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Alumni News

By: Brian Fitzgerald | Published: September 28, 2017 | Categories: Alumni

Charles Rucks L’07: Community Activist and Volunteer Extraordinaire


Charles Rucks L’07, who worked tirelessly to transform distressed neighborhoods as the executive director of Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services for 15 years, delivered the keynote speech at the School of Law Alumni and Students of Color Dinner on September 23 as part of Homecoming festivities.

At the event, Charles talked about his family’s roots in Brookhaven, MS and the sacrifices his parents made to bring his family to Springfield in 1951 when he was six months old. Ever the mentor, the longtime youth basketball coach and after-school program volunteer also gave students some advice on passing the bar exam.

In addition, Charles advised students and alumni that even though they have a plan in life, “don’t be so rigid in your plan that you let it get in the way of unforeseen opportunities” that come up and may be beneficial. As an officer for 15 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, whenever he went on an operation, “there was always a plan—whether it was an amphibious landing plan or a supporting arms plan,” he said. “But there was always something that cropped up that we didn’t expect, and that’s the way life is sometimes. You need to be prepared for those moments that you hadn’t anticipated.”

Charles, who headed Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services from 1999 to 2014, is credited with helping stabilize and stimulate development across Springfield by helping to create sustainable home ownership opportunities for families, and resident empowerment. In this capacity, he was selected to represent 220 agencies nationwide as a participant in the White House Conference on Minority Homeownership in Washington, DC in 2012.

Charles began his community work with the Urban League of Springfield, serving as senior vice president. He also helped form New Leadership Charter School.

He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, received an MBA from Cornell University, and a J.D. from Western New England University. Charles is currently a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the NAACP.