The Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research
Meet our Staff
Kelly Bates, Esq., 617-824-8526
Kelly Bates leads and supports Emerson College’s civic engagement initiatives and strategy at the College. She is an attorney with over twenty-years of experience leading non-profit advocacy and social justice organizations in Massachusetts. Before her arrival at Emerson College, Bates was the Executive Director of Access Strategies Fund, a charitable foundation working to harness the collective power of underserved communities to access democracy. She was the legislative advocate for the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, lobbying at the state level on behalf of human services, health care, and housing policy issues. Ms. Bates also worked as the Executive Director of the Women’s State-Wide Legislative Network, leading women’s organizations to pass legislation benefitting women and girls in Massachusetts. A regular political commentator on WGBH television and Boston Public Radio 89.7 FM, Bates delivers expert analyses of federal, state, and local elections. She has served as adjunct faculty at Northeastern Law School teaching the intersection of law, culture and difference in American courts, and at Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning on social welfare policy. Bates has been most influenced by powerful women leaders such as her grandmother. On a professional level, she has been influenced by activist Faye Wattleton and former news anchorwoman Sue Simmons.
Suzanne Hinton, 617-824-8774
Director of the Office of Service Learning and Community Action
Suzanne Hinton seeks to build bridges between Emerson and local communities by engaging faculty in embedding service learning into the curriculum. Trained in philosophy and ethics, she has taught liberal arts courses at several institutions, including Emerson. In addition to serving on several committees and task forces, Hinton serves alongside students through the Office of Service Learning and Community Action’s Alternative Spring Break, and co-founded the Proyecto Boston-Medellín, through which she collaborates to produce transnational multimedia art exhibits. While her parents are her greatest role models, she has been impacted profoundly by radical activists and writers such as Leslie Feinberg, bell hooks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Angela Davis. Hinton has most enjoyed creating and contributing to initiatives centered around social justice in her work as a feminist activist, arts advocate, teacher, and administrator. She is proud to be a longtime mover and shaker in communities of Boston artists, crafters, and musicians.
Ashley Tarbet DeStefano, 617-824-8526
Ashley Tarbet DeStefano ’09 was a double major in Political Communications and New Media at Emerson College and now works with the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research as well as the Office of Government & Community Relations. From a young age, Tarbet’s parents inspired her to take part in service and community building activities and instilled in her the value of making personal sacrifice to benefit the greater good. As an Emerson student, Tarbet was a volunteer and activist with many organizations and programs, including Jumpstart, Alternative Spring Break, ACT Leaders, Boston Cares, Emerson Peace and Social Justice, and Earth Emerson, igniting her passion for creating social change and sparking her life goal of engaging others in service to their communities. After graduating, Tarbet became a full-time AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer at Cradles to Crayons, leading to a full-time position creating and running the Giving Corps programs before returning to Emerson in October 2013. She hopes to live to see the day when a child’s parents’ income does not determine the quality (or lack thereof) of education that a child receives, and to see a world that provides an equal educational opportunity for all.
Emerson College recognized nationally for its high level of commitment to civic and community engagement.