James College Announces Joan Wallace-Benjamin as Speaker at 36th Commencement

Wallace-Benjamin will receive an honorary degree along with Lyndia Downie and Dr. Augustus A. White

June 03, 2016

BOSTON – June 3, 2016 – William James College, a leader in educating mental health professionals and the largest graduate psychology program in New England, announced today that Joan Wallace-Benjamin, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Home for Little Wanderers, will deliver the College’s commencement address and receive an honorary degree. Commencement will take place on Sunday, June 5, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel at 11 am. Lyndia Downie, Pine Street Inn’s President & Executive Director, and Dr. Augustus A. White, III, the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS), will also receive honorary degrees.

“Our three honorary degree recipients share a commitment to serving the underserved, taking the lessons they learned from their education and applying them to their work in the field,” said Nicholas Covino, PsyD, president of William James College. “We hope they will inspire our graduates to do the same, staying true to the college’s mission of going out into the community to meet the evolving mental health needs of our society.”

Joan Wallace-Benjamin joined The Home for Little Wanderers in 2003 as President and Chief Executive Officer. Under her guidance, the agency has gained prominence in the field of child and family service providers, becoming a leader in innovative programming for underserved populations and expanding its advocacy role for all children. Throughout her career, Wallace-Benjamin has received numerous awards: Konnected 100 Most Influential People of Color in Boston, Boston Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women, the Boston Municipal Research Bureau’s Henry L. Shattuck Public Service City Champion Award, Urban League Civil Rights Award and the Pinnacle Award: Achievement in Management, Non-Profit, from the Boston Chamber of Commerce. Wallace-Benjamin holds five honorary doctorates.

Lyndia Downie has been Pine Street Inn’s President & Executive Director since 2000. As a result of her leadership and vision, Pine Street is now the largest provider of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless men and women in New England. During her tenure, Pine Street Inn has more than tripled its inventory of permanent supportive housing and now has nearly 900 units of housing. This has helped reduce the number of homeless individuals on the streets in Boston by over 30 percent and the shelter numbers by 18 percent. She is a recipient of the Pinnacle Award: Achievement in Management, Non-Profit, from the Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Boston Municipal Research Bureau’s Henry L. Shattuck Public Service City Champion Award. She is also a Barr Fellow.

Augustus A. White, III, MD, PhD, was the Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, MA, for 13 years. He is the author of more than 250 clinical and research publications and is a national expert on illnesses and disorders of the spine. Today, he is at the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Dr. White has served as Director of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Society at HMS. He is currently the Director of the Culturally Competent Care Education Program at HMS. In 2006, White was presented the Diversity Award by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and in 2010, the same organization honored him with the William W. Tipton, Jr., MD Leadership Award for outstanding leadership in orthopedics.

For more information about the graduation ceremony, click here.

About William James College

Founded in 1974 as an independent graduate college of psychology, William James College is the largest graduate psychology institution in New England, offering degree programs in mental health and applied psychology at the doctoral, master’s and certificate levels. William James College is a leader in educating organizational leaders and mental health professionals who are committed to meeting the needs of our most vulnerable populations and is constantly evolving to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and increasingly diverse society. The College’s highly skilled professionals care for Latinos, Veterans, children, adolescents and families in a variety of settings, including the schools, the courts, the community and the workplace.