Corcoran Award Recipients

John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence Award Honorees

Commissioner William Gross

October 27, 2020

William G. Gross is the 42nd Police Commissioner of the City of Boston. He has served the people of Boston for 35 years. After joining the department in 1983 as a Boston Police Cadet, he graduated from the Boston Police Academy in 1985. He spent years as a patrol officer, patrolling the many neighborhoods of Boston. He was also assigned to the Youth Violence Strike Force and the Drug Control Unit, as well as being an Instructor at the Boston Police Academy. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2004 and rated Sergeant-Detective in 2006. The majority of his supervisory years were spent serving the neighborhoods of the Dorchester section of the city.
In 2008 he was appointed to the Command Staff as a Deputy Superintendent and promoted to the rank of Superintendent in 2012, assuming the role of Night Commander overseeing police services citywide. In January 2014, he was appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans to the position of Superintendent-in-Chief, the first African American Chief to hold the rank in the history of the Boston Police Department.

Throughout his career he has cultivated and maintained a strong connection with the community. He often could be found on the front lines; interacting with community activists, grieving families, clergy, neighbors, protesters; treating everyone with respect and dignity. He strongly believes that “if you want change, you have to be the change”, a philosophy he models for the community and the members of the police department.
He has been awarded numerous Departmental awards for bravery and meritorious service and several Governor’s Citations; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award; the United States Attorney’s Boston Offices’ award For Outstanding Dedicated Service to the Survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing during the Trial of United States vs Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; the Department of Justice Investigative Achievement Award and was named one of Boston’s 100 Most Influential People of Color. In June 2018, marking the 50th anniversary of the passing of Robert F. Kennedy, he was presented the Robert F. Kennedy “Embracing the Legacy” Award. This award recognizes those who work tirelessly to carry on the legacy of the late Senator by raising awareness and fighting against societal injustice and inequity that affect children and families.

Commissioner Gross is also affiliated with groups that are important to him both on a professional and personal level, such as the Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives of Massachusetts, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company and the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. of Eastern Massachusetts. He also sits on the Advisory Boards for Boston Center for Youth and Families, the George Lewis Ruffin Society and the Special Olympics of Massachusetts.
On August 6, 2018, William G. Gross was sworn in by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, again, breaking down barriers by becoming the first person of color to hold the Police Commissioner’s position in the City of Boston. “I am honored and humbled to be sworn in as the Police Commissioner of the best police department in the country. Delivering and building on our community policing model is one of my main priorities. We will work collaboratively to reduce crime and violence in our neighborhoods while supporting and lifting up our youth.”

Emil Frei

October 10, 2019

In recognition of Emil Frei’s service to the community, philanthropy,
vision, and leadership, we are honored to present him with the John
M. Corcoran Award for Excellence.

In 2010, Emil founded Berkeley Building Company with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire where he serves as CEO. Emil has devoted a significant portion of his corporate resources to giving back to the community, including building covered dug outs at various baseball fields on behalf of the Melanoma Foundation, serving on the board at The Urban League of Massachusetts, supporting both Boys & Girls Clubs in Watertown and Lawrence, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and various other non-profit organizations throughout Massachusetts. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his outstanding leadership in the community.

Since 2014, Emil and his company have participated in multiple pro-bono service projects at St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children via the AGC MA (Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts), including construction repairs and renovations to the agency’s residential programs. In 2018, Emil stepped up to be the lead general contractor for the agency’s new Recreation Room project, donating hundreds of hours of labor, expertise, and resources as well as galvanizing more than 30 construction companies to join him in the effort. Together his action and leadership made possible the donation of more than $200,000 in pro bono support for the Recreation Room project. Thanks to Emil and the AGC MA the new Recreation Room provides hundreds of children who each year call St. Mary’s Center home, a safe place to run, play, and enjoy the everyday joys of childhood.


Joyce A. Murphy

October 17, 2018

Joyce A. Murphy

We honor Joyce A. Murphy with the John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence, named for St. Mary’s Center’s founding Trustee and visionary with whom Joyce worked closely in launching the agency as its founding President. On
the 25th Anniversary of St. Mary’s Center, it is particularly fitting we honor Joyce, her career, and lasting legacy.

In the early nineties, Joyce was selected by a panel led by Mr. Corcoran, who insisted that St. Margaret’s Hospital be re-envisioned with a commitment to its mission of serving women and children, after the inpatient hospital closed on the Dorchester site. Familiar with operations that serve women and children, Joyce became Vice President of St. Margaret’s Hospital—a century-old fixture in Dorchester and the last free-standing maternity hospital in the nation to close its doors for patient care reasons—with the intention that she would identify and develop successor services after the planned closure of the hospital.


Rev. Liz Walker

October 18, 2017

Rev. Liz Walker

On Wednesday, October 18, so that more families may find that change comes from the Center, and join us as we honor Reverend Liz Walker with the John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence.

We are recognizing Reverend Walker for her extensive humanitarian work including her leadership as Pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church, her advocacy in the Sudan with My Sister’s Keeper, and her support of survivors of violence and post-traumatic stress disorder. Senator Linda Dorcena Forry returns as our emcee of the event which begins at 5:30 p.m. at The Westin Copley Place Hotel and includes a reception, dinner, and speaking program. One of the highlights is hearing from an individual who has benefitted from St. Mary’s Center and your generosity.


Lorrie Higgins

October 19, 2016

Ms. Lorrie Higgins

Last year was an incredible evening where Lorrie Higgins was honored, and Ms. Higgins along with Cardinal O’Malley, Gov. Baker, and Mayor Walsh all spoke about the need for support of programs and services for families seeking shelter, stability, and life-changing opportunities.

Throughout her life and career, Lorrie has been active in the community and her contributions and commitments have directly benefitted countless children and their families, including raising thousands of dollars for worthy causes. Her engagement in these causes has made a significant impact inspiring many individuals to give. In addition, she has devoted countless hours visiting with patients in hospitals, meeting students and teachers throughout inner city schools, and creating opportunities for the community.

In 2015 and 2016, she served as co-chair of the New England Women’s Leadership Awards (NEWLA) for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester. Under Lorrie’s leadership and guidance as chair, NEWLA had its two most successful years of fundraising since the event’s origin nearly 25 years ago.


Mrs. Angela Menino and AGC MA

October 22, 2015

Mrs. Angela Menino

The event celebrates our community’s efforts in supporting St. Mary’s Center’s ongoing partnership with young women, many of them mothers, to find that change truly does come from the Center. The special evening included a presentation of the John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence to Angela Menino for two decades of incredible advocacy and tireless support of our community as well as St. Mary’s Center from the agency’s very beginning.

A second Corcoran Award will be presented to AGC MA for the organization’s extraordinary commitment to the non-profit sector through its annual day of service transforming St. Mary’s Center’s campus, Rosie’s Place, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.


State Street Corporation and Joseph (Jay) Hooley

November 12, 2014

State Street’s Joseph (Jay) L. Hooley, Katherine A. Hesse, Esq., Chair, and Deirdre Houtmeyers, President.

St. Mary’s Center honored State Street Corporation and Joseph (Jay) L. Hooley, President, CEO, and Chairman at the 11th annual event on November 12, 2014 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, with the John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence.

There were many highlights, including a moving tribute to the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino. A very remarkable and inspiring young mom bravely shared her story and details about the support she received while living at St. Mary’s Home with her young daughter, participating in the program, and earning her high school degree through the Women’s Learning Center.

Guest speaker from St. Mary’s Home, and Women’s Learning Center with Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.

“For almost two years, I have been at St. Mary’s Center. My entire life has changed…To this day, I try not to imagine where I would be if I hadn’t stayed at St. Mary’s Center.

I was strong before, but I’m so much STRONGER now!

CHANGE really does come from The CENTER.

I had to Change MY HEART to CHANGE MY MIND.”

Thank you to our guests and sponsors, along with our emcee Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, who served as our auctioneer. Together, you raised more than $380,000, so that more families may receive shelter, clinical and educational services, job training, employment placement, and search for affordable permanent housing at St. Mary’s Center.

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