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School of Arts and Sciences

Commitment to Service

Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Goddard Chapel
Goddard Chapel, Tufts University Medford Campus
Max Finberg
Max Finberg, A92, at the 50th
Anniversary of AmeriCorps VISTA in
Austin, Texas.

This past November, Tufts alumnus Max Finberg was named the new director of AmeriCorps VISTA, following his turn as senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Obama. In her announcement, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, cited Finberg's deep commitment to public service and his ability to deliver results. Tufts University and Tisch College in particular, is a long-standing partner with the Corporation's national service efforts.

In his new role, Finberg will oversee almost 7,800 full-time volunteers in the agency's fight against poverty. He recalls his undergraduate years at Tufts as especially formative in his pursuit for social justice. "I met my wonderful wife [Katherine Reed Finberg, J91] and some of my closest and dearest friends at Tufts. My membership in the Tufts Christian Fellowship provided a foundation for my faith, which led to my commitment to service and helping others."

In speaking of his success, Finberg cites other Tufts experiences and people as influences. In particular, he remembers several faculty members and staff who contributed to his commitment to change and public advocacy. "I encountered three people at Tufts who shaped my career path. Decades before there were hashtags or the Black Lives Matter movement, Professor Gill [the late Professor of History Gerald Gill] helped me—a white kid from a small, rural town with only two black families—to recognize the importance of these issues in a deep way. And Dale Bryan, the assistant director of Peace and Justice [Studies], which wasn't even a minor at the time, provided an academic framework for my early interest in social justice," says Finberg.

Finberg also credits Jini Kelly, an administrator in the political science department and his first boss as a work-study student, with helping him to pay for his Tufts education and exposing him to a variety of professors on campus. As a student member of MassPIRG, he lobbied Sal Albano on environmental legislation, after Tufts students helped get him elected in his inaugural state senate campaign. The experience got him interested in politics and convinced him of his own ability to create change.

Among his fondest memories of Tufts is time spent at Goddard Chapel under the leadership of the chaplain at the time, Rev. Scotty McLennan, "gathering with friends of different faiths and learning more about my Muslim brothers and sisters." As an undergrad, Finberg also received a Truman scholarship, an honor which recognizes promising leadership and a commitment to making a difference through public service.

Prior to Finberg's work at the USDA promoting growth and opportunity in high-poverty rural areas, he served on the White House's Domestic Policy Council as a senior policy advisor working on immigration, child nutrition, and outreach to various communities.

In his acceptance note for his appointment as the next Director of AmeriCorps VISTA, Finberg writes, "Service to others is the foundation of our country and our communities… It is truly an honor to be part of a unique effort to serve others, assist our neighbors in need, and help change the world, one community at a time."