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Spring Newsletter 2018
2018 Women of Distinction Awards

The 2018 Women of Distinction Awards was held on May 30, 2018 at Rachel's Lakeside.   
It was a fabulous night celebrating women in our community who live our Mission of eliminating racism and empowering women!

Congratulations to our 2018 YWCA Women of Distinction: Cynthia Cummings, Sylvia Gomes, Michelle Keith, Estella Rebeiro and Jamie Uretsky.

Congratulations also to Rayana Grace for receiving the 2018 YWCA Spirit of Leadership Award.

Congratulations to Maria Tomasia for receiving the 2018 Yvonne M. Drayton Award.

Thank you to all who attended and supported these remarkable women.  We cannot wait to celebrate with you next year!
 YWCA Women of Distinction Award Honorees
Cynthia Cummings
Cynthia Cummings is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In that capacity, she serves as an advocate and problem solver for students and assists students who are in crisis and disciplinary difficulty.
As Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Cynthia supervises a number of departments and functions, including those focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as the Frederick Douglass Unity House, the Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and the Center for Access and Success (Disability Services). In addition, Cynthia develops programs for parents and families, manages the Endeavor Leadership Scholars Program for women and students of color, serves as the Title IX Deputy Coordinator, and chairs the University's Diversity and Inclusion Council.
Cynthia has dedicated her life to eliminating racism and empowering women, particularly those who identify as lesbian. For forty years, she has been an outspoken activist for feminism and LGBT rights and equality. Before moving to Massachusetts in 2008, she was a member of the YWCA Delaware Board of Directors, a facilitator for Study Circles on Racism and Race Relations for the city of Wilmington, Delaware, and a member and spokesperson for the Human Rights Coalition of Wilmington, Delaware.
For six years, as chair of UMass Dartmouth's Diversity and Inclusion Council, Cynthia has led efforts to improve the campus climate for students of color, women, and members of the LGBT community. In 2017, she organized the campus-wide "Teach-In: Bridging Differences and Creating Change" that attracted over 1,300 participants from throughout the campus and the local community.
Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French Language and Literature and a Master of Science Degree in Higher Education Administration from Indiana University, Bloomington. She has extensive experience in college and university residential education, college student rights and responsibilities, student conduct, student activism, and crisis management. She has served as a consultant to higher education institutions, public school systems, and community organizations on issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion. She has received a number of awards and accolades for her work as a community organizer and media spokesperson on gay and lesbian civil rights.
Cynthia lives in Dartmouth with her wife of 39 years, Mary Ann Hunsche, and their Kerry Blue Terrier, Lewie.
Sylvia Gomes

Sylvia Gomes was born and raised in New Bedford, MA. She is the mother of daughter, Arielle Gomes-Williams and has had the loving support of her partner, Randall Vallee. Being one of seven siblings, she comes from a large family, and has always received encouragement from them. 

As a first generation Cape Verdean American, dedication, education, and perseverance molded her and allowed her to reach many of her aspirations. For instance, not only did Sylvia earn her Baccalaureate at the University of Massachusetts, she also earned her Juris Doctorate from Howard University. Currently, she is an Attorney at the Department of Children and Families. 

Being just one of four Attorney's in the 3rd largest office in the state of Massachusetts, she has dedicated nineteen years of her career to child welfare and protection in the Southeast community. In the last 24 years, Sylvia has served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an Investigator at Massachusetts Attorney General's office, a Compliance Officer at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, a Probation Officer from the New Bedford Third District Court, and an Assistant District Attorney from the Bristol County District Attorney's Office. 

Sylvia's dedication to the community extends to more than just her career as an attorney. Ms. Gomes currently serves as a Board Member to various organizations that promote inclusion, community development and sustainability. These organizations include the Cape Verdean Recognition Committee, the New Bedford Community Preservation Commission and Bristol County Commission on the Status of Women Board.  She also is a member and co-chair on the scholarship committee of the Martha Briggs Educational Club.  Additionally, she is a NAACP card member and YWCA member.  Sylvia strongly believes in the equal opportunity and empowerment. Since everyone has the right to a good education and economic empowerment, she believes everyone is responsible to assist and support the community to ensure that all of us are afforded an opportunity.  

She passionately believes that each person has the individual power, which collectively creates opportunities that result in the eradication of racism and empower woman, which can make our community, state and nation better. 

Michelle Keith

Michelle Keith volunteers as Commissioner on Bristol County's Commission on the Status of Women.  Michelle served as Women's Bar Association (WBA) Regional Director for New Bedford/Fall River, 2011-2015, organizing the monthly "View from the Bench" series for the WBA at UMass Law broadcasting the series on Dartmouth Community Television.  

In March 2014, she graduated from University of London (UOL) earning her Master of Laws (LL.M) degree with a specialization in Public International Law focusing, in particular, on Women's Rights.  

At graduation, Michelle was invited to a private reception, asked to present flowers to and meet the UOL Chancellor Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal Anne, who is a keen supporter of advancing women's rights and who expressed her best wishes for Michelle to continue advocacy on behalf of women.

Since 2007, Michelle has served as a member, and more recently as Chairperson, of the Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) Section Council on Civil Rights and Social Justice where she has presented educational programs with regard to First Amendment Rights, Protecting Your Online Identity, Demand Reduction in Human Trafficking, Collecting Civil Remedies in Human Trafficking, Anti-Bullying Law, Voting Rights, and Voter Suppression.  While Chairperson, she arranged for the production of Voter Protection Trainings statewide and coordinated the national presentation of Know Your Rights! (KYR) with the American Bar Association, the MBA, and WBA.  KYR is a series of classes on legal issues that are relevant to non-profit organizations assisting low-income women and families.  Topics include: Housing, Family Law, Labor & Employment, Criminal Law & CORI, Immigration, Education & Juvenile Rights.

Michelle completed law school in December 2009 and passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam in February 2010.  From 2010-2011, she served as Law Fellow to the Justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court assisting in all phases of civil and criminal litigation working extensively on trials, hearings and motion sessions, preparing draft decisions, legal memoranda and proposed jury instructions. 
Prior to law school, Michelle worked at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority first in Marketing, next in Operations, and lastly ensuring EEO/AA compliance with federal and state civil rights laws, Title VI,VII, 151b, and ADA.  She earned her Master of Business Administration from UMass Boston in 1998 and her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management from Bentley University in 1985.
Michelle has designed technology plans supporting State Curriculum Frameworks and served as a Director of Curriculum for grades K-8.  She home schooled her children.  Both from Boston and together for 36 years, Michelle currently resides in Dartmouth with her husband Stephen, a physician at Hawthorn Medical.  Their eldest son Andrew works as a Mental Health Counselor.Their younger son Daniel just graduated from Boston College Law School and his wife Karia will be a sophomore at Rhode Island School of Design in the Film/Animation/Video Department.  Michelle thanks her Mom for insisting she take school seriously and for supporting her Dad's community activism which taught her that adding value to the world is how one's light shines forever, as every kindness begets another in exponential chain reaction.
Estella Rebeiro

Stella Rebeiro is a retired juvenile probation officer who previously worked as a business school instructor/counselor, substitute teacher, birth control counselor and women's health instructor.   In Stella's many years in the juvenile justice system, she recognized that being an effective probation officer entails more than supervising and monitoring offenders.   To prevent offenders from committing new crimes, she understood she had to first establish an authentic, individualized relationship with them and engage them in "real talk" about their issues, difficulties and aspirations.  

Along with First Justice Bettina Borders, Stella developed the first Changing Lives Through Literature group for juveniles, was involved with the Juvenile Drug Court and served as a Justice Fellow for Reclaiming Futures. 

In collaboration with Rosemary Gill of the Zeiterion Theater, court-involved youth have been able to participate in dance, music and other artistic performances, thus keeping with the Zeiterion's objective to make its audience more diverse, younger and more representative of the New Bedford community.

Along with Bristol County Juvenile Judge, Siobhan Foley and Court Clinician Ann Condon and the Probation Department, Stella has organized and facilitated a weekly gathering of girls aged 13-17, simply called the "Girl's Group" that currently meets at the YWCA.  Incorporating speakers and visits to local colleges, the agenda includes discussing healthy relationships, building self-esteem, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and learning the routes to higher education opportunities.  

Stella has served for more than ten years on the Board of Directors of NorthStar Learning Center and currently serves as Board President.  Stella also serves as chairperson of the City of New Bedford's Human Relations Commission, has long been active in the Martha Briggs Educational Club and is a member of the New Bedford branch of the NAACP.

Jamie Uretsky

Jamie Uretsky is the curator at New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!. She works tirelessly on uplifting the creative expressions of individuals of color, women and LBGTQ individuals.  Jamie also works on creative endeavors for expressing social justice goals. 
Jamie  curates independently and is an artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues in New York, Los Angeles, Finland, and Germany. Her work was included in the 2013 DeCordova Biennial at The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. She has also performed and exhibited at Art Basel Miami, FL, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, Rhode Island School of Design Museum as well as the Museum of Art and Design in New York. Uretsky's work has been published in print, online and video journals such as Headmaster Magazine, Gaga Stigmata, Big Red & Shiny, and ASPECT: The Chronicle of New Media Art. 
Jamie is an active member of the Providence creative community; sitting on the Dirt Palace Public Projects Board of Trustees and is the drummer of the punk duo Bed Death.

 Spirit of Leadership Award
Rayana Grace
Rayana Grace

Rayana Grace is the Arts and Culture Program Manager for the Community Foundation of Southeastern MA. In 2013, she graduated from Boston College with a degree in Sociology and African & African Diaspora Studies and returned to New Bedford to live and work. She became a Case Manager at the Harbour House Family Center, a shelter for families impacted by homelessness. From there, she worked at the New Bedford YMCA as the Youth Development Director, a position she held through March 2018. 

Rayana is a 2017 graduate of Leadership Southcoast and a 2016 recipient of the Southcoast  Emerging Leader under 40 Award. She serves on the Board of Directors as Treasurer and on the Program Committee for the New Bedford Historical Society, is a member of the Local Cultural Council, and is on the Board of Trustees for Our Sisters' School. 

Rayana also does work with the Women's Fund of Southeastern MA as a co-chair for their Civic Engagement and Political Leadership group encouraging women, especially women of color, to run for office in our region. Rayana has participated in advocacy work and community organizing throughout our region with an emphasis on racial and economic justice and gender equality. 

Last year, Rayana purchased her first home in New Bedford with her partner Brian and plans to stay in the city to continue serving her community. She truly loves where she lives and considers is a privilege to help the city that shaped who she is today!
 Yvonne M. Drayton Award Honoree
Maria Tomasia

Maria Tomasia

Maria Tomasia was appointed Chairwoman, City of New Bedford Board of Election Commissioners in 1990, after serving as an Aide to former Mayor John K. Bullard and as a congressional Aide to Congressman Gerry E. Studds specializing in immigration issues
and advocating for immigrants on such issues as Naturalization, Citizenship, immigrant and non-immigrant issues. 
Maria represented Mayor Bullard in 1987 in Tosashimizu, Japan as a member of the New Bedford/Fairhaven Sister City Committee to sign the Sister City Accord. That same year Maria was part of a fact finding mission to Nicaragua, through Jobs With Peace, and delivered much needed supplies to help several clinics with life saving medical supplies. Since that time she has welcomed many exchange students and  teachers in her home.  As the President of the Uniao Lagoense, U.S.A. she has established similar exchange programs with the County of Lagoa in the Azores, which have included, schools, business leaders, artisans, folkloric groups and symphonic bands with local organization in the Bristol County. In her goal to keep the Portuguese culture, language and traditions along with MOSAICO organization she continues to exhibit the traditional  Azorean Nativity scenes in various locations throughout the New England area.
In 2005 she was recognized with the Metal of Honor from the County of Lagoa,  for her many contributions and humanitarian spirit in helping the senior centers with Christmas baskets and medical supplies, such as walkers, wheel chairs, crutches, and other nursing supplies in addition to books, toys and Christmas gifts for the children in her County.  In July 2001, Maria participated in a Conference in the University of the Azores on "Women in the Azores and the Immigrant Communities" and Luso American Conference on Community and Business Leaders in 2017.
Maria has been a Board Member of the Day of Portugal Committee for the past 20 years and is responsible for coordinating the Azorean artisans attendance in this event on a yearly basis.  She is also featured as a part of an Oral History "The Portuguese Spinner" The History and Culture of the Portuguese in Southern New England and a Certified Municipal Clerk.
Maria has served on numerous boards throughout the her 3 decades of  involvement in the Community including President of the Board of the YWCA, the Board of Directors of the New Bedford  Woman's Center, Board of the Immigrants Assistance Center, Massachusetts Municipal Clerks Association.  FLAD - voter project and the Portuguese American Woman's Association and Viva Portugal. She has also been a Notary Public for over 30 years and a Justice of the Peace for the past 12 years.
YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts 
Ground Breaking Ceremony
After a long road of hard work and persistence, the YWCA broke ground this Spring.  People from around the community came and joined the YWCA for the historical and joyous moment! The crowd was filled with YWCA members, Board, volunteers, community partners, elected officials, YWCA staff, and supporters! The YWkids School Age Program and Residential Program will move into the new addition. 

Top Picture: YWCA yard before construction started.

Bottom Picture: YWCA yard after the beginning of construction!

Please click here to view pictures and media coverage from the event!

 Sister 2 Sister 2018
Our Annual Sister 2 Sister event was held on May 5, 2018 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. It was a success! Girl's in grades 4-8 received an exciting visit from local pageant winners, created bath bombs, danced Zumba, went on an exciting scavenger hunt at the University and engaged in a mindfulness workshop! The day was exciting and filled with wonderful memories! 

For more information about the event or to be added to the mailing list for Sister 2 Sister 2019, please contact Girls Exclusive Coordinator, Jordan Pouliot: ge@ywcasema.org!

 Women's Advocacy Day 2018
On May 16, 2018, a group of women from the southcoast, including the YWCA and the Women's Fund of Southeastern MA, advocated at the Massachusetts State House for Women's Advocacy Day.  The group met with different legislators to discuss various bills, such as gun reform and paid family and medical leave. Women's Advocacy Day is hosted by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and happens annually during the month of May. Each year, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women work on a list of legislative priorities that will help improve the lives of women and families throughout Massachusetts. It is a wonderful opportunity to advocated for priorities that are important to you. Please stay tuned for information on Advocacy Day 2019.
Youth Services!
Are you looking for after school care or a summer program for your child?
The YWCA has two amazing youth programs that provide enrichment and childcare during the school year and the summer!

YWkids is a school age program that provides services during the school year and during the summertime! The program consists of caring and energetic staff that engage children age 5-13 with crafts, sports, science, awesome field trips and much more!

For more information or to enroll your child in the program, please contact YWkids Program Director, Tracey Saloman by email: tsaloman@ywcasema.org phone: 508-999-3255 or 508-525-7961.

Girls Exclusive is a middle school girls program that provides care during the school year and the summer!  We want to prepare young girls to take on jobs that will provide a living wage in their future! The school year program is based around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) The girls are taught an abundance of fun science facts as well as engaging in science experiments. The summertime consists of STEM, fieldtrips, nature, yoga, and much more!

For more information about the program, please contact Girls Exclusive Coordinator, Jordan Pouliot by email: ge@ywcasema.org or by phone: 508-999-3255
Cape Verdean Day Parade in New Bedford
Saturday, July 7, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.
Meet at the YWCA Standish House
20 So. Sixth Street, New Bedford MA, 02740
Be sure to wear sunscreen, comfortable shoes and a sun hat if needed.
Wear your PERMISSON and/or YWCA T-shirt!
Please contact Gail Fortes to RSVP 
by email: gfortesywcasema.org or by phone: 508-999-3255

 Please consider us in your estate plans and bequests.

For more information on planned giving, please contact Gail Fortes at 508-999-3255 or gfortes@ywcasema.org

or to donate online, please click HERE


About the YWCA Southeastern MA:

YWCA Southeastern MA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. For more information, visit: www.ywcasema.org.


©2015 YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts
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