JOHN J. DREW

ABCD Hall of Fame 2022

For more than 50 years, John J. Drew has been a national leader in the Community Action and nonprofit sectors, founder and incubator of several national and Massachusetts-based nonprofit organizations, and tireless advocate for those suffering from the effects of poverty. He joined ABCD – Action for Boston Community Development – in 1971 and served as its president and CEO from 2009 until his retirement in June 2022.

A native of Charlestown, Massachusetts, John’s leadership in the field has been informed both by personal experience and professional training. As a resident of public housing and the father of two Head Start students, he experienced the beginnings of the anti-poverty movement of the 1960s. Determined to advance his education, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Bentley College in his mid-30s, and went on to complete an MBA at Suffolk University. After being licensed as a Certified Public Accountant, John was an auditor for the accounting firm Peat Marwick. ABCD was one of his clients and, inspired by its mission, he soon joined the organization’s finance team.

For decades John worked alongside former President/CEO Robert M. Coard as well as “The First Lady of Roxbury,” Melnea Cass, and other dedicated community, corporate and political leaders.

During his tenure as president/CEO, John oversaw the expansion of Head Start and Early Head Start and initiated several new youth programs. His business acumen led to the acquisition of significant real estate for ABCD, assets that enhanced program stability for Head Start, neighborhood programs, ABCD’s two alternative high schools, Urban College of Boston, and more.  

John has served on numerous local and national boards, including National Community Action Foundation, Community Action Partnership Legal Services, National Association for Administrative Excellence (founder), New England Community Action Partnership, New England Council, Massachusetts Community Action Partnership, Private Industry Council, Providers Council and the Urban College of Boston. He is the recipient of several awards including the Lyndon Baines Johnson Human Services Award, Moakley Public Service Award, and he is the newest member wdistinguished group constituting the ABCD Hall of Fame.

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