news & perspectives

news & perspectives

tufts university honors suzin bartley for work to support families


MEDFORD, MA (May 18, 2015) – On Sunday, Tufts University awarded an honorary doctoral degree to Suzin Bartley of Milton, Massachusetts.  Ms. Bartley is Executive Director of the Children’s Trust, Massachusetts’ leading family support organization.  This degree was awarded in recognition of her long-term leadership in ensuring that families are strong and healthy so children thrive.

Bartley received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during the University’s annual commencement. Other honorary degree recipients included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and four other distinguished men and women.

Bartley Honorary Degree

From left: Chairman of the Board of Trustees Peter Dolan, honorary degree recipients Willa Jo Zollar, Navi Pillay, Madeleine Albright, Joichi Ito, Suzin Bartley, Joseph Neubauer, and Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco.

In his comments, Tufts University President Anthony P. Monaco said, “Healthy families are essential to a productive and positive society.  For your tireless and effective efforts to strengthen them, Tufts is proud to award you an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.”

Since 1992, Bartley has overseen the Children’s Trust.  The organization strengthens the Commonwealth by developing, funding, and managing parenting support programs designed to help families raise physically and emotionally healthy children.  Its mission is to reduce child abuse and neglect.

“It has been said that child abuse casts a shadow as long as a lifetime.  As executive director of the Children's Trust, you have ensured that this shadow does not fall over the children of Massachusetts,” Mr. Monaco said.

“As you so eloquently put it, you aim to wrap ‘a protective quilt’ around families by giving them the support they need to help their children thrive and succeed.”  Mr. Monaco noted that the Children’s Trust manages hundreds of programs that educate parents about the importance of their children's early development and teaches them how to foster a healthy environment for themselves and their children.

“Your work has helped prevent child abuse.  And it has had a demonstrable, positive impact on educational achievement, maternal and child health, family self-sufficiency, and the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.

“You empower families.  In the words of one single mother, a recent immigrant: ‘I understood that I am worth something, that I have control over dreams that I want for my son and me,’" Mr. Monaco said.

“My goal is to work upstream and prevent damage from happening,” Bartley says. “By partnering with parents in the earliest stages of parenting and raising the capacity of communities to wrap a protective quilt around families, we can not only decrease bad outcomes, but increase positive outcomes for kids and families.”

Since her tenure at the Children’s Trust, the organization has shown through rigorous evaluation that high-quality, evidence-based family support programs not only help prevent child abuse, but improve the lives of children, parents, and families.  The organization and its programs have been recognized as national models, including recently by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for the Study on Social Policy.  

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, she trained at the Yale Child Study Center and earned a master’s degree from the Smith College School for Social Work, which presented her with its 2012 Day-Garrett Award for outstanding contributions to the profession. She was an International Fellow in Applied Developmental Science at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development of Tufts University and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Public Administration from Curry College.  She is an adjunct professor at Boston College and a member of the school’s social work advisory board.  

Bartley served on the Governor’s Commission on Responsible Fatherhood and Family Support, the Cardinal’s Commission for the Protection of Children, and the Chair of the Legislative Committee of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds.  She is currently Co-Chairing a Legislative Task Force on the prevention of child sexual abuse.

Ms. Bartley is married to P. Christopher Navin, Ed.D, and is the proud mother of two sons.

During its commencement, Tufts also presented honorary degrees to former Secretary of State Albright and the following:

  • Joichi “Joi” Ito is Director of the MIT Media Lab and an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and internet freedom.
  • Joseph Neubauer, a Tufts alumnus, is Chairman and CEO of diversified food, facility, and uniform services giant Aramark Corp. and a member of many civic and philanthropic boards.
  • Navanethem “Navi” Pillay served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and is an advocate for the rights of women, gays, political prisoners, survivors of sexual assault, and other marginalized groups.
  • Jawole Willa Jo Zollar is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer who uses cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. She is the Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University.