like Henderson, Sergeant Michael O’Hara of the Boston Police Department’s District 14 station also takes responsibility for the well-being of the public. O’Hara said winning the award is a “nice honor,” but he says the work he does for the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods is a “team effort.”

As the station’s community service officer, O’Hara said working with the wide variety of residents in District 14 — including both longtime residents and college students — requires an understanding of the neighborhood and its residents’ needs.


Among other efforts, O’Hara is credited with finding a way to creatively crack down on loud parties. Rather than arrest students for underage drinking or noise violations, O’Hara simply reports the incidents. If the parties continue, students receive a court summons and are required to do community service.

O’Hara said the alternative to arrests keeps everybody happy — the students don’t get criminal records, the residents have repairs done in their neighborhood, and the city saves “an enormous amount of money.”

“Everybody’s a good kid, and we want them to be productive citizens,” he said. “We don’t want them to walk out of these colleges with criminal records. We want them to walk out of these colleges with their heads high, making good money, and making this country stronger.”

James Gillooly, deputy commissioner for the Boston Transportation Department, said he “pretty much fell off” his chair when he found out he received the award.

Gillooly, who also has served as the department’s interim commissioner, said one of his projects over the last several years has been working to improve safety for bicyclists. That project, along with everything else he does, revolves around listening to the public, he said.

“There’s an awful lot of smart people out there, a lot of people who have had experiences that really help us shape what we do,” he said.

Gillooly said receiving the award has inspired him to mentor younger leaders in the city and “leave behind some nuggets of wisdom” before he retires.


“Getting acknowledged is a great thing,” he said. “You go to work every day and you don’t expect to get a pat on the back for every little thing you do, but it’s meaningful to have that big pat on the back.”

The other six recipients of this year’s Shattuck awards are: Lawrence Ayers, yard master for the Parks and Recreation Department; David Carlson, deputy director of urban design for the Boston Redevelopment Authority; Maria Carvalho, senior environmental supervisor of facilities management for the Boston public schools; Steven M. Tankle, director of code enforcement for the Public Works Department; Devin E. Taylor, director of human resources for the Boston Police Department; and Taska Watts, a social worker for the Boston public schools.

In addition to the public service awards, the bureau recognizes a business leader and a nonprofit leader as the year’s Shattuck City Champions.

This year’s recipients are: Cathy E. Minehan, dean of the Simmons College School of Management and managing director of Arlington Advisory Partners, and Paul S. Grogan, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation.

The awards are named for Henry Lee Shattuck, a founding member of the research bureau who also served as a state representative and a Boston city councilor.

Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.