NEWBURYPORT – Local attorney Grace Gonzalez Connolly is the recipient of the 2022 Edward G. Molin Community Service Award, presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry held May 19 at the Blue Ocean Event Center in Salisbury.
More than 250 local business owners and employees attended, according to a prepared statement.
Established in 2004, the Molin Prize is awarded annually to an individual from Greater Newburyport, not necessarily a member of the Chamber, who has personally contributed to the business community and the community at large over a long period of time.
Additional considerations include someone who has demonstrated a tangible and ongoing effort and commitment to improving the community, as well as someone who demonstrates strong leadership. It is a tradition to keep the identity of the recipient secret until it is presented.
Molin, a former mayor, councilman, school committee member and business owner, was the first recipient of the award.
“Ed came to Newburyport in the 1970s looking for a place to relocate his business and his family: luckily for us he never left,” Molin committee chair Mary Anne Clancy said. “He has worked with passion to improve so many areas of our community – the public library, the YWCA, the Boys & Girls Club, the Red Cross and of course our schools.”
In the late 1990s, Molin established the Molin Award for Excellence in Public Schools to honor distinction in teaching. The award is given to teachers at each grade level and is always presented at a district-wide assembly of teachers on the last day of the school year.
Molin Award presenter and Interlocks Salon & Day Spa owner Ginny Eramo presented the Molin Award to Connolly. Connolly’s extensive community and professional involvement since returning to Newburyport in 1984 with her Newburyport native husband Jim.
The couple have raised three adult daughters and are partners in their law firm Connolly & Connolly. Connolly’s volunteerism extends to involvement on behalf of the Newburyport Education Foundation, Rotary, The Chamber, Firehouse Center for the Arts and Anna Jaques Hospital. Connolly is currently chair of the board of Anna Jaques, the first woman in the hospital’s 138-year history to hold this position.
Eramo also cited Connolly’s pro bono work over the years.
“I guess Grace has rewritten more bylaws and nonprofit articles than she can count,” Eramo said. “Her leadership skills, strategic thinking and sound judgment are highly valued by all who have had the chance to work with her.”
Earlier in the meeting, Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta delivered the keynote address, addressing the urgent need to support and rebuild the current workforce. with training, housing and child care and citing a number of programs the state has to support businesses in this regard.
Chamber members also elected five new board members and a leadership group led by new board chair Rebecca Fortado. Fortado is the branch manager of Salem Five.