‘It’s simply been an honor’: Hinds steps down from Senate to join civic education institute

  • State Sen. Adam Hinds FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/20/2022 5:48:51 PM
Modified: 9/20/2022 5:48:12 PM

BOSTON — With only a few months left in his term, state Sen. Adam Hinds is resigning from his role on Sept. 25 after being named the CEO and executive director of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has represented the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District since 2017 and will now join the Kennedy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic education organization in Boston envisioned by former U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. Hinds will begin work in his new role Sept. 26, the day after his resignation.

“It’s simply been an honor to represent the region I grew up in. I’m a Shelburne Falls guy,” Hinds said by phone. “To be able to roll up my sleeves and address the insufficient state investment in infrastructure or our school funding formulas, nothing is more important to me and it’s been really satisfying to do this work.”

Hinds’ replacement will be decided in the November general election when current state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Becket, faces off against Brendan Phair, an unenrolled candidate from Pittsfield.

The opportunity, Hinds said, came to him after the legislative session ended on Aug. 1 and people began reaching out to him about his next steps because his Senate term ends in January. He added the Kennedy Institute’s role in promoting civil discourse and fostering conversations about democracy are what drew him to the role, especially with his 10 years of experience as a United Nations negotiator in the Middle East and his time as an elected official.

“I have to confess, it jumped out as a perfect fit,” he said. “It became clear very early that this is a perfect mix. … I couldn’t be more excited.”

In his new role, Hinds will be tasked with expanding the reach of the Kennedy Institute’s programming, which includes the newly launched Senate Project. The project will allow the public to hear from leading senators from both ends of the political spectrum, according to the Kennedy Institute’s website.

Part of that work is expanding the institute’s reach to a national level, which Hinds said is made possible through the virtual learning measures people have gotten used to during the pandemic.

“We’ll be growing the current work,” Hinds said. “What I hope to bring to the role is an understanding of what it feels like when you’re an elected official and the pressures that are felt to not reach across the aisle … and encourage folks to do just that.”

Bruce Percelay, chairman of the Kennedy Institute’s board of directors, said in a statement that out of 160 candidates, Hinds stood out as “exceptionally qualified” to grow the organization.

“As the Kennedy Institute moves to a new level of national reach and impact in promoting a renewed search for bipartisan common ground in the Senate and stronger civic engagement among all Americans,” Percelay said, “Adam’s government, political and nonprofit experience here and abroad made him an ideal candidate for CEO.”

Leaving the Senate behind was difficult for Hinds, but the end of the legislative session made it slightly easier.

“After conversations with the Senate president and others, I recognize that we are past the end of our formal session and we don’t anticipate any roll call votes,” Hinds noted. “Additionally, my staff will stay in place through the end of the term.”

Hinds said his goals are to hit the ground running in his new position and continue the Kennedy Institute’s work throughout the election cycle.

“I think we’ll make sure we’re on good footing financially and expand our civic education piece, establishing a program that is a recognized place for political dialogue.” he said. “We don’t have any time to waste with midterm elections around the corner and a presidential election after that. There’s a real urgency to establish ourselves.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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