Freedom House was founded in 1949 by Otto and Muriel Snowden. Following their retirement in 1984, Freedom House has been managed by a series of Directors: Cynthia Parris, 1984; Acting Director Ambrose Nangeroni and other board members, 1984-1986;Toye Brown, 1987 1991; Juanita Wade, 1991-1995; Acting Director, Juanda Johnson, 1995-1996; Interim Director Norman Huggins, 1996; Interim Director Ron Ancrum, 1997-1999; Harlan Jones, 1999-2001; Scott Darling, 2001-2002; Ricardo O. Neal, 2003-2008. Gail Snowden became Chief Executive Officer in October, 2008.
In 1987, the New Directions Initiative was created to increase access for African Americans and other minorities to relevant education and training programs, leading to more jobs and higher income levels. Another major activity during the 1980s was in the area of economic development and housing in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury and Dorchester. Educational programming focused almost entirely on basic skill building, college preparation, computer literacy, and access to scholarships.
Project REACH (the Road to Educational Achievement) was launched in 1988, from a private donation, to provide financial support for the college education of 50 African American and Hispanic Boston high school graduates a year between 1988 and 1992. Project REACH quickly emerged as a community-based program to produce a cadre of future leaders and provide critical scholarship counseling. Over 300 young people received their diplomas and several now serve on the Freedom House Board of Directors.
Despite the economic recession which began in 2009 and continues into 2010, Freedom House continues to launch new programs and searches for sustainable funding from foundations, corporations and donors through its Campaign for Sustainability. Freedom House received a capacity building grant from the Boston Foundation in March 2010 for its college program and organizational needs.
View the Freedom House archives online at Northeastern University.
Chief Executive Officer - Gail Snowden
Snowden served as Board Chair of Freedom House from 1996 to 2001 and Chair Emeritus from 2001-2008. Snowden is a 36 year veteran of the banking industry and a nationally recognized leader in urban community development. She developed and led the community investment efforts at BankBoston and Fleet which resulted in the formation of a nationally recognized specialized retail and investment group with a targeted focus on urban low income communities and minority and women owned business. She also served as President of the Fleet Foundation. Snowden most recently was the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance and Operations at the Boston Foundation from 2004-2007. She is a graduate of Harvard College and earned her MBA at Simmons College. Snowden has received numerous awards and honorary degrees from leading Boston area colleges and universities including Simmons, the University of Massachusetts Boston, Babson College, and several others.
Chief Operating Officer – Katrina Shaw
Shaw joined Freedom House in September 2012 and she is an experienced leader with over 10 years experience building successful programs and initiatives that advance goals, engage stakeholders and create collaborative relationships. Previously, she was Co-Executive Director of City Year Louisiana where she was responsible for serving over 1000 students. Other positions included Assistant Vice President at the State Street Foundation-Global Philanthropy and Director of Community Impact at the United Way of Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Spelman College and the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.
Board of Directors
Kwabena Abboa-Offei, Chair
Lori Smith Britton, Vice-Chair
Richard Olson, Jr., Treasurer
Herbert S. Cohen, Esq., Secretary-Clerk
Antoinette Coakley, Esq.
Michael F. Glavin
Lisa J. Guscott
Jessica P. Lipnack, Ph.D
Tulaine Shabazz Marshall
Dr. J. Keith Motley
Susan M. O’Connor
Senior Development Officer
PUSH College Success Coach