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YWI Alumnae Assist the Fund

Recruitment for this year’s Young Women’s Initiative is still open! Visit the Application.

At the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM), we value the young leaders who share their unique perspectives in the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) to address barriers to their success in Springfield, MA. Many of our YWI alumnae are taking on new leadership positions or seeking to create positive social change in their lives and their peers’ lives today.

We are thrilled to announce that two YWI alumnae will be joining the Fund for four months to hone their leadership, philanthropic, and advocacy skills! We welcome Machaela Cruz as our Programming Assistant and Audrey Straw as our Advocacy Assistant.

Meet Machaela Cruz

Machaela Cruz is joining the WFWM as the new programming assistant. She participated in YWI during the 2019-2020 cohort and is so excited to be working with the WFWM again!

Machaela is currently a senior and an honors student at Springfield International Charter School, where she acts as Head Leader of the Student Leadership Organization. She is a co-captain for the Model Congress/United Nations team and an honors-level competitor on the Academic Decathlon team. She also acts as Vice President of the National Honor Society.

Outside of school, she is the founder and chair of the Springfield chapter of the High School Democrats of America. They educate students on politics, from local to international, and the democratic process. The Springfield chapter provides opportunities for members to be active in the community through volunteer opportunities or activism and lobbying of the offices of politicians, holding them accountable to issues they care about.

Machaela Cruz's headshot

After she graduates, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and continue to advocate for mental health policies. Her hobbies are running varsity cross country, reading, drawing, and playing piano and guitar.

Meet Audrey Straw

Audrey Straw is joining the WFWM as the new advocacy assistant!

Audrey is a junior at the University of Massachusetts Boston with a major in International Relations and minors in Public Policy and Theatre. On campus, she is the president of her University’s Model United Nations team and the program assistant for GROW Peer Facilitators, where she runs workshops about leadership skills and social justice issues for multiple departments on campus.

She has worked with the WFWM on multiple occasions, including being a member of the first cohort of the Young Women’s Advisory Council and a member of the 2020-21 YWI Grant Making Committee.

Audrey is passionate about gender equity and plans on pursuing a graduate school focused on looking at gender equity through an educational framework.

Audrey Straw's headshot

In her experience, inequalities are oftentimes perpetrated in educational systems, and she wants to work to remedy these issues through advocacy work.

We look forward to working with Machaela and Audrey! Stay tuned for more from these emerging leaders.

Applications are open for this year’s Young Women’s Initiative! Nominate a young leader or share the application.

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