In America today, we face fierce challenges. All too often, the needs, dreams, and determination of our most vulnerable neighbors are dismissed by the powerful. With the ABCD Community Heroes Celebration, we honor extraordinary volunteers – heroes who make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
They are the heart of humanity.
To capture their spirit and see them in action, we brought several photographers together. How do they perceive these heroes? How do they express humanity through their art? The Community Heroes Celebration features their work in a special exhibit, showcasing our heroes and the impact they have on their communities through the eyes of these artists. Meet them here.
Alessandra is a photographer based north of Boston. She enjoys collaborating with others and bringing ideas into images. Meeting new and interesting people along the way is always an added bonus.
For more, visit alessandrabisalti.com
An award-winning photojournalist, Bill Brett is well known for his long career at The Boston Globe. In 2017, he began work on Boston: Game Changers, his sixth book, which is due out by the end of the year.
A Dorchester native where he was a member of St. Margaret’s Parish growing up, Bill was inducted into the Dorchester Hall of Fame on St. Patrick’s Day weekend 2017 at a fundraising event for the Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry, named for his mother.
In 1977, he was named chief photographer at The Globe. He was the photography-member of The Globe team nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1978 and 1979. In 1999, Bill became Director of Photography, a position from which he “retired” in 2001.
His weekly “Party Lines” column continues in the print version of the Globe and on bostonglobe.com. In his 50 years as a Boston photojournalist, Brett has photographed thousands of events and fundraisers, with his coverage helping to raise awareness for and bring donations to the many organizations whose events he has photographed.
Bill has published several books including Boston: All One Family, which featured the iconic photo of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and his two predecessors, Raymond Flynn and Kevin White; Boston: An Extended Family; Boston: A Year in the Life: A Photographic Journey. For Boston: Inspirational Women, Bill partnered with his daughter Kerry Brett, who is a well-regarded portrait photographer in her own right. Boston: Irish is Bill’s fifth book. All of his titles feature the city and its people.
A longtime resident of Hingham, Bill and his wife, Ginnie, have four children and six grandchildren—with a seventh on the way. For more, visit BillBrett.com
NILE SCOTT HAWVER
Nile Scott Hawver is a Boston-based portrait, event, and performing arts photographer. He has taken headshots for thousands of actors and professionals across the country, and has worked with many of the premiere theatres in Boston and beyond. Nile’s work has been published in the print and digital editions of The Boston Globe, The Improper Bostonian, Runner’s World Magazine, American Theatre Magazine, as well as digitally on Playbill.com, Broadwayworld.com, and many, many more. Nile is an actor by training, but once he discovered a need for a passionate and knowledgeable photographer within the Boston theatre community, he picked up a camera and has not stopped learning about or enjoying his new passion since.
He has been working with ABCD Boston since 2016, and is honored to have been asked to photograph these amazing and heroic humans. Nile lives in Somerville with his wife Maggie, and has a studio in Allston. He has a BFA in acting from the University of Rhode Island, and an MFA in acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When he isn’t holding a camera, he’s probably holding a guitar, orbital sander, broadsword, complete works of Shakespeare, or computer mouse. Check out his photography work at nilescottshots.com
During my first 56 years in life, my relationship with a camera was only as an awful subject: my father taking a photo of his five children on the St. Matthew School steps, all dressed in their Sunday best - four-fifths of a good family photo. My mother, while looking at photos she took of me running a marathon, saying, “You need to keep your mouth closed.” Like the one person in a choir who sings off key, I could never get into sync.
But then a certain someone crossed my path: Harper Lily Kennedy. There she was, age four, sitting at our kitchen table painting on an easel, flowering into individuality. I dashed out and bought my first camera. She was my first subject and now, at age ten, remains a favorite.
What I do now with the camera reminds me of childhood. I would hop on my bike to ride five miles in an unfamiliar direction, or go deep into the dark of the Water & Sewer tunnel, ignoring the warning sign about typhoid fever, or take unfamiliar bus routes in order get lost and then find my way home.
Now, in my sixties, my lengthy wanderings feel as my childhood wanderings did, full of unexpected new things. Only now I have a camera in hand and also have joyfully discovered that the same place or face is never the same from one moment to the next. There’s delight to be discovered.
THI LINH WERNAU
Thi Linh Wernau is an artist and photographer who is interested in mixing portrait and documentary style photography to tell stories about the human spirit. Her work explores themes which unite “tribes” of people or themes which unite all of us, across our humanity. Her most recent series of work focuses on stories of wounded veterans, largely from Iraq and Afghanistan. This series, “You. Are. Beautiful. - A Tribute to Warriors,” has been shown across the nation in galleries and universities. Ms. Wernau also created a feature length documentary to accompany the photographs, titled, “Darkness and Light: a Human Conversation with Eleven Wounded Veterans.”
She was formerly a marketing and client services executive who spent over fifteen years of her business career in full service ad agencies and mobile marketing companies, including Foote, Cone & Belding, Hill Holliday, Nokia and mobile messaging solutions. She made a conscious choice to step out of the corporate world to live out her dream of being an artist, with the goal of using photography as a vehicle for voice, creating art with a purpose, and creating art that gives back to others.
Ms. Wernau graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BBA in Accountancy. She resides on the North Shore of Boston with her husband, toddler son and another baby on the way. To see a sample of her photographs, visit ThiLinh.com To visit her documentary film site, please go to DarknessAndLight.tv
Don West began a career as a freelance and news photographer making a conscious choice to capture affirmative images of people of color in all facets of professional, political and community life. In the 1980’s West worked with United Press International (UPI) and Boston’s black weekly, the Bay State Banner.
He has since gone on to a host of assignments with major newspapers, and magazines such as the Boston Globe, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Ebony, People and Black Enterprise. His editorial and documentary assignments have taken him throughout the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, China, Europe and the Middle East. His proudest moment was serving as Nelson Mandela’s photographer when he first visited Boston after his release from prison in South Africa. (1990) Most recently, with the support of Eastern Bank, West co-authored the book Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Kenneth J. Cooper and a foreword by Harvard Law Professor, Charles J. Ogletree based on West's original exhibit first displayed in Boston in 1997.
West’s work has been exhibited in many venues such as the Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, Museum of African American History – Boston, the Institute of Contemporary Art – Boston and many other institutions and organizations. Memberships include: the National Press Photographers Association, the Boston Press Photographers Association, the African American Master Artists Residence Program at Northeastern University and the National Association of Black Journalists. For more, visit donwestfoto.com
ABCD assignments return Joe Wrinn to his first love of photojournalism after a 30-year career at Harvard University’s Office of News & Public Affairs. He began there as a temporary typist then went on to become a staff photographer, writer, news director, crisis communications advisor, University Spokesperson and Director of the Office. He handled a broad range of difficult public perception issues including donations from the bin Laden family, campus expansion, the Unabomber, a student murder, research fraud accusations, terrorist threats, building take-overs, the unseating of a president and an anthrax mailing.
Wrinn previously worked 10 years as a New York Times photographer that followed five years as a writer and photographer for regional newspapers. Upon graduating from Syracuse University, he wrote and edited the daily newspaper aboard a luxury cruise ship that sailed to over 50 countries. Wrinn credits this working travel and living with multinational coworkers with not only focusing his photographic eye but also furthering his education and broadening his perspective.
Wrinn has photographed two U.S. Presidential campaigns, the British elections, Boston’s professional sports teams, busing and school desegregation, the AIDS crisis, early street life in China, various protests, one assassination attempt, and Kermit the Frog discussing life in the big pond.
In addition to his ABCD Community Hero portraits, Wrinn has helped write and photograph ABCD’s new website and various printed publications along with providing communications consulting.
Wrinn is currently semi-retired but remains interested in working on intriguing communications projects. Information is available at JoeWrinn.com