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Celebrating Women in Community Engagement

Before we close out Women’s History Month, the Community Engagement Cabinet would like to acknowledge the significance of women in public service roles on our team.

There are 63 dedicated employees in our Cabinet with 52% identifying as women. Out of the leadership positions in the Cabinet, 88% of the roles are held by women. During this Women’s History Month, Northeastern University Co-op Madelyn Wozniak, who is currently working on the Boston 311 team led by Irgi Budo and Meaghan Towle, interviewed women in the Community Engagement Cabinet to get their perspectives on the importance of Women's History Month in their personal and professional lives.

Women's History Month graphic

As a woman working in local government, how do you inspire other women to pursue careers in public service?

As a young Black woman working in local government, I understand the importance of representation and the barriers that many women, especially those from underrepresented communities face in pursuing careers in public service. I strive to lead by example and demonstrate that no matter your background or circumstances, your voice and experiences are valuable assets in shaping our communities. I actively engage with young women, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds, through mentorship, community outreach, and storytelling, showing them that they too can make a meaningful impact in local government. By sharing my journey and advocating for inclusivity and diversity in leadership, I hope to inspire the next generation of women leaders to pursue their passions and contribute to positive change.                                                        

Brianna Millor, Chief of the Community Engagement Cabinet 

Initially, when people think of local government or public service careers, they think of ultra serious individuals and jobs that offer little creative freedom. I like to think that by being a Communications Assistant who embraces creative, fun, silly things in my work that I show other individuals, especially women, that working in local government and public service can be a fun and creative outlet. 

Ciara Lanman, Communications Assistant

Are there any historical or contemporary women figures who inspire you in your line of work?

There are two women who marked my coming of age as an Afghan American woman. It was 2017 when I discovered Madina Wardak and Shamayel Shalizi. These women set the spark off in me when I was a freshman in college attending Simmons College. Attending a Predominantly White Institution, I found myself losing touch with my identity. It wasn't until I found the organizing work of these two Afghan women that my internal switch flipped. Shamayel is an artist and Madina is a social worker - both women have large online presences which I had come across after connecting with the Afghan American Conference. I cannot put into words how empowered these Afghan American women make me feel. I want to take a moment to thank them both and recognize how much it means to me and other young Afghan women for their work.                                                                    

Marwa Khudaynazar, Executive Assistant 

Jane Jacobs, author of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," written in 1961 affirms my fascination with urban planning, architecture, places of meaning and how social bonds are created in a city context.

Lydia Polaski, South Boston Liaison      

I worked for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley for over four years and she continues to inspire me every day - her ability to center joy and see the humanity and dignity in others has been something that has stuck with me and helps drive my work.

Beata Coloyan, Office of Neighborhood Services Executive Director

Women's History Month Graphic

How do you personally celebrate and reflect on Women's History Month, both within your professional capacity and in your personal life?

 I reflect on how I got to where I am and who helped me along the way, especially the other women on my team, my sisters and my mom who are all amazing examples of strong, intelligent and inspiring women.        

Meaghan Towle, Boston 311 Deputy Director

 I like to invest time connecting with my former students who identify as young women. I think investing in youth and giving them access to someone who has a little more life experience or can offer a space for thought-partnership helped me get where I was going and I hope to do the same for other young women.      

Manuela Villa Gomez, East Boston Neighborhood Liaison                                                     

I reflect on the contributions of women who have paved the way for change, both professionally and personally. I celebrate by amplifying the stories of trailblazing women in my community, organizing events that highlight their achievements, and engaging in conversations that center gender equity and social justice. In my personal life, I take time to honor the women who have shaped my journey and continue to inspire me to strive for excellence.                                                              

Cecily Graham, Hyde Park Liaison

What advice would you give young women who aspire to work in local government or hold community engagement roles?

Be genuinely kind and respectful to other women in public and behind closed doors. Kindness offers women space to feel safe and show up as their most authentic selves in this work. Working in the public service sector is rewarding and at the end of the day it is service. This work can have challenging moments but it is especially hard for women from my experience as a Black woman. I would advise women working in public service to extend yourself grace. Rest. Embrace work and personal life balance.                                      

Nakia Hill, Community Engagement Cabinet Director of Communications  

Being involved in local government comes with so many benefits. The people you will meet will be extremely significant connections for your career and personal life.

Olivia Terry, Boston 311 Co-op                                                                                           

Stay strong no matter what others say, always stay true to yourself and continue to fight for what you believe.                                         

Ciara D’Amico, North End, West End, and Wharf District Liaison

If you love what you do it won't feel like work. I have always loved working in the community and giving back to others. Once you determine what you want to do, the right government job and community position will come to you but always remain true to yourself.                                                                                                    

Asha Janay, Roxbury Liaison

Never underestimate the impact you can have and believe in your ability to make a difference.              

Nathalia Ferreira Da Silva, Offie of Civic Organizing Digital and Project Manager                        

The Community Engagement Cabinet hopes all women continue to feel seen and celebrated throughout the year. If you are interested in how the City of Boston celebrates WHM and carries its values beyond March, visit our March Is Women's History Month page.

International Women's Day
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