2019 WIG-Kennedy Center Outstanding Women State Legislator Supporting the Arts

October 17, 2019

2019 Outstanding Woman State Legislator Supporting the Arts Award

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Women in Government (WIG) Announce Massachusetts State Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler as the 2019 Recipient of the “Outstanding Woman State Legislator Supporting the Arts” Award

Washington, D.C.—The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Women In Government (WIG) today announced that Massachusetts State Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler is the 2019 recipient of the “Outstanding Woman State Legislator Supporting the Arts” award. This annual award recognizes a woman state legislator for her noteworthy support of the arts in her state and will be presented at Women In Government’s Summit on November 15, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Senate President Emerita Chandler has worked closely with communities, schools, organizations, and policymakers to support the arts throughout her career in public service. As a legislator, her advocacy and leadership facilitated an 80% appropriations increase over 12 years in support of art and culture initiatives and saw investment of more than $120 million in almost one thousand capital projects at cultural institutions across the Commonwealth. Additionally, Senator Chandler helped ensure that new casino gambling laws contained protections for cultural organizations that could be harmed by new competition.

“Senator Chandler’s long-standing commitment to the arts is evident throughout her tenure as a legislator and as Senate President,” said Maine State Senator Stacy Guerin, Chair of WIG’s Board of Directors. “As a result, cities and towns throughout Massachusetts are harnessing the power of culture to bounce back from tough economic times.”

Within and outside of her legislative work, Senator Chandler participates in countless events that shape and promote the impact the arts have on communities. Her efforts helped launch her state’s Cultural District Initiative—with Massachusetts now leading the nation in designated cultural districts—and a Universal Participation (UP) initiative aimed at increasing accessibility and participation within the arts. In her home town, Senator Chandler has served on the Worcester School Committee and is a corporator of the Worcester Art Museum and Greater Worcester Foundation and member of the Worcester Women’s History Project.

“Harnessing the power of the arts at all levels in a community creates a positive and long-lasting impact.” said Mario Rossero, Senior Vice President of Education at the Kennedy Center. “Through our work as the nation’s cultural center, the Kennedy Center has the opportunity to see how the arts bring people together in sharing experiences that know no boundaries and cultivates collaboration, cultural understanding, and communication. Senator Chandler’s enduring dedication in investing and advocating for the arts is inspiring and we congratulate her on receiving this award.”

Senator Chandler was nominated by Mass Cultural Council, and selected from a pool of other, extremely well-qualified female legislators. Nominees must demonstrate a significant contribution in support of the arts, evidence of promoting policies that support the arts, collaborate with cultural and education partners to support the arts, and promote the value and importance of the arts in public life.

As the nation’s performing arts center, the Kennedy Center partnered with WIG to encourage support of the arts at the state or local level through this annual award. WIG is the premier organization providing leadership opportunities, expert forums, educational resources and opportunities to address and resolve complex policy issues to women state legislators throughout the country.

About Senator Harriette Chandler

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 also the vice chair of the Senate Committee on Bills in Third Reading, the vice chair of the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing, and serves as Co-Chair of the Prevention for Health Caucus and Co-Chair of the Legislature’s Oral Health Caucus.

Senator Chandler 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 elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 2000. Now in her 9th two-year term in the Senate, she has moved up through leadership positions in the Senate, starting out as Assistant Majority Whip, then Majority Whip, Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Leader, and Senate President. 

Outside of the State House, Senator Chandler serves as a Co-Chair of the Reforming States Group Steering Committee of Milbank Memorial Fund. 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.

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.  She is married to Worcester attorney Burton Chandler and has three grown children and four grandchildren.

About Women In Government

Women In Government Foundation, Inc., headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of women state legislators. Led by a national Board of Directors consisting of 13 state legislators, WIG provides leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums, and educational resources to address and resolve complex public policy issues to all women state legislators.  Women In Government leads the nation with a bold, courageous and passionate vision that empowers and mobilizes all women legislators to effect sound policy in areas such as healthcare, technology, education, energy, workforce development, the environment, transportation, criminal justice, and the arts. To learn more about Women In Government, go to: https://www.womeningovernment.org.

About The Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, attracting millions of visitors each year to more than 2,000 performances, events, and exhibits. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the nation’s busiest performing arts center is dedicated to providing world-class art, powerful education, and outstanding memorial experiences to the broadest possible constituency. Across all its offerings, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing accessible, inclusive opportunities for all people to participate in, and learn through the arts, including more than 400 free performances each year and a variety of Specially Priced Ticket programs for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, and others. On September 7, 2019, the Kennedy Center inaugurated the REACH, its first-ever major expansion. Located on the south side of the Kennedy Center campus and designed by Steven Holl Associates as a complement to the original, iconic Edward Durell Stone building, the REACH will provide visitors with new opportunities to interact and engage with the Center as the nation’s premier nexus of arts, learning, and culture. To learn more about the Kennedy Center, please visit www.kennedy-center.org.


Contact: Lucy Gettman, Executive Director, Women In Government
Telephone: (202)-434-4852
Email: lgettman@womeningovernment.org(link sends e-mail)
Website: www.womeningovernment.org

Contact: Brittany Laeger,  Kennedy Center
Telephone: (202)-416-8445
Email: balaeger@kennedy-center.org(link sends e-mail)
Website: www.kennedy-center.org(link is external)