15 Minutes with LeadBoston Alum April English
April English (LeadBoston Class of 2017), Chief Secretary, Office of Massachusetts Governor Maura T. Healey, sat down with YW Boston for our latest “15 Minutes With” interview. April spoke about her LeadBoston experience and her impressive career thus far.
YW Boston: Can you tell us about your experience in LeadBoston and how it has impacted your career path?
April: I had a great experience with my class. Some of the topics were heavy, sensitive, and extremely tough to discuss. Our group had so much respect for each other’s opinions that we were able to collectively have deep and involved conversations. That created a lot of “aha” moments for people. Hearts and minds were changed throughout the program.
YW Boston: What have you been up to since completing LeadBoston?
April: When I began the program, I was Chief of Organization, Development, and Diversity in the Executive Bureau at the Attorney General’s Office. A lot of the topics that we discussed during my time at LeadBoston were relevant to that role. I’m now in the Governor’s Office as the Chief Secretary. In this role, I oversee the appointments of over 700 boards and commissions statewide and several appointments throughout the administration. I’m still able to use my diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging lens for the work that I’m doing today.
YW Boston: To build on that, you’ve recently changed roles after 19 years at the Attorney General’s office to the Governor’s Office and continuing to work for Governor Maura Healey. How has your role and leadership changed?
April: That’s a great question because I have been reflecting on this role as Chief Secretary and how I believe it’s different than my role at the Attorney General’s Office. In my new role, I feel like I have more of an opportunity to make an even greater impact. With equity at the forefront of my mind, I hope every step I take and any elevation in my career that it will also elevate my ability to make more of an impact. Every change I make, I should be stepping higher in my ability to impact communities, including Black people, people of color, veterans, the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with disabilities with a focus on geographical representation. I am truly doubling down on that because we are in 2023 and things should not look the same as they did in 2020, let alone 1990.
YW Boston: In addition to this leadership role that you’ve moved into in Governor Healey’s administration, what are some other professional accomplishments you’ve experienced since 2017?
April: I just received the first ever Justice Geraldine Hines Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys association. This is very special, since Justice Hines was the first Black woman ever appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts. She has been a mentor, a sounding board, and a great support for me. When I initially got word that I was receiving the award, it hadn’t been named yet, and I didn’t know that it was going to be. Then a couple of weeks before the awards ceremony, MBWA announced that it was going to be named after Justice Hines, which immediately brought me to tears. I’ve known Judge Hines since law school, so 23 years. In my remarks, I mentioned how she was the first non-family member to watch my son when he was about three months old. It meant a great deal to be honored in that way and to have the twenty years that I have been in public service celebrated.
YW Boston: How have you stayed connected with other LeadBoston alums?
April: A blessing that I got from LeadBoston was meeting all these wonderful people six years ago. Even though we don’t speak every day, we can pick up the phone if any of us needs something. We’ve been able to watch each other grow to be the most holistic, well-rounded leaders we can be. The experience gave us that collectiveness, that kinship. It’s a deep sense of community, of people who I know have my back and I have theirs. It’s a special bond that doesn’t come out of every program or leadership opportunity. LeadBoston jumps into such important issues that you come together to discuss as a community, so you leave as a community.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Our signature leadership program, LeadBoston, supports all individual participants as they create and implement a leadership commitment. This leadership commitment is an action plan that confronts some of the systemic inequities they’ve learned about and that are showing up in their organization. This plan, and the collective LeadBoston experience, empowers leaders to create meaningful change in their workplaces, in their communities, and in the city of Boston itself. Staff work alongside alums for a year following the program to ensure participants have what they need to see their plan through.
We are currently accepting applications for the LeadBoston class of 2024! Click here to learn more.