After six years of committed service, Kelly Bates will be stepping down from her role as Executive Director of the Access Strategies Fund on August 8, 2013.

“I have sincerely treasured the experience of leading Access. We have made significant public impact in Massachusetts to build the civic and political engagement of diverse communities,” says Kelly Bates.

“I’m proud that we worked side by side with our funded organizations on issues ranging from voter engagement, redistricting, to the US Census, economic justice and democracy, and women and people of color in public leadership. Our communities have more power now, and that’s no accident. It’s the result of hard work in partnership with many great people and organizations.”

This September, Kelly will become the founding Executive Director of the newly formed Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research at Emerson College. The Center will inspire and sustain civic engagement at Emerson College and uplift communities by bringing Emerson’s strengths in communication and the arts to bear in supporting social change.

Kelly’s contribution to Access has been significant. Her strategic sense of the economic forces undermining democracy improved our ability to understand and support community based civic organizations in Massachusetts. Under her leadership, we supported the Civic Engagement Initiative and the Massachusetts Voter Table which help organizations turn out their members to vote on issues of importance to their community. She launched the Economic Democracy Fund which empowers communities in urban centers to transform economic, electoral and political systems to make them more democratic and equitable. During her tenure, Access raised more than $1 million in charitable contributions to support the participation of underserved communities in the 2010 US Census and the 2011 Massachusetts redistricting process. These initiatives resulted in a more accurate census count, millions of additional dollars for public services, fairer and equitable electoral districts, and a more engaged nonprofit civic sector.

“It is difficult leaving the Access family, but I won’t be far away,” Kelly adds. “In my new position, I will continue to build bridges for social justice, a core belief of Access.”

As President of the Access Board, I have watched Kelly in action. I know she will bring these values of fairness, race and gender equality, and a deep commitment to the economic health of our communities to the Elma Lewis Center. Kelly works at the systems level. She’s an activist, convincing communicator, motivating collaborator, skillful manager, tactful negotiator, thorough planner, and successful fundraiser. We are sorry to see Kelly leave but look forward to continue to support her leadership and work in the coming years.

The Access Board of Directors has engaged Third Sector New England to guide the search for our next executive director. A Transition Team consisting of Board members and key stakeholders from philanthropy, politics, social justice, and academia will oversee a rigorous process of organizational assessment and strategic direction setting for Access programs and the next executive director profile. Access partners and communities will inform the process.

Access anticipates launching the executive search in the fall. In the meantime, Stewart Lanier will serve as the Interim Executive Director after Kelly’s departure. He will work part-time to provide assistance with the hiring process, oversight of operations and to support the very talented Access staff, Stephona Stokes and Ileana Cintrón during the transition.

We look forward to continuing to contribute to the movement for an equitable economy and democracy.


Maria Jobin-Leeds
On Behalf of The Board of Directors, Access Strategies Fund