Hayden Announces Transition and Community Advisory Committee

Special to the Times-Free Press

District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden today announced the formation of his Transition and Community Advisory Committee, which will advise him and his office as he prepares to begin his first full term as District Attorney and throughout his first 100 days.

The Transition and Community Advisory Committee will be tasked with providing recommendations to improve the functions and operations of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, helping to increase community engagement by making the office more accessible and responsive to the public, and advise on policies that will seek to strengthen transparency, accountability, and equity throughout the Suffolk County legal system.

The committee will be co-chaired by State Sen. Lydia Edwards, Robert Gittens, and Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond.

“This is an extraordinary group of individuals with extensive knowledge of administrative functions and city and county issues ranging from legal system operations to civic engagement.  I’m deeply grateful for their willingness to help shape our approach over the next four years,” Hayden said. 


State Sen. Lydia Edwards represents the Third Suffolk District, consisting of Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, the North End, Beacon Hill, and the Back Bay. She previously represented District 1 on the Boston City Council.  She served as Deputy Director of Office of Housing Stability for the City of Boston, and worked as a public interest attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, focusing on labor issues such as fighting for access to unemployment insurance, back wages, fair treatment for domestic workers, and human labor trafficking.

Robert Gittens is the former Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and First Assistant District Attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. He currently serves on the boards of the Children’s League of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network and Commonwealth Care Alliance, and is the executive director for Cambridge Family and Children’s Service.

Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond is the co-founder of Bethel A.M.E. Church and chairman of the Ten Point Coalition, an ecumenical group of Christian clergy and lay leaders mobilizing the Greater Boston community around issues affecting Black and Latino youth.  He is an Executive Committee member of the Black Ministerial Alliance and serves as a trustee on many institutions, including the Yawkey Foundation, BMC Health System, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and the MATCH School.


 Dr. Aisha Miller is the Vice President of Permitting, Community, and Corporate Engagement for Related Beal and the Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She previously served as Chief of the Civic Engagement Cabinet for the City of Boston and as Regional Steward for Suffolk County Probation Officers.

Andrea Cabral is a former Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, and twice elected Sheriff of Suffolk County. She was Chief of the District Courts at SCDAO and is currently CEO of a multi-state cannabis company.

Annissa Essaibi George is the President & CEO of Big Sister Boston and is a former Boston City Councilor At-Large. On the Boston City Council she chaired both the Committee on Education and the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health, and Recovery. She has previously worked as a Boston Public Schools teacher and is a small business owner.

Byron Knight is a former Suffolk assistant district attorney who joined the Deval Patrick administration as special counsel to assist in providing discovery to all parties affected by the Hinton Lab drug scandal.  He later served a Deputy Legal Counsel for Patrick. 

Brian Arrigo has served as mayor of the City of Revere since 2015. During his tenure, Mayor Arrigo has professionalized and modernized the city’s government and has worked to help those most in need. He established the Substance Use Disorder Initiatives office, making Revere one of the Commonwealth’s leaders in focusing efforts toward tackling the opioid crisis. Prior to his election as mayor, he served for several years on the Revere City Council.

Pastor B. Christopher Sumner is Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs and associate Pastor at Jubilee Christian Church.  He also serves on the City of Boston Civilian Review Board. He previously served as Chief of Operations at the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center of Boston, and as Executive Director of the Boston Ten Point Coalition the Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club of Boston.

Courtney Grey is Director of Disaster Behavioral Health in the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Boston Public Health Commission. She has coordinated many local and national DBH deployments to deal with incidents of homicide, suicide, fires, as well as natural and man-made disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Darryl Smith is Co-Founder of Communities of Color (COC), former Assistant Commissioner of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department, and former chair of Mayor Thomas Menino’s Neighborhood Response Team.

Gladys Vega is executive director of Chelsea’s La Colaborativa and has led organizing efforts for immigrants’ rights, welfare rights, tenants’ rights, open space and the environment, multicultural and anti-racism programs and in numerous grassroots campaigns.

Helen Chan Kwong is President of the Gee How Oak Tin Association of New England and Secretary of the Chinatown Business Association. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, an umbrella organization in Chinatown which sponsors Chinatown Crime Watch.  She is one of Chinatown’s affordable housing developers.

John McGann is President and CEO of the Gavin Foundation, a community-based addiction education, prevention and treatment facility. He is a licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Certified Addiction Specialist, and a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. He is also Vice President of the MA Recovery Homes Collaborative and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Action for Boston Community Development.

Joseph D. Feaster Jr. is an attorney with over 45 years of experience and is chairman of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. He has served as Receiver for Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center, Interim Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority, and President of the Boston Branch NAACP. Feaster is of counsel at McKenzie & Associates, P.C. in Boston.

J.W. Carney, Jr. is a renowned criminal defense attorney who began his career as a public defender and is a contributing author to treatises on Massachusetts Criminal Practice.  He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1998. Carney also has been a member of the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Commission for 20 years.

J. Larry Mayes is Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations at Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Boston. He previously served as Cabinet Chief of Human Services for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and as an advisor for public safety issues for the City of Boston.

Katie O’Leary is the Director of Recovery at North Suffolk Mental Health and has spent her career in the mental health care and recovery services industry. She previously worked as a Recovery Services Coach at the Gavin Foundation and in the United States Probation Office.

Kimberly Pelletreau is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. She previously served as Executive Director of Safety Services for Boston Public Schools and as a Special Agent with the United States Department of Justice.

Kristen Palma is a former victim witness advocate at SCDAO who became public affairs director of the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance.

Kourou Pich is executive director of HarborCOV, which provides services and opportunities that promote long-term stability for people affected by violence and abuse.  She began work there in 1998 as the Cambodian advocate. Kourou has served as a consultant for the Women of Color Network since 2011.

Linda Dorcena Forry is a business leader and former state senator, currently serving as Vice president of  external affairs at Suffolk Construction. She previously served in both the Massachusetts House and Senate representing Mattapan, Dorchester, and South Boston. Dorcena Forry was the first, and to date only, person of Haitian descent elected to the Senate.

Lisa Howard is the Superintendent of Winthrop Public Schools and a past board member of the Massachusetts Administrators for Special Education. She is a lifelong resident of Winthrop.

Lisa Holmes is an associate lecturer at UMass Boston and former Boston police officer, with 33 years in the department. Prior to her retirement from BPD, Lisa most recently served as Superintendent-in-Chief of the Bureau of Professional Development responsible for overseeing the training and education of officers at the Boston Police Academy.

Louis Elisa is a community activist with over 40 years of experience working in local, state, and federal government. He has served as Region 1 Director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is a former President of the Boston Branch NAACP.

Marjorie Pauléon Tynes, an attorney and former Suffolk ADA and victim witness advocate, is a member of teaching team at Harvard’s Trial Advocacy Workshop.

Michael Kozu is the Co-Director of Project Right, a neighborhood-based organization that works to prevent crime and violence in the Grove Hall neighborhood of Roxbury and North Dorchester.

State Sen. Nick Collins represents the First Suffolk District, consisting of Dorchester, South Boston, the South End, and Chinatown. He serves on both the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery and the Joint Committee on Public Service. Prior to his election to the Senate, Collins served a number of years in the House.

Talia Barrales is an attorney specializing in issues of immigration who founded her own firm, Barrales Law in 2013. She has spent her career helping clients navigate complex immigration and employment matters and has represented clients across Massachusetts. Barrales serves on the boards of Cosecha and the Chica Project, and in 2020 was recognized by the Boston Business Journal as one of the Top 40 under 40 Boston professionals.

Paul Popeo is co-chair of Choate’s litigation department and has served as a special assistant attorney general and special Suffolk ADA.

Paulo DeBarros is Director of the Teen Center at St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester and a founding partner of the Safe City Collaborative. Barros serves as President of the Cape Verdean Community UNIDO and is on the board of the National Alliance of Cape Verdean Organizations.

Sandra M. McCroom is president and CEO of Children’s Services of Roxbury, which provides comprehensive childcare services to economically disadvantaged families.  She previously served as for Criminal Justice in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

State Sen.William Brownsberger represents Second Suffolk and Middlesex District, which includes the towns of Belmont and Watertown, and the Boston neighborhoods of Allston, Brighton, Fenway, and Back Bay. During his tenure Sen. Brownsberger has been a leader on issues of criminal justice and legal reform. He has served as the Massachusetts State Senate President Pro Tempore since 2019.

Bishop William E. Dickerson II is pastor of the Greater Love Tabernacle church in Boston. He is the founder and President of Restoration Ministries Inc. and the President of Greater Love Community Cares, Inc., a philanthropic agency that helps the needy.

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