Exception Women

Women Helping Women: 

Please pick 5-10 women you believe fulfill the Zonta mission of Making the World a Better Place for Women and Girls in Berkshire County.

1. Donna Haghighat, CEO for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts: Her Bio:  She has led the organization’s focus on fundraising for women & girl causes and empowerment programs for girls and women of Western Massachusetts. She has been a guest speaker at Zonta and presented research on the status of women & girls in western MA. Under her leadership, the Young Women’s Initiative for girls and young women of color was launched, as was Power Women Podcast Impact:  Annual Report of activities, The Status of Women & Girls Zonta presentation materials.

2. Kristen van Ginhoven of WAM Theatre: Her Bio:  She runs the WAM Theater, Where Arts and Activism Meet.  Kristen leads a Berkshire theatre group that works for gender equity through philanthropy.  Her vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through outstanding play performances that create compelling dialogue about current empowerment issues, and through their mission of using theatre proceeds as philanthropy. Zonta has supported WAM in the past, and WAM has supported Zonta through offering us an opportunity to provide materials to ticketholders before her shows. Impact: 2021 WAM Annual Report

3. Tricia Farley Bouvier, Massachusetts State Representative. Her Bio:   Tricia has been an advocate of sensible women’s legislation and has been a guest of Zonta’s many times in the past, sharing emerging issues and ways we can engage in our advocacy efforts. She worked with us on the successful ban on Child Marriage in Massachusetts and other issues. Just this year alone, Trica has worked on the survivor led effort for an evidence based approach toward decriminalizing the prostituted person and still holding those responsible for the pain accountable, Equality Model or EMMAs bill (HD3296/SD2050), sexual assault and survivor legislation, school meals for all campaign and much more. She is currently the only women legislator in western Massachusetts. Tricia shows up and listens to her constituents in Pittsfield and all who live in Berkshire County. Impact:  Here is her latest Newsletter

4. Sarah Gillooly: Program Director at Girls Inc.  A Zontian, Sarah runs the girls-only day camp in the summer and year-round teaches the Girls Inc. programs at local middle and high schools. At Pittsfield High School girls can choose to join her programs instead of gym. She offers “Taking Care of Business,” teaching pregnancy prevention, sex education and the power and consequences a choice can have. She has taught these programs since 1999, and also worked with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, helping survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families. She serves as a rape crisis counselor and answers the hotline, works as an advocate and as a teacher there too, working with the adults at the center to help them get their lives back. She was just appointed as a Berkshire County Representative on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and is working on her doctorate while raising an empowered girl herself.

5. Lorena Dus, Interim Director / Director of Client and Community Services) Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC): Her bio Lorena joined BIC in 2017 after moving to the United States from Ireland. Lorena is a native of Venezuela and has a degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Human Rights. They provide services and education for our immigrant population to help them find the resources needed to thrive and gain citizenship. Lorena is part of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force created by the Berkshire County District Attorney, a member of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire Board of Directors, a member of the Elizabeth Freeman Center Board and a bilingual Notary Public. She is a graduate of the Berkshire Leadership program and the Pittsfield Citizens Academy. Lorena has received the 2019 “Super Staffer” award by the NonProfit Center of the Berkshires and a 2020 “40 Under Forty” award by Berkshire Community College.

6. Carolyn Valle, CEO of Berkshire Habitat for Humanity.  Carolyn works round the clock in her tireless effort to improve housing conditions of those in need and to raise the much needed funds through the innovative Habitat ReStore. Carolyn not only helps to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter, she is also a powerhouse in every housing conversation in the Berkshires. What makes her stand out from others is her unbridled enthusiasm and her ability to inspire those around her. She has been a Zonta guest speaker and we have helped with Habitat’s Women Build days. While not just focused on women, the majority of her work impacts women and children in Berkshire County Impact: Habitat’s Programs

7. Daltrey Turner, President of the Berkshire Community Diaper Project: In November, Daltrey was appointed to serve as the president, alongside her work as a social worker at Austen Riggs. The project’s mission is to raise funds and collect diaper donations in order to provide these essentials for parents who struggle to afford them. Currently, BCDP distributes to 21 locations in Berkshire County. Since they began in 2014, they have reached increasing numbers of Berkshire families with diaper need and have now distributed over a 1.5 million diapers. Impact: The Diaper Project Website

8. Shirley Edgerton, Founder and Director Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program  A community organizer in Pittsfield, Shirley inspires young people to live a life of purpose with her Youth Alive Step, Dance, and Drum teams and the Rites of Passage and Empowerment (ROPE) program. Shirley serves on the executive committee of the NAACP Berkshire County branch, is the cultural proficiency coach for Pittsfield Public Schools, and is the founder of the Women of Color Giving Circle of the Berkshires and the Rites of Passage + Empowerment (ROPE) program, which provides mentorship to adolescent girls on their journey to adulthood and a board member on 18Degrees. Zonta has been a financial supporter of the ROPE program.  ROPE Article

9. Janis Broderick of the Elizabeth Freeman Center: Janis has been involved with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, and its predecessors — the Women’s Services Center and Rape Crisis Center — since coming to Pittsfield from her native Springfield in 1980. A longtime friend of Zonta, Janis is responsible to oversee the 24/7 Hotline, response to hospitals or police stations, emergency shelter services, pet foster care, counseling, safety planning, advocacy to help women get the services needed, including Court advocates. They have Counselors who work specifically with immigrants, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) services and operate a supervised visitation program – with Berkshire County Sheriff’s Deputies, to keep children and survivors safe during visitation when there is a history of family violence. https://elizabethfreemancenter.org/

10. Maureen Tuggey, Client Services Director for Elder Services of Berkshire County:  Maureen has been a part of Elder Services for 22 years, now in the executive office as Client Services Director. She oversees all of supportive services offered to the Elder population of Berkshire County, including the responsibility of managing the State Home Care Program, by far the Agency’s largest program. Through this program, 1,132 women are served (69%). She had to manage the ever increasing need to help elders stay in their home during COVID, saw elder needs spike while employment and staffing shrunk. She works incredibly hard to make sure the Home Care programs program remained viable and staffed, despite many challenges. The scope of this program includes oversite of case managers and RNS to develop a person-centered care plan that may include service providers to offer chore service, companions, home delivered meals, homemaking assistance, medication management, personal care/home health aide, personal emergency response devises, social day care, medical transportation services and respite care for caregivers. She is appointed to serve on the Pittsfield Homeless Advisory Committee and ensures elders, the far majority of whom are women, have the care to remain safety in their home. Elder Services

11. Catheryn Chacon & Liliana Atanacio, CoPresidents / Founders of Latinas413:  In 2020, these ladies developed a network and mentor program called Latinas413, to enable female Hispanic women to work on committees (focused on art, community, and mentorship) and ignite the collective power of Latinas to expand their social and economic capital, serving as a bridge to resources available in our county, thereby increasing the representation of the voices, talents, and interests of Latinas across Berkshire County. Video Interview with John Krol (Executive Spotlight in the Eagle is only in Spanish)

12. Gwendolyn VanSant, CEO and Founding Director of Multicultural BRIDGE: Her bio: Multicultural BRIDGE is a grassroots organization dedicated to catalyzing change and integration through promoting mutual respect and understanding with a gender and race equity lens. In addition to providing training in diversity and cultural competence, BRIDGE offers the Women to Women program that provides support systems for women of color, including new immigrants to Berkshire County. Services include professional development, positive psychology, meetups, excursions, and mutual aid. Through a new VOCA grant, BRIDGE now provides services for victims of crime and violence, which serves vulnerable populations, including women. All BRIDGE programs were developed by Ms. VanSant to serve as a catalyst for justice, social change, and building community. All programs are relevant to improving the status of women and girls in Berkshire County by building cultural competency, communication, and leadership skills, as well as providing education and training to empower youth. BRIDGE

13. Christine Macbeth, CEO of The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services: Chris is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, a community-based, non-profit agency with a 95-plus-year history of providing a continuum of care for children, adolescents, adults and families who are living with significant and persistent behavioral health needs. Its comprehensive care model focuses on rehabilitation, resiliency and recovery and supports persons served in managing their own illness so they can stay in their jobs and remain productive members of the community; remain in their homes; avoid hospitalization; and keep their families together and their children in school. The Brien Center is guided by the belief that everyone in Berkshire County benefits when people are emotionally healthy. Last year alone, The Brien Center served 10,000 Berkshire County residents, including over 4,000 children, with one in every four Berkshire families receiving services. Chris has a long history with and is currently President of the Department of Children and Families Area Advisory Board. She also serves on the board of directors for the Association for Behavioral Health.

14. Roberta McCulloch-Dews, Director of Administrative Services and Public Information Officer for the Office of the Mayor in Pittsfield. While her background and “day job’ is in communications, her notable work to support women and girls, has been in her role as a community advocate/volunteer. She serves as a youth mentor for the Rites of Passage Empowerment Program (R.O.P.E) and as a Board member for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts and Berkshire Business and Professional Women. She is a former member of the board for the Elizabeth Freeman Center and a former Commissioner on the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women. In 2015, Roberta was selected as a finalist for the Berkshire Trendsetters Changemaker under 40 award, and in 2016, Roberta was part of the inaugural class of 40 Under Forty, selected by Berkshire Community College. In 2019, Roberts earned her master’s degree in Social and Public Policy and an Advanced Certificate in Project Management from SUNY Empire. Host of a weekly podcast on Pittsfield Community Radio (WTBR 89.7FM): Backstory: Let’s Hear It that reflects her passion of caring for our community.

15. Dr. Barbara Malkas, Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools/President MA Breast Cancer Coalition. Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Board President, Board President Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Board Member 

16. Christa Collier, Director of Training, Education and Special Initiatives/ Massachusetts Children’s Alliance.  Christa has 25 years’ experience working with nonprofit organizations focused on childcare, child advocacy and philanthropy. Currently, serving as the Director of Training, Education and Special Initiatives at the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance (MACA.).
MACA pioneers leading edge work to improve the lives of children who have experienced abuse and serves as the statewide coalition of the 12 Children’s Advocacy Centers. She manages the agency’s statewide training and education initiatives, including the annual statewide conference, mental health learning collaboratives for Problematic Sexualized Behavior-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (PSB-CBT) for school aged children and for Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) as well as our child abuse prevention/intervention training, “Recognizing and Responding to Child Abuse: Working Together to End Abuse.”

17. Amber Besaw: Executive Director at Northern Berkshire Community Coalition: Through her leadership at the NBCC, they reduce youth substance use by working with pediatric providers, parent education and engagement, supporting evidence-based prevention practices in schools, educating and supporting youth workers, and media messages to change community norms.  Amber is also in charge of the peer-based recovery program, the Beacon Recovery Community Center. They also run the Family Resource Center, funded by The Department of Children and Families (DCF). The center is designed to serve families with children age 0-18 to serve these families with resources, educational and skill building programs, social activities, and support they need to create strong, healthy, and happy lives. The resource center can work with youth, family, schools, courts, and other service providers to create a family-centered plan and to connect services for youth and families that may help. All services are free. No insurance required.

18. Heather Williamson:  Executive Director 

19. Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Response, and Health Education Williams College: Developed, designed, and executed a 5-year comprehensive sexual violence prevention and response plan, including institutional policy, capacity building, and strategic programming across the student lifespan. Is responsible for the equity-informed approach to intimate violence prevention and response as well as a broad range of student health topics, from comprehensive sex ed to substance use prevention and response. Meg cultivates collaborations and partnerships to support the office’s work. She informs her work through her past as a Rape Crisis Councilor in Bostin and earned her BA at Williams college in Political Science and MS in Law, Policy and Society at Northeastern University with a concentration in multi-disciplinary approaches to violence prevention and won the Community Enhancement Award for Regional Impact.

20. Katelynn Miner, Founder & Executive Director Berkshire Dream Center.  Pastors Jesse & Katelynn Miner founded the Berkshire Dream Center on July 1st 2011, after four years of outreach work in the Morningside neighborhood in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Katelynn grew up in Plainfield, Massachusetts and at the age of 13, she took her first missions trip out of the States to Mexico and developed the heart to serve and love others. Her missions trips all throughout high school brought her places around the world including; Thailand, South Africa, Russia (Siberia & St. Petersburg), Panama, Jamaica, England, and Costa Rica. After graduating high school, she enrolled in Zion Bible College in Barrington, Rhode Island. In the summer of 2008, she traveled to Siberia and Los Angelus to visit the Dream Center in California. It was on that trip, that she caught the vision for a Dream Center to exist back home in the Berkshires. Returning home from that trip, she began to reach out to those within Morningside Community in Pittsfield alongside of her mother through the Adopt A Block program. She returned back to the Berkshires and jumped in, met her husband Jesse in church and together devote their lives to the Berkshire Dream Center. www.berkshiredreamcenter.org