Harriette Chandler ’59 Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Massachusetts Public Health Association

Harriette Chandler waves to a crowd.
Image credit: Mario Quiroz
June 17, 2019

On June 7, Massachusetts State Sen. Harriette “Harlee” Chandler ’59 received the Paul Revere Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) for her lifelong leadership advocating for and improving public health in the commonwealth.

Wellesley President Paula A. Johnson, a past recipient of an award from the nonprofit organization, was on hand at the organization’s annual spring awards breakfast to present the prize.

“I can think of no one who more deserves this award, or better exemplifies the trailblazer for whom it is named,” President Johnson said in her remarks. “For Sen. Chandler, the health and well-being of the communities she serves, and the health and well-being of the commonwealth, has always been her highest priority. She was the go-to senator if your goal was to improve the health of women.”

Since her first days in public service, Chandler has emphasized health care issues; her first piece of successful legislation strengthened maternity care. She went on to pass legislation that addressed Alzheimer’s care, substance abuse, oral health, contraception, and mental health first aid. She also worked with communities across the state to establish a robust preventative care infrastructure through new programs and services.

Chandler was the first woman to be elected to the Massachusetts State Senate to serve Worcester. In 2018, following an unexpected Senate leadership crisis, Chandler’s colleagues chose her to serve as the acting president of the body. She became only the second woman to lead the Senate in the history of the commonwealth.

For Chandler, the timing of the award was especially notable. “I’m particularly honored to have President Paula Johnson, a champion for public health in her own right, present this award,” she said, in a statement. “To receive this award from [her] on the eve of my 60th reunion was a very special moment.”

Though the award honors career achievement, Chandler doesn’t consider her job finished. “Health equity has been a cause near and dear to my heart over the course of my career in elected office,” she said, “and the work is certainly far from over.”