On October 30, The Irish International Immigrant Center will culminate their 25th year anniversary celebrations with its annual Solas Awards Celebration. This special event honors the contributions of immigrants in the state's Irish American communities and recognizes the good work of their chosen honorees. This year, as part of their milestone anniversary, the IIIC will honor their founder Sister Lena Deevy, LSA; Susan J. Cohen, Esq., Member of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C.; and Richard E. Holbrook, Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank.

Sister Lena Deevy, LSA

Irish International Immigrant Center

Executive Director Emerita

In recognition of her efforts championing immigrants at the IIIC

A native of Crettyard, County Laois, Sister Lena Deevy is a member of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, an international order of religious women who live and work in poor neighborhoods in 23 countries around the world. Displaced people including refugees, immigrants, and victims of human trafficking are their priority.

Before coming to Boston in 1988, Sister Lena worked for two decades as a community organizer in impoverished areas of Dublin. In 1990 she became Executive Director of the IIIC and held that position until she stepped down in 2013. Under her tenure, the IIIC grew from a small volunteer group to a multi-service organization with a diverse staff, board and constituents, providing professional services for immigrants; and mutual understanding programs and job experience for Catholic and Protestant young adults from Northern Ireland and the border counties.

In over two decades at the helm of IIIC, Sister Lena earned a reputation as a staunch advocate of comprehensive immigration reform and as a bridge builder among immigrants from diverse backgrounds. Having arrived in Boston when the legacy of busing was still raw, she instituted anti-racism programs at IIIC to understand the past and address racial intolerance and discrimination.

Sister Lena has earned many awards, perhaps the most notably in November 2012, when she was one of ten recipients worldwide of the Irish government’s Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

Richard E. Holbrook

Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank

In recognition of his strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and Eastern Bank’s tremendous support of IIIC’s work for the past decade.

Since January 2007, Richard E. Holbrook has served as the Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank Corporation, holding company for Eastern Bank, the largest and oldest mutual bank in the country and fifth largest full-service bank in Massachusetts. Founded in 1818 to serve people of “modest means”, Eastern Bank has been committed to corporate social responsibility for nearly 200 years.

Rich joined Eastern Bank in 1996 as Chief Financial Officer (CEO) and Executive Vice President and was named President and CEO of the Bank and the Holding Company in 2001. He started his banking career in 1980 at the Connecticut Bank and Trust Company in Hartford, as a commercial credit trainee.

Rich serves on the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve and on the Massachusetts Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. He is Chairman of the Massachusetts Bankers Association and a director of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and the CEO Club of Boston.

Rich is a director of Partners HealthCare and of Neighborhood Health Plan. He serves as chairman of the North Shore Medical Center and is also a member of the Board of Overseers of the Anti-Defamation League of New England.

Susan J. Cohen, Esq.

Founder and Chair of the Immigration Practice of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

In recognition of her tireless advocacy and support for low-income immigrants, pro-bono legal representation for asylees; and Mintz Levin’s long-term support of IIIC’s work.

Ms. Cohen is actively involved in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and has chaired and co-chaired a wide range of national AILA committees, including the National Planning Committee for AILA’s Annual Immigration Law Conference. She also serves on the review board for AILA periodicals. Ms. Cohen serves as the ABA’s liaison to the Department of Labor on immigration-related issues. She is a frequent panelist at AILA, ABA, and other immigration-related conferences, and a contributor to AILA, ABA, and other immigration-related publications. Ms. Cohen is the President of the Board of Directors of the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project.

In 2013, Ms. Cohen received the Circle of Excellence Award from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as a two-time “Top Women of Law” honoree. Ms. Cohen also received the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s John Adams and John Quincy Adams Pro Bono Publico Award in 2005 in recognition of her pro bono efforts on behalf of asylum seekers. She has been recognized by Chambers Global, Chambers: USA, Best Lawyers in America, The Legal 500 United States and International Who's Who Legal for Immigration Law and is regularly named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer.

The IIIC's Solas Awards will take place on October 30 at Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Special community rate of $125 for dinner and cocktail reception. Call 617-695-1554 and mention community rate.