Bob Massie is no ordinary candidate. Over the last three decades, he has emerged as a globally-recognized advocate for corporate accountability, global sustainability and local prosperity in the 21st century and beyond.
Bob has spent his life anticipating the future and fighting to make it better. Born with hemophilia — a rare, debilitating blood disease —as a child, he experienced repeated painful bouts of joint bleeding that left him unable to walk. Doctors told his parents he might never walk unassisted, but he struggled to prove them wrong. His parents eventually wrote a book, Journey, about the struggles of raising a child with a painful illness and battling the health care systems. As an adolescent, his family lived in Paris where he was covered by the French national health system, and he was eventually able to roam the city on his own. Back in the states, he became an activist at Princeton, and challenged the exclusion of women in the clubs and argued for divestment from South Africa. After college, he worked with Ralph Nader in Washington, and edited a volume on corporate power published in 1980.
He went to Divinity school at Yale, and then served as a minister in New York where he helped found a homeless shelter. Determined to understand the relationship between corporate power and inequality, Bob earned a doctorate from the Harvard Business School in 1989. His dissertation picked up the threads of activism, social justice and corporate influence and he expanded it to write Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years. He was so inspired by the struggle for democracy he saw in South Africa, that he decided to run for office in Massachusetts. In 1994, he became the Democratic nominee for Lt Governor.
By then he had already embraced the crisis of climate change. In 1992, he organized a major event with Al Gore at the Science Museum, expecting that we would quickly recognize the immediate need to step up to this enormous challenge.
These lifelong commitments to social justice, climate change and understanding corporate power brought Bob to the stage of international advocacy: He was recruited to be the executive director of Ceres and built it into the largest coalition of investor and environmental groups in the United States. He worked with major corporations, challenging, negotiating and collaborating with them on improved environmental performance. In 1998, when no one believed it was possible to craft a system that would satisfy the needs of companies, activists and shareholders, Bob organized a complex collaboration of stakeholders and co-founded the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), serving as its chair until 2002. The GRI raised the standards of corporate accountability for labor practices, human rights compliance, energy use, and environmental impacts, by then all gathered into the term sustainability. The GRI, considered the world’s most trusted system of sustainability accounting, is currently used by thousands of corporations in more than 90 countries. It is this work that 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben cites in his recent endorsement of Bob Massie for Governor as having “changed the global economy”. In 2002, Bob conceived of and initiated the Investor Network on Climate Risk, arguing that every investment portfolio includes a degree of climate risk and should be managed for sustainability, logically redirecting funds away from fossil fuel stocks into supporting a sustainable economy. At its most recent meeting in 2016 at United Nations headquarters INCR assembled investors and pension funds with more than $22 trillion in assets to push for an accelerated transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy.
While he was traveling the world working to promote a sustainable and just economy, Bob continued to manage his hemophilia, its painful bleeds and the resulting challenges to his health and mobility. In 1984 he had learned that the blood products he needed to treat his hemophilia had exposed him to both HIV and Hepatitis C and for many years after his diagnosis, he expected his life to be cut short. His first marriage, which gave him two sons, was damaged by the strain of living with HIV and ended in 1994. Soon after that, he became the focus of studies on HIV at MGH and he learned how his unusual immune system was keeping him alive when so many others had died from the disease. In 1996, he married Anne Tate and together they had a daughter in 1998. By late 2002, when the GRI was establishing its leadership in international sustainability standards and INCR was ready to launch its first meeting at the UN, Bob learned that his liver was succumbing to Hepatitis C. He was forced to retire from his global leadership role, and begin a long, difficult wait for a liver transplant. Finally in 2009, a transplant restored his energy, vanquished his hepatitis, and even cured his hemophilia. This opened a new and unexpected chapter in his life. Bob understands personally the power and the pitfalls of our medical system, and he knows that every family has its own story of struggle. His experience has turbocharged his commitment to healthcare as a right embedded in our country’s founding principles.
The bedrock issues of Bob’s campaign—climate change, social justice, and democracy — have been the focus of his life’s work. Since his transplant he has inaugurated two organizations for social change – the New Economy Coalition and the Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston. He left UMass Boston to run for Governor. Again and again he has risen to difficult challenges, seen unexpected possibilities, built diverse coalitions and created lasting change. He believes in the potential and importance of Massachusetts in this critical moment of our history. He is ready to serve and to lead.
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