Sue E. Marsh '82

Citation for Sue E. Marsh, 2004 Common Good Award recipient.

"Sue E. Marsh of the Class of 1982, for twenty years you have been a clear and powerful voice for those who often do not have one.  You have devoted yourself to the poor and homeless in Boston and throughout Massachusetts, becoming a well-respected advocate for issues that all too often are avoided or easily ignored.  A colleague has said you have an "absolutely unwavering sense of justice for poor people" and others who are marginalized.

Arriving at Bowdoin from Connecticut, you majored in government and were a member of Alpha Rho Upsilon.  After graduating magna cum laude, you enrolled in Boston University, earning a master's degree in public policy.  You began work helping Boston-area families find affordable housing and in 1986 joined the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.  In your 13 years with the statewide agency, the last eleven of which you served as executive director, you led important statewide and local campaigns to help the homeless gain access to public and subsidized housing.  You are widely respected among Massachusetts legislators, with a reputation for tenaciously representing those whose needs all too easily are ignored.

In 1998, you joined Rosie's Place, the first emergency and drop-in shelter in the nation for homeless and poor women.  Rosie's Place serves more than 1,000 women each year, providing emergency shelter, housing, hot meals, a food pantry and food cooperative, job training, and advice to women in need, many of whom are struggling not only with homelessness, but also with language, mental-health, or addictive issues.  Your commitment to your clients is steadfast.  "[Rosie's Place] operates on a philosophy of unconditional love," you once told a reporter.  "We accept every woman who comes through our door. . . and strive to walk along her path with her.  They come to Rosie's Place because they know that whatever they need, we will fight like crazy to get it."

Your legislative expertise and trademark pragmatism were key to your successful effort to improve the way food stamps are distributed within the Commonwealth.  Your work within the agency itself has strengthened its advocacy program, ensuring that counselors can build and maintain relationships with clients at various stages of their work to overcome homelessness.

Agencies seek your leadership, and you have answered when called to serve, whether as a member of the mayor of Boston's Homeless Planning Committee, or as a board member of the Greater Boston Food Bank and Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.  Your work has been justly recognized, and you have been named Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers and Outstanding Advocate by the Massachusetts Human Services Committee.

Sue E. Marsh, it is with pride and gratitude for your devotion to women in need, and your ability to speak for those who often have no voice, that we present you with the 2004 Common Good Award."

June 5, 2004