Some people aspire to find the cure for cancer, others aim to venture into space, but Kate Walsh dreams to make Boston one of the nation’s healthiest urban communities within the next decade.
The vision of Walsh, president and CEO of the Boston Medical Center Health System, and the work that led her to forge such a bold goal, has earned her the title of one of 2018’s two Shattuck City Champions.
She, along with 10 others, will be recognized Tuesday at the 33rd Henry L. Shattuck Public Service Awards, which celebratesBoston’s unsung heroes who serve as role models.
Of the 11 award recipients, two receive the Champion Award, which is given to a business and nonprofit leader from the private sector whose hard work has postively contributed to Boston.
“These are employees who see past their direct responsibilities and go the extra distance to make sure that our city is a safer place to live, a more vibrant center in which to conduct business, and a warm and welcoming destination to call home,” said Samuel Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, which coordinates the event every year.
The awards are named after a previous chairman of the research bureau. Shattuck was a lawyer, businessman, state legislator, and city councilor who served as chairman for 17 years from 1942 to 1958.
His commitment, leadership, and love for Boston inspired the awards to be given to people like Walsh, who spark positive change for the city.
“These Bostonians are our neighbors, our friends, and our colleagues,” Tyler said. “By signaling out these exemplary citizens, we are all reminded that public service is an honorable profession that should be celebrated.”
Walsh, who leads more than 6,000 employees at the hospital, helped foster its transition to an accountable care payment model that reduces health care costs, better coordinates patient care, and is committed tofosteringthe Preventive Food Pantry, created by BMC in 2001. The pantry has served foods “prescribed” by primary care doctors to approximately 7,000 low-income families to promote healthy lifestyles.
James D. Gallagher, executive vice president and general counsel of Manulife, will join Walsh in receiving the other 2018 Shattuck City Champion Award.
Gallagher was the founding president of One Fund Boston, which shortly after its creation, distributed $61 million to the survivors and families of victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
But Tyler emphasized that city positions both high and low are recognized because they all serve to make the city work, as well as make it a more attractive and compassionate place to live.
John P. Sullivan, another honoree, is the Boston Water & Sewer Commission’s chief engineer and operations officer. He said he was shocked when he found out he was getting an award for something he has been doing for 46 years.
“This is just what I do. It’s a great job because you get to make things better,” Sullivan said. “When someone calls you and says you got an award for doing what you do, it’s amazing.”
Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who both worked for the department, Sullivan has overseen more than $1 billion of water, sewer, and drain improvement projects, implemented green infrastructure to mitigate climate change issues, and visited Flint, Mich. to determine effective remedies for cleaner water — to name a few of the many projects he’s initiated and been a part of to make sure people have clean, running water everyday.
Michelle Maffeo, a Boston police officer, will also be honored Tuesday for exceptional work in educating her department in autism awareness, as well as State Police, park rangers, and hospital staffs.
Maffeo’s youngest son, now 14, was diagnosed with autism at age 3, sparking her interest in police interactions with individuals with autism and other special needs.
“I learned about the possible misunderstandings that somebody with autism might have with police,” Maffeo said, “and it just hit me that I wanted to do more and learn more.”
Since 2006, Maffeo has created the Boston North Star Personal Alert Program, which registers people with special needs in a police database to help officers locate and understand how to help them when in trouble.
“I’m truly honored and grateful to receive this award,” Maffeo said. “I love the work that I do, and hopefully being recognized for this helps get the word out there that this type of [education] is needed.”
Maria Rodriguez, another award recipient, is considered the glue that holds the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School together. She works as a lunch monitor and dedicates her time to educate children on healthy eating habits, often visiting the children as they eat their meals.
Some first-graders have even been heard comparing the sugar content on regular and chocolate milk containers because of the omnipresent “Maria effect.”
The other 2018 Shattuck Award winners are:
Michael Cannizzo, senior architect and urban designer for the Boston Planning & Development Agency
James Fitzgibbons, senior building custodian for the Property Management Department
Robert Gehret, deputy director for the Department of Neighborhood Development
Alan A. Gentle, manager at the Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment, Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development
Leroy Ivey, outreach coordinator for the Addicts Health Opportunity Prevention Education program
Claudia Rufo, one of two lead care teachers at the Baldwin Early Learning Pilot Academy
As of 2018, 262 city employees have been honored over the past 33 years, and 43 business and nonprofit leaders have become Shattuck City Champions.
The awards will be presented Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel.