Skip to main content

Salem State inducts six into Civic Engagement Hall of Fame

Salem State University’s Center for Civic Engagement inducted six new members into its hall of fame at an annual event honoring inductees’ commitment to improving their communities. The ceremony, held on Salem State University’s campus on April 25, followed an invite to the Salem State community to nominate individuals for five categories: alumni, faculty, staff/administration, undergraduate student, and graduate student.


Nominees are recognized for advocating for and leading programs that support marginalized communities; connecting individual research and scholarship to improve public outcomes; coordinating events and programs that address social injustices and support civic causes; being involved in nonprofit organizations; and helping students recognize and use their civic agency to bring about social change.


“The Civic Engagement Hall of Fame is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate vital advocacy work of Salem State undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” said Rachell Krell, graduate assistant for the Center for Civic Engagement. “This year's inductees have made significant strides in bringing about positive social change in their local, regional, national, and global communities.”


About the 2023 Civic Engagement Hall of Fame Inductees


Graduate Student Recipient, Dany Acosta: Acosta, of Lynn, will graduate with his Master of Science in Social Work (MSW) on May 19, 2023, and he will serve as student commencement speaker. Acosta received his Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Salem State in 2021 and his associate degree from North Shore Community College in 2018. Acosta has inspired others by sharing his perseverance through chronic kidney failure, having his eyes removed and receiving a kidney transplant. As a student, he successfully advocated for equitable transportation to the School of Social Work. Acosta is the author of Blindly Painting Words of Love: A Poet's Adventure. He serves as a mentor and English teacher at Centerboard in Lynn, where he has lived since 2014, having moved from Mexico to Los Angeles at age two.


Undergraduate Student Recipient, Gamael Chalvire: Chalvire, of Boston, is a senior at Salem State majoring in politics, policy and international relations and minoring in French. She was born and raised in Haiti and immigrated to the United States in 2015. She serves as the co-founder and president of the Haitian Cultural Club and the coordinator of the Black Student Union at Salem State. Through this involvement, she has created meaningful communities on campus and forged strong bonds with her peers. After completing her undergraduate studies, Chalvire plans to attend law school and become an immigration attorney. Her goal is to advocate for immigration reform in America and ensure that immigrants have access to the resources and support they need to thrive in their communities.


Undergraduate Student Recipient, Lizabeth Davis: Lizabeth Davis, of Framingham, is a senior at Salem State majoring in history and minoring in educational studies. She works at the Center for Civic Engagement and the Center for Justice and Liberation. Davis has been a Salem State Civic Engagement Fellow for all four of her years at Salem State. As a civic engagement fellow, she helps to facilitate service-learning opportunities for Salem State students throughout the academic year. Davis co-founded and is currently the co-chair of the Salem State Hunger Free Campus Coalition. She is passionate about education, human rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and addressing food insecurity.


Faculty Recipient, Melissa Kaplowitch: Kaplowitch, of Marblehead, is an assistant professor of psychology and program coordinator of the Master of Science in Counseling program at Salem State, where she has trained students to become licensed mental health counselors for the past 22 years. Kaplowitch earned her PhD in counseling psychology from Northeastern University. Her clinical work emphasizes effective treatment for people who suffer from chronic mental illness. Her areas of research have focused on examining diversity and contextual factors when diagnosing men and boys with anorexia nervosa and the effects of using a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral approach when treating victims of rape. Kaplowitch serves as community representative to the Marblehead Mental Health Task Force and as an executive board member of the Boston Regional Anti-Defamation League. In 2016, she received the Edith Block Award from Combined Jewish Philanthropy (CJP) for extraordinary leadership and contributions to women’s philanthropy and North Shore Jewish life. In 2017, Kaplowitch received the Salem State Distinguished Teaching award.


Staff/Administration Recipient, Karen Gahagan: Gahagan, of Salem, is an arts administrator and musician based on the North Shore. She is the director of the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at Salem State and supports the work of academic departments in art and design, music and dance, theatre, and creative writing, producing approximately 60 public arts events on campus, annually. As a musician, she has worked with numerous theatre companies, educational institutions, and musical organizations in Greater Boston. She is an alumna of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and Simmons University’s School of Library and Information Science. Gahagan is a 15-year volunteer and founding committee member of the Salem Arts Festival and a volunteer for Salem Main Streets.


Alumni Recipient, Lisa McFadden: McFadden, of Beverly, is a passionate advocate for education, social justice and the arts, with 30 years of experience in fundraising and communications for leading nonprofits on the North Shore. McFadden currently directs development and communications at LEO Inc., a nonprofit community action agency based in Lynn, guiding a transformational capital campaign for the anti-poverty organization. Prior to joining LEO, McFadden spent 14 years in institutional advancement at Salem State. She has also worked for The Trustees of Reservations, Montserrat College of Art, and Historic Beverly. She has served on the boards of the Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce, First Night Beverly, the Beverly Historical Society, Beverly Main Streets, Lynn Arts, and the Danvers Art Association. McFadden earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan and a Master of Education from Salem State.