Commonwealth Compact

Serving Massachusetts from the University of Massachusetts Boston


Georgianna Meléndez, Executive Director

Velda McRae-Yates, Interim Deputy Director

Robert Turner, Senior Advisor


Georgianna Meléndez, Executive Director

Contact:; 617.287.4818

As the executive director of Commonwealth Compact, Georgianna Meléndez is successfully fulfilling its initiative to establish Massachusetts as a world leader in diversity and inclusion.  She brings to this position a wealth of leadership experience in nonprofit and public administration positions impacting various Massachusetts communities.  She has served as the assistant commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance; the executive director at Casa Myrna Vazquez, New England’s largest domestic violence services agency; the executive director at RESPOND in Somerville, a domestic violence agency serving Metro-Boston; a board member for Citizens for Adequate Housing on the North Shore; the board chair for Harbor COV (Communities Against Violence) in Chelsea. She also has the role of senior fellow for the Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Collaborate Leadership.  She has served as a member of the fundraising committee for the North Shore Christian School in Lynn, MA.  She currently serves on the Finance Committee for Girls, Inc. in Lynn MA and has recently been appointed to the WBUR Community Advisory Board.

Georgianna Meléndez has been recognized several times for her outstanding service and leadership.  In 2006, she was named one of the Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40.  The following year, she was appointed to Governor Patrick’s anti-crime council.  The 2010 Puerto Rican Festival Committee named her one of the 50 most influential Puerto Rican women in Massachusetts. In January 2012, she was named a “Drum Major for Justice” by the Town of Danvers’ Diversity Committee.  And, most recently, she was featured in a leadership anthology, Voices of the Future, written by an alumnus of the Emerging Leaders Program.

In 2012, Meléndez completed a master’s degree in public affairs at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies where she also was recognized for Distinguished Public Service.  She earned a bachelor’s degree at Bentley College studying English and cultural studies.

Velda McRae-Yates, Interim Deputy Director

Contact:; 617.287.4875

Velda McRae-Yates joined the compact in 2013, taking on the role of deputy director. She has been working with Commonwealth Compact for more than two years through her role in charge of employment services in human resources and equal opportunity and outreach at UMass Lowell. She was an active member of the higher education collaborative and an instrumental presenting the Diversity Best Practices Conference in May 2013.

Velda McRae-Yates brings to the table her experience as a board member for the Harvard Street Community Health Center in Dorchester; her volunteer work with the Northeast Human Resources Association as the first chair of the Diversity Committee and the Special Interest Group which led to her recognition award for Volunteer Excellence; her work with the International Society of Diversity & Inclusion Professionals and the Association for Affirmative Action Professionals; and her consulting work for the Mayor's Office and Boston Management Consortium as a facilitator devoted to improving city government performance and finding solutions to critical urban issues.

McRae-Yates is a double Lynx with a bachelor of science degree in organizational behavior and a master of science degree in applied management from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and she has earned a PhD in Organizational Development and Change from Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio. McRae-Yates is also a Cornell University certified diversity advanced practitioner, as well as a certified administrator through the Multi-Health Systems in Toronto, Canada for the BarOn Emotional Intelligence Quotient Inventory.

Robert Turner, Senior Advisor

Contact:;  617.287.5579

Robert Turner joined the McCormack Graduate School community as the Boston Globe Fellow in 2007, the same year he helped launch Commonwealth Compact.

He spent the majority of his career at the Boston Globe serving as State House Bureau chief and assistant city editor, columnist (1979 – 1994), chief editorial writer (1994 – 2000), and deputy editor of the editorial page (2000 – 2007).

Turner has been a visiting professor at Northeastern Graduate School of Journalism and Stonehill College, and served as a study group leader several times at his alma mater, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

He is the author of two books, Dukakis; An American Odyssey (with Charles Kenney) published by Houghton Mifflin in 1987 and I’ll Never Lie to You: Jimmy Carter in his Own Words published by Ballantine Books in 1976.

His commitment to the community is evidenced in his service on many advisory boards and committees over the past three decades. They include the Bench-Bar Committee of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Boston Globe Foundation Advisory Board, Architecture Boston Magazine Advisory Board, Milton (MA) Library Foundation Board, WriteBoston Advisory Board, and We Are Boston Advisory Board.

Turner earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Columbia College and an MPA from Harvard University.