PITTSFIELD — Dara Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires has been appointed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s new Task Force on Hate Crimes.
The Governor signed an executive order re-establishing the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes on Nov. 6. Its purpose is to advise the governor on issues relating to the prevalence, deterrence, and prevention of hate crimes in Massachusetts and the support of victims of hate crimes.
“I am very honored to be appointed by Governor Baker,” says Kaufman. “The Jewish Federation has consistently worked to raise awareness and speak out against all forms of prejudice and bigotry. When an incident of hate happens, it impacts all of us. With all that is happening in our country at this time, this is really important work for us to be focusing on.”
Of the 17 appointees, Kaufman is the only task force member from Berkshire County. A member of Congregation Knesset Israel in Pittsfield, she has been executive director of the Berkshire Federation for the past four years.
“Our administration is committed to making Massachusetts a safe and welcoming place with zero tolerance for hate or violence,” said Governor Baker. “We look forward to working with this diverse group of qualified members who represent different backgrounds and parts of our state to enhance our commitment to inclusive and tolerant communities.”
Other appointees include Robert Trestan, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League, New England Regional Office; Dr. Robert E. Johnson, Chancellor of University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth; Dr. Nawal Nour, director of Ambulatory Obstetrics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Yusufi S. Vali, executive director of Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center; and Deborah Williams, a student at Amherst College.
Members of the task force represent a group diverse in gender, race, industry, region, age and education. Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett and CEO and President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston Josh Kraft will serve as co-chairs.
The task force will promote full and effective coordination among law enforcement agencies in order to improve prevention, investigation, and prosecution of hate crimes.
The Task Force will encourage and assist agencies in safe reporting of hate crimes pursuant to the Hate Crime Reporting Act, as well as analyze and publicize hate crime reports pursuant to the Hate Crime Penalties Act. This group will develop best practices related to technical assistance for school districts that may seek to incorporate hate crime education into their curricula. A formal written report will be submitted to the Governor annually.
Governor Bill Weld initiated the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes in 1991, and from 1994 to 1996 the task force led the successful legislative effort to amend the Hate Crimes Penalties Act to expand its scope and increase penalties for those who commit hate crimes. The reconstitution of the Task Force is intended to reinvigorate the Commonwealth’s statewide commitment to fighting hate crimes and supporting victims and impacted communities.