Open Position: Board Relations Officer

August 7, 2020

POSITION SUMMARY:

Reporting to the President & CEO and working closely with the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Chair of the Governance & Nominating Committee, the Board Relations Officer helps to advance and directly support all aspects of governance at Mount Auburn. This Full Time position serves as a key professional liaison with Trustees to facilitate their active and effective engagement. Due to the current COVID-19 environment, the responsibilities of this position will primarily be carried out remotely, including virtual attendance at all Trustee board and committee meetings. The necessary technology infrastructure will be provided. As conditions change in the future to allow physical attendance at meetings, it is expected that the person in this position will attend meetings as appropriate but continue to perform most other work remotely.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
• Provides thought partnership and administrative support for the Chair of the Board; the Chair of the Governance & Nominating Committee; the Council of Chairs; and the Chairs and Executive Leadership Team liaisons to all Standing Committees in the execution of their leadership roles.
• Works closely with the Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Governance & Nominating Committee to develop, research, and cultivate a robust pipeline of prospective board members for consideration.
• Develops an annual workplan including specific goals for the Board of Trustees and an overarching set of objectives for Board meetings through close consultation with, and direction from the Trustee Chair, President & CEO and the Council of Chairs. Tracks the Board’s progress against goals.
• Oversees the scheduling and calendar for, and supports the effective execution of regular and special meetings of the Board of Trustees and all standing committees, coordinating all aspects of meeting logistics in coordination with the Trustee Chair, President & CEO and Executive Leadership Team staff.
• Documents all formal meetings of the Board of Trustees and committees of the Board in the form of minutes and meeting summaries, as appropriate.
• Drafts or edits all Board of Trustees and committee-related materials through consultation and collaboration with the Trustee Chair, President & CEO, and Executive Leadership Team; including preparation and distribution of meeting agendas and supporting materials as appropriate; including draft talking points for the Trustee Chair.
• Develops and executes a communications strategy for the Board to support a robust flow of information between meetings, and in regard to special projects and initiatives in which the Board has an interest.
• Plans and executes orientation and onboarding for new members of the Board of Trustees in partnership with board and staff leadership.
• Oversees the scheduling and calendar for all governance-related meetings through direct efforts and in coordination with the Board Chair and Executive Leadership Team staff.
• Maintains all official records for the Board of Trustees including a board handbook; a board directory; official board files, digitally and otherwise.
• Carries out special projects related to governance at the direction of the President & CEO and/or Trustee Chair.
• Acts as primary administrator for our board portal (BoardEffect).
• Proxies: Coordinates the proxy process and annual Proprietors Meeting logistics.

Demonstrate responsible stewardship for the environment when planning and implementing all duties incorporated in job description.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS:

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
• Experience working in a nonprofit setting with experience working with nonprofit board members and volunteer leaders.
• Demonstrated project management competence; ability to juggle multiple priorities; and to see the critical path.
• Exemplary diplomatic skills; character and disposition to inspire trust; and comfort with discretion and confidentiality.
• Well-developed sense of humor; comfort accepting responsibility; and ease with deflecting praise to others.
• Bachelor’s degree is preferred though long tenure in a similar position will be considered.
• Minimum of five years of comparable experience.
• Strong computer skills are required: specifically experience with Microsoft 365 including Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Teams. Working knowledge of Board portals, especially BoardEffect, is highly desirable.
• A valid driver’s license.

REQUIRED PHYSICAL DEMANDS:

• Must be able to operate standard office equipment such as computers, mouse, calculator, telephones, fax machines, scanners and photocopiers.
• Must be able to move within a normal office environment, accessing all records and equipment with ease.

All employees of Mount Auburn Cemetery are “at will’ employees and must adhere to Mount Auburn’s “Business Ethics and Conduct.”

Mount Auburn Cemetery is an equal-opportunity employer. It does not discriminate in employment opportunities on the basis of race, color, ancestry, religion, gender, national origin, age, pregnancy, citizenship status, physical or mental ability, military status, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law.

To apply please submit a cover letter and resume, as MS Word documents, by email to jobs@mountauburn.org stating the job title in the subject line.  You can also mail a cover letter and resume to Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, Attention:  Human Resources.  No telephone calls please.

Special Offer from Magnolia Wine Company

August 3, 2020

Although we cannot be together for our annual Twilight Wine Tasting event this summer, Jay Faber of Magnolia Wine Company, in Watertown, MA has created a special offer to bring you delicious wines and support the Friends of Mount Auburn. Jay has curated a selection of five wines perfect for summer. When you order these special wines $2 from every bottle ordered will be donated to the Friends of Mount Auburn. Jay says “the folks at Magnolia hope that all of our Friends are well, and we are looking forward to seeing everyone in-person at next summer’s wine tasting.”

Pares Balta, Cava, Spain
Wonderful sparkling wine from the vineyards outside of Barcelona. An excellent alternative to Prosecco. $12.99

Alan Scott, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
Clean, crisp and lemony. $14.99   

Peyrasson Rose, France
Dry Rose from the south of France.  Perfect backyard sipping wine for sweltering summer temps. $14.99

Tarima, Monastrell
Medium bodied red. Smooth and spicy. $11.99

Sangiovese, Di Majo Norante
Rich and ripe. Great for the grill. $14.99


To order, please download and complete the order form below:


Email orders accepted at Magnoliawines@verizon.net. Orders can be picked up at the store daily from 10-7, and 12-6 on Sunday. Free Home Delivery to surrounding towns for all orders, 6 bottles or more.  Any questions, call Jay at 617. 924-6040. The Magnolia Wine Company is located at 130 Belmont St., Watertown, MA.

Mike Albano, Executive Vice President & CFO, Mount Auburn Cemetery (L) and Jay Faber, owner of Magnolia Wine Company (R) at the 2018 Wine Tasting in Asa Gray Garden.

Gertrude Wright Morgan (1861 – 1931)

August 1, 2020

Civil Rights Activist, Founding Member of the NAACP


Gertrude Wright Morgan grew up experiencing and demonstrating Black excellence from her earliest days. But she also knew first-hand the societal and personal injustice and cruelty White people could inflict on her, her family, and her people. For the rest of her life, she pushed the boundaries drawn tightly around her as a Black person—and especially as a Black woman—working to expose and fight against White supremacist calumny and oppression and to create opportunities for coming generations of African Americans and all women. She would play vital roles in Black intellectual and cultural life in St. Louis, Missouri, and then Boston and Cambridge; in the creation of the Niagara Movement and the NAACP; and also in the women’s suffrage movement. But, partly because she was more a doer than a writer and mostly because she was a woman, her role in these important historical shifts hasn’t received enough attention.

Gertrude Wright was born in 1861 in Springfield, Illinois, the daughter of Thomas Wright and Sarah Fortune Wright. Thomas had been born enslaved in North Carolina and most likely was moved with his enslavers to Kentucky and then to the area around Huntsville, Missouri. We don’t know the circumstances, but Thomas somehow gained his freedom, and perhaps the freedom of Sarah and one or more of their children, in the 1840s. Over the next decade, he bought property in Missouri and in and around Springfield, eventually becoming a large landowner and respected farmer, with an impressive house in the city’s center. But this prosperity belied the pain of slavery that still weighed heavily on the family: in 1857, Thomas put together his own money and money contributed by friends and acquaintances to purchase the freedom of his 18-year-old son, George William Wright, still enslaved in Randolph County, Missouri. George’s enslaver refused to sell him, and Thomas used the money to buy the freedom of his own brother, Richard, instead. Most likely, other members of Thomas’s and Sarah’s families remained enslaved in Missouri, and Gertrude would have grown up knowing her family’s recent past and may also have remembered celebrations when they gained their freedom during the Civil War.

In 1874, Gertrude entered Springfield High School as its first Black student. Although she was friends with some White students, others shunned her. Three years later, she graduated third in her class and gave a speech at graduation that was printed in local newspapers. (Her brother Willis was valedictorian three years later.)

After graduation, Gertrude moved to St. Louis, where she taught at Charles Sumner High School, which had opened in 1875 as the first high school west of the Mississippi for Black students. The faculty was a gathering of Black intellectuals from around the country—many teaching high school because they were refused higher academic positions due to racism. They led literary, history, musical, and art appreciation societies. So beloved by students was Gertrude that, in 1892, she was honored by the St. Louis school board as one of the fourteen most popular teachers in the entire city.

Clement Morgan, from Washington, DC, also taught at Sumner during Gertrude’s first few years there. In 1883 or 1884, he left to attend Boston Latin and then Harvard College and Harvard Law. After being elected and reelected to positions in Cambridge City government, he went back west to marry Gertrude in 1897, and the two returned to Cambridge to set up housekeeping first on Lincoln Street and eventually at 265 Prospect Avenue.

The decades following the undermining of Reconstruction saw an upsurge in White supremacist rhetoric and action across the North as well as across the South. The year before Gertrude and Clement married saw the Supreme Court issue its infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Tens, if not hundreds, of letters must have crossed from Gertrude to Clement and back again between the time Clement left St. Louis and Gertrude came to Cambridge; it’s impossible to believe that the two wouldn’t be discussing events, ideas, and theories regarding past, present, and future. By the time they married, they were mature adults, deeply immersed in literature, history, and politics. Financially independent, Gertrude had no need to marry, and she would never be a submissive wife, or, indeed, a submissive woman in the public sphere. Clement brought his intellect, energy, and legal expertise to the marriage; Gertrude brought her own intellect and learning, leadership skills, and money. As a team, they became core members of the developing civil rights movement.

Gertrude and Clement’s home on Prospect Avenue became a central site of early-twentieth-century Black activism. Close friends and comrades included W.E.B. Du Bois; William Monroe and Geraldine Pindell Trotter; Maria Baldwin; Pauline Hopkins; Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and Florida Ruffin Ridley; as well as older and eventually younger members of the Boston-Cambridge and national Black activist community pressing for full and equal rights in all fields. This stance put them at odds with the accommodationist reformer Booker T. Washington and his associates, and the pitched battles between these two camps shaped Black political thought for decades.

The Morgans—Clement as attorney and public face and Gertrude working often behind the scenes—were involved in nearly every important civil rights action of the 1900s and 1910s. By 1905, Clement, with Gertrude backing and probably funding him, was one of the founders of the Niagara Movement. And when William Monroe Trotter, one of the other main, all-male founders, objected to two prominent women being admitted to the Movement, Gertrude publicly upbraided him. She prevailed.


Gertrude Morgan (left) and Gertrude with her husband Clement Morgan (right top and right bottom).


By 1906, the Niagara Movement accepted women as full members, and Gertrude was appointed national secretary for women. As she probably had been for years, she was a leading letter writer, lobbyist, and fundraiser. She was also an active promoter of African-American art, culture, and literature, and, true to her career as a teacher, a leader in instilling cultural pride in Black children.

In 1908, a White mob attacked Black individuals, homes, and businesses throughout Gertrude’s native Springfield. The violence in Springfield took place less than two years after similar attacks in Atlanta, where Du Bois and other Niagara Movement founders lived. The Springfield riot—taking place in the North–led directly to the establishment of the NAACP. Gertrude and Clement soon became key members, as did many of their Niagara Movement colleagues.

The Niagara Movement officially supported women’s suffrage. Not surprisingly, given her life story, Gertrude had long been a crusader for this civil right. She travelled the states talking to women’s clubs and other groups promoting women’s rights. She was the president of the Women’s Era Club and a senior member of various other women’s and Black rights groups right into the last decades of her life. In 1915, she took part in her community’s strenuous but unsuccessful efforts to ban the showing of D.W. Griffith’s racist Birth of a Nation in a Boston that increasingly turned away from its proudly abolitionist culture and ignored its Black citizens.

Clement died in 1929. In 1931, Gertrude died. We still know relatively little about the details of her involvement in many important events. Nor do we have much direct evidence of her thoughts about these events or about the many significant people she worked with. We can only hope that more documents related to her personal and advocacy lives eventually surface.


This biographical portrait was prepared by Leslie Brunetta and James Spencer, 2020

SOURCES

James Spencer family archive

Angela Jones, African American Civil Rights: Early Activism and the Niagara Movement, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011.

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

Nadine Fortune Wright (1893 – 1994)

August 1, 2020

Educator and Activist


Nadine Fortune Wright was born into plenty on August 9, 1893. Her parents, Willis Wright and Mamie Drake Wright, were well-educated teachers. Her Wright grandparents, Thomas and Sarah Fortune Wright, were among the most financially well-off people in Springfield, Illinois, owning farmland in that state and Missouri and substantial property in the center of town. The newspaper announcement of her christening told of a large celebration and many wonderful gifts bestowed by family and friends.

However—always a huge “however” in the United States—Nadine and her family were African American, and their prosperity therefore couldn’t protect them from state-sanctioned crimes that would inspire her lifelong activism and achievements. The life story of Nadine’s mother, Mamie, is as yet obscure, her family roots unknown. She is believed to have been Native American. What is known is that she had received enough education to be teaching school when she met Nadine’s father, Willis. Willis knew that his father, perhaps his mother, at least one brother, and a number of other relatives had been born into slavery and that his father had worked for years to free as many as he could. Willis’s parents were able to make sure that their younger children were well educated—Willis’s older sister Gertrude had integrated Springfield High School and Willis himself graduated from Springfield as valedictorian.


Goodman’s parents, Mamie Wright (left and center) and Willis Wright (right).


Nadine thus began life riding what must have seemed a trend toward not only greater prosperity but also potentially greater freedom and wider prospects for African Americans. But both personal tragedy and a resurgence of racism in Springfield affected Nadine and her family. Her father died in 1899. His family was able to support her and her younger brother, Bruce (also known as Brewster), but Springfield itself was changing. Nadine’s family had been well known and well respected in Springfield for decades, but with the city rapidly growing as European immigrants and White southerners moved in, racist resentment against African Americans in general and particularly against well-to-do African Americans like the Wrights became threatening. When Nadine’s mother Mamie died in 1906, the family decided to send Nadine and Bruce to Cambridge to live with their aunt Gertrude, who had married Clement Morgan.

Nadine and Bruce were thus living with their aunt and uncle as Gertrude and Clement worked to found and develop the Niagara Movement. The two youngsters lived in a house that was one of the centers of Black intellectual and political activity, and they no doubt at least listened in on conversations between the Morgans and the many thought-leaders who convened on Prospect Street. In 1908, White mobs attacked Black individuals and businesses in Springfield—including the Wrights’ property–in one of the signature 20th-century events of racist violence. Largely in response, the NAACP was founded, which Gertrude and Clement soon joined as leaders.

Nadine graduated from Cambridge High and Latin and went on to Radcliffe, where she graduated in 1917. As a student, she continued to take part in the family tradition of civil rights work, for example joining her aunt and uncle, their colleague W.E.B. Du Bois, and many others protesting the showing of the racist movie Birth of a Nation in Boston.

After her graduation from Radcliffe, Nadine taught in the Cambridge public schools for close to twenty years. During these years, she chartered the Boston Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She was also a trustee of the Robert Gould Shaw house in Roxbury and oversaw that organization’s acquisition of the Breezy Meadows Summer Camp in Holliston, where she served as vice president and assistant treasurer from 1932 to 1940. In 1938, she married William Goodman, a college-educated Black man from Macon, Georgia, who worked for SS Pierce and Co. of Boston. Married women were not allowed to teach in the public schools, so Nadine had to move on. She became a member of the faculty at Bennett College in North Carolina and then Dean of Women at North Carolina A&T before returning to Boston. In the 1950s, she taught both children with cerebral palsy and brain-injured adults. She later established Norwell Pines, a summer camp in Norwell for children with cerebral palsy. Nadine and Bill were childless but considered all the children who attended their camp as their own. Nadine Wright Goodman died on July 25, 1994, aged 100.


This biographical portrait was prepared by James Spencer and Leslie Brunetta, 2020