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Memorial Tribute for Sue Papanek McHugh

It is fair to say that the Arlington Human Rights Commission which has been functioning as an official commission of the Town of Arlington for nearly thirty years owes its existence and its history of monitoring and promoting human rights to many dedicated Arlington people. SUE MCHUGH, however, is one of the people who clearly deserve special recognition.

In 1992 representatives of a number of groups including the Arlington Fair Housing Committee and the Arlington Diversity Task Group along with interested and concerned individuals began a series of meetings with the purpose of proposing an Arlington Human Rights Commission to be established by a vote of Town Meeting. In due course warrant articles were prepared and presented to Town Meeting at its annual spring meeting in 1993. Sue McHugh who was pursuing a career utilizing her training in the law and who also was a trained mediator attended these meetings and participants increasingly looked to Sue to coordinate efforts to draft the warrant article establishing the Commission and to present it for discussion and vote at Town Meeting. For several days the discussion by Town Meeting relating to the purposes, the authority, the membership, and the method of the Commission’s appointment absorbed Town Meeting’s attention. Suggestions were made, amendments to the warrant article were made and voted on, but the outcome was that the Town of Arlington would create a Human Rights Commission. To those who were in attendance it was clear that Sue was the leader who patiently, persistently, and skillfully shepherded the creation of the Arlington Human Rights Commission by the Town of Arlington.

When the appointment of the thirteen original Commissioners was finalized, the first meeting of the newly established Human Rights Commission was called. The first order of business for the new Commissioners was to elect a Chair. Sue McHugh, one of the original Commissioners, was proposed for Chair and was elected without opposition. Sue was indeed an excellent choice to lead the new Commission as it began to organize itself, establish policies and procedures, and clarify and pursue activities as defined in the warrant article creating the Commission. Sue as Chair provided the guidance the Commission required to make a successful beginning in becoming a meaningful presence in the Town of Arlington.

As required by the warrant article establishing the Arlington Human Rights Commission, in due course a succession of Commissioners serving as Chair followed Sue, but Sue created the pattern for her successors. Eventually Sue declined reappointment as a Commissioner, but clearly Sue McHugh deserves considerable credit for both the creation and the development of the Commission over its current twenty-nine years of activity.

The Arlington Human Rights Commission recognizes the valuable contributions Sue McHugh made to both the Commission and the Town. The members of the Commission note and mourn her recent passing.

Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.

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Phone: 781-316-3250

By Mail: 27 Maple Street

Arlington, MA 02476


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