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Meet the Keynote Speaker

Andrew DeFranza
Executive Director, Harborlight Homes

We are honored to announce that Andrew DeFranza will deliver the Lasell University Graduate Commencement address for the Class of 2023.

Andrew DeFranza

Andrew DeFranza has served as the Executive Director of Harborlight Homes since 2007. Harborlight develops, manages, and advocates for high quality, service-enriched affordable homes for essential workers, fixed-income elderly, disabled individuals, and those who struggle with homelessness. Under DeFranza’s leadership, Harborlight collaborates with communities to cultivate just, equitable, and sustainable housing opportunities.

DeFranza describes himself as a short, working-class Italian guy from New Jersey with an “accidental white-collar education.” It was in New Jersey, while working a shift at an Atlantic City homeless shelter, that he witnessed the very real and pressing issues and harsh challenges related to homelessness. He has held nonprofit leadership roles for more than 25 years in both New England and the Midwest. Prior to leading Harborlight, he was the executive director of Guest House, an organization serving the homeless in Milwaukee. His commitment to social justice remains rooted in those experiences; and today, DeFranza remains passionately dedicated to housing creation and access while challenging the systems that stand in the way of affordable housing development.

Toward that end, DeFranza boldly addresses barriers to housing creation, racial equity, and access through public forums and community dialogues. He has provided testimony to local and state legislators to address the inequities that exist among housing-insecure populations, as well as the mechanisms that are overtly used to exclude and marginalize the disenfranchised.

His community impact through Harborlight continues to grow; today, the organization provides homes for more than 650 people on Boston’s North Shore, with additional units in active development that will more than double its portfolio in the next three years.

DeFranza is married with four children. He holds an M.A. in Theology (Social Ethics) from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and an M.A. in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University.