First Lady of Massachusetts Visits Queens College

FLUSHUNG, N.Y., June 13, 2013 — In April Diane Patrick ’72—former New York City schoolteacher, successful attorney, and now First Lady of Massachusetts—returned to her alma mater, Queens College,  in a role for which she has gained increasing recognition in recent years: domestic abuse survivor.

After a tour of the campus where she received her degree in early childhood education, Patrick appeared at a special event in the President’s Lounge where, in an hour-long interview conducted by Carmella Marrone, director of Women and Work, she revealed to a packed room a chapter of her life about which she retains troubling memories: her first marriage.

When interviewed by QC’s alumni magazine shortly after her second husband, Deval, became governor in 2007, Patrick had only recently begun acknowledging her “first marriage from hell.” But on this occasion she was ready to share considerably more.

Following a lively, mostly upbeat account of her history beginning with a Brooklyn childhood in a warm, supportive family as the granddaughter of the borough’s first black elected official, she spoke of her years trapped in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage.

Her path to liberation, she said, began when a concerned friend arranged a meeting between Patrick and a recent law school graduate who became Patrick’s friend, adviser, and emotional pillar, helping her to break free of her increasingly threatening husband. That friendship grew to something more and the friend, said Patrick, “happens, today, to be the governor of Massachusetts.”

“I didn’t talk about it for a long time,” Patrick continued, explaining how now, every time she speaks about this aspect of her history, she receives cards, letters, and emails from women who say she inspired them to confront their own domestic abuse situations. “If that’s the result of my giving up some of my own privacy,” she said, “then I have found it to be worth it.”

Later in the day, Patrick had a separate, more intimate meeting with members of the Women and Work program, where they were given the opportunity to share with her their experiences of domestic abuse.

That so much of her day was focused on this single issue was the intent from the outset, said David D’Amato, Director of Development, who along with Senior Gift Officer Anne Koestner met with Patrick in the fall while visiting alumni in Boston. “We knew that domestic violence was an important issue for her and that Women and Work would be a good fit,” said D’Amato.

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Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services