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Upon his return to Boston, he joined with Boston University to improve the education of immigrant children in Chelsea where he helped build the John Silber Early Learning Center. Coming from a family of educators and a stint as a high school history teacher, Bob built three foundations with complementary missions to get low-income students to college. The first was in Lynn, Massachusetts named La Vida Scholars to use financial incentives to encourage 100 immigrant families of very bright children. The second, Inversant, focuses on parental engagement and financial literacy through the college process. Most recently, Bob founded the Hildreth Institute to advocate for student debt reform and tuition relief.
At the university level Bob has established internship programs at Harvard, BU, Johns Hopkins, Holy Cross, Bunker Hill Community College, and UMass Boston. He is also instrumental in the reconstruction of the State’s official ship, the Ernestina, which takes students to sea for educational trips.
Bob’s involvement has been recognized with numerous awards, including, 2008 Bostonian of the Year by The Boston Globe, Champion of Justice Award from the Greater Boston Legal Services in 2007. In 2012, he was recognized as a Purpose Prize Fellow and El Planeta’s 100 most influential people for Latinos in the state of Massachusetts in 2009, 2010, and 2013.
Bob is a graduate of Harvard University (Class of ’72), and holds Master degrees from Johns Hopkins University SAIS (Class of ‘75) in International Relations, and George Washington University (Class of ‘80) in Economics. He has served on numerous boards including the BU Board of Trustees and presently serves on UMass Boston’s Board of Visitors, Bunker Hill Community College Board of Advisors, and WBUR’s Board of Overseers.
A Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Desmond served from 2002 to 2009 as Executive Vice President of the Trefler Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational opportunities and success for Boston’s urban youth. Prior to Trefler, Dr. Desmond worked for more than 30 years at the University of Massachusetts Boston, with a focus on student affairs and community collaboration. He has also served as a guidance counselor at Northeastern University’s African/American Institute, and in the Boston Public Schools.
Dr. Desmond is active in civic and community organizations, including service as President of AARP Massachusetts and as a member of the Review Committee for the Broad Prize in Urban Education, Board of Governors for the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University, Brown University Design Group/Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and Cambridge College Board of Trustees. He was the co-chair and executive director of the Urban Educators Corps and is a past president of the Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association, and he has been active with the American Council on Education, and the Council for Opportunity in Education, among other organizations.
Dr. Desmond earned his Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a B.S. in sociology from Northeastern University. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Army, receiving both Silver and Bronze star
has worked to advance education, culture and economic development in Boston through leadership roles in the nonprofit, private and public sectors. For 17 years, he was the Executive Director of The Hyde Square Task Force. Under his leadership, the organization received several awards including the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs. As a neighborhood advocate, community organizer, and parent, Claudio has worked in Boston school reform efforts for the past 25 years, also serving as a member and Vice-Chair of the Boston School Committee. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Boston Foundation, the Youth Violence Prevention Funders Learning Collaborative, and Boston After School and Beyond. He is a member of the inaugural class of the Barr Foundation Fellows Program and a Mel King Community Fellow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is current Co-Director of Boston University’s BRIDGE Program.