Interview with Dr. K. David Weidner of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum

In 1620, when the Pilgrims made the transatlantic voyage and landed in the New World aboard the Mayflower, they dropped anchor in Provincetown Harbor first, for five weeks, where they drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact which created what is considered to be the first democratic government to be established in the colonies.

Almost 400 years later, the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum stands as a beacon of democracy and a symbol of freedom.  The Monument and Museum is a wonderful place to learn more about the Mayflower Pilgrims and about the history of Provincetown, where diverse groups have called it their home including the fishing industry, artists, writers, actors, and where tourists flock to during the summer months. O’Neill and Associates SVP Ann Murphy interviews Dr. K. David Weidner, Executive Director of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum about the organization’s history and more.

 

Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Conducts First-of-its-kind Survey on Dog Shelters

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Last week, Mississippi State University (MSU) and its College of Veterinary Medicine announced that it is conducting a first-of-its-kind survey of dog shelters in five states across the country. The survey, which is funded by the Stanton Foundation, will provide valuable information about dog populations in shelters in key geographic regions across the country. The goal of the survey, which will be one of the most comprehensive shelter surveys in U.S. history, is to gather detailed information on the number and physical characteristics of dogs entering shelters and what happens to them.

“The lack of reliable data makes it difficult to most effectively serve and help dogs in need. This survey will ultimately enable organizations that seek to promote canine welfare to help the greatest number of dogs,” said Dr. Kent H. Hoblet, Dean of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “The information will be beneficial to shelter operators, policymakers and ultimately dog owners across the nation because it will provide vital insights into patterns and behaviors regarding dog ownership, adoption, transfers, outcomes and resource distribution.”

The team conducting the survey will be reaching out to more than 400 shelters in five states – Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, and Oklahoma – that they have identified as eligible to participate. The five states were chosen because they each have a registry of shelters and provide a diverse geographical representation of the U.S. The college is offering an honorarium of $100 to each participating shelter.

MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine will build on previous work measuring and assessing dog shelters. For this current study, MSU’s team of researchers and students will visit shelters in person to gather data, which will help ensure the quality of data is strong. The individual data gathered will be kept confidential. Additionally, the researchers are interested in hearing feedback from stakeholders and others about this initiative.

“People in all regions of the country care very much about canine welfare, and we believe that this study will help dog owners, elected and appointed officials and shelter operators make informed decisions,” said Dean Hoblet. “We appreciate the shelters that are partnering with us to help us acquire this data and are looking forward to working with them.”

Located in Starkville, Mississippi, the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine is one of thirty veterinary colleges in the United States. Founded in 1974, they take pride in offering an outstanding education to the next generation of veterinarians and scientists, providing compassionate care to animals, and conducting world-class research in animal and public health. MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at  www.msstate.edu.

Interview with Boston Pride’s Jessie DeStefano – Social Media Manager, Boston Pride Guide Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Boston Pride Week will be held June 1 – June 10 and the Pride Committee is gearing up for lots of events, programs and festivities for the LGBTQ community and its allies. Pride Week culminates with the annual Pride Parade, New England’s largest continually operating parade that features 20,000 marchers, hundreds of floats and an estimated 500-thousand spectators that line the route from the Back Bay to the South End to Beacon Hill ending at City Hall Plaza where the Pride Festival takes place. O’Neill and Associates SVP Ann Murphy spoke to Pride Committee Member Jessie DeStefano who gave us an update on Boston Pride Week.

CEO Thomas P. O’Neill III Congratulates the Class of 2018

Dear Friend,
Commencement season is once again upon us. It is an exciting time but one that is often met with mixed emotions as students face uncertainty when looking towards the future. Notable speakers will provide encouragement and advice to graduating classes as students enter the next stage of their lives. As I think of words of wisdom to share with aspiring graduates, I am reminded of the commencement address Former First Lady Barbara Bush gave to the Wellesley College Class of 1990, which is considered one of the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by university scholars.
 Mrs. Bush discussed the importance of remaining true to oneself. She offered three pieces of advice: get involved in the movements that will shape your world, find joy in life no matter the path you choose, and invest in your relationships with others. My grandfather offered similar guidance upon my graduation: “Meet someone new every day” and, “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.” That advice has served me well. Building new relationships and making connections are important -in politics, in business, and in life- but it is essential, too, to nurture your relationships with those who matter most.
Similarly, finding success takes time, hard work, and commitment. I recently had the pleasure of joining the graduating students of Cristo Rey Boston High School at their Academic Signing Day where they revealed their college selections. Many Cristo Rey students are the first in their families to attend college, and all Cristo Rey Boston graduates are accepted to college. Their life journeys thus far are defined by challenge, audacity, and determination. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of watching Cristo Rey students graduate high school, then complete undergraduate and graduate school, and go on to do incredible things. I look forward to seeing how they will change the world.
To me, the most important trait students can learn is to never stop being a student – of work, of politics, of the news, and of the world. Keep an open mind in all aspects of your life, embrace new experiences, new challenges. Being a lifelong learner will allow you to better understand others and help you establish your place in the world. Opportunity abounds. Now is the time to take risks, seek adventure, and chase your dreams.
I wish congratulations to the Class of 2018 and their parents for all their hard work and success in achieving this impressive accomplishment. To echo the words of Mrs. Bush in her commencement address, “May your future be worthy of your dreams.”

 

Sincerely,
Tom O’Neill

“The Three A’s” of Identifying a Twitter Bot

By: Account Executive Brook O’Meara-Sayen

1.jpgIn my last blog piece, I discussed what a Twitter bot is, provided an extremely basic overview of how they’re made, and discussed how Twitter bots can make and change sentiment online. Much of the recent social discourse regarding bots has been negative, mainly due to revelations that Russia utilized a veritable army of bots in 2016 in their attempt to influence the US Presidential Election. Russia used its bots to move online sentiment, creating the impression that hashtags campaigns and other orchestrated social media content were coming from actual voters, and not a shadowy office building in St. Petersburg, Russia. To do this, they relied on the assumption that the everyday American Twitter user wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a bot and person. In many cases, they were right. Russia also had a dedicated team of ‘professional trolls’ working in tandem with the bots, making it hard to discern who was mechanical, and who wasn’t. However, most bots are still relatively easy to find–and ubiquitous. An estimated 9-15 percent of all Twitter accounts are bots.

So, how is one able to identify a bot in your feed? Attempting to weed out bots isn’t foolproof, and the tips I’m about to give will not always work. They will allow you to analyze and think critically about the suspicious accounts you may come across. One of the easiest ways to identify a bot is by looking at post frequency and identity, by using “The Three A’s”, a system coined by the Digital Forensics Research Lab.

THE THREE A’S

  1. ACTIVITY, or how much do you post?

Machines are great because they can perform menial tasks much faster than any human ever could, just ask Henry Ford. This is in part why bots who retweet original content are so pervasive on the web. You can create a ‘retweet bot’ in a matter of minutes. Once it’s on, it won’t turn off unless you tell it to. This leads to a twitter account with an abnormally high number of tweets – the first red flag. The Digital Forensic Research Lab treats any account that tweets more than 40 times a day as suspicious, and anything over 140 as highly suspect.

  1. ANONYMITY, or who are you?

Creating a convincing fake online person can be tedious, so most bots tend towards vague anonymity. They might use generic names, false locations, and minimal or misleading bios that lack personal information. Most human twitter accounts will include at least cursory identifying information, such as a verifiable name and profile picture. They may also tweet identifying characteristics out about themselves unknowingly, such as a picture of their dog, child, car, etc., or a complaint about the weather or commute in a specific location. This is not to say that all anonymous twitter accounts are bots, but used in conjunction with other warning signs, anonymity can be a helpful indicator.

  1. AMPLIFICATION, or what are you saying?

Bots cannot easily create lucid, fully-formed thoughts on a subject. They rarely provide the nuance needed to trick a human user. So, what do they do instead? They cheat. Bots might post content written by real people. They retweet, copy news headlines verbatim, and you hope no one questions why there is no obviously original content on their page.

Using the three A’s when looking at a suspected bot account can give a user a good sense of its authenticity, but it is not foolproof. In addition to the three A’s, users should look for other indicators such as stolen pictures, accounts with very few followers and insanely high engagement rates, and usernames that appear to be randomly generated.

It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake on the internet. If you’re interested in becoming a full-fledged bot-finder, I would also point you to some of the source material for this blog post, “12 Ways to Spot a Bot” by the Digital Forensics Research Lab.

Spotlight on Framingham, the Commonwealth’s Newest City

April was an exciting month for Framingham, the Commonwealth’s newest city, as an important milestone for its downtown redevelopment was achieved and the city’s newly-elected – and inauguralShovels at Framingham.jpg – mayor, Dr. Yvonne Spicer, had the opportunity to lay out her economic vision to Framingham’s business community.

On Tuesday, April 3rd, Wood Partners, a national leader in real estate development and construction, celebrated the groundbreaking of Alta Union House, which is the first large-scale development to be built in Framingham’s Downtown in decades.  Mayor Spicer was joined by Mike Gatlin, chair of Framingham’s Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC), City Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll and Wood Partners Director Jim Lambert at the event.

Alta Union House will include 196 rental units, 20 of which will be designated as affordable housing and will include 2,600 square feet of ground-level retail space. “I can tell you – you have picked the right place to grow. Framingham is a city on the move, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Mayor Spicer in her remarks at the event. It is this Alta Housegrowth that brought Wood Partners to Framingham.  “Downtown Framingham is full of exciting possibilities,” said Jim Lambert, Wood Partners Director. “This is a welcoming place for us to do business, and we know it will be a wonderful place for our residents to live, work and play. It has a unique and exciting blend of economic opportunity, cultural diversity, urban amenities, but with a small-town feel.”

In 2015, Special Town Meeting members voted overwhelmingly to support zoning changes to Framingham’s Central Business District with the goal to make Downtown Framingham an attractive, vibrant, diverse center that will be a hub of economic activity for the MetroWest region. Previous zoning laws had discouraged developers from creating the kind of new units that appeal to young professionals and others who may otherwise be attracted to Framingham.

The rezoning has been critical to encouraging transit-oriented development (TOD) projects like Alta Union House.  In addition to this project, Mill Creek’s Modera Framingham development at 266 Waverly Street, permitted for 270 new units of multifamily housing, is expected to begin demolition in the near future. Framingham’s Planning Board has also permitted 411 new units for downtown.

Two days later, Mayor Spicer outlined her economic development vision to more than 75 Mayor Spicermembers of Framingham’s business community at an event at the Sheraton Framingham organized by the EDIC as part of an ongoing series of panel discussions and events as part of its Choose Framingham campaign.

“We’ve got great bones, we’ve got to build the meat on these bones,” said Mayor Spicer at the afternoon event, which also featured remarks from Mike Gatlin and Paul Joseph of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce.

After mentioning the Alta Union House groundbreaking and the fact that Framingham has permitted 877 units of housing, Mayor Spicer mentioned that she has seen an ebb and flow with regard to the downtown in the more than 30 years she’s lived in Framingham. She proclaimed the development activity as “exciting” and talked about the advantages that the city has, in terms of its location to both Boston and Worcester. She also discussed the city’s importance as an economic engine for the MetroWest region, saying “we are in a sweet spot” and pointing out that more 50,000 workers are employed at Framingham businesses.

Acknowledging that “economic development is a driver of our community,” Mayor Spicer also said that “of everything we do, my underlying question is always ‘how does it benefit Framingham?’”

Framingham has recently launched a comprehensive economic development plan that the city anticipates will help this new city grow even more. For more information, please visit www.chooseframingham.com, Like the Choose Framingham initiative on Facebook and Follow Choose Framingham on Twitter.

Cristo Rey Boston High School Academic Signing Day 2018

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CEO Tom, COO Shelly, VP of Operations Nairi, pictured with former O’Neill and Associates Cristo Rey corporate work study student Angela (second from right)

Academic Signing Day is one of the most anticipated highlights for the graduating class of Cristo Rey Boston High School. The day culminates with a celebration where the five top-performing seniors reveal their college decisions by donning a hat emblazoned with their selected college’s logo. Their chosen destinations: UMass Lowell, Bentley University, UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, and Boston College. The jubilant moment is filled with shouts of praise and tears of joy. And, while the event’s main attraction is the unveiling by these extraordinary seniors, the night celebrates the entire graduating class of Cristo Rey Boston High School, exceptional in that every graduating senior goes on to a four year college. Many of them are the first in their families to graduate high school.

The path from freshman year to graduation is not easy for Cristo Rey Boston students. Many first year students come to the school with skill levels that are below average for their grade and age. Over the course of four years of accelerated academics, nearly all the students graduate at the appropriate skill level. Along with classroom work, the school requires students to take on a work study at a local business to gain insight into what it is like to work in a professional setting.

Cristo Rey utilizes a unique educational model and multipronged approach for success: active participation by family, faculty, and corporate sponsors. The students, who often come from limited means, must first have a family who is willing to steer them to the private school and encourage them along the way. Balancing challenging academics and a work study is rigorous and support at home is essential. At school the faculty works with each individual student, giving them personal attention and instruction. There are no shortcuts to success, but the path to graduation is paved with such caring classroom teaching teams. Lastly, corporate sponsors play an integral role in the lives of the students. Beginning in their freshman year, companies takes on students and mentors them over the next four years by providing guidance and teaching valuable skills that will benefit them in all future endeavors.

In the end, the true success behind Cristo Rey Boston is the resolve and commitment of the students themselves. The students must want to succeed. Despite all the incredible support of family, faculty, and corporate sponsors, these students still need to make the most of the opportunities in front of them.

Cristo Rey Boston is special to everyone at O’Neill and Associates. CEO Tom O’Neill served as Board Chair of Cristo Rey Boston and its predecessor, North Cambridge Catholic for nearly three decades. In addition our office has employed work study students since the program’s inception in 2004. The staff here knows the work study students personally and we are invested in their success. It is a privilege to be a part of the Cristo Rey Boston story. Our sincere congratulations to the Class of 2018.

2018/2019 Faneuil Hall Marketplace Neighborhood Guide is Now Available!

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The 2018/2019 Faneuil Hall Marketplace Neighborhood Guide is now available and includes all the information you need to visit the historic marketplace including restaurants, pubs, cafes, retail shops, pushcarts, street performers and the world famous Food Colonnade. Hear more from Faneuil Hall Marketing Director Ed Hurley who talks about the new guide with O’Neill and Associates SVP Ann Murphy, on “OA on Air.”

Intern Tengi on CEO Tom O’Neill Speaking to Students at Boston University

Tom O’Neill spoke at Boston University on Wednesday night to give advice to the next generation of hopeful diplomats and politicians. Mr. O’Neill spent the evening fielding questions from the members of Delta Phi Epsilon, one of the university’s  foreign service organization. He eloquently spoke on a range of topics including future political trends, the value of social media, and told stories of his career, including an anecdote from when he ran political campaigns at the age of 16 for his father, former Speaker of the House Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr. The students, who vary in major and class year, asked question after question in an attempt to learn as much information as possible about a man who has dedicated his life to politics.

As far as professional speaking events go, this one raised the bar for student expectations. The members sat engaged and excited as Mr. O’Neill spoke about his career and joked about his best angle for photographs. The students were captivated by his stories and insights,  leaving not a single moment to pass without a question or an answer. “Sorry I keep asking questions about social media,” one student said as she raised her hand yet again but Mr. O’Neill happily took her question as he did all the student’s questions.

Delta Phi Epsilon, which exists as a foreign service organization, holds professional lectures every semester, bringing in the best and brightest in a variety of fields. This semester’s speaker, Tom O’Neill is a man who transformed the public affairs industry. Once he began to speak, it became clear why he has managed to make such a tremendous impact on the industry. Mr. O’Neill captures your attention when he speaks. He is a thought-leader and a wealth of knowledge, experience, and guidance to all those he meets. As an intern at O’Neill and Associates, I have learned so much from him and the entire OA team. I look forward to continuing to grow and develop valuable skills working at O’Neill and Associates.

A Look Back At Our OA Team Members Who Ran The Boston Marathon!

With the Boston Marathon only days away, check out some of our OA team who have run in the past!

Marissa Sullivan, Account Executive (Pictured Left) 

Nairi Aprahamian, Vice President of Operations (Pictured Center) 

Tom O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer (Pictured Right with son Tom) 

Lindsay Toghill, Vice President

Matt Irish, Vice Chairman

Shelly O’Neill, Chief Operating Officer