The Commonwealth Seminar
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Opening the Doors of the State House

The Commonwealth Seminar (MassCS) exists to open the doors of the State House to diverse leaders.  We fulfill that mission by providing legislative training, networking opportunities with top policymakers, and access to public service job opportunities for diverse leaders in Massachusetts.

Three times a year, MassCS hosts an intensive training program at the State House that invites community leaders to learn to navigate the legislative and state budget process.  The training program lasts six weeks and participants spend one morning a week in interactive seminars with Administration officials, legislators, legislative aides, media personalities, and lobbyists.  The program is intended for leaders from communities of color, immigrant groups, and others who directly benefit those communities. 

On a regular basis, MassCS invites members of its leadership network to events designed to let them meet and know key policymakers in Massachusetts.  Past speakers include Attorney General Martha Coakley, Boston Globe Editor Marty Baron, Treasurer Tim Cahill, former Senate President Robert Travaglini, Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, and Boston Housing and Community Development Chief Charlotte Golar Richie. 

In 2005, we launched Commonwealth Jobs, a free online resource that posts public service job openings as a way to encourage our diverse leaders toward a professional commitment to government and non-profit service.

To receive notices about training programs, networking events, and job opportunities, sign up for the MassCS mailing list.

Joel Barrera, co-founder of the Commonwealth Seminar, addressing a graduating class.
Joel Barrera, co-founder of the Commonwealth Seminar, addressing a graduating class.

History of the Commonwealth Seminar

MassCS was founded in 2003 by Senator Jarrett Barrios and Joel Barrera as a way to invite diverse leaders into the State House to demystify the legislative process and encourage deeper, more sustained, advocacy on Beacon Hill. Our goal is simple: open the doors of the State House.

We began as a simple skills development training program, but our work is now geared toward weaving together relationships across boundaries of race, ethnicity, partisan politics, and local governments. We seek to become a neutral ground where diverse leaders can prepare themselves, build relationships and create a community that values public service.

Our program is profoundly grateful to our past and present supporters: The Boston Foundation, the Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation, Access Strategies Fund, Ansara Family Foundation, the Cabot Charitable Trust, and the Foley Hoag Foundation.

TSNE logoPartnership with Third Sector New England

MassCS is proud of our partnership with Third Sector New England (TSNE), which serves as our fiscal sponsor, and provides both administrative services and strategic guidance to MassCS.

Third Sector New England is a nonprofit organization that provides management support and resources to strengthen individual organizations and build the nonprofit sector’s capacity to advance social justice.

Their programs and services include executive transition support, management consulting, and grantmaking to foster diversity and capacity building. They also provide fiscal sponsorship regionally, and have developed the multi-tenant NonProfit Center for Boston’s progressive social change organizations. TSNE shares the sector’s best practices, with an emphasis on helping to create supportive nonprofit networks.

Commonwealth Seminar Advisory Board

  • Chair - Jarrett Barrios, Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts, Former State Senator
  • Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor
  • David Morales, Steward Health Systems, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Deval Patrick
  • Serge Bologov, Russian Community Association of Massachusetts
  • Ravi Sakhuja – Indian American Political Forum
  • Charles Glick, Charles Group Consulting
  • Elaine Ward, UMASS CIRCLE Program
  • Marie St. Fluer, Cabinet Member, City of Boston
  • Charlotte Golar Richie, YouthBuild
  • Ron Marlow, Undersecretary, Executive Office of Administration and Finance
  • Jovita Fontanez, Community Leader, City of Boston
  • Dumarius Stukes, Director of Housing, Executive Office of Elder Affairs
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Leverett Wing, Executive Director, Commonwealth Seminar™
P.O. Box 120064
, Boston, MA 02112
Phone: 617-285-5050. email:

This page was last updated 5 November 2015

Photo credits: Marilyn Humphries Photography.

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