How You Can Help on National Wear Red Day

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | February 7, 2020 | 3 Minute Read

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Someone suffers a heart attack about every forty seconds, according to the CDC, and about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. Cardiovascular ailments impact everyone, but differences in genetics, socioeconomic status, and gender play key roles in survival rates. For instance, as cardiologist Dr. Paula Johnson often notes, the “textbook” heart attack symptoms only apply to men, while women often display different symptoms.

Knowledge is power. That’s why February is designated as American Heart Month and why February 7th marks National Wear Red Day 2020, an event for which millions of people across the country go red to raise awareness about heart disease, speak up about the risks—particularly for women—and, hopefully, save lives.

A Red History

According to the American College of Cardiology, February was officially designated as American Heart Month back in 1963 through a presidential proclamation from Lyndon B. Johnson. The following year saw the landmark release of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, finally solidifying the link between cigarettes, heart disease, and lung cancer. Over the decades, numerous public and private health organizations have used the month of February to bring awareness to the cardiovascular risks posed by smoking and to help lower the national rates of death. In fact, the medical research journal Circulation Research published a study in 2017 crediting the decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke as “the success story of the century’s last four decades.”

That said, heart disease remains America’s biggest killer. In the United States, one in four deaths continues to be caused by heart disease. The CDC estimates that 805,000 Americans have heart attacks every year.

Women, though, suffer an even greater risk than men. The figures are shocking: one in three American women die from heart disease, according to the American Heart Association, and though men experience heart attacks at younger ages than women, women are less likely to survive, a disparity sometimes called the “heart attack gender gap.”

These harsh realities fueled the creation of “The Heart Truth” in 2002. It’s a federally-sponsored campaign that sought to increase awareness about the risks posed to women by heart disease as well as the movement’s symbol, the Red Dress, which is now recognized across the country. By putting an image to a cause, the Red Dress paved the way for National Wear Red Day, an annual event where people wear red to show their support for women with heart disease and to raise awareness about its dangers. Through fundraisers, events, rallies, and media campaigns, the Red Dress has helped people across the country to better know the risks, to inform others, and to take action in their own lives.

How You Can Get Involved on National Wear Red Day

The first thing you can do to honor this event is, of course, to wear red.

Eastern Give For Good makes it easy to support the American Heart Association by allowing you to donate right from your Eastern Mobile Banking app.

There are also plenty of other ways to join in, even after February ends. For instance, supporters who work in the medical field can attend Harvard Medical School’s weekend course titled Cardiovascular Disease and Global Health Equity, while those located further north can head to Portland, Maine on March 19th for the 2020 Portland Go Red Luncheon. Finally, on May 9th, join the 2020 Central MA Heart & Stroke Walk at Quinsigamond State Park in Worcester, where you can donate and walk to show your support for heart disease research, heart disease cures, and heart disease victims across New England, the United States, and the world.

Join us in wearing red to help build awareness for Women’s Heart Health.

Chapman Construction: The Woman-Owned, Veteran-Owned Business Lighting Up Boston

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | March 18, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

At first glance, Chapman Construction Group, Inc. (CCGI) looks like many other businesses in the Boston region. And as a small company built on hard work, dedication, and experience, Chapman Construction understands that the only thing that truly matters in this industry is results. What’s unique about CCGI—other than their proven track record—is that they’re a woman-owned company in one of the most male-dominated industries.

The “Chapmans” are Vicki Chapman, the founder and president, and Sue Chapman, a veteran who joined in as CEO in 2009. Together, they’ve built a tough brand that breaks stereotypes and helps new apprentices get into the field.

The Only Woman on the Job

When talking about her decades of experience in the construction industry, Vicki is quick to point out that while construction isn’t an easy job for anyone, it’s especially challenging for women. “You have to be extra strong as a woman in this business,” she says. “Number one, it’s physical, and number two, it’s mental. . . it’s like working with all your brothers. You have to deal with them, you know.”

When Vicki first started, the union had barely started to admit women into its ranks, and she wasn’t accepted by her male coworkers. “It was very hard. . . [and] there were no bathrooms for us.” Explaining further, she says, “They didn’t want to show you the work because they didn’t want you to get paid the same amount of money as them. . . they didn’t think you could do the same job as them. So, they would hide stuff from you or not teach you anything. Every single job you went on, you had to re-prove yourself.”

Vicki was usually the one woman on the job. “When I got into the apprenticeship, there were five girls in my class. I’m the only one left. And I’ll tell you, out of those girls, some of them quit because they couldn’t take it anymore. They couldn’t get out of bed and go to work at a job that they hated, and where they would always constantly be put down.”

Chapman Construction Group, Inc. is Born

Nonetheless, she stuck through it, and in 2002 she started her own business. Though women being in the industry was rare, and female owners were even rarer, Vicki calculated that the worst case scenario would have been going broke, closing up shop, and returning to work for someone else. Thankfully, that didn’t happen—the company held up even through tough times, and she loved her newfound freedom. In 2009, her original partner departed, paving the way for Sue Chapman to enter the fold as the company’s CEO.

However, Sue’s first career track was in science, after which she joined the military as a way to finish college. From basic training onward, she regularly found herself elevated to leadership positions. She believes this to be a side effect of growing up as the oldest of five kids. If her unit hadn’t disbanded, she might still be in the service today. “I feel like I’m more disciplined because of it.”

Since Sue and Vicki started working together, both women have combined their individual strengths to push the company to new heights. A big moment, as they tell it, was when Eastern Bank approved them for their first loan. Their support in Chapman team has encouraged them to continue using their services today.

Moving Forward

As they march into the future, the Chapmans have kept their love and dedication for their company and loyal workers well in sight. They’re remarkably humble about how groundbreaking their woman- and veteran-owned business is. “[Being a woman-owned business] opens more doors, but you [still] have to go through them.” The industry has continued to evolve since CCGI first started, in ways that Chapman Construction see as positives.

The Chapmans make it a point to break down doors for other women to enter the industry. For example, when they call the union for new workers, they’re quick to hire women because they understand how difficult it can be to find work as a woman within the construction industry.

Learn more about how the Chapman Construction Group, Inc. is providing opportunities for women to enter a more male-dominated industry.

Join In! Women’s History Month

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | March 6, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

The battle for gender equality has come a long way, but even today—and even here in New England—there’s still a lot of work to be done. March celebrates Women’s History Month, a time to look back on the achievements of women in the past, learn from their efforts, and strive for even greater ones in the future.

March was officially designated as Women’s History Month in 1987 by a male-dominated Congress. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, this was made possible because of the activism, persuasion, and lobbying of the persistent women of the National Women’s History Project. This month, let’s celebrate what women—such as Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Maya Angelou—fought for. Together we can continue their legacy into the future by fighting and advocating for the issues that women face today. Nowhere are the challenges of contemporary reality more evident than in the chosen theme for 2019’s celebrations: ” Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.

Even in the 21st century, injustices are still enacted towards women—they don’t receive equal pay and their rights have been threatened. It’s time to build a better tomorrow. Here in New England, many women (and women’s organizations) have been fighting for the changes this country deserves, and if you’re looking to celebrate Women’s History Month by furthering the social justice causes of the present-day, here are some ways to get involved.

Donate

In 1966, Betty Friedan wrote three letters on a napkin—NOW. Since then, the National Organization for Women has become the nation’s largest grassroots feminist organization. In 1970, NOW demanded the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment. In the 1990s, they spent four years lobbying Congress to pass the Violence Against Women Act. Donate here, to help NOW work for future equality, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights.

Shatter the glass ceiling. The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) is an organization dedicated to getting more women of all ages and backgrounds into public office. Donate here, and help give this country the equal representation it needs.

Serve

Change starts with the young. To ensure a better future, we must first empower the next generation. Since 1942, Girls Incorporated of Lynn has worked to instill the young women it serves with the boost of self-confidence, knowledge, and independence they need to make a difference in the world. Volunteer with the local Lynn chapter of Girls Inc. to share your time and expertise.

In 1974, a social activist named Kip Tiernan saw New England women disguising themselves as men to get help from Boston homeless shelters. Tiernan changed that when he founded Rosie’s Place, the first women’s homeless shelter in the nation. Today, Rosie’s Place helps thousands of women a year find food, lodging, and help. Give your time, and volunteer at Rosie’s Place this month.

Educate

First created in 1989, the Boston’s Women’s Heritage Trail seeks to honor over 200 women who have played a role in the city’s history, and for centuries never received the credit they deserved. Take a tour through the trail, and learn more about Boston women such as Abigail Adams, Sophie Tucker, and Louisa May Alcott.

On March 28, attend the Women’s Leadership Forum in Boston’s Seaport, a day dedicated to how women are changing the world and disrupting the status quo. Some of this year’s speakers include Haben Girma, Global Inclusion Leader, Reyna Montoya, DACA recipient and social entrepreneur, and Ibtihaj Muhammad, US Olympic Medalist. Commit to attend today!

2018: A Year of Social Justice Movements in Massachusetts and Beyond

By Ranelle Porter,

By Michael Givens | December 28, 2018 | 4 Minute Read

From the Yes on 3 campaign in Massachusetts to the successful efforts of supporting citizenship applications for immigrants, social justice movements have made this a year full of achievements. It’s crucial for us to take time to celebrate these important milestones as we look to another year of good in 2019. Here are just a few of our 2018 accomplishments:

The Yes on 3 Campaign in Massachusetts

Yes on 3, a coalition of LGBTQ and other social justice advocacy groups, spent two years educating Bay State residents about the public accommodations law and the importance of voting “Yes” on ballot question 3 during the midterm elections. The ballot question sought to dismantle legal protections for transgender people in Massachusetts. A “yes” vote would keep the law intact and protect the rights of transgender people in public spaces. Eastern Bank, a champion for transgender rights, lent its name to the campaign along with other corporations, faith leaders, small businesses, and several sports teams. The campaign proved successful when nearly 70 percent of voters in Massachusetts’ midterm elections voted “yes.”

Protecting New Hampshire’s Transgender Citizens

Until June of this year, New Hampshire was the only New England state that did not provide legal protections for transgender people in several key areas. In June, Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill providing legal protections to transgender people in public spaces, housing, and employment. This incredible win for the trans community in New Hampshire moves us one step closer to ensuring that all trans people are treated as equals.

A Historic Midterm Election

Civic participation will always be the cornerstone of any strong democracy. Voter turnout in the November 6th midterm election was the highest it’s been since 1914. Roughly 49 percent of the voting population in the country, or 116 million people, voted in the midterm elections. Twenty-five states reported having 50 percent or more of its eligible voters show up at the polls. The message is clear—voting is important, even in non-presidential years.

Diversity Matters

The historic midterm election turnout also gave way to a diverse pool of female elected officials. The state of Massachusetts elected its first Black congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley while Connecticut experienced a similar milestone with the election of Jahana Hayes as the state’s first Black congresswoman. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan will be the first Muslim women elected to Congress. In Kansas, Sharice Davids will join New Mexican Deb Haaland as the first Native American women elected to Congress. At the age of 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York will be the youngest woman to ever serve in the U.S. Congress. These victories are not only monumental, but they also help to position women to make even more strides in the coming years.

Arthur Ashe Courage Award

In July, Eastern Bank Partner For Good Aly Raisman received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYs. She accepted the award alongside other survivors, on behalf of the more than 300 women who alleged that former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused them. As Eastern Bank’s Partner For Good, Aly Raisman has been working to bring awareness of childhood sexual abuse through her partnership with nonprofit Darkness to Light.

Project Citizenship

As in previous years, Eastern Bank participated in Citizenship Day, an annual holiday acknowledging those who’ve attained their citizenship. Partnering with Project Citizenship, Eastern Bank volunteers spent some of their time providing support and resources to immigrants who were applying to become permanent U.S. residents in September.

Eastern Bank in Roxbury

This year Eastern Bank opened a branch in Roxbury, the first bank branch opening in the neighborhood in 20 years. The Roxbury branch illustrates Eastern Bank’s commitment to providing quality financial services to communities in need.

Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce

This year, Eastern Bank sponsored the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce launch. Newly founded, the Chamber “seeks to promote economic growth and viability for LGBT-owned and allied businesses, corporations, and professionals throughout the Commonwealth.”

Advancing Women

In 2018, Eastern Bank’s Join Us For Good initiative focused on the achievements of women leaders within the greater Boston area. From community activism and advocating for LGBTQ rights to giving women and communities of color a voice to create change, these women are champions of social justice.

These accomplishments are only the beginning. As we move into 2019, we look forward to celebrating even more accomplishments of social justice movements in our communities.

Join the movement, the movement of doing good things to help people and communities prosper.

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.

Paula Johnson Honored with Social Justice Award

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | December 14, 2018 | 4 Minute Read

As a young girl in Brooklyn, Paula Johnson always knew that she wanted to be a doctor someday. She had a love for science, a passion for helping others, and a cause—her beloved grandmother. Johnson has described her grandmother as a world-traveling, dancing woman who “loved life,” until suddenly succumbing to depression at age 60—a condition that was diagnosed too late to save her life.

The Cause

In Johnson’s acclaimed TED Talk, “His and Hers…Healthcare,” she explains that even though women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression, they are misdiagnosed 30–50 percent of the time. The reason for this comes down to implicit gender biases in medicine and research, which leads to the lack of quality healthcare for women. As Johnson famously told audiences, “It’s my grandmother’s struggles that have really led me on a lifelong quest.” Because of her grandmother, she had dedicated her life to ensuring that women receive the healthcare they deserve and to the well-being and advancement of women.

Johnson’s TED Talk has earned over 1,133,000 views, and is now recommended as one of the 10 Talks by Women That Everyone Should Watch.

Johnson has been a lifelong pioneer, advocate, scientist, and changemaker in the field of women’s health.

Because of her education as a cardiologist, she was among the first medical professionals to point out that the textbook “standard” symptoms of a heart attack are usually those experienced by men, whereas women may show entirely different symptoms. This was the basis for Johnson’s research because women’s biological differences from men aren’t always taken into account when diagnosing diseases or prescribing treatment.

“Men and women are different down to the cellular and molecular levels,” said Johnson in her TED Talk. “From our brains to our hearts, our lungs, our joints. And we’ve learned that there are major differences in the ways that women and men experience diseases, but we’re not making the investment in fully understanding the extent of these sex differences. We aren’t talking about what we have learned, and routinely applying it in clinical care. So we have to ask ourselves the question: why leave women’s health to chance?”

Johnson, the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School, a professorship named for her mother, and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, founded the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and she’s currently a member of the National Academy of Medicine, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Today she serves as the 14th President of Wellesley College—the first Black woman to occupy that role. In this new academic role, Johnson has worked to create new opportunities for women to achieve their aspirations across all fields.

Why Her Work Matters

Johnson has dedicated her life to the cause of equality. She has called out gender biases in medicine and worked to receive funding for women’s health sciences.

Furthermore, she’s sought to create change at the ground level. When people ask how they can help, she gives a straightforward answer: “As a woman, you have to ask your doctor, and the doctors who are caring for those you love: is this disease or treatment different in women? Now, this is a profound question, because the answer is likely yes, but your doctor may not know the answer, at least not yet. But if you ask the question, your doctor will very likely go looking for the answer. And this is so important, not only for ourselves, but for all of those whom we love.”

Most recently, Johnson co-chaired the first evidence-based study on sexual harassment in academia, specifically in STEM fields, under the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. This ground-breaking study not only describes the extent of the problem but recommends strategies to prevent sexual harassment and to change climate and culture in organizations.

Celebrating Her Social Justice Achievements

Eastern Bank’s Celebration of Social Justice is now in its 30th year of honoring local individuals and nonprofits who have achieved outstanding success in addressing social justice issues.  In support of its 2018 Targeted Grant category of Advancing Women, Paula Johnson—physician-scientist, innovator, and educator—is this year’s award recipient.

Please join us in congratulating Johnson on this honor and for advancing, promoting, and defending women’s education, health, and well-being.

Carol Fulp: A Champion of Change for Women and Communities of Color

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Nicholas Conley | April 20, 2018 | 3 minute read

One of the most defining moments in United States history occurred on August 28th, 1963. A crowd of 250,000 people joined together at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington—a mass protest against systemic prejudice. Standing with that crowd was an 11-year-old girl named Carol who took Dr. King’s famous dream to heart. Fifty years later, Carol Fulp sees echoes of the past in today’s social movements, including the March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter. 

“I realize the impact those marches will have,” Fulp says. “We’re in a pivotal time. Movements and marches, they start with young people. These young people who are marching today are going to change America. I know that because I’ve been there when it was done before, and I’m so confident that we’re seeing it done here today.”

Today, that young girl has grown into an inspirational leader in her own right. Rising from humble beginnings, Fulp has become one of Boston’s most prominent changemakers through a combination of determination, intelligence, sincerity, and passion for her mission: building a more culturally diverse future. She currently serves on the board of trustees for Eastern Bank, but that’s far from her only accomplishment. She’s also the President and CEO of The Partnership, Inc., an organization dedicated to attracting multicultural professionals to New England. In the past, she directed a $12 million philanthropic program for John Hancock Financial. She’s been a trustee for the Boston Public Library and a member of the Massachusetts Advisory on Wage Equality. On top of all of that, she served as a member of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, appointed directly by President Barack Obama.

She may be one of Boston Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People,” but Carol has walked a long road to get here — her story is one of triumph over adversity. “Not only am I black, not only am I a woman, but I have a disability. I’ve found that all of those differences have helped strengthen me, and it has enabled me to be sensitive to others who might be different.”

Fulp’s unique journey through the business world has given her firsthand experience of why championing diverse communities is not just a moral necessity, but also the key to success. As she puts it, “Everyone has a voice and everyone should be heard.” Referring back to her days at the United Nations, Fulp recalls speaking with the ambassador from Nigeria, who echoed her views. “Can you afford to win the race if you are only running on one leg? If you’re only hiring one people of one kind, you’re missing out on a huge amount of talent. If you don’t hire that talent, your competitor will and they’ll win.”

She also champions the importance of women from all backgrounds joining together to advance causes such as the fight for equal pay. Pointing out that different calendar dates represent different equal pay celebrations for various groups (such as April 17th for Caucasian women, August 7th for Black women or September 27th for Native American women), Fulp states her belief that, “We need to band together to advance as women, and leave no one behind.”

Fulp is fully conscious of her position as a role model to young girls across New England. And she has immense faith in the youth of today protesting for their beliefs — despite the adversity they face. They motivate and inspire her every day. When asked what advice she would give young women—like the Carol of 1963—she knows that women still face unfair challenges in the workplace, even in 2018.

“Today there are more men who are in positions of power than women. And as such, you may be perceived as the other. The one who’s different. You quickly have to indicate or demonstrate your value to others.” Put simply, Fulp advises young female professionals to not waste time worrying about what others think of you, don’t let your mistakes define you, and keep pushing forward against any challenges you face.

About The Partnership, Inc.

Carol Fulp’s The Partnership, Inc., was first formed in 1987 as a launching pad for the advancement of African Americans within corporate Boston, and it has since grown to support multicultural professionals at all levels. Today, The Partnership works to create broader diversity at workplaces across New England and has collaborated with 4,000 diverse professionals and 300 organizations. Learn more about The Partnership, and join Carol Fulp on her journey to creating a more inclusive workplace.