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What YW Boston stands for in 2017
The mission of YW Boston is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. If you think this is a radical mission, you’d be right. We live in a city and in a country where the systems that govern how we live, work, play, and pray were originally built by white men. As a result, at best these systems have reflected the values of that group above others, and at worst these systems have granted rights, opportunities, and privileges to white men while denying them to people of other races and genders. This has included the right to vote, the opportunity to work in certain kinds of jobs, and even the privilege of being seen as a capable person, or as a person at all. Clearly, if we want to create more equality, we need to change these systems. And changing systems can be a radical notion.
Although we assert that America’s legal, political, economic, and social systems have historically been unjust, we believe in the democratic principles of freedom, liberty, and equality that these systems were built upon. We believe in the inherent goodness of our neighbors – that if we meet people where they are, listen deeply and respectfully to their perspective, and then help them see how our society still does not grant life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness equally to all people – that they will want to do something about it. And we believe in the power of educated and empowered individuals to bring about change inside of the existing systems, to transform our society into one of true equity.
And so, in 2017, YW Boston calls for reform, not revolution. We call for respectful and enlightening dialogue, not shame and blame. We will search out the people, organizations, and institutions that are demonstrating the practices of equity, and shine a light on them. We will disseminate high quality, actionable information about areas of inequity, so that they may be addressed. We will continue to provide programs that educate and empower people to take action towards a more equitable society, from exploring personal bias to changing laws.
This does not mean that we will not speak up with force and conviction when needed. If we observe acts of discrimination or injustice, we will name them and call for restorative action. We will do so publicly, and powerfully.  But, whenever possible, we will “call in” rather than “call out” – calling on the people or groups involved in the injustice to join with us in working to correct it. Working together is how we can truly make change.
We look forward to working with you in the coming year to realize the promise of an equitable Boston for all. 
150 Boston Women of Influence
In honor of YW Boston’s 150th year, we decided to highlight 150 incredible Boston women with our Women of Influence series throughout 2016. These women’s work spans time and industry. The earliest woman on our list, Mercy Otis Warren, was born in 1728, and our youngest, Agnes Ugoji, is a high school student. These women work in politics and the arts; they are nonprofit leaders and corporate executives paving the road for gender inclusivity in their field. The list includes an astronaut, four Olympic athletes, and two prominent feminist theorists. Every woman on this list has worked to create a better Boston for all. Learn more about these women in the full gallery online.
Creating racial equity: an interview with Payal Sharma
We sat down with C. Payal Sharma, YW Boston's Racial Justice Program Manager, to discuss building racial equity in Boston. 
Q: What do you see as the biggest obstacles to achieving racial equity in Boston? 
People want to put a bandaid on a gaping wound. And while done with good intention, because people want things to be done and done fast, the work to get to racial equity must be really intentional, and mindful of who's at the table. The desire for intentionality is not to be confused with "taking it easy" or being gentle in the approach. Racial equity needs to be at the forefront of our work, and that work  can also be enlightening. It can be hopeful. It's not going to be sustainable unless you're willing to look directly at racism and the impacts and effects of racism, which - let's be honest - it's ugly. It is not fun to look at racism and the impact of racism, particularly on our colleagues. It's hard to look internally to see if you benefit or do not benefit from the system. And it's really hard to see because, quite frankly, racism and the systems of racism are built in all around us. I think there needs to be huge culture shift around the fact that racial equity work is not something that is done in addition to your work, but rather something that is ingrained in our day-to-day.
Q: How can we begin to address those obstacles?
There are fantastic people in the city of Boston that are ready and able to do the work, YW Boston included. Not only that, but there are tons of research and data that can be used towards achieving racial equity. I think we need to look at what's already been done, look at the resources that we have in the city of Boston, and utilize them to their full potential. Further, racial equity work needs to be funded, and funded well. Finally, we need to do two things: one is being able to stick it out when things get hard; and two, also being able to challenge and call-in people when needed.
Q: Can you explain what calling-in means?
Part of calling-in means being able to respect yourself, respect someone else, and respect the relationship that you have with them enough to be able to address when they are intentionally or unintentionally doing something that is harmful to you or to the institution. We will be guilty of saying the wrong thing. Calling out to me reads as a "holier than thou" method of communication that kicks people out of community. Calling in involves being able to say directly to the person, "This is how it got messed up, and you're still a part of this community. Adjust the behavior, and let's keep it moving." 
Q: People frequently ask us what they can "do" to help fix racism. What would you tell them?
The first thing I always say to people is get educated. The second thing I would say is look internally. Racism isn't a thing that is "out there." It is a thing that we are all connected to, a system that we grew into. Beyond that, the answer to me is really different for white people and people of color.
For people of color, I look towards being able to speak truth to power and also ask them to think inwardly around being good about where they're at. People of color are experiencing the direct, inequitable, unjust effects of racism. Conversations about race can be empowering - and exhausting. I would ask them to center themselves and their voices in the conversation, as society and systems of racism have taught us not to center our own voices. People of color have been experts on the subject of racism since they were born, whether we wanted to or not, and whether we had the language for it. 
For white folks, they need to understand that racism is their issue too, that they also play a part in it. It's really important for white people to do the work of talking to other white people. So often I see white people trying to do work to "help" people of color, but the biggest help is to also turn their heads towards their white peers and have those really difficult conversations and be able to call them in. So often what I see is white people turning to white people and pointing the finger saying, "Those are ignorant folks and they don't get it." When in fact, that's where the work needs to be done. That's what I love about the Dialogues on Race series, we allow people to see each other, and see ourselves in the system. One of our practices is welcome and respectful dialogue, not being shamey or blamey, but understanding that this is the society that you've grown into, and instead calling in.
Q: Why do you think our Dialogues on Race model is so effective?
I think our Dialogues model works because it meets people where they are at. Our methodology is to meet where they are at and bring them in, and what that doesn't mean is that we are light about our approach. We are both gentle and fierce in our approach, because in order to eliminate racism by any means necessary, it means both meeting people where they're at and not shielding them from the truth. And we do a disservice to people if we are unable to talk clearly and responsibly about racism. 
Not only that, but it has a pretty fantastic mix of both getting people to create safety, connect with each other, be able to speak their mind, but then also provide some knowledge and framework around race theory and systems of oppression, and more importantly how the system impacts them and their role in it. The Dialogues model also asks you to put it to an action step.  So that could be anything from you doing your own research and learning more about the issue and keep building that base of knowledge for yourself, to understanding your own personal and interpersonal dynamics, to understanding your peers, to understanding how things impact structurally, to understand how to make change institutionally. Change needs to happen on all these different levels. 
Q: After a group does a Dialogues series, then what? Does the culture change, do individuals change? What successes have you seen come from the Dialogues?
A lot of our program is about setting the groundwork; the action steps then are really about what the group can do to move it forward. One example of successful change recently is from a parent and teacher dialogue at the Curley School in Jamaica Plain. They created a race and equity team as part of the parent council that is going to talk to the leadership over at the school, and they continue to try to push things and make things more equitable. With corporations and workplaces who do the Dialogues, they are looking for their employees to feel more comfortable, and they want some sort of systemic change to come from it. I've seen hiring practices change, and also more focus about who is at the top; not only what are the pathways to get to the top, but once you figure out how to recruit more inclusively and intentionally, how to make sure that the people who are at the table have their voices heard equally, that the weight of their voices are held the same, and that there are continued pathways to leadership. 
Q: Why did you take this job? What gets you out of bed and doing this?
It's not only what I feel is important in my heart, but my theory has always been to operate with love, with truth, and by understanding that liberation theory means none of us are free until all of us are free. It is sometimes a contentious thing to say, because people feel like, "Who are you to tell me I'm not free?" It's about understanding how these systems of oppression have stopped us from being our full selves. And I truly mean all of us, this includes white folks and people of color. I also know that I do this well. As a South Asian woman of color, I understand that I have a skill set that I want to use in service of making this country a more equitable place. In addition to that, I know that if liberation theory holds true, that me doing the work that I do and doing it well also means that I am making the world better for myself.
In addition to that, this work is important to me because of the relationships that I have in my life and the people that I care about. And it's okay to say that as the thing that drives you. I do this because of one of my friends, who I consider like family, and his two children. I know it's a little cliche to say I want their children to grow up in a better environment, but I do. I'm not going to shy away from the fact that one of his children will be read as someone who is more threatening to police officers because of the color of his skin. Or that his daughter may have people look at her and assume incompetence. And, we're talking about children here, but let's also talk about making our generation and the generations that came before us better now. This is also about my friend who is 65 years old who is still experiencing racism decades after decades, watching history repeat itself. For that person we can still make the world a better place and a more equitable place. It involves fierce and courageous and intentional and deep work that is long term and sustainable. It's going to require a commitment. So let's go. 
For more information about YW Boston's work to create racial equity and the Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity program, contact Payal Sharma at
YW Boston launches, seeks members for Advocacy Committee
YW Boston is currently accepting applications from the public to join its newly established Advocacy Committee. Though the organization has participated in advocacy initiatives throughout its 150-year history, it is now formalizing its advocacy work and establishing a dedicated committee for planning and execution of advocacy initiatives. 
YW Boston will focus its advocacy work on the issue areas of women’s and girls’ health and safety, women’s economic empowerment; and racial justice and civil rights; these are the priority areas established by YWCA USA. YW Boston will employ legislative advocacy, policy decisions and implementation, coalitions, and mobilization of public support and action to achieve its advocacy objectives.
Advocacy initiatives will be planned and executed by the Advocacy Committee, made up of board members, YW Boston staff, and volunteers. The committee will meet at least once per quarter. Volunteers interested in joining the committee may apply online. Applications should be submitted by January 31, 2017. Selections will be made in February, and the committee’s first meeting will be in March. 
YW Boston to participate as a Community Partner in Boston Women's March 
YW Boston has signed on as an official community partner to the Boston Women’s March, taking place on January 21. The purpose of the march is to unite Boston in solidarity with communities most affected by intolerance and hate. Organizers state that, "The March is rooted in the belief that women's rights are human rights, and that vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country." The event will include a one-mile walk through Boston Common to Commonwealth Avenue and guest speakers at Boston Common.
YW Boston will be hosting supporters at it 140 Clarendon building to gather together before the event, and then will be marching along with YWCA affiliates YWCA Cambridge and YWCA Greater Newburyport. For more information and to register to march with YW, visit the event page online
YW Boston welcomes new Chief Development Officer 
YW Boston welcomes Annie Garmey as its new Chief Development Officer. Garmey was previously the Director of Development at Mass Insight Education. She has over twenty-five years of development experience, fundraising for a range of causes including higher education, ending homelessness, and closing the education achievement gap. She can be reached at or 617-585-5436.
Also joining YW Boston's fund development staff is Meredith Lynch, Annual Fund and Special Events Manger. Lynch was formerly a Development Officer at Massachusetts General Hospital. She can be reached at or 617-585-5473.
LeadBoston Class of 2017 kicks off year-long leadership journey 
YW Boston welcomed 40 mid-career executives from all sectors across Boston into the LeadBoston program earlier this month. The year-long executive leadership program grows Boston’s executives into a cross-sector network of socially responsible leaders. The Class of 2017 started the year with an orientation session today at YW Boston, and will have a two-day retreat session next month to immerse themselves in the curriculum and team building.
The 2017 class is made up of leaders from all sectors, genders, and racial/ethnic backgrounds. The class contains leaders from Eversource and TD Garden for the first time, as well as leaders from long-time partners Massachusetts General Hospital, Holland & Knight, Goodwin Procter, Boston Police Department, and Boston Public Schools, and leaders from a variety of other partnering organizations. The full class list is viewable online. See the blog post, "Getting to the 'why' of LeadBoston" for insight into what drives these socially responsible leaders.
YW Boston now offers racial equity workshops for organizations  
Based on high demand, YW Boston now offers one-time workshops to organizations interested in the Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity program. The workshops are designed for organizations looking for resources to engage employees in productive and safe conversations on the critical issue of racial equity.
The workshops guide participants through a multi-step process of personal reflection, building group communication and culture, developing knowledge and awareness of the frameworks in which race manifests, and action planning for the future. Available workshops include: Understanding Race, Moving to Racial Equity; Microaggressions: What They Are, How to Avoid Them; and Confronting Inequities in Boston. Learn more and request a workshop online. 
Boston Women's Workforce Council 2016 report shows wage disparity 
On January 5, the Boston Women’s Workforce Council published their 2016 Report on progress towards making Greater Boston the best place in the US for working women through closing the gender wage gap. The report includes the council's research findings, new best practices, and vision for 2017. 
The Council collected data on 112,600 Bostonians, representing 11% of the city’s workforce and $11 billion of yearly earnings, and found that women earned less than men in all but two job categories (midlevel and admin support workers). The industries with the highest gender wage disparities were sales workers and service workers, in which women earned less than 60% of men’s wages. On average, men earned about $7,000 more than women in bonuses annually, with a $218,000 performance-based bonus difference for female and male executives. The Council aims to address this disparity in 2017 through communication of best practices and further data gathering and research.
YW Boston is one of 180 workplaces that has signed on to the council’s 100% Talent Compact, indicating its pledge to close the gender wage gap in the workplace. Mim Minichiello, YW Boston’s Board of Directors Chair, is also one of the members of the Council. 
Petition started to establish Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston 
A local activist group has established a petition asking the Boston City Council to pass a resolution declaring Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October.
According to the petition, "Indigenous Peoples Day is much more than a name change. It is a refusal to allow the genocide of Indigenous Peoples to go unremembered. It is also an initial step in honoring and reconciling with present-day Native Peoples who live in and near Boston." The petition is currently over 2,000 signatures, with a stated goal of 3,000.  
City of Boston releases "The Blueprint" previewing resiliency strategy   
The office of Atyia Martin, Boston's Chief Resiliency Officer, has released a preview of its forthcoming resilience strategy for the city of Boston. The strategy, though ultimately aimed at improving Boston's resilience, is centrally focused on the issue of racial inequity and the way it intersects with major challenges such as urbanization, globalization, and climate change. The report calls systemic racial inequity "the defining problem of our time," and says that Boston is ready to lead by example, "reflecting on the city's history, confronting challenges directly and honestly, and taking a bold stance in promoting racial equity and social justice for all Bostonians." The full Resilience Strategy is set to be released in early 2017. 
Magazine covers were more diverse than ever in 2016 
Industry blog The Fashion Spot tallyed 679 cover models across 48 top international fashion publications, and found that in 2016, covers featured more racial diversity than ever before. In 2016, 29% of cover models were women of color, as compared to 23% in 2015 and 17% in 2014. This is a welcome improvement, though not to the level of proportionate representation as compared to population demographics. 
Other forms of diversity fared much worse. In terms of body shape diversity, only 6% of cover models in 2016 were size 12 or above. Even worse, only 0.7% of cover models were transgender women, with four of the five total covers featuring the same model, Transparent star Hari Nef. 
Harvard study finds that elderly patients live longer, do better with female doctors
A new study led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that of elderly Medicare patients, those cared for by female physicians were more likely to live longer and less likely to end up back in the hospital. The study analyzed over 1.5 million hospitalizations of Medicare patients over four years, tracking patients’ mortality rate over the 30 days after leaving the hospital as well as whether they returned to the hospital. The researchers found that if doctors of all genders achieved the same results as female doctors, it would result in 32,000 fewer deaths each year. The study did not include why this disparity may be the case, but past research suggests that female doctors “are likelier to follow clinical guidelines and adhere to evidence-based medicine” and are more likely to communicate effectively with patients.
Despite these results, according to a study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year, male doctors continue to outnumber female doctors, comprising approximately 60% of physicians in Massachusetts and 66% nationwide.
Study shows divergent views between white and black police officers about the state of racial equity
A new Pew Research Center study has illuminated stark differences between white and black police officers in regards to their views on the state of racial equity in the United States. The study, a nationally representative survey of over 8,000 officers, found that 92% of white police officers believe the US has already assured equal rights for African-Americans, while only 29% of black officers agree. Similarly, while 60% of white and Hispanic officers said that police relations with blacks were either excellent or good, only 32% of black officers agreed.
Officers showed more agreement about the effects that recent officer-involved killings of African-American men have had on their job. 86% thought police work had become harder because of high-profile incidents like the killings of Mike Brown in 2014 and Alton Sterling in the summer of 2016, and 93% think their colleagues now worry more about personal safety.
Film recommendation from Sylvia: Hidden Figures 
Sylvia Ferrell-Jones, YW Boston's President and CEO, recommends seeing Hidden Figures, a film about three black women who worked at NASA in its early days and were mathematical geniuses who helped launch manned space flight. Sylvia describes the film as "inspiring, well-written, emotional, well-acted, and just plain wonderful," saying that it "depicts an important chapter of black women's history that has been long ignored." Read more about true story behind the film in Smithsonian Magazine
January 21, "Boston March for Women" 
On January 21, 2017, YW Boston will join the Boston Women’s March at Boston Common from 11AM-3PM. Taking place the day after the presidential inaguration, the march seeks to unite Boston in solidarity with communities most affected by intolerance and hate. The event will include a one-mile walk through Back Bay and guest speakers at Boston Common. We will march with YWCA Greater Newburyport and YWCA Cambridge to demonstrate our organization’s commitment to peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Learn more and RSVP.  Saturday, January 21, 9:45 am - 3 pm; begin at YW Boston building, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA and continuing to the Boston Common.
January 28, Social Justice Arts Slam presented by YW Boston's Youth Leadership InItiative
The Youth Leadership InItiative (InIt)'s annual Social Justice Arts Slam slam is a showcase of the InIt community’s artistic expression against social injustices. What was once an evening of cultural performances put on by the participants during Immersion Week has now grown into a celebration for InIt delegates and their guests to unite as a community. Performance will include slam poetry, visual arts gallery, musical performances, and more. Saturday, January 28, 6:30 - 8:30 pm; YW Boston, 2nd floor Kuumba library, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA.
February 7, "Making it Matter: Creating a Policy and Communication Plan Around Data," presented by Greater Boston Evaluation Network 
A roundtable event where Anthony Abdelahad and Tierney Flaherty from Ventry Associates will discuss three main questions when developing a policy and communication plan on data: 1. What is a lobbyist? How/what does your interaction with non-profits and data look like? 2. How to tell if what you have is compelling? 3. Once you know you have compelling data how do you analyze it and share it? Forum hosted by YW Boston. Learn more and RSVP.
Tuesday, February 7, 9 - 10 am; YW Boston, Kuumba Library, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA.
YW Boston • 140 Clarendon Street, Suite 403, Boston, MA 02116 • 617-585-5400  •
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