State’s top pols turn out for Dorcena Forry’s farewell address
Moving on to private sector, Senator shares recollections from 13 years in Legislature
Surrounded by the state’s top political figures, former Senator Linda Dorcena Forry gave her farewell speech last week in the House chamber, addressing her constituents and fellow legislators, past and present.
Dorcena Forry announced her resignation last month to take a job with Suffolk Construction as vice president of the Northeast region for diversity, inclusion and community relations, ending 13 years of service in the Legislature.
“It’s been an honor to be one of your voices here in the state house and fight the good fight alongside colleagues who are just as devoted to our progress,” she said. “I leave here knowing that we are in good hands.”
Dorcena Forry recalled when she first arrived on Beacon Hill, fresh out of Boston College in 1996, she worked as an aide to former Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie. When former House Speaker Thomas Finneran resigned from the 12th Suffolk District in 2004, Dorcena Forry prevailed in a four-way race for the seat. And then, in 2013, after Jack Hart stepped down from the 1st Suffolk District Senate seat, Dorcena Forry won a three-way race, becoming the first Haitian-American to serve in the Massachusetts Senate.
The luck of the Irish
As the senator representing Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park and South Boston, Dorcena Forry also became the first non-Irish-American to host the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Breakfast, an over a half-century-long Southie tradition.
“Running for Senate is not the hard job,” Walsh said during a reception following the farewell address. “Being in the Senate is not the hard job. Doing the breakfast is a hard job. It’s brutal.”
Throughout her remarks, Dorcena Forry offered gratitude to every person she had worked with and encountered in her career, including colleagues on both sides of the aisle. “I never let the labels, the Ds and Rs, get in my way. We’re all here to serve and I’ve loved working with each and every one of you,” she said.
At one point she addressed her Haitian and Haitian-American constituents, and repeated her words in Creole. “Because I was the state’s only elected Haitian leader for a time, my staff and I worked overtime to help constituents who did not live in my district, but who saw me as their best connection to state government as their voice,” she said. “I did my best to help them. To my Haitian brothers and sisters I will always be your advocate.”
Looking back at her career, Dorcena Forry said she was proud to have helped “connect communities that were separated for many decades,” “create new pathways to wealth and security” and “create jobs that were easier to access.”
In 2014, the former senator, along with Rep. Nick Collins, filed legislation that required participation and access by businesses owned by people of color and women in the construction, design and oversight of a new hotel and the expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Dorcena Forry also advocated for the Blue Hill Avenue commuter rail station, a new Fairmount Line connection expected to open in 2019, and brought additional buses and operators for bus routes from South Boston to Downtown Boston.
In her closing remarks, Forry expressed excitement for her new position but did not say that public service would ever be off the table. “I will not be a stranger but I won’t promise you today that I won’t be back someday, somehow,” she said. “You never know what tomorrow brings.”
Among those in attendance were Gov. Charlie Baker, former Gov. Deval Patrick, former Senate President Therese Murray, state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, former Sen. Jack Hart and former state Representatives James Brett and Benjamin Swan.