Celebrating the Women in 2018 Who Have Inspired Us

By Ranelle Porter,

By Satta Sarmah Hightower | December 20, 2018 | 5 Minute Read

From making sure that our city is more diverse and inclusive to elevating women in the corporate world and higher education, women leaders have made a significant impact within their communities this year. Here’s a recap of the women in 2018 whom Eastern Bank has highlighted for their groundbreaking work.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

As the President and CEO of the Partnership, Inc., an organization focused on diversifying New England’s workforce, Carol Fulp is a changemaker. Named one of Boston’s 50 Most Powerful People, Fulp says fostering diversity isn’t only the right thing to do—it’s essential for a business’s success.

Fulp isn’t the only leader with this mission. Dr. Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, the CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA)—a nonprofit focused on helping Massachusetts families find affordable housing, education and employment—has spent the last 15 years working with policymakers, law enforcement, and other cross-functional groups to propel change in the city and provide more opportunities for multicultural communities.

A Dedication to Community Activism

The Shaws are no strangers to caring for a community. Sarah-Ann and her daughter, Klare, have championed several causes focused on fostering more equity and justice in the city.

During the Civil Rights Era, Sarah-Ann played a large role in coordinating voter and housing education efforts. Klare’s career has focused more on working with organizations to better the state of Massachusetts and Boston public schools.

Even though they’ve been activists for decades, the Shaws say there’s still more work to do.

“People ask me what’d I’d like to see happen,” says Sarah-Ann. “I would like to see a more level playing field. Whether that’s people sitting on boards, people getting jobs, people getting a proper education, people getting a house—a roof over their heads.”

Building a Legacy of Higher Education

Pat Meservey, the president emerita of Salem State University, has spent her career working to advance women in leadership and education.

Under Meservey’s leadership, Salem State’s graduation rates increased, especially among minority students. Like the Shaws, she works to create a more level playing field where everyone has the same opportunities.

“How important is equal opportunity? It’s essential for our society,” she says. “If we’re able to provide education across all economic groups, then everyone is going to have an opportunity to succeed and that’s going to make for a better society.”

Opening Doors for Women in STEM

In 1989, Judy Nitsch launched Nitsch Engineering, one of the state’s top 25 engineering firms. And over the last 30 years, she’s been a vocal champion for advancing women and helping them to receive the same opportunities that she struggled to earn early in her career.

Today her engineering staff at Nitsch Engineering is 37 percent women, versus 12 percent for civil engineering nationally. For the last 16 years, Nitsch also has hosted “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day—empowering young girls to seek out opportunities in STEM.

Advancing the Rights of the LGBTQ Community

For more than 40 years, Catherine D’Amato has worked to safeguard the rights of the LGBTQ community. She was the founding incorporator of the world’s first LGBTQ foundation, the Horizon’s Foundation, and served on the New England regional board and the national Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign in Boston. Along with this advocacy work, for 23 years D’Amato has led the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Like D’Amato, Nancy Stager, Eastern Bank’s executive vice president for human resources and charitable giving, has dedicated herself to civil rights causes. She’s an advocate for full transgender equality, works on climate change issues, and volunteers her time throughout the year to various charitable initiatives.

Learn more about the women leaders who are affecting change within their communities.

What Women Running for Congress Can Learn About Campaigning for the People

By Ranelle Porter,

By Lorelei Erisis | October 18, 2018 | 3 Minute Read

The year 1992 is often referred to as the “Year of the Woman,” in which a record number of women were elected to Congress. All signs point to 2018 being a second “Year of the Woman,” as the number of women running for Congress has continued to grow, and include candidates from all different backgrounds.

While many talk about their hopes for a “Blue Wave” of Democrats taking back Congress, we’re simultaneously seeing what might be called a “Wave of Women.” Across the country, more and more women have started to campaign and win their primary races. Most notably, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in New York, who beat out a ten-term incumbent.

And of course, here in Massachusetts, out of the 18 female candidates for U.S. Congress and Statewide Elected Executive seats, 11 won their primaries. This included the stunning success of Ayanna Pressley who also beat a ten-term incumbent in the race for the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District.

Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, however, Pressley is no untested newcomer to politics. Among her many other accomplishments, such as becoming the first Black woman elected to the Boston City Council, she was also one of the founding board members of Emerge Massachusetts. An organization that is focused on getting more Democratic women in Massachusetts politics.

Emerge Massachusetts is one of a growing number of state affiliates of Emerge America, a full-spectrum, political incubation organization that exists to cultivate, nurture, and support Democratic women running for any political office—from Town Clerk and City Council to United States Senator.

Emerge Massachusetts states three pillars for their program; they aim to:

  • “Recruit…Democratic women who should run for office and get them into our training programs,”
  • “Train…Democratic women with the tools they need to run and win, and”
  • Connect…Provide a powerful network of alumnae, elected officials, and gatekeepers who can open doors.”

Emerge Massachusetts offers boot camps for Democratic women who are actively campaigning to run for public office during this election cycle. These are shorter, intensive trainings were developed to give women “the skills they need to turbocharge their campaigns.” They also offer a newly piloted “Campaign Staff Training” program, designed to train women who want to work in behind the scenes roles to support the campaigns of others. This includes training in messaging, fieldwork, fundraising, the role of campaign staff, and what it takes to win.

And finally, the signature program of Emerge Massachusetts is an “…in-depth, six-month, 70-hour training program that inspires candidates to run and gives them the tools to win.” Once accepted into the program, these Democratic women meet once a month in where they receive comprehensive training from, “… a premiere team of campaign consultants, advisors, and staff from all over the country.” During this training, they learn everything a woman in politics needs in order to run a successful campaign. This includes curriculum focused on public speaking and communication, networking, ethical leadership, labor and endorsements, campaign strategy, and more.

Since the inception of the “Emerge America” program in 2002, they have trained more than 4,000 women to run for office, with 475 alumnae currently serving in office across the United States. Including, right here, where we’re seeing a growing number of women in Massachusetts politics.

But even if you’re not ready to be one of the many women running for Congress, it’s easy to get involved. Emerge Massachusetts offers fellowships for women to gain experience organizing and training, as well as internships for younger women finding their path to service.

Get involved in helping to change the face of politics with Emerge Massachusetts!