William James College to Bestow Three Honorary Degrees at Commencement on Sunday, June 11

Commencement 2023

Commencement 2023

Honorees include Mental Health Advocates and Innovators Michael Curry, Andy Pond, and Keynote Speaker Joan Mikula

NEWTON, Mass. – An attorney, civil rights activist, and health care equity advocate; a social worker, clinician, educator, and writer whose work focuses on teens and children who have experienced trauma; and a trailblazer who led the fight for mental health parity will receive honorary degrees at the William James College Commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 11 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. 

Former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DPH), Joan Mikula believes that government policies can change people and communities for the better. Her creativity, passion, and tireless advocacy for those who are often marginalized shaped her philosophy, and a career marked by innovation and achievement. Early on she taught children with special needs, served as a probation officer working with female offenders, and led a nonprofit social service agency. Through each of these roles, Mikula’s belief in the power of individuals to grow and change never wavered. This conviction was a driving force during her distinguished 35-years at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. In this role, Mikula influenced public policy and created paths for success for people experiencing mental health challenges. During her tenure at DPH, Mikula shifted the emphasis from inpatient to community care, developed frameworks for serving young adults, initiated a Race/Ethnicity and Inclusion agenda, and enhanced the system’s competencies in treating individuals with co-occurring conditions. After retiring in 2020, Mikula became an active and engaged volunteer supporting Newton Wellesley Hospital’s Heart, Health, and Wellness Council. She currently consults with the Massachusetts Association of Mental Health’s Pediatric Behavioral Health Urgent Care Project. 

Michael Curry, Esq. is President & CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, which represents more than 50 locally based centers serving over one million patients through 300 practice sites. Named a 2021 Bostonian of the Year by both the Boston Globe and Boston Magazine, and the Boston Business Journal’s Power 50 Movement Makers for 2022, Curry works to address health disparities, eliminate barriers to quality care, and advocate for equity by convening elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists.  A sought-after media commentator on political, social, and cultural issues, Curry has been affiliated with the NAACP for more than twenty-five years. Curry is widely recognized for giving voice to the unique health care needs of communities of color. During the pandemic the Massachusetts Senate appointed Curry to the Health Equity Task Force, which he co-chaired. An adjunct professor, he teaches health care management at Suffolk University’s Moakley Center and Sawyer School of Management and Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession at New England Law Boston.

Andy Pond has served as President & CEO of the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) since 2006. He first joined JRI in 1985, having earned a master’s degree in teaching from SUNY Cortland and his bachelor’s degree in English from UMass Amherst.  He earned a master's degree in social work while honing his skills as a leader at JRI, and focused his early career on adolescents suffering from the effects of complex trauma. After becoming CEO, Pond built a talented management team, further advancing JRI as an agency at the forefront of the social justice movement. His training as an educator, his experience as a clinician, and his ability to explore complex issues through his writing have served him well. At JRI, Pond created and implemented an integrated system of care designed to help children and adults reach their full potential. Under his leadership, JRI’s schools, programs and diverse services have experienced significant growth and garnered national attention. A proponent of collaboration, Pond partners with colleges and universities, state government, and advocacy organizations to ensure that the leadership pipeline reflects the talent and diversity of the communities that JRI serves.

About William James College

Founded in 1974, William James College is an independent, non-profit institution and a leader in educating the next generation of behavioral health professionals to support the growing and diverse needs of the mental health workforce. Integrating field work with academics, the College prepares students for careers as organizational leaders and behavioral health professionals who are committed to helping the underserved, multicultural populations, children and families, and veterans. William James College alumni can be found making an impact in a variety of settings, including schools, the courts, clinical care facilities, hospitals, the community, and the workplace. 

To learn more about the College, please visit www.williamjames.edu.