Dorchester native Peter Meade will be the founding president and CEO of a newly created institute named for Senator Edward M. Kennedy that will be housed on Columbia Point. Meade, a close friend and ally of the state's senior senator, is presently the managing director of the Boston-based public relations firm Rasky Baerlein.
Meade tells the Reporter that he will take charge of the non-profit Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate next month. The institute will eventually be housed in a new building that will be built on Columbia Point, close to the existing John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The institute will be part of the UMass-Boston campus and will be built on four acres of land owned by the university.
Meade has been an influential voice in the regionâ€™s political and business worlds for decades. He cut his teeth in the trenches of Dorchesterâ€™s wards and precincts â€” working in the administrations of former Boston mayor Mayor Kevin White, including a term as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation.
More recently, he was the executive vice president of corporate affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and has worked as a radio and TV broadcaster at WBZ.
The chief mission of the Kennedy Institute, Meade says, will be â€œto preserve the very rich record that Senator Kennedy has over all of his years in the Senate and to have those come alive so that you can teach about the Senate to people of all ages in this country and the world.â€
â€œWe hope to teach people how you get things done in government even with people you disagree with,â€ Meade says.
The Kennedy Institute will not have any official relationship with the nearby presidential library, which is a federally owned archive. However, Meade says, â€œIt will be a brother.â€
â€œI expect that the relationship will always be a warm and wonderful relationship,â€ he said. â€œI think once we get up and started, Columbia Point will represent the most interesting historical treasure trove in Massachusetts, if not New England. You will have the Commonwealthâ€™s Archives with all of the rich history thatâ€™s there, the presidential library and Senator Kennedy Institute. Itâ€™s three gold mines in one.â€
Meade says that the senator is â€œthrilledâ€ with the Dorchester location.
â€œHe said, â€˜I want it at UMass. UMass people are my people.â€™â€ Meade says that Kennedyâ€™s affection for the Columbia Point site has been â€œreinforcedâ€ over the three deacades since the presidential library that bears his brotherâ€™s name was built.
Dr. J. Keith Motley, the chancellor at UMass-Boston, hailed Meade's selection and said that his leadership would "speed up" the process of funding and building the center. There is not yet a definitive timetable for construction, Motley said.
"We havenâ€™t been sitting back waiting, weâ€™ve been planning and vision," said Motley. "I've had a chance to talk to Sen Kennedy about his vision for this new facility and I think picking Peter helps push that further.
"Weâ€™re really excited because Peter is someone who has been committed to this community. I couldnâ€™t think of a better person to lead the insititution. He understands the Kennedy family, how things are done in Washington and how things are done here. And heâ€™s a wonderful friend of the university."