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AIM Honors Samuel M. Gebru, Black Lion Strategies, with 2024 Latimer Award

Posted on April 4, 2024

Samuel M. Gebru, founder and CEO of Black Lion Strategies, has made a career of creating “good trouble.”

Black Lion Strategies, a Boston-based social impact and public affairs consulting firm, founded by social entrepreneur and organizer Samuel M. Gebru, is stirring things up on behalf of businesses, nonprofit organizations, advocacy coalitions, government officials, and others committed to social and economic justice.

“Public service is the undying, burning, impatient, loving desire to serve others before self, to commit yourself to others with limitless compassion, and to do it with humility and love,” Gebru said during a recent speech.

Gebru and Black Lion Strategies will be honored with the 2024 Lewis Latimer Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts for their dedication to public service and economic opportunity. Gebru will accept the award before hundreds of Massachusetts business and civic leaders at the AIM Annual Meeting on May 10 in Cambridge.

The annual award is presented to a Massachusetts organization or business leader who has demonstrably increased economic opportunity for the community of underserved and disadvantaged businesses. It is named for Lewis Latimer, a Chelsea-born Black inventor who in 1882, patented a method for the production of carbon filaments critical to the development of the electric light bulb.  A child of formerly enslaved people, Latimer played a critical role in advancing both the electric lighting and telecommunications fields.

“Samuel Gebru is like a breath of fresh air blowing through the cynicism around the American political system. His inspiring story reminds us that a problem doesn’t have to be your problem for it to be worth solving,” said Brooke Thomson, President and CEO of AIM.

Gebru, who immigrated to the United States as a three-year-old got his start in community organizing and political campaigns as a 13-year-old.  A longtime resident of Cambridge, Gebru has been involved in numerous city-wide initiatives. He played a key role in helping to establish and operationalize the City’s new agency for alternative response to non-violent emergencies, as a member of the City of Cambridge City Manager’s Task Force to Examine the Future of Public Safety and subsequently the Community Safety Department’s Steering Committee.

His firm, Black Lion Strategies, builds on his 18 years of political and nonprofit experience in the United States and East Africa. The group works in diverse disciplines ranging from public affairs and communications to political fundraising to corporate strategy and business development.

Past and current clients include Roxbury Community College, MassINC, United Way of Massachusetts Bay, Massachusetts Workforce Association, Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, Cambridge Community Center, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Abundant Housing Massachusetts, Massachusetts Public Banking Coalition, and many others.

Outside of Black Lion, Gebru is a Professor of the Practice of Political Science at Tufts University, where he designed and teaches “Decoding State Government and Politics” and “The Art of Good Trouble: Policy, Politics, and Advocacy.” He also teaches in a medium-security men’s state prison and to formerly incarcerated people through the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College.

Gebru has served on various public and nonprofit boards and commissions, and currently serves on the Leadership Council of WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, Advisory Committee of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, Secretary of the Board of Directors of Just A Start Corporation, and Community Advisory Board of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“I am honored to accept the Lewis Latimer Award on behalf of our talented strategists and dedicated clients at Black Lion Strategies. This award represents a tremendous endorsement of AIM’s philosophy that the role of business is to increase value for society and is a down payment towards the crucial work we must continue to do as business and civic leaders to make our world more whole than we found it,” Gebru said.

Previous Latimer Honorees include the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, the “Massport Model,” and the Boston Impact Initiative.

About Associated Industries of Massachusetts

AIM is the statewide business association in Massachusetts. The association collaborates with its 3,400 members on public-policy issues that matter to their businesses so that these companies can provide economic opportunity across the commonwealth. AIM also empowers businesses with the information and tools to successfully navigate a fast-paced business world.