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Wait…What?! Video Series

“Wait…What?!” is a periodic panel discussion offering a chance for our community to convene on emerging issues we all face, albeit with varied challenges.

As a foundation for gender and racial equity, we seek community engagement for wisdom about how to best invest and support the people who live and work in our region. We organize these necessary conversations in collaboration with those community partners who are experts in their respective fields and who are often closer to the issues.

Watch the series below by clicking to expand a topic of interest.

Reproductive Justice and the Future of Roe v. Wade

Wait…What?! Reproductive Justice and the Future of Roe v. Wade

The Women’s Fund of Western MA convened a panel on June 9, 2022 to discuss the impact of the leaked proposed Supreme Court move to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Meet the Guest Speakers

Carrie N. Baker, Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Professor of American Studies and Professor of the Study of Women & Gender, Smith College

Carrie N. Baker, J.D., Ph.D. is the Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Chair of American Studies and a professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. Her scholarly research centers on the intersections of gender and race in law and policy, focusing in particular on sexual harassment, sex trafficking, and reproductive health, rights, and justice.

She is a regular writer and contributing editor at Ms. magazine and she has a monthly column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is the former president of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts.

Greer Hamilton, third-year Ph.D. candidate, Boston University School of Social Work

Greer Hamilton (she/her/hers) is a doctoral candidate at Boston University School of Social Work. Her research and teaching are broadly focused on the intersection of racial justice, gender, urbanism, and health equity. She holds a dual degree Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Services and Master of Social Work from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Additionally, she serves as the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion (EMA) Fund.


Marisa Pizii, Deputy Director of Programs and Policy, Collective Power for Reproductive Justice

Marisa oversees all Collective Power for Reproductive Justice (CPRJ) programs, including CPRJ’s emerging leaders network, campus programs, and summer internship program. Prior to CPRJ, Marisa co-directed the Prison Birth Project and the Mothers of Color Awareness Initiative. She has served on locally-based organizational boards, most recently joining the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Mass. Since 2016, Marisa has facilitated a support group for people who’ve had an abortion later in pregnancy due to fetal anomalies. She has a Master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a BA in public policy and women’s studies from the University of North Carolina. Raised in eastern North Carolina, Marisa has lived in Western Mass since 2005. She shares her life with her husband, three children, and their pets.

The Shifting Climate of the Women’s Workforce in Western MA

Wait…What?! The Shifting Climate of the Women’s Workforce in Western MA

During the pandemic, community organizations and institutions sought to understand the complex and intertwined challenges people were facing. Pandemic-related or exacerbated issues were underscored in surveys that were traditionally implemented annually and in research initiatives that targeted lived experiences specific to the impact of COVID-19.

Our next “Wait…What?!” will be on Western Massachusetts women in the workforce in this shifting climate. In this discussion, we will consider the findings, solutions, and best practices uncovered by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Policy, and The Commonwealth Institute – reports that discuss both the impact of COVID on the workforce and existing issues.

Download and Read the Reports

Meet the Guest Speakers

Tanisha Arena, Arise for Social Justice

Tanisha Arena is a black woman in community leadership as the executive director of ARISE for Social Justice, occupying the world’s messiest intersection, the space where race, gender, culture, identity, politics, and the law all collide. She has a passion for social justice, transparent, authentic leadership, and speaking truth to power. She is the host of the award-winning podcast, Unapologetic, bringing the hard truths of our social issues to the forefront, connecting the past to the present. She is a guest commentator on Vaya Con Munoz, a weekly radio show airing on 101.5 WHMP that focuses on local and national political issues. As a consultant for Growing A New Heart, she trains on Holding Space: holding affinity, anti-racism, self-education, support groups, and on Dialogues Across Differences of social location, including race and ethnicity. She has deep roots in the field of anti-violence work. Prior to that, Tanisha worked in the private sector, during which time she was a mentor at True Colors, a support and advocacy organization for sexual minority youth in Hartford, CT. Tanisha holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from Bay Path University and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace certification through the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business. She is a published author, public speaker, and freelance writer.

Michelle Goncalves, UMass Women Into Leadership

Michelle Gonçalves [gone-solves] is the founder and executive director of UMass Women into Leadership, a professional development and leadership program based at the state’s flagship, public university that helps to create a public education to public leadership pipeline. She also serves as deputy chief of staff to the Chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. With more than 15 years of experience in public higher education, Michelle is an experienced administrator and program manager. She has worked as Director of Administration and Research for UMass Political Science, and Program Manager for the National Center for Digital Government; for the Science, Technology and Society Initiative; and for Women in the Information Age Project, all at UMass Amherst.

Michelle is the recipient of the prestigious Roy J. Zuckerberg Leadership Prize and has been recognized with Chancellor Citation awards three times. She has been an AAUW Start Smart facilitator since 2014, served as an inaugural Commissioner on the Hampden County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, is chair of her hometown’s local cultural council, and is secretary of the Friends chapter of her local public library.

Michelle received a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a focus on women’s studies, from Providence College and a Master’s of Public Policy and Administration from the Center for Public Policy and Administration (now School of Public Policy) at UMass Amherst, where she also received the Philip Hertz Award for dedication to public service. Michelle also holds a certificate in mediation from the Social Justice Mediation Institute.

Laura Sylvester, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

Laura Sylvester, MPPA/MPH is the Public Policy Manager for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. She works with elected officials at the state and federal level on food policy and related issues such as SNAP, HIP, college hunger, the Cliff Effect, and MEFAP/TEFAP. She sits on multiple regional and statewide committees and coalitions working on creative cross-sector solutions to our most pressing social problems.

Laura also serves as the Vice Chair of the Hampshire-Franklin Commission on the Status of Women & Girls.

Before coming to the Food Bank, she worked to pass the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and as an ethnographer at Caring Health Center in Springfield, analyzing housing and social service policies and their effect on homelessness. Laura completed the yearlong Leadership for Public and Political Impact training offered by the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts in 2013. Since then she has been on a mission to encourage women to run for office and take on leadership roles. She has served a delegate to the MA State Democratic Convention since 2016.

She is a seasoned policy and communications professional who has also worked as a journalist, editor, and in marketing. She lives in Shutesbury with her husband and is the proud mom of two children now in their 20s.

Dr. Marta Vicarelli, UMass Department of Economics and School of Public Policy

Marta Vicarelli is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research focuses on: (i) the risks and the socio-economic impacts of climate variability and climate change; (ii) the economics of sustainable architecture, energy-efficient infrastructure, and green urbanism; (iii) the economics of disaster risk-reduction based on the use of ecosystems; and (iv) the design of climate vulnerability-reduction instruments, such as weather-indexed insurance programs.

From 2004 to 2010, she worked as a research fellow at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies investigating observed impacts and responses to climate change. She is contributing author of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group II, on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. She is the recipient of the Peccei Fellowship (2007) awarded by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna for her work on integrating inter-annual climate variability forecasts into weather-indexed crop insurance. In 2009 she was awarded the Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowship by the Harvard University Sustainability Science Program; the award came with the invitation to work as a Fellow at the Harvard University’s Center for International Development from 2009 to 2011. She joined the Yale University Climate and Energy Institute as a postdoctoral fellow from 2011 until 2013 investigating the exposure in early life to severe climate-related weather shocks (i.e. in utero and in the first years of life) and the economic consequences on long-term health, cognitive development and professional/educational attainment.

She holds a B.S. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, a Master of Environmental Economics from the École Polytechnique, as well as a Master of International Affairs, and a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development from Columbia University.

International Transgender Day of Visibility

Wait…What?! International Transgender Day of Visibility

Our March “Wait…What?!” was hosted on International Transgender Day of Visibility. This discussion covered available services for folks of trans and gender diverse communities, updates on state legislation, and challenges service providers in our region encounter. We were joined by representatives from Tapestry, staff from Western New England University’s Center for Social Justice, and staff from Community Action Pioneer Valley.

Meet the Guest Speakers

Jessica L. Marcellino, Staff Attorney, WNEU’s Center for Social Justice

Staff Attorney Jessica Marcellino joined Western New England University’s Center for Social Justice in March 2021. Jessica graduated from WNE Law School in 2012 as a Public Interest Scholar. Her law school and professional experience centered on assisting those in need including positions with CPCS Public Defenders, Superior Court; Law Clerk for the Springfield Housing Authority; and finally, counsel at a private injury firm in Springfield MA for seven years prior to joining the CSJ. Jessica currently serves as the co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission’s Consumer Debt Subcommittee. Jessica oversees the Center’s client-facing initiatives and serves as the lead attorney of each of The Center’s free legal services programs.

In the summer of 2021, Jessica worked with two WNEU Law Students (paid through alum Gervino-Ward Stipend focused exclusively on LGBTQ+ legal work) to develop The Center’s newest initiative, the Gender-Affirming Identification Project (GAIP). GAIP provides pro-bono legal services to Massachusetts adult residents seeking to make gender-affirming changes to state and local government identification documents. The program was designed to be as comprehensive as possible and provides administrative assistance, legal information, and legal representation including necessary court hearings, notary services, and direct financial assistance for associated fees.

Morgan Aronson (he/him/his), Health Services Manager, Tapestry Health

Morgan Aronson serves as the Health Services Manager for Tapestry Health’s Sexual and Reproductive Health clinic in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Morgan has been a sexual health educator in the Pioneer Valley for over 15 years. Morgan rejoined Tapestry as a Health Services Manager in 2019 after spending 5 years working with a local hospital organization to assist in broadening access to care for expanded healthcare services, including gender-affirming hormone and surgical processes. Prior to this time, Morgan held roles at Tapestry as a Sexual and Reproductive Health Counselor and Office Manager for 7 years. Additionally, Morgan provides both small and large group trainings for organizations, schools, places of worship, and parenting circles, to enhance the knowledge of GLBTQ members of their communities and make their programs more inclusive. In 2020, Morgan helped design the informed consent gender-affirming hormone program at Tapestry, training clinicians and direct service staff across the agency. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management and Communications from Southern New Hampshire University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a focus on inequality and diversity in healthcare, largely with its target on the GLBTQ population.

Dan Lionheart, LGBTQ Program Specialist, Community Action Pioneer Valley

Gender, Care, and Unpaid Labor

Wait…What?! Gender, Care, and Unpaid Labor

As the holiday season approached and families gathered to celebrate various occasions, we wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on the additional duties that women carry. Women tend to be the first people called upon to care for sick and elderly loved ones. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, women remain the main providers of informal long-term care. They must meet the needs of ailing family members (in most cases, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles) along with juggling work and family obligations while neglecting their own health and well-being.

For our December “Wait…What?!”, Women’s Fund CEO, Donna Haghighat, hosted a conversation with Dr. Nancy Folbre, an expert on economics and the family. This discussion includes the impact of caregiving on women’s careers and their livelihoods and the physical, psychological, social, financial, and emotional burdens associated with this form of unpaid labor.

Meet the Guest Speakers

Dr. Nancy Folbre

Nancy Folbre is Professor Emerita of Economics and Director of the Program on Gender and Care Work at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Senior Fellow of the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College in the United States. Her research explores the interface between political economy and feminist theory, with a particular emphasis on the value of unpaid care work. In addition to numerous articles published in academic journals, she is the author of The Rise and Decline of Patriarchal Systems (Verso, 2021), the editor of For Love and Money: Care Work in the U.S. (Russell Sage, 2012), and the author of Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas (Oxford, 2009), Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family (Harvard, 2008), and The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values (New Press, 2001). She has also written widely for a popular audience, including contributions to the New York Times Economix blog, The Nation, and the American Prospect.

You can learn more about her at her website and blog, Care Talk:

BIPOC Women and Mental Health

Wait…What?! BIPOC Women and Mental Health

Over the summer, conversations emerged about women of color and mental health. Athletes Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka chose to withdraw from competitions to address their own mental health issues. We wanted to continue the conversation, particularly with local women of color mental health providers.

Our October Wait…What?! will cover a variety of related topics, including:

  • The importance of seeking services and integrating mental health and self-care into a regular routine
  • Connections between generational trauma, grief and loss, carrying multiple responsibilities (including work and caregiving of others), anxiety, and depression
  • How to support others through their mental health and wellness journey
  • Insight on local resources specifically for BIPOC women and gender-diverse folks
  • Barriers to seeking access to care including systemic oppression and concern for communal and familial shame

Meet the Guest Speakers

Whitney Dodds

As an accomplished therapist, workshop facilitator, panelist, board member, and author, Whitney Dodds is on a mission to shift the narrative of mental healthcare in black and brown communities, creating pathways for access and cultivating conversations to dismantle and eradicate the stigma around mental health. She is a sought-after speaker, counselor, and podcast guest, specializing in empowering women and youth, and uplifting communities of color.

Whitney is the Founder and CEO of the Wellness for the Culture Mental Health Organization. Under this umbrella is a growing mental health practice located in the heart of Springfield, MA, the “One Day You Will Live” Scholarship Foundation, and the Cultural Wellness Network Association, a collective of black and brown counselors in Massachusetts. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (MA) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (CT), with a passion for addressing issues of inequity in access and quality of care in underserved communities. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from American International College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

With over five years of counseling experience, Whitney committed to showing that in the struggle for equity, “representation is half the battle,” and that “we don’t have to lose our culture to choose our careers or communities – Black is professional.” Her mission is to be part of a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable ecosystem of service providers who offer both professional services, as well as hosting and curating culturally relevant events and learning opportunities for communities that need it most.

Connect with Whitney Dodds and Wellness for the Culture LLC
Email: hello [at]

Ysabel Garcia

A suicide prevention and social justice educator, Ysabel Garcia, MPH, founded Estoy Aqui LLC, an educational initiative focused on the sociocultural factors contributing to suicide risk in Latino/Latinx and Black communities via training, dialogue, and workshops. Garcia’s experience as a first-generation Dominican immigrant, as well as her lived experience as a former psychiatric patient, has influenced her work to dismantle the myths and sanism surrounding mental health and suicide. She often advocates for community care alternatives and peer support methods as viable resources for mental health support. Specifically, her outreach program, La Cultura Sana, offers skills-based dialogues addressing suicide and mental health to key figures in the Latino/x and Black community that provide emotional support as part of their day-to-day work or social roles.

Connect with Ysabel Garcia and Estoy Aqui LLC
Email: estoyaquicommunity [at]

Jenise Katalina

Jenise Katalina is the Vice President of the Board of Directors and Co-Executive Director for the Women of Color Health Equity Collective, a movement-building nonprofit organization based out of Western Massachusetts that is focused on supporting women and girls of color achieving their optimal health and well-being. Jenise is also the Healthy Families Resource Specialist at the Children’s Trust, a statewide agency focused on stopping child abuse in Massachusetts. In this role, she provides training and technical assistance to program management in home visiting programs across the state with a focus on implementing policies and practice with a racial equity lens.

Before joining the Children’s Trust, Jenise served as the Vice President of Family Services at Square One, a community-based non-profit in Springfield, Massachusetts. She joined the Square One team in September of 2011 as a Healthy Families Home Visitor and quickly excelled through multiple managerial positions. Jenise’s prior experience includes management roles within residential programs for latency-age children and gang aversion programs for teen youth in Springfield.

Jenise received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Westfield State University and her Master of Social Work degree from Springfield College. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Massachusetts and a certified trainer in multiple trauma-focused models, specifically focusing on multi-generational families. She has studied under the founders of the Culturally Humility Framework and has offered technical assistance and training to multiple institutions striving to incorporate a Racial Equity lens into their institutions.

Connect with Jenise Katalina and Women of Color Health Equity Collective
Email: jenise [at]

Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

Wait…What?! Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

This panel discussion will center on Racial Disparities in Maternal Health. April 11-17 has been designated Black Maternal Health Week during Black Minority Health Month.  This year acknowledges the fourth annual national Black Maternal Health Week campaign founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

The discussion will include:

  • Strategies for pregnant folks on advocating for care, specifically pregnant folks from Black communities
  • Awareness for the connection between lack of appropriate and timely care with maternal morbidity and infant loss
  • Education on how to establish a team of caregivers from the range of options available to pregnant folks including nurse midwives, doulas, families, and community members
  • Ways to address provider bias and racial microaggressions produced by structural racism in medical care and the existing barriers to receiving pre- and post-natal care

Meet Our Guest Speakers

Dayna Campbell

Dayna Campbell, Assistant Professor at American International College Dayna Campbell is an Assistant Professor at American International College in the School of Health Sciences, Public Health program in Springfield, and Adjunct Instructor at Holyoke Community College in the Foundations of Health, Community Health Worker certificate program. She is currently the President of the Board of Directors and co-Executive Director of the Women of Color Health Equity Collective (formerly MotherWoman, Inc.) a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the empowerment and resilience of Women of Color, families, and communities. Dayna is a trainer in cultural humility and community-based participatory research and has spent the last two decades training future public health professionals, especially in the areas of population health, health education and promotion, and program planning and development. Dayna is an experienced lecturer, trainer, and researcher in the areas of diversity and inclusion, cultural humility, culturally responsive planning, and evaluation, and disparities in health status and outcomes. Women’s health has dominated her research, particularly as it relates to reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes. She received her graduate degrees from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

Tonja Santos

Tonja Santos has worked as a Nurse Midwife caring for women and families in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the surrounding area for almost 20 years. For half that time, she has been Assistant Director of the Division of Midwifery and is faculty at the Baystate Midwifery Education Program. She has also been a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for the State of Massachusetts. She recently established, obtained leadership and financial support for, and now chairs the Racial Disparities and Health Equity Committee for the Department of OB/Gyn at Baystate, with the goal of improving maternal and infant outcomes for BIPOC through clinical, systemic, and cultural change. She has a great interest in quality initiatives and case review processes and was recently appointed to the Massachusetts Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which is a state-wide effort to identify trends and guide improvements. She is also a mother of two, a knitter, and loves camping. She recently designed a series of palm-sized knitted dolls she calls the “Inaugural Series” that includes Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, Amanda Gorman, Bernie Sanders, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Marisa Pizii

Marisa oversees all Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) programs, including CLPP’s emerging leaders network, campus programs, and summer internship program. Prior to CLPP, Marisa co-directed the Prison Birth Project and the Mothers of Color Awareness Initiative. She has served on locally-based organizational boards, most recently joining the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Mass. Since 2016, Marisa has facilitated a support group for people who’ve had an abortion later in pregnancy due to fetal anomalies. She has a Master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a BA in public policy and women’s studies from the University of North Carolina. Raised in eastern North Carolina, Marisa has lived in Western Mass since 2005. She shares her life with her husband, three children, and their pets.

Evictions and the Eviction Moratorium

Wait…What?! Evictions and the Eviction Moratorium

This panel discussion will center on Evictions and the Eviction Moratorium. Our panelists represent various sectors and means of community engagement.

The discussion will include:

  • What the eviction moratorium means;
  • What has happened locally since the lifting of the eviction moratorium;
  • What the role of state legislators in addressing this crisis; and
  • Where people can go for help and what to expect moving forward.

Meet Our Guest Speakers

Pamela Schwartz

Pamela Schwartz has served as Director of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness since 2009. She began her professional life as a legal services lawyer working on behalf of low-income tenants and then moved into policy work with, respectively, the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts (now MA Budget and Policy Center), the Hampshire County Tobacco-Free Coalition, MA Department of Public Health, and the National Priorities Project. Her organizing work includes serving as Western MA field director for the No on Question 1 campaign in 2008 (income tax rollback question), leader of two successful property tax override campaigns in Northampton (2009 and 2013), and as chair of the write-in campaign for Senator Jo Comerford’s state senate race (2018). Pamela also served in elected office as Northampton’s Ward 4 City Councilor (2009-2013). Pamela is a graduate of Barnard College (1985) and New York University School of Law (1988). She lives in Northampton with her husband Joel Feldman and has 3 grown children.

Jennifer Dieringer

Jennifer Dieringer is the managing attorney of the Northampton and Pittsfield offices of Community Legal Aid, and specializes in family and housing law. She has handled a number of appellate cases in both areas of law, served as faculty for continuing legal education seminars, and authored academic and practice-oriented publications. She also adjuncts at various law schools and undergraduate colleges and universities, and served as a law clerk for the probate and family judges in the four western Massachusetts counties. She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law and Haverford College.

State Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield), Hampden District

State Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield) is a life-long native of Western Massachusetts. He is a proud Boricua, a father of three, a former small business owner, and a tireless advocate for Veterans and Black and Latino communities. He is also the first Latino from Hampden County to serve in the Massachusetts Senate.

His personal beliefs and experiences have driven his years of advocacy work for social justice issues such as criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, education issues, and civil rights. He has served as a member of various boards for local organizations in his District, many of which directly serve the Latino community.

Senator Gomez will complete his third term as a Springfield City Councilor in December 2021. He proudly serves the Hampden District, consisting of the three communities: Springfield, West Springfield, and Chicopee.

Rose Webster-Smith

Rose Webster-Smith joined Springfield No One Leaves in October of 2011 when Freddie Mac foreclosed on her family’s home. From there, she joined the leadership committee and the steering committee of the organization. Rose helped to organize the Fannie/Freddie fighters within the organization to plan actions in Springfield MA, New York City, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. In 2015, Rose came on staff as a part-time community organizer and in 2016 became the lead organizer transitioning the organization into a fully member-led entity. After a 6 year fight, Rose was successful in her fight against Freddie Mac winning her home back in March of 2017. Rose is currently the Executive Director of the organization.

Civic Responsibilities in the Time of National Uprisings and Distress

Wait…What?! Civic Responsibilities in the Time of National Uprisings and Distress

This panel discussion moderated by our Community Investments Manager, Nicole M. Young, will center Civic Responsibilities in the Time of National Uprisings and Distress. The scope of the discussion will range from issues local to national as panelists will discuss the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our guest speakers represent various sectors and means of community engagement, from grassroots organizing to state legislation and municipality.

This discussion will include:

  • The local legislative landscape and the importance of getting involved locally
  • How social movements ignited or regressed during this time
  • Which voices were more motivated, supported, or suppressed
  • How racial equity intersects all of these issues
  • The recent deaths of iconic figures John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • And what voices can take the helm

Meet Our Guest Speakers

Tanisha Arena

Tanisha Arena is the executive director of ARISE for Social Justice, bringing an intersecting lens, a passion for social justice, and transparent, authentic leadership. She is the host of Unapologetic, a podcast bringing the hard truths of our social issues to the forefront. She is a guest commentator on Vaya Con Munoz, a weekly radio show airing on WHMP focusing on political issues, as well as a consultant for Growing A New Heart, facilitating Dialogues Across Difference, a training designed to teach ways we can have difficult conversations, facilitate learning and drive social change. Tanisha has focused her nonprofit career on LGBT specific issues and populations and prior to coming to Arise, Tanisha was the Western Mass Advocate for the Violence Recovery Program of Fenway Health, advocating for LGBTQ identified victims and survivors of violence and provided community training to raise awareness of how domestic violence and sexual assault manifests in LGBTQ communities. She was also a member of the governance committee of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). As an LGBTQ Program Specialist at Community Action Youth Programs, Tanisha developed a skillset around trauma-informed care and using a strengths-based program model to foster positive youth development. Prior to that, Tanisha worked in the private sector, during which time she was a mentor at True Colors, a support and advocacy organization for sexual minority youth in Hartford, CT. Tanisha holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from Bay Path University. She is a published author, public speaker, and freelance writer in her spare time.

Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and three children. She began her career as a teacher, earning her B.A. in Special Education from Salve Regina University in 1986 and completing her M.A. in Education at the University of Connecticut in 1991. She taught students overseas in Belize and Uruguay and worked to support Berkshire County’s immigrant population as Director of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire.

After serving four years as a City Councilor, Representative Farley-Bouvier was elected to the state legislature in October 2011. Her priorities are to ensure the well-being of vulnerable populations including elders, those with disabilities, and those suffering from mental health and addiction issues. This involves securing funding for crucial services that allow seniors to age in place with dignity, ensuring that children get the best possible Pre-K through 16 education, and advocating for the disabled and those with behavioral health issues to receive the services that will guarantee them a high quality of life.

Representative Farley-Bouvier serves as House Vice-Chair on the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, a member of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, and Joint Committee on Election Laws, and a member of the House Committee on Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Representative Lindsay Sabadosa

Lindsay Sabadosa is the State Representative from the 1st Hampshire district (Northampton, Southampton, Westhampton, Hatfield, and Montgomery). She was elected for the first time in 2018 and is the first woman to ever hold her seat. She is most active in health care policy and is the lead sponsor of the Medicare for All legislation in the MA House. She is passionate about equity, government transparency, health care as a right, affordable housing, reproductive justice, criminal justice reform, and truly addressing the climate emergency. She is proud to have co-founded the very first Medicare for All caucus in the MA State House.

Roxann Wedegartner

Roxann Wedegartner is the third mayor of Greenfield, MA, sworn into office on January 2, 2020. Before moving to Greenfield with her family in 1980, they lived in Warwick, MA. She served as a member of the Warwick (MA) and Pioneer Valley Regional School Committees, she learned that serving in local government can have a profound and positive impact on people’s lives. After moving to Greenfield where her children would attend Greenfield public schools, she vowed that at some point, even as a working mother, she would continue serving in local government in her new community. In 1992, she was elected to the Greenfield School Committee and elected again in 1995, and served as chairwoman from 1995 to 1998. She served as a member of the Greenfield Planning Board for 16 years and Chairwoman for fourteen years, leaving in 2016. While leading the Planning Board, she participated in most of the economic and residential development and also directed and participated in creating the Greenfield Sustainable Master plan of 2014, a living document that states how the city wants Greenfield to be economically, environmentally, educationally, and culturally by 2024. Mayor Wedegartner continues to work daily toward her goals of fostering job creation and balanced growth, along with supporting the cultural activities and entrepreneurship that enriches and strengthen Greenfield, making it a great place to live, work, and play, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic of her first year in office.

Mayor Wedegartner is fond of quoting the former Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as her motivation for serving as Mayor of Greenfield, “I strongly believe being mayor is the public post in which you have the greatest opportunity to change people’s lives for the better.”

Her quest for the success of Greenfield can be summed up in one word: Onward!

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