Jeff Thielman

After serving as a Jesuit international volunteer in Tacna, Peru, I went to BC Law intending to learn how to advocate for people in need. My first job after graduation was at a small firm in the Boston area where I was the lead counsel on two civil jury trials in Superior Court. I then left the practice of law to work in financial services for a few years. Although that profession was not for me, I learned a lot about business, met my wife, and kept my eye out for opportunities to put my legal education to use.

In late 1997, I became director of development at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, which opened a year earlier on Chicago’s southwest side. Cristo Rey offered a college preparatory education to young people from families with limited financial resources, creating a model in which students could pay for most of their education by working at area businesses. The school was a huge success, and most graduates of Cristo Rey became the first in their families to go to college.

In 2001, I returned to Boston and began running a foundation to create Cristo Rey schools throughout the country, eventually helping to found the Cristo Rey Network. My primary focus was overseeing 32 feasibility studies that led to the creation of the Network’s first 24 schools. Today there are 32 Cristo Rey schools, serving 12,000 low-income urban students in 21 states. From 2009 to 2015, I served as president of one of our schools, Cristo Rey Boston High School, in Dorchester.

Jeff lives in Arlington, Mass., with his wife, Christine, and three children – Aidan (12), Sophie (9), and Jack (7).

In 2015, I moved to a new mission–helping refugees and immigrants in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in my job as CEO of the International Institute of New England. Our organization provides resettlement, case management, Adult Basic Education, employment services, and pathways to citizenship to people who often have fled persecution in their native countries.

Though I do not practice law, I often think of myself as the lead advocate for the people I’m privileged to serve–low-income urban youth in American cities or vulnerable refugees and early status immigrants yearning for a shot at the American dream. I am forever grateful to BC Law for giving me the skills to serve those who need someone in their corner.

Back to newsletter >>