Barbara Lee Donates $45,000 to Simmons College to Celebrate 45th Reunion

May 30, 2012
CONTACT Erin Souza

Barbara Lee Donates $45,000 to Simmons College to Celebrate 45th Reunion
Gift to Alma Mater Will Support Internship Program at Massachusetts State House

CAMBRIDGE—Barbara Lee, founder and president of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, commemorated the 45th anniversary of her graduation from Simmons College and renewed her commitment to the school that fostered her belief in empowering women. A $45,000 gift from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation will support the Barbara Lee Political Intern Fellowship Program, a program initiated in 2004 to expand the number of women in politics.

The internship program exposes young women to the nuts and bolts of legislative leadership through hands-on experience in the offices of women elected officials at the Massachusetts State House. More than 95 young women have benefited from this mentor-based internship program since its inception, and at least 15 women have moved on to careers in politics after their internships.

“This program is vital to the advancement of Simmons students interested in politics,” said Lee, a 1967 graduate. “This program’s popularity is an example of the progress women have made in the political sphere since my time at Simmons. We still have far to go on our path to equal political representation, and this program will help us get there.”

“Once again, Barbara Lee has demonstrated her commitment to increasing the number of women in the political pipeline,” said Simmons Professor Leanne Doherty, faculty coordinator of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Intern Fellowship Program. “I am delighted to know that this successful program will continue because of her support. She has changed the perspective of politics for many young women, and this gift will allow that to happen in the future as well.”

Maria Costigan personifies this program’s mission. Costigan completed her internship in the office of State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry this spring, just before graduating from Simmons.

“Participating in the Barbara Lee internship program at the State House allowed me to see beyond the television-news version of how laws are made in Massachusetts. I was able to hear the discussion between legislators first hand, and understand the dynamics and play,” said Costigan, who is already working as deputy finance director for Congressman John Tierney’s campaign in Massachusetts’ sixth district.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation advances women’s equality and representation in American politics and in the field of contemporary art through political research, strategic partnerships, and grant making. The foundation’s work in both program areas is guided by the core belief that women’s voices strengthen our democracy and enrich our culture.

Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston. It offers undergraduate education for women, and renowned coeducational graduate programs in health sciences, education, liberal arts, social work, library and information science, and communications management, as well as the nation’s first MBA program designed specifically for women. Follow Simmons on Twitter @SimmonsCollege and @SimmonsNews.