8th Cambridge Jazz Festival
José C. Massó III
José is the host and producer of “¡Con Salsa!” a weekly bilingual program featuring Afro-Latin music that airs on Saturday nights on WBUR 90.9FM, National Public Radio in Boston. For the past 47 years, “¡Con Salsa!” has served as “part music show, part party, part community center, the program is a Mecca for Latinos and lovers of things Latin.” (Boston Globe).
José was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame during its fourth annual ceremony and luncheon on September 16, 2010. He has the distinction of being the first Puerto Rican/Latino to join such a renowned group of radio and television broadcasters throughout the Commonwealth.
He received the prestigious gold medal for service to National Public Radio in 2015.
In April 2021, José was recognized by the Jazz Journalists Association as one of the 2021 Jazz Heroes, as an advocate who has had significant impact in their local communities. The “Jazz Hero” awards, made annually based on nominations from community members, are presented by their local fans and friends in conjunction with the JJA’s annual Jazz Awards honoring significant achievements in jazz music and journalism.
Radio is one of the many lanes that José has navigated in the highway of his professional career since coming to Boston in 1973.
He began as a bilingual teacher in the Boston Public Schools at Copley Square High School (now the Muriel Sutherland Snowden International School). His students urged him to pursue a career in media that led to his creating of “¡Con Salsa!” on June 22, 1975, and fifteen years as a television host including “La Plaza” on WGBH Channel 2 (PBS Boston) and the Emmy Award- winning bilingual public affairs program “Aquí”, which aired on WCVB-TV Channel 5.
After nearly fourteen years of public service, in 2021 José retired from the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) as the director of Policy.
He served our fellow citizens and residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts honorably beginning in Governor Michael Dukakis office in 1983, followed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and ending at Massport.
His experiences and accomplishments in the executive suite of Massport, in addition to those in prominent and groundbreaking positions of leadership in education, community affairs, communications, media, politics, government, entertainment, sports, academia, philanthropy and consulting provide him an opportunity to pursue a new chapter in his life.
José serves as principal of JCMIII Consulting LLC. His nearly five decades of experience are now providing professional consulting to corporate, public, academic, and non-profit organizations in the areas of Policy, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Community Relations and Government Affairs.
He is a respected leader in these areas and has used his unique skills and expertise in strategically building the skills and knowledge of his clients that result in transformational change.
After the 2021 City of Boston Mayoral elections, then Mayor elect Michelle Wu appointed José to her Transition Team as an advisor.
Throughout his career, José has received numerous awards and recognitions for his leadership and community service.
In 2022 Boston Magazine named José one of the 100 Most Influential Bostonians.
A gifted public speaker, he is frequently sought after for speaking engagements as a keynote and motivational speaker for private corporations, community-based organizations, and college and university student organizations, in addition to master of ceremonies for concerts and special events and moderator/facilitator of panels and meetings.
A native of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, he is fluent in Spanish and skilled in cross-cultural communications.
José and his wife Divina reside in their home in Hyde Park with Jett, their Yorkshire Terrier.
Valerie Stephens is a performing artist/ arts educator with a passion for history. In addition to receiving a 2019 Bro.Thomas Fellowship with an unrestricted award of $15,000, Valerie has received a 2019 Bridge Award in Arts, a 2018 Boston City Council Resolution for creating the annual event PRINCESS DAY: Celebrating Little Girls of Color and her commitment to Nina Simone’s legacy, a 2017 New England Foundation for the Arts Creative City Grant for creating the Elder Storytelling Performance Project, the 2016 Get Konnected! Boston Legends & Pioneers Award, the 2011 NAACP Image Award, the 2007 Urban Music Award in Blues and was a nominee for the 2011 Urban Music Award in Jazz as well as Citations of Appreciation from the Cities of Boston, New Bedford and Springfield.
As a vocalist, Valerie’s CD Potpourri, a mixture of jazz, blues and spoken word has been very well received. She has created four music series, the first “Women of the Village”, celebrating common voice of American, South African & Cuban women. The second “Sweet & Salty: Dressed to the Nines”, a tribute to classic Blues Singers and is currently presenting “The Music & Times of Nina Simone” and “FOUR WOMEN: Nina Simone”. Both are tribute concerts are dedicated to the world renowned musical icon Dr. Nina Simone. Her newest NINA Tribute production is "NINA SIMONE & Hip Hop" has received excellent reviews. The Valerie Stephens Group is a well known attraction at local venues and festivals.
As a storyteller, Valerie Stephens has performed throughout New England for three generations of audiences. She has been contracted to research, present and/or perform historical event productions for the Boston Children’s Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Science Museum, the Springfield Arts Museum and the Cambridge Cultural Council.
Valerie toured nationally for nine years, as lead actor with the award winning Underground Railway Theater and other touring theater companies. After 15 years, returned to theater stage in Company One’s controversial production of NEIGHBORS in the character role of Mammy Crow. She created a solo play named The Mammy Diaries. In 2018, Valerie returned to the theatrical stage in the Marblehead Little Theater heart wrecking production of Letters from War in the lead role as Mae, a 75 year old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
She has created a six week workshop series, The Elder Storytelling Project, which helps elders to develop their performance skills as Storytellers. Mother & Father Wit: Life Lessons has been celebrated by multi-generational audiences.
While working as Director of Cultural Programming and Community Partnerships for the International House of Blues Foundation, Valerie created and directed “The Blues Schoolhouse: History of the Blues”, an in house educational production for children, which was performed in Boston and Los Angeles. She also created a touring production company for the Boston area. She has served as Artist Consultant to the CitiCenter for the Arts' youth programming, training young artists to be community storytellers and researching the history of Boston's diverse neighborhoods.
An Arts Educator, Valerie has developed and taught three middle school courses focusing on Boston’s 19th Century Women in Medicine & Public Health Methodology for 'Girls Get Connected", a program affiliated with Simmons College, committed to inspiring girls to choose technical careers. Valerie teaches creative dramatics/ play writing & improvisational theater technique to learners ages 5 – Adult in schools and organizations throughout Massachusetts.
Valerie has traveled throughout the Caribbean and West Africa and she is a member of the Dorchester Historical Society, Massachusetts Memories Roadshow Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Studies Network, Boston Pan African Forum and the NAACP.