One Fund Administrator Kenneth Feinberg Named Stonehill’s Commencement Speaker

April 14, 2015

Kenneth R. Feinberg, J.D.

Attorney Kenneth Feinberg, whose skill and compassion guided the One Fund after the Boston Marathon bombing and the compensation fund for September 11th families, has been named Stonehill College’s commencement speaker.

Born in Brockton, Feinberg has been a pivotal figure in helping to resolve America's most challenging, tragic and widely-known disputes, from terror attacks to faulty ignition switches. For his service to victims, the College will honor him with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letter degree.

Joining Feinberg in receiving honorary degrees will be Emmy award-winning journalist and humanitarian Rev. Elizabeth “Liz” Walker, Harvard Medical School Psychiatry Professor Robert Strecker and Catholic Social Services Executive Director Arlene McNamee.

Stonehill’s 64th Commencement Ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 17th at 10:00 a.m. on the College’s quadrangle lawn. For more details about the ceremony, including information for family and friends, visit here.

Kenneth R. Feinberg, J.D. – Doctor of Humane Letters

Best known for working pro bono as the Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, Feinberg is the founder and managing partner of Feinberg Rozen, LLP.

He shared his extraordinary experience of administering the September 11th Fund in his book What Is Life Worth? published in 2005 by Public Affairs Press.

Feinberg began his career as an administrative assistant and chief of staff for U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy and as a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney General.

One of Feinberg’s first large settlement cases came in 1984 when he served as Special Master in Agent Orange, which resulted in health concerns over the U .S. military’s use of the herbicidal chemical during the Vietnam War.

His list of settlement cases has grown longer over the years, gaining him the nickname “the umpire.” Feinberg became Fund Administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund following the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech. He has served as the administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, asbestos personal injury claims, wrongful death claims, and more. He has also served as an advisor for The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation and the General Motors car recall for faulty ignition switches.

Not surprisingly, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino appointed Feinberg to run The One Fund Boston, the central fund to gather donations for the marathon bombing victims.

“He’s the nation’s go-to grief assessor. If he’s at your door, it can’t be good news. Except that he’s very good at what he does,” said Boston Globe columnist Farah Stockman when it was announced Feinberg would administer the One Fund.

Feinberg has been appointed to two presidential-level commissions because of his experience and expertise, and has had a distinguished teaching career as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, New York University, the University of Virginia and Harvard Law School.

In 2004, he was named "Lawyer of the Year" by the National Law Journal (2004), and has been named repeatedly as one of "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America" by the National Law Journal.

Feinberg received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1967 and a law degree from the New York University School of Law in 1970.

Rev. Elizabeth "Liz" Walker, M. Div.Rev. Elizabeth “Liz” Walker, M. Div. – Doctor of Humane Letters

The first African American woman to co-anchor a newscast in Boston, Walker spent 20 years co-anchoring the evening news at WBZ-TV Boston. Combining her communication skills with her passion for serving the world, she has gone on to produce several documentary films based on her work in the war-torn country of Sudan.

Along with her friend and fellow minister, Reverend Dr. Gloria White-Hammond, she founded My Sister’s Keeper, a grass roots initiative that advocates for women and children who are trying to rebuild their country and their lives in the Sudan.

Last year, after several years serving on its ministerial staff, the ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church was officially installed as pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church. “She doesn’t lead with her celebrity, she leads with her humility,” White-Hammond told the Boston Globe following the ceremony, in which Boston Mayor Marty Walsh publically stated his desire to work with Walker in assuaging the trauma of violence in Boston’s neighborhoods.

Walker began her broadcast career in 1974 in her hometown of Little Rock, Ark. After stints in Denver, Colo. and San Francisco, Calif., she joined the staff at WBZ in 1980 and went on to anchor the station’s evening newscasts for nearly 20 years. During that time, she won two Emmy Awards. In 2005, she began hosting and executive producing the community affairs show, Sunday with Liz Walker, on WBZ. That same year, she received a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School.

During the summer of 2001, Walker made her first trip to Sudan, an experience that changed her life and prompted her to create My Sister’s Keeper, which most recently completed the construction of the Kunyuk Girls’ School, the first of its kind in southern Sudan.

“I think the biggest lesson I learned from my experiences in Sudan is just how small the world really is and how dependent we all are on each other. I believe my purpose in life is to tell stories that celebrate the world’s interconnectedness and inspire people to build on that reality,” says Walker.

Adding to her list of accomplishments, she recently founded The Walker Group LLC, Communications Specialists, which focusing on non-profit capacity building and corporate public engagement. She also was a recipient of the 2015 Eleanor Roosevelt Following in Her Footsteps Award.

Currently, she sits on the Board of Trustees for Andover Newton Theological School and the Regional Advisory Board of the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Tufts Health Foundation and the Board of Overseers for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Robert Strecker, Ph.D.Robert Strecker, Ph.D. – Doctor of Science

An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Strecker is also Director of the Physiology and Behavior Section of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, located at the Brockton Campus of the Boston VA Healthcare System.

Strecker has been instrumental to the success of Stonehill’s Neuroscience Program which has grown from just two students in 2006 to more than 70 students today. Working closely with Neuroscience Program Director Professor John McCoy, Strecker has provided cutting edge research opportunities for Stonehill students working in his lab, which focuses on sleep-related topics.

“Dr. Stecker has consistently supported our students, providing them with invaluable career advice, facilitating their entry into top graduate and professional programs as well as employing our graduates as research technicians and as postdoctoral fellows,” notes McCoy, who has conducted research with Strecker for over a decade.

Strecker's research uses animal models to study how the brain controls behavior, especially that of sleep and wakefulness. His early work examined the physiology and neuropharmacology of monoamine neurotransmitter systems in the mammalian brain in relation to sleep, drug abuse, Parkinson's disease, and the potential use of neural transplantation to treat neurological disorders.

Since joining the faculty of Harvard Medical School his work has focused on the brain circuitry involved in the control of REM sleep, and non-REM sleep (also known as slow wave sleep).

Arlene (Arruda) McNamee, LCSW '68Arlene (Arruda) McNamee, LCSW ’68 – Doctor of Humanities

The second child born to Portuguese immigrants in New Bedford and the first in her family to graduate from college, McNamee received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Stonehill in 1968. It was at Stonehill that McNamee says she found her life's calling- helping others.

Throughout her career, McNamee has done just that, first serving as a social worker before moving on to Catholic Social Services where she has been since 1994 and now serves as its executive director.

Operating within the boundaries of the Diocese of Fall River, Catholic Social Services provides over 30 programs and services to those in need and is the largest provider of social and human services in Southeastern Massachusetts. It is also the largest provider of food outside of Boston, and the largest provider of beds for the homeless outside of the Greater Boston region.

One of its programs includes the Community Action for Better Housing (CABH) initiative which McNamee was a pivotal force in creating in 1995. The program buys abandoned and blighted properties in New Bedford and rehabilitates them to create new housing units for low-income or formerly homeless people. An example of that work is the Oscar Romero Home which opened in 2013. Catholic Social Services renovated that abandoned property to make 12 apartments for formerly homeless people.

After graduating from Stonehill, McNamee worked for the State Department of Public Welfare and went on to work for the Fall River Public School System, New Bedford Child and Family Services and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children before joining Catholic Social Services.

Throughout her career, McNamee has served on numerous local, state, and federal boards including Southcoast Health Systems, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Charities Appeal and the Child Welfare League of America.