Effective Systems

Business Leaders as Legislative Advocates for Children


Several of Boston’s key business leaders assumed active and very visible roles as advocates for children during the 1996 and 1997 Massachusetts legislative sessions. By forming alliances with more traditional children’s advocates and other civic leaders, they successfully convinced public policy makers to create and fund several initiatives to benefit children, especially those from low-income families. These business leaders served in front-line positions in the United Way of Massachusetts Bay’s Success By 6 Leadership Council, a volunteer committee comprised of 50 business, civic, labor, health, academic, social service and religious leaders, chaired by BankBoston Chairman and CEO Chad Gifford. This Success By 6 public policy effort aligned the concerns and messages of key business leaders and other influential civic leaders with those of child advocates and led to the passage of three child-focused legislative initiatives. These new laws included the development of a child care quality fund, the authorization of monies for a statewide newborn home visiting program for first-time teenaged parents, and the creation of a major children’s health insurance program. Enactment of these measures was due, in large part, to the unusual and unexpected role business leaders played as unlikely messengers in broad-based advocacy efforts.