DISPLAYS OF CHARACTER
Meet the WRD Campaign Ambassadors displayed in the Exhibit
- Albert Pless
- Alex Gordillo
- Andy Polanco
- Bob Russo
- Fred Jewett
- Jarrod Chin
- John Laing
- Leonard Hayes
- Malcolm Astley
- Paulo Pinto
- Ramesh Advani
- Robert Bongiorno
- Yevin Roh
BECOME AN AMBASSADOR TODAY!
Ambassadors agree to wear the ribbon on White Ribbon Day and recruit 5 to 10 male friends and colleagues to join them in taking the WRD pledge.
CORPORATE SPONSORS FOR DISPLAYS OF CHARACTER
Ambassador Albert Pless
Program Manager for the Men’s Health League Cambridge Health Alliance
“We must think about men’s health holistically. How can we engage men to be active in their social networks, and to actually talk about sexual and domestic violence with other people? How can men help us to create a healthy, nonviolent community that benefits everyone?”
Albert W. Pless, Jr., knows that the way to a man’s heart is through food or perhaps yoga, haircuts, and basketball. Albert has used all these forums and more as ways to start conversations with men about healthy choices, lifestyles, and relationships. These issues are central to his role as Program Manager for the Men’s Health League at the Cambridge Public Health Department, where he is building on over 20 years’ experience working in community-based programs, including as director of a nationally recognized community health worker program for Black and Latino men at the Boston Public Health Commission.
Albert is on numerous boards and committee’s including the Men’s Health League and Black Health Care Workers Caucus of the American Public Health Association, Emerge (abuser intervention services) and Deana’s Educational Theater. He also co-facilitated father’s groups for the Fatherhood program at the City of Cambridge’s Center for Families. Albert received his Master of Science degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University and deeply understands the intersections of community and individual economic stability and opportunity with issues of violence and safety.
Domestic violence prevention is a key goal at Cambridge Health Alliance: “We’ve always had a domestic violence component to our work, and we began getting involved with the White Ribbon Day (WRD) Campaign in 2011 as a way to bring men in the community into the conversation.”
He credits the expansion of their promotion of the WRD to the willingness of the city departments to recognize how these issues impact their colleagues, the people they serve in their jobs, and even their own neighbors and families. Albert is thrilled that the violence prevention department of CHA has “expanded the WRD to the wider Cambridge community.”
Albert recalls how their program has expanded over the years, “We began with a table outside of the school with WRD pledge cards and ribbons where students would take the pledge, sign the card, and wear a pin. The second year we moved this into the school during two lunch periods. Our third year, we played [then] Gov. Deval Patrick’s video clip about the campaign in every home room in addition to on the public tv stations. We now have involvement from internal groups within the high school – boys groups, girls groups, dating violence prevention groups – we even had a hip hop group perform a song on the subject! When we decided to orchestrate a big media campaign in the city, all of the city departments – police, fire, water, all of them – tweeted out a photo of men taking the pledge! It was clear then that the message resonates deeply with men from all walks of life and they are ready and willing to be part of the solution.”
Albert has discovered the importance of the committed work of ambassadors from all different fields – public health, law enforcement, education, etc.: “When we invited all men in the community to participate in a photo essay of WRD Ambassadors, the response was overwhelming. It was a moment where I realized how this issue touches so many people.”
In addition to taking the WRD pledge, he encourages men to “be active in social networks and home…to actually talk about this with other people” to carry the message of the Campaign forward.
Albert’s work focuses on “root-causes” in public health and his focus on gender violence prevention is no exception. He views high school students as an important audience for the WRD Campaign. Also, he feels in this work there is a “need to think about how to maximize community. There are natural safe spaces (like barbershops), faith-based communities and other environments where WRD can be promoted.” In reaching out to men in those contexts, he notes, “we can promote the topic to men who may not otherwise be “naturally inclined” to come to events. We must think about men’s health holistically – how men can stand up and look at some of the things they can do to eradicate domestic violence.”