Remembering Former Fenway Health Executive Director Dale Orlando

Tom Martorelli, Ken Mayer, Dale Orlando, and Nan Dumas at Fenway's 2017 Board of Visitors Meeting
Tom Martorelli, Ken Mayer, Dale Orlando, and Nan Dumas at Fenway’s 2017 Board of Visitors Meeting


Former Fenway Health Executive Director Dale Orlando passed away over the weekend after a battle with breast cancer. Dale led Fenway in constructing our 7 Haviland Street building in the 1990s, oversaw our increasing work around HIV/AIDS care and research during those years, as well as our expansion of women’s health care and programs. Dale will be dearly missed by the entire Fenway Health community, especially those who knew and worked with her.

Some of those people have shared their memories of Dale with us.

Kenneth Mayer, MD, Medical Director of Research and Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute
I first met Dale in the mid-1980’s, since she was a friend of one of my childhood friends. I was immediately impressed by her vitality and dynamism. One got the impression that Dale thought that every problem could be readily solved. A few years later at a party, Dale asked me how things were going at Fenway Health, and I mentioned that the Executive Director had just left, and a search was on. When Dale said that the job sounded very interesting, and that she was going to apply, I wondered how the Board might respond, and was pleasantly surprised when she was selected for that challenging position. Dale left a lasting imprint on the organization.

Under her leadership, Fenway Health became a major part of the local response to the AIDS epidemic, expanding clinical care, as well as community-based research. Dale was fearless in facing down state bureaucrats, so that experimental treatments could be delivered on site, and she was able to successfully negotiate with a local property developer to get the health center a new building. Under her leadership, programs in Behavioral Health and Women’s Health expanded. Dale continued to work with community groups for the rest of her life, using the grassroots organizing skills she learned as a young woman-remaining engaged with Fenway Health, but also focusing on enhancing the cultural life of Lynn. Dale remained joyful, optimistic and inspiring throughout her life. She touched many, many lives, and will be deeply missed.

Nan Dumas, Former Development Department Employee
It was Dale who urged me to work for Fenway as a fundraiser. When I pulled back, insisting that I didn’t know anything about raising money, she just laughed. “Of course you do!  You’ve been fundraising for AIDS for years as a volunteer.  Now go and get on the other side of the desk!”  With that, she changed my life, along with so many others’.  Dale was visionary, persuasive —and forever our champion.

Thomas Martorelli, Former Fenway Health Board Chair & Author of “For People, Not for Profit: A History of Fenway Health’s First Forty Years”
Dale loved Fenway Health like she loved everyone and everything – unconditionally, with nothing held back, and with boundless energy to make all of us better for knowing her. Anyone who attended a Fenway event in the past 35 years will remember how she never met a microphone she didn’t like, and never failed to share a kind word. Her greatest achievement – Fenway’s first new building at 7 Haviland Street – was a literal groundbreaking experience for Boston’s LGBT community. It was one of many things she did for us, one in a long list of reasons we owe her so many thanks, and so much love.

Dale recently sat down with Bren Cole, Fenway Health’s Content Creation and Social Media Manager to record a podcast as part of activities to commemorate our 50th anniversary. You can listen to that podcast here.

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