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Sanctae Crucis Award Recipients 1999

Erin E. Kemple ’81

Erin E. Kemple has given her talents, her time, her life to the cause of social justice and the results are manifest in an ever-growing list of people made less marginalized and more secure by her efforts.

Following graduation from Holy Cross in 1981, Erin studied law at Suffolk University, earning her degree in 1985. At a time when many of her contemporaries were flocking to the corporate sector, Erin chose a different path. As a staff attorney at Western Massachusetts Legal Services, she was primarily involved in landlord-tenant law and cases of housing discrimination. During this tenure, Erin brought a statewide class action suit that caused the Secretary of Health and Human Services to change national policy regarding caretaker relatives of foster care children.

With this landmark case, Erin was launched on a course that, in retrospect, looks more like a mission. In 1989, she was instrumental in founding the Housing Discrimination Project, a fair housing organization of which she became executive director and president of the project’s board of directors. Under Erin’s direction, the organization won a number of grants from both the private sector and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and expanded to full-time status in three Massachusetts counties. Erin became an expert in fair housing law and the primary trainer of private practice attorneys litigating in this area. In 1998 alone, she trained more than 2,000 Massachusetts’ realtors in fair housing laws.

A member of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program Working Group in Washington, Erin advises HUD on policies and practices of a variety of organizations involved in fair housing law throughout the United States. In 1996, she became Chair of the Rural Outreach Issues Sub-Committee and formulated changes to make HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity more efficient and successful.

In her spare time, Erin volunteers to train new attorneys in landlord-tenant law at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education seminars. She has tutored learning disabled students in reading and math and has volunteered as a pre-school swimming instructor. In 1997, Erin received the Woman of Achievement Award from the Springfield YWCA.

Erin’s dedication to her work is surpassed only by her devotion to her family. It includes her parents, Don and Mary Agnes; her three brothers, including Jim, a member of the Class of 1980; her sister-in-law and her beloved nephew and nieces. Erin will be adding to and completing her loving family when she travels to Vietnam in the next two months to meet the child she will soon adopt.

For her passion, her ceaseless dedication to fairness and justice, and her devotion to making our culture more humane, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Erin Kemple the Sanctae Crucis Award.