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Former Boston Mayor Kim Janey and Jennifer Levi, a nationally recognized expert on transgender legal issues, have been named the inaugural fellows in a new Salem State University program. The Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics fellowship will invite notable journalists, politicians, activists, and other public figures to share their experience and expertise with students interested in expanding their civic and political engagement.

Janey and Levi will visit campus several times throughout the spring semester to meet with students one-on-one or in small groups during office hours, lectures, workshops, or over a meal.

“There is an invaluable amount of knowledge and inspiration that will come from students having interactions with these remarkable leaders who have lessons to share about making a difference,” said university president John Keenan. “Welcoming these inaugural fellows to our campus is a true honor and will have a lasting impact on our students.” 

Jennifer Levi

In 2021, Janey became the first woman and the first person of color to serve as mayor of Boston, taking on the role when former mayor Marty Walsh left the post to join the Biden administration. She had served on the Boston City Council since 2018, becoming the president of the council in 2020. Before running for elected office, Janey worked at nonprofit Massachusetts Advocates for Children, championing policy reforms to increase equity, excellence, access, and opportunity in Boston Public Schools. Prior to that, Janey worked as a community organizer, advocating for affordable, quality child care.

“As a daughter of educators and as Boston’s former Mayor, I am excited to engage students at Salem State University and share insights that I hope will inspire the next generation of civic leaders,” said Janey.

Jennifer Levi is the Transgender Rights Project Director for the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, commonly known as GLAD. They led the fight against former President Donald Trump’s attempts to ban transgender people from the military, and was among the lawyers who helped win same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

“I am beyond excited, as one of two inaugural Berry IOP Fellows, to work with Salem State students on the most pressing political LGBTQ+ issues of the day,” said Levi. “What gives me hope for our future is the passion and energy new voices and visionaries bring to the work.”

Established in 2019, the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics is a nonpartisan effort to expand political engagement at the university and on the North shore. The institute Salem State’s voter engagement efforts, hosts political discussions and debates, supports students with career interests in politics and public service, and awards competitive scholarships.