"Organically Built & Groomed" Michael Curry
as President & CEO, Massachusetts Community Health Centers!
Picture in your mind’s eye back in 2010, the country of Haiti was hit with a massive earthquake that killed thousands and left even more homeless, battered, bruised and without food!
With that backdrop in your mind, we move your vision to Roxbury Massachusetts, the very next day after the earthquake hit, I remember getting the phone call along with a group of concerned citizens, both men & women, athletes, movers and shakers who quickly galvanized for over 48 straight hours around the clock in shifts. We took in donations of over $10,000.00 dollars, boxes of can goods, baby supplies, water, clothes and daily essentials that quickly filled up two U-Haul trucks destined for the country of Haiti!
All in TWO DAYS!!
Let me introduce and remind folks who was behind and led this massive undertaking! Michael Curry, the newly elected President & CEO of Massachusetts Community Health Centers who took over the office on January 1st, 2021!
Those of us who know Michael Curry can attest his appointment was organic, as he was built and groomed for his current role. Born and raised by a single mother who he regards as his first mentor in life while growing up in Boston’s Lenox Street Housing Projects, just a few blocks where the New Edition grew up in Orchard Park Projects and then on Quincy Street in Roxbury—both communities overwhelmed by drugs, gangs, poverty and unemployment in the 1970s through the 1990’s. His mother worked as a housekeeper, and his older, teenage sister became his primary caretaker. She would eventually become consumed by the gang violence and substance abuse, Michael and his younger sister became pre-teen, latchkey kids. They would eventually become teen, surrogate parents for their older sister’s kids, as she continued to battle addiction. Michael said to me as much as he loves his sister, “in a non-traditional way, my sister also served as a mentor to me as to WHAT NOT TO DO”!
Equipped with a B.A. in Journalism and Communications from Macalester College St. Paul, MN (1991) and a graduate from New England Law School, J.D., Boston, MA (2005), Michael’s life experiences provide the motivation for his over 30 years of work in civil rights.
From his leadership of the Black Student Union on the campus of Macalester College in St. Paul, MN in 1989, where he successfully led an effort with the Dean of Admissions to recruit more students of color, to his return to Roxbury in 1992 to lead the Million Man March Mobilization Committee (1995), he has embodied the W.E.B. DuBois quote, “Nothing can be solved that can’t be faced.” He was recruited in 1997 to join the Boston NAACP’s leadership team, where he led Communications and Political Action, and was often designated by the President to serve as the official spokesperson on high-profile issues.
The accomplishments and accolades over the years could literally fill a book or even be part of a movie, certainly too many to list in this article, however I would be remised if I didn’t list just a few well deserved accolades that provides Michael with the tools to be a successful leader at Massachusetts Community Health Centers, but here are just a few:
2020 - Appointed by Massachusetts Senate to Health Equity Task Force, Co-Chair
2020 - City of Boston, COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force
2020 - Department of Public Health, Health Equity Advisory Group
2020 - Massachusetts Health Council, Health Policy Committee, Co-Chair
2020 - National Association of Community Health Center, Legislative Committee
2019 - Corporate Member, Partners HealthCare System, Inc.
2013-2014 - Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Public Health Task Force (Immersion Program (2012-2015)
2014 - Vice-Chair of both the Economic Development and Political Action & Legislation Committees
2014 - Schwartz Center for Compassionate Health Care’s Thought Leadership Committee
2014- present - United Negro College Fund, Leadership Council, Member
2013 National NAACP Board of Directors
2012- Angel of Mercy Award, Ebenezer Baptist Church
2011- Collaborative Spirit Award, Young Black Women’s Society
2010 - President of the Boston NAACP
2007 - Citizen of The Year Award, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, Iota Chi Chapter
2007 - The Black Pages of New England’s 100 Most Influential People of African Descent (2007 Edition).
2005 - Community Service Award, Action for Boston Community Dev.
Michael credits his accomplishments to having a strong, Black mother from Greensboro, Alabama, who grounded him in his Christian faith at Ebenezer Baptist Church and Charles Street A.M.E. Church. In addition, he recognizes his education at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he served as President as the Black Liberation Affairs Committee as a turning point in his life. “It was on that campus that I met Professor Mahmoud El-Kati, who introduced all of us to history, and instilled in us a sense of pride and purpose that continues to drive me today. I know why I’m here, thanks to him.”
After reflecting for a while, Michael shared with me and made it very clear, that his journey & guidance was truly an effort of successful leaders from around the greater Boston area such as, Dr. William Binswanger, former Headmaster Boston Latin Academy; Rev. Kirk B. Jones, former Pastor Ebenezer Baptist Church; Sarah Ann Shaw, former WBZ Reporter; Leonard C. Alkins, former NAACP President; Joseph Feaster, former NAACP President; Charlotte Nelson, former New England NAACP President; Sadiki Kambon, Black Community Information Center; Pat Washington, former Audit & Controls Leader at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; Bill Cushing, former VP Audit & Controls Div. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; President Hazel Dukes, New York State Conference, NAACP; The late Kenneth Guscott, Long Bay Mgmt.
Michael is currently working to finish two books in 2021. His first published work will deal with Mental Health in the Black Community, highlighting the unique challenges faced by African Americans with gaining access to high quality, culturally competent behavioral health and substance use services. The book underscores the generational impact of racism and untreated trauma that is manifested in urban violence, chronic unemployment, achievement gaps, addictions and poverty. The second book provides his reflections as a civil rights activist out of Generation X, following the sacrifice and service of the Freedom Fighters of the Modern Civil Rights Movement. He explores the politics, internal (inter and intra-racial) battles, ideological divides and generational conflicts that often prevent unity and diminish the potential effectiveness of the advocacy— then and now.
Based on his close to 30 years of experience in health care and insurance, combined with his advocacy on the issues of health equity and racial disparities, Michael is working on various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He serves on both the City of Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group and the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA)’s Health Equity Task Force. The Massachusetts Senate appointed him to a Health Equity Task Force, created under legislation. He is responsible for coordinating the community health center response to the public health crisis, working with the state’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO), Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), various municipalities, and Partners in Health. Michael was also recently appointed to the Mayor of Boston’s Reopening Advisory Group.
Before being chosen to be the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Community Health Centers, Michael also served as Deputy CEO and General Counsel for the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. In his previous role, as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy for the Mass League, Michael led local, state and federal affairs and public policy for the 52 community health centers throughout Massachusetts, serving over 1 million patients out of 314 practice sites.
Based on his work, he has been recognized locally and nationally for his leadership in health care policy and frequently requested as a panelist on the issue of Massachusetts and National Health Reform. Prior, Michael served as Senior Policy Advisor for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, where he worked on the passage of the 2006 landmark Massachusetts Health Care Reform law, as well as initiatives aimed at ending health disparities. He also has over 20 years of experience in community relations, public affairs and internal communications.
In 2017, he was invited to join the staff of Suffolk University as a part-time professor in the Moakley Center for Public Management Certificate Program (2017-present).
With the proven credentials, experience and genuine passion for Health Care Disparities & Equality, The Massachusetts Community Health Centers are both fortunate and blessed to have Michael in their senior leadership role. Please join me in congratulating and supporting a true Ethnic GEM, Michael Curry as the newly appointed President & CEO of the Massachusetts Community Health Centers!
Ethnic GEM Michael Curry’s personal goal five years from now is to continue leading the Mass League and leading charge to eliminate racial inequity in health care.