Skip to main content

The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts fuels progress toward gender equity by funding the most promising solutions, collaborating with results-oriented partners, and by elevating the collective power of local women to take charge, and to lead with purpose.

Through this work, the Women’s Fund has established one if its pillars for success: community investments. The events below encapsulate a highlight of the Fund’s community investments in October 2019.

Our event sponsor, Willow-Investments for Loving Change graciously hosted the Women’s Fund community in their new space in Pittsfield. Attendees were able to connect over a fabulous arrangement of hors d’oevres before our CEO, Donna Haghighat, delivered a presentation on highlights from the Key Findings on the Status of Women and Girls in Western Massachusetts, 2019.

Following the presentation on the key findings from the research report, guests listened to the panel speak to their experience in impacting the political and public spheres, and guests were engaged in facilitated conversations by moderater, Erika Allison of Willow-Investments for Loving Change.

Our Spectacular panelists included:

  • Amber Besaw, Executive Director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition
  • Yuki Cohen, Owner of Methuselah Bar & Lounge and Candidate for City Council At-Large for the City of Pittsfield
  • Alexandra Dest, Founder and CEO of Willow-Investments for Loving Change
  • Roberta McCulloch-Dews, Director of Administrative Services for the City of Pittsfield
  • Gwendolyn VanSant, Founding Director of BRIDGE and the Equity and Inclusion Team Lead at Changemaker Strategies
Moderator speaking at the Berkshire research report event.
Panelists at the Berkshire research report event.

Impostor Syndrome Seminar

Preparing for the Impostor Syndrome Seminar was a cinch at the Community Music School of Springfield (CMS). After meeting with Dr. Valerie Young and with Eileen McCaffery from the CMS, we were prepared to welcome guests in the beautiful space.

Image of Valerie Young and Donna Haghighat at the Valerie Young book event.
Image of Donna Haghighat and Director of the Community Music School of Springfield from Valerie Young book event.

Donna welcomed guests to the event and introduced Dr. Valerie Young, a local Western Massachusettsian and dedicated supporter of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.

Dr. Young is an internationally-known expert on Impostor Syndrome and author of the award-winning book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It (Crown Business/Random House), now available in six languages. Dr. Young has supported the work of the Women’s Fund for over five years by training and educating women from the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI). She has led in-depth sessions on public speaking, offering tangible tips and tools for improving confidence, clarity, and overcoming fear when communicating publicly or professionally. Dr. Young remains a dedicated and steadfast supporter of the Fund and our LIPPI women.

At this interactive presentation, Dr. Young adeptly shared what the Impostor Syndrome is, where it comes from, and the tools needed to overcome it.
Image from Valerie Young book event.

While agreeing to inscribe her book for anyone who purchased a copy at the event, Dr. Young surprised us with a generous offer. Proceeds from the book sale at the Impostor Syndrome Seminar were donated to the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. Through that kind gesture, the community of people in attendance in addition to Dr. Young contributed greatly to empowering women and girls in Western Massachusetts.

Hampshire-Franklin Research Report Listening Session

As part of the meeting for the Hampshire-Franklin Commission on the Status of  Women and Girls, Donna Haghighat and Kelley Bryant of the Women’s Fund presented on the Key Findings on the Status of Women and Girls in Western Massachusetts, 2019.

Guests discuss data at the Hampshire-Franklin research report event.
Audience at the Hampshire-Franklin research report event.

Following the presentation, we asked attendees to break of into groups to discuss their reflections on the key findings. We recorded what we heard from attendees and encouraged further reflection in the Status of Women and Girls in Western Massachusetts, 2019 survey.

Here is a summary of what participants had to say:

Q: Which area or issue would you want to address first?

A’s: A deeper look into health (Sex/gender education, mental health, and access to reproductive health care.); economic security [Women’s participation in the workforce and barriers to employment (e.g., dis/ability, incarceration, or transportation).]; and Women in Leadership (Parity on public boards, local government and politics, and in other fields including but not limited to higher education, business, and STEM.).

Q: What research areas would you have liked to have seen covered that don’t appear in the Key Findings?

A’s: Future report(s) could include further information on transportation issues, vocational education, single mothers, and the impact of opioids on women and families. Additionally, attendees reported wanting data that illustrates intersectionality in greater detail.

Image of Donna Haghighat speaking to commissioners at the Hampshire-Franklin research report event.

We are so grateful for the participants’ feedback on the report and engagement with this community.

We hope that you will read the research report on the Status of Women and Girls in Western Massachusetts, 2019. And share the reports with others!
Have you already read the report and have feedback? Take the 5 minute survey to share your thoughts.