De Novo Celebrates 141 Volunteers at Annual Appreciation Event

David H. Long, Liberty Mutual Insurance Chairman and CEO, delivers the keynote address.

On Monday, April 29, 2019, De Novo celebrated the work of 141 volunteers at its annual Volunteer Appreciation Event and Dr. Joseph H. Brenner Award Ceremony. Members of Greater Boston’s vibrant legal and social justice communities gathered to honor the remarkable legal and mental health professionals who donate well over one-half million dollars in direct services to De Novo clients annually.

The event featured a powerful keynote address from David Long, Chairman and CEO of Liberty Mutual Insurance. David is a first generation immigrant who began his career at Liberty Mutual in 1985. He has held positions of increasing responsibility in the company’s International Operations, Commercial Markets, Underwriting and Financial, and Mergers and Acquisitions. He was elected President in 2010, became CEO in 2011, and Chairman in 2013.

“Through your service, you’re fulfilling the proudest traditions of your profession. You are simultaneously speaking for people in their moments of greatest need and helping them find their voice,” said David Long, addressing De Novo volunteers. “As someone who has been on the receiving end of that kind of generosity and goodwill, who knows what it’s like to be welcomed by strangers, and who, forty years later, can recall the mighty force of the kindness that comes when it’s needed the most—I thank you.”

Among the evening’s highlights, De Novo volunteers Sam Bryar, a pro bono family law attorney, and Danielle Zabel, a volunteer psychologist who provides forensic psychological evaluations to asylum seekers, each spoke about their experiences working with clients who have survived unspeakable violence and abuse.

“De Novo isn’t afraid to take on the incredibly difficult cases,” said Sam Bryar. “You are so closely tied to the clients you work with and emotionally it can be very difficult. It’s an intensive commitment from the attorney and also the individuals who come to you. This is challenging work and I don’t know who would end up doing it if it weren’t for people in this room.”

“Many of the people you meet with when you do asylum evaluations, despite the fact that these people were treated so callously and so cruelly in their home countries, they didn’t lose the ability to care for the people that they came across when it was needed,” said Danielle Zabel. “It was like these people had a pilot light and it wasn’t snuffed out by what they went through—and that’s extraordinary.”

The 2019 Dr. Joseph H. Brenner Award was presented to the Coordinated Care Program for Political Violence Survivors at Cambridge Health Alliance and the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at Boston Medical Center, in recognition of their commitment to providing compassionate, holistic medical care to immigrant and refugee survivors of torture and other trauma.

The Joseph H. Brenner Award was named in honor of Dr. Joseph Brenner, a psychiatrist and social justice advocate who founded the organization in 1970, and his personal commitment to living a life of service. The Brenner Award recognizes and celebrates community leaders and professionals who embody his spirit of volunteerism and who, by example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service.

The event was made possible by the generous support of many sponsors, including Lead Sponsors Liberty Mutual Insurance and Ann and Graham Gund. All proceeds from the annual Volunteer Appreciation Event go directly toward providing free legal assistance and affordable psychological counseling to the more than 1,500 people with low incomes who count on De Novo’s life-changing services annually.

Amanda Becker