Winner of the 2017 Wainwright Social Justice Award

Chau-ming Lee 1952-2017

Emigrating from Hong Kong to Boston, Chau-ming Lee began his career as a social worker at New England Medical Center, now known as Tufts Medical Center.  In 1982, Lee was appointed the Executive Director of the Asian American Civic Association (AACA).  He led the organization to its leadership position in workforce development, adult basic education, social service and immigration service, helping economically disadvantaged and limited English speaking immigrants achieve economic self-sufficiency and citizenship.

AACA serves a diverse population from 125 countries and advises clients on a wide range of immigration matters including adjustment of status, filing for reunion with family members, citizenship applications, and refugee and permanent residency filings through the Immigration Clinic, which Lee founded 20 years ago.  He began the NextStep Program in 1993, an advanced ESOL program for immigrants preparing for college entrance and job training, and designed AACA’s unique Case Management Retention model in 2005, which continues to ensure the success of AACA students in college or in their new careers.  Lee is perhaps best known for personally helping thousands of individuals with immigration inquiries by being available every Friday at the AACA drop in clinic, where people waited hours for his assistance.

Lee was a council member of the Boston Private Industry Council, Chinatown/South Cove Neighborhood Council and an advisory council member of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.  He was a member of the Chinatown Coalition, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Minority Services of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston’s Mayor Task Force on Community Service, and served on the board of the Voluntary Law Project of the American Bar Association.

Past Recipients of Social Justice Award

Year Name Organization
2016 Marylou Sudders Executive Office of Health & Human Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
2015 John E. Rosenthal Meredith Management, Stop Handgun Violence, Friends of Boston’s Homeless, & Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI)
2014 Jeffrey C. Riley Superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools
2013 Mayor Thomas Menino City of Boston
2012 Rebecca Haag AIDS Action Committee
2011 Suzanne Kenney Project Place
2010 Eva Millona Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
2009 David Waters Community Servings
2008 Mindy Lubber Ceres
2007 Dr. Jim O'Connell Boston Healthcare for the Homeless
2006 Julie Marston & Dr. Cal Cohen Community Research Initiative of N.E. ("CRI")
2005 Carol Rose ACLU of Massachusetts
2004 Mary Bonauto Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
2003 Anne Peretz & Cheryl Vines The Family Center
2002 Dr. Julia Brody Silent Spring Institute
2001 Jonathan Scott Victory Programs
2000 Sister Barbara Whelan Bridge Over Troubled Waters
1999 Philip Mangano MA Housing & Shelter Alliance
1998 Robert A. Sable Greater Boston Legal Services
1997 Anna Bissonnette, Elsie Frank & Ruth Cowin Committee to End Elder Homelessness
1996 Kip Tiernan Rosie's Place
1995 Todd Summers AIDS Housing Corporation
1994 Sister Jeannette Normandin Ruah
1993 Westy Egmont Greater Boston Food Bank
1992 Loretta Davis Cambridge YWCA
1991 Jackie Jenkins-Scott Dimock Community Health Center
1990 Lisa Chapnick Public Facilities Department
1989 Richard Ring Pine Street Inn