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Dorcena Forry leaves Legislature after 12 years in office

State legislator was seen as ally for Haitian-Americans and people of color

Karen Morales
Dorcena Forry leaves Legislature after 12 years in office
Linda Dorcena Forry presides over the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast as former City Councilor Bill Linehan looks on.

State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry announced last Thursday that she is resigning to take a job with Suffolk Construction as the company’s new vice president of diversity, inclusion, and community relations. As a Haitian-American, Forry was the only black state senator in Massachusetts.

Linda Dorcena Forry

Her status as a breaker of the glass ceiling was perhaps best symbolized when, in 2014, she became the first black person and the first woman to host the city’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, an annual Who’s Who gathering of local leaders. This came after she won the First Suffolk seat the previous year that had long been occupied by white male politicians.

Next chapter

“The foundation of my public service career has revolved around creating opportunity and access and giving a voice to those who have none and this work will continue for the rest for my life,” Forry said in a statement released to news media. “I am excited to begin the next chapter in my family’s story by joining Suffolk, an organization at the forefront of economic growth and social activism in Boston and nationally.”

Suffolk Construction has left a significant footprint in the city as a driver of development and, at times, a political force as well. The company’s CEO, John Fish, was the chairman and main financial backer of Boston 2024, the private group that pushed to bring the Olympics to Boston.

Forry’s departure came as a surprise to Massachusetts legislators as well as the Haitian-American community, many of whom are currently facing possible deportations due to the termination of the Temporary Protected Status program.

Political career

State Rep. Frank Moran of Lawrence, chair of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, told the Boston Globe, “I’m shocked. She was very promising in the Senate. She climbed the ladder very quickly. We were hoping she would be the future Senate president.”

Rep. Russell Holmes, also a member of the Black and Latino Caucus, told the Globe, “My first reaction is disappointment. She played such a critical role. But I guess she has to do what’s best for her family.”

After serving in the House for eight years, Forry ran in a special election for the First Suffolk Senate seat in 2013, besting Rep. Nick Collins of South Boston and emerging as the first woman of color to represent the district that includes South Boston, Dorchester, and Mattapan.

As for who will replace the Senate seat, state representatives Nick Collins of South Boston, Dan Hunt and Dan Cullinane of Dorchester and at-large City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George are considering entering the race.