2019 Conference Keynote Panel

MNN-Conference-Logo-2019-Final (1)

The keynote panel at MNN’s 2019 conference discussed three issues important to Massachusetts nonprofits: the 2020 Census, cliff effects, and workforce development. The panel was moderated by Bob Gittens, Executive Director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Service. The panelists were: Rachel Heller, CEO of the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA)Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition; and Jerry Rubin, President and CEO of JVS.

The panel was centered around the conference theme, “Building a Better Commonwealth,” capturing a common aspiration of the Massachusetts nonprofit sector.

The featured topics of the panel represented pressing issues at the forefront of nonprofit work and demonstrate the ways in which nonprofits raise the quality of life for all in the Commonwealth. Nonprofits are playing a critical role in ensuring that hard-to-count communities participate in the 2020 Census. The “cliff effects” phenomenon, in which an increase in work earnings results in a sharp reduction or loss of public benefits, impacts many people that nonprofits serve. And as the state’s nonprofit sector faces a wave of retirements from senior-level positions, innovative workforce development strategies will be needed to develop the next generation of nonprofit leaders.

Read the biographies of 2019’s keynote panel below.

2019 Panelist moderator pic (1)-min

Bob Gittens is the Executive Director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Service, which provides high-quality support and advocacy for children, adults, and families to develop and nurture safe, permanent relationships and maximize individual growth. Bob is also the Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Board of Directors. Prior to his current role, he served as the Vice President of Public Affairs at Northeastern University for 13 years. Bob served as cabinet secretary of the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services from and was Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services . He was First Assistant District Attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and Chairman of the Massachusetts Parole Board. Bob has served as a board member of numerous organizations including Judge Baker Children’s Center, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and Goodwill Industries.



2019 Panelist pic 1Rachel Heller is the CEO of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), an organization that encourages the production and preservation of affordable housing to low and moderate income families and individuals and fosters diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development. Heller will bring to the panel expertise on solutions to combat “cliff effects,” a phenomenon experienced when an increase in work earnings results in a sharp reduction or loss of food, housing, childcare, and other public benefits. She previously worked as the Director of Public Policy at the Alliance for Business Leadership, served as Chief of Staff to Massachusetts State Senator Susan Tucker, and was the Senior Policy Advocate at Homes for Families, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to end family homelessness.



2019 Panelist pic 2Eva Millona is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration. Millona is the chairperson of the 2020 Complete Count Committee, formed by Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin to provide education and lead community outreach around the decennial census. She will bring to the panel insights on how to encourage census participation in diverse communities. Millona is also the co-chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and serves on the Attorney General’s Council for New Americans. She is a frequent speaker on immigrant integration in national and international stages.


2019 Panelist pic 3Jerry Rubin is President and CEO of JVS, an organization that empowers individuals from diverse communities to find employment and build careers and partners with employers to hire, develop, and retain productive workforces. Rubin has overseen the adoption of innovative strategies including the nation’s first Pay for Success project to focus exclusively on adult education and workforce development for low-skilled adults. Prior to JVS, Rubin founded and was Executive Director of two nonprofit organizations: the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership, a training and consulting organization, and the Coalition For a Better Acre, a community development corporation based in Lowell, Massachusetts. Rubin also spent ten years in the administration of Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, leading several housing, economic development and workforce development initiatives. He is the author of numerous book chapters, articles, and monographs on housing, economic development, and workforce development issues.