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Rappaport Center Brings MacArthur Genius Award Winners to Campus

Three lawyers who won MacArthur Foundation “genius” awards shared their passions with the Boston College Law community on October 8. Marie-Therese Connolly, Margaret Stock, and Jon Rapping work in the fields of elder abuse, immigration, and criminal justice, respectively.

“We were very pleased to welcome Marie-Therese, Margaret, and Jon to campus,” said Elisabeth J. Medvedow, executive director of the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School, which sponsored the event. “Their fervor for protecting individuals’ rights resonated throughout their remarks, and they were unified both in their gratitude for the awards that allow them to continue their tireless efforts and in their enthusiasm for law students to pursue their dreams.”

In 2011, Marie-Therese Connolly received the remarkable call that she had won $625,000 with no strings attached for her work in elder abuse. She worked for the Department of Justice, the US Senate, and clerked in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals after graduating from Stanford University and Northeastern University School of Law. Connolly, who hails from Washington, DC, drafted seminal legislation on elder abuse and has been instrumental in raising the nation’s consciousness about our ever-growing demographics of seniors. As she explained, in 2010, there were 4 million Americans aged 85 and older; in 2015, there are 18 million elders living in the United States. When asked how she felt about winning this award for which there is no application, Connolly said, “It was great since I’ve never gotten anything I’ve ever applied for,” and lamented that “we are not good students of how change happens” while extolling the students to follow their passions.

Margaret Stock won her MacArthur Fellowship in 2013 for her longtime work in immigration law, specializing in military personnel and their families. The second edition of Stock’s text entitled “Immigration Law & the Military” has just been published. She is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, served for 28 years as a Military Police officer in the Army Reserve, and has been a professor at the US Military Academy at West Point. Stock’s representation, often on a pro bono basis, has spared scores of military members or their families from deportation and helped them navigate the complex and byzantine immigration and national security laws.

Jon Rapping, winner of a 2014 MacArthur award, founded Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit that provides training, mentoring, and ongoing support to public defenders to ensure that indigents are represented with the utmost competency and compassion. He has spent his career combatting what he characterizes as a “culture of injustice.” Rapping’s organization has expanded from a single training program for 16 lawyers to more than 35 offices across 15 states, primarily in the South, with additional growth envisioned.

The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy was established at BC Law in 2015. The Center provides educational programs, career mentoring, and financial support to law students interested in government and public policy, and plays a leadership role in public policy issues affecting Greater Boston and Massachusetts. The Center houses the popular Rappaport Fellows Program in Law and Public Policy and the Rappaport Distinguished Public Policy Series at BC Law, which conducts scholarly research and hosts lectures, debate, and roundtable discussions on public policy issues with the region’s leading policy makers and thought leaders. Learn more at www.bc.edu/rappaport.

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