12th Annual Sweet Soul Supper

This post was written by Margaret Fuller Society member and contributing author Michael Schrimper, who also provided the photos from the event.

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MIT’s Morss Hall, decorated for the event

On the evening of Thursday, June 15, the President of the Margaret Fuller Society, Phyllis Cole, was joined by three society members, Leslie Eckel, Megan Marshall, and Michael Schrimper, for the Twelfth Annual Sweet Soul Supper, held to benefit the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House of Cambridge. The event took place at MIT’s Morss Hall, featured live music, a silent auction, and a buffet.

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Phyllis Cole introduces Ellen Semonoff, winner of the Inaugural Margaret Fuller Women’s Leadership Award. Since the evening was packed with awards and speeches, Cole shared only one Margaret Fuller quote with the audience during her introduction, “If you ask me what offices [women] may fill, I reply–any….Let them be sea-captains, if you will.” Cole then pointed out that Ellen Semonoff hasn’t been a sea-captain, but instead a leader in responding to the needs of others–a vocation in fact closer to Margaret Fuller’s heart.
Halfway through the event, Phyllis Cole presented Ellen Semonoff with the Inaugural Margaret Fuller Women’s Leadership Award, for Semonoff’s lifelong contributions to the public. Semonoff has been Cambridge’s Assistant City Manager for Human Services; she leads a staff of 600 in providing child care, family support, youth programs, workforce development, adult basic education, recreation, fuel and nutrition assistance, homeless programs, and services to the elderly and disabled. She started her career as a lawyer in Washington, working as an assistant to Joseph Califano in Heath, Education, and Welfare and a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Semonoff was selected by the Margaret Fuller House for her contributions, and the House asked Cole to present the award in honor of Fuller, whose advocacy of women’s leadership they were also recognizing. Following Cole’s introduction, Semonoff received a standing ovation from the whole house.

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From left to right: Leslie Eckel, Michael Schrimper, Phyllis Cole, and Megan Marshall smile for a photo after enjoying a buffet of soul food. Dishes served include stuffed chicken breasts, roast beef, macaroni and cheese, and fried plantains. The silent auction featured a chance to bid on ice-cream-making sessions at a popular Cambridge ice cream shop and a session with a personal trainer at a Cambridge fitness center, among other items.

Michael Schrimper teaches in the Writing, Literature & Publishing department at Emerson College in Boston.

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