Denise R. Jordan will deliver the commencement address to undergraduate students and receive an honorary degree from the College at 9 a.m. on May 11, 2019. Denise, who graduated from American International College with an advanced degree in Human Resource Development in 2000, will receive a Doctor of Laws degree awarded for outstanding achievement in the social sciences and for significant community contributions at the local and national levels.
Born and raised in Springfield and attending Springfield Public Schools, Denise grew up in a household dedicated to community activism and service. She majored in political science with a minor in public administration at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the oldest historical black institution of higher education in the United States. Returning to her hometown after college, Denise earned a master’s degree in human resource development from AIC.
For more than twenty years, Denise worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a variety of capacities including worker’s compensation manager, sexual harassment officer, affirmative action officer and civil rights officer in the executive office of Health and Human Services.
In 2008, Denise became Springfield’s first black chief of staff to Mayor Domenic J. Sarno where she served for ten years. She was the longest serving individual in that position. Most recently, Denise was selected to be the executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, the third largest public housing authority in the state.
Denise’s work ethic is coupled with a commitment to volunteerism, assisting numerous community and nonprofit organizations. She is the chair of Baystate Health Foundation’s Rays of Hope; serves on the MGM Community Advisory Committee; and is a board member for Square One. Denise was a founding member of the Martin Luther King Charter School of Excellence and the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition, and a co-founder of the Academic Athletic Arts Achievement Association, also known as 5A Football. She previously served as a Judicial Committee member for the Massachusetts Democratic Party and was the former chair of the Election Commission for the city of Springfield and co-chair for the city’s Youth Coalition.
In appreciation for her dedication and commitment to Springfield, Denise has been recognized with many honors and awards including induction into the 2019 Springfield Boys and Girls Club Family Center Alumni Hall of Fame; named a Woman of Impact by BusinessWest; received the Brethren’s Chet Gibbs Award for Outstanding Service and the Springfield Museums UBORA Award for Excellence; named a Girls Scouts Woman of Distinction; received Black Woman of Excellence and Urban Influencer Awards from the Urban League of Springfield, the 100 Women of Color Award, and the Stone Soul Legacy Award. Denise was named the Omega Psi Phi Citizen of the Year and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
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