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Olivia Sayah

Beth Chandler: Building a Better Boston through Changing Workplaces, Education, and Advocacy

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Beth Chandler, one of MWF’s newest members, is President and CEO of YW Boston, has more than 25 years of experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Her breadth of work experience encompasses program development, delivery and evaluation, business development, and operations. Before working at YW Boston, Beth served as vice president at the Achievement Network, a national non-profit dedicated to helping urban public and charter schools close the achievement gap. Beth also held positions at Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the largest funding source for civil legal aid programs in the Commonwealth and Neighborworks America, one of the country’s preeminent leaders in affordable housing and community development. Prior to this, she worked at Bank of America in corporate banking and began her career as a research and evaluation analyst with the Urban Institute.


We recently spoke with Beth about her inspiration and vision for the future of YW Boston.


Acting with intention and focusing on values 


The mission of YW Boston is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. As a woman of color, Beth encountered challenges throughout her career. Because of this, she decided to choose roles that would make Boston and the world better for her two children, who are kids of color. This compelled her to work at an organization exploring the underlying issues behind why racism and sexism exist and helping both organizations and individuals change. Also, YW Boston has always been an organization that focused on action. It goes beyond discussing potential solutions and instead focuses on the action of helping individuals and organizations alter behaviors and create policies and practices that can be more inclusive.


Working at empathy in a polarizing time


The best managers that Beth has worked with are people who allowed her to grow into her role and didn’t put barriers or constraints in the way. This has influenced how she manages: Beth tries to be clear on where the organization is going and allow other people to develop strategies that align with their strengths and then? lead to that destination.  She also advises that people be clear on what they want out of work and life. Balance is different for everyone. Be intentional about what works for you and how you can be your best self when you’re at work.


For those doing work around diversity, justice, or inclusion, Beth thinks it’s important to be able to have empathy for others and to be able to hear and understand where somebody else is coming from. Especially in a polarized time that takes people away from their humanity, she stresses being open-minded and truly listening to other people’s experiences. Challenging personal assumptions about people or groups can help build the empathy muscle and will help people understand where you’re coming from and that we have more commonalities than differences.


Creating YW Boston’s new vision 


Beth is proud of completing a strategic planning process and developing programs to support YW Boston’s new vision. Through Bridgespan’s Leading for Impact initiative, she led the organization from having six programs that served six different audiences to adapting a much clearer vision: helping organizations create more inclusive environments so that women, people of color, and particularly women of color, can thrive. She’s also proud that YW Boston is pushing people to think about the intersection of race and gender and understanding that monolithic strategies cannot have the same impact across groups.


Programming: building on what’s working and launching new initiatives


Going forward, Beth wants to continue developing existing YW programs while also looking forward to launching new initiatives. Beth highlighted several programs for us.


The Inclusion Boston program is one in which participants go through a series of workshops that help them understand their own identities, learn language and frameworks about how race impacts life experiences, and then together identify issues within their organization related to race or ethnicity. YW Boston supports them in implementing a 12-month action plan. Beth envisions YW Boston continuing that work, developing additional partnerships, and working with different organizations on this journey. Success will be seeing a demographic shift across different sectors in both formal and informal leadership positions. For the participating companies, YW works to foster a greater feeling of inclusion by marginalized individuals because program participants are bringing what they learned back into their own organizations. Research indicates that even if leadership is on board with wanting to be more inclusive, organizations often get stuck because middle managers don’t have the understanding of what that means and/or the tools to do anything about it. The Inclusion Boston Program works to solve this issue.


YW’s program for individuals, Lead Boston, provides mid to senior-level executives across sectors with an opportunity to understand some of the bigger issues impacting the city of Boston. They prompt participants to ask questions like: “Is there an impact on my employees or my customers?” and “As a leader, what can I do about this?” Starting next year, Lead Boston looks to spend more time developing employment best practices and skills that help participants to become inclusive leaders and equip them with a toolkit to help move issues of equity within their organization.


Helping Middle School Girls Own their Strengths.


YW Boston’s most recently launched program called Fierce Youth Reigniting Excellence or F.Y.R.E., which focuses on helping middle school girls recognize their strengths and provides tools to support their leadership development and build social and emotional skills. The program will show the girls different ways that oppression exists, systematically, ideologically, and in the media. Then YW will support their work on an advocacy project, whether in their school or community and bring them together with other girls across the city to share their work.


This year, YW Boston switched from supporting other advocacy coalitions to launching their own effort called the Parity and Board Coalition. They created legislation that would require public board or commission in Massachusetts to have more than 50% plus 1 of any one gender and at least one woman of color serving. If passed the state’s boards will have much greater representation of the people they serve throughout the Commonwealth.


Beth Chandler has led a career focused on inclusion and equity. She has been transformative in revitalizing the vision and programs of YW Boston.

Reflecting on Women: Wage and Power

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On September 19th, over 30 members met with Andrea Silbert and Evelyn Murphy at the UMass Club of Boston to learn more about the Power & Wage Gap. We had a dynamic and thought-provoking conversation about where women are with the wage gap today and where we are going.


Stay tuned to learn how MWF plans to use its collective influence to make a difference. If you weren’t able to attend, let us know how you want to be involved moving forward.

Diane Hessan Receives Business & Community Leader of the Year Award

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Member Diane Hessan (HBS MBA 1977), Chairman of C Space and CEO of Salient Ventures, was recently honored at the Harvard Business School’s 2nd Annual Business & Community Leadership Dinner. Diane received the Business & Community Leader of the Year Award for her dedication and commitment to entrepreneurship and community impact in Greater Boston and beyond.

Myechia Minter-Jordan to Join DentaQuest as Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer

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DentaQuest recently announced member Myechia Minter-Jordan’s appointment as Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer.


The announcement states that, “In her new role, Dr. Jordan will establish and drive overall strategic investments and partnerships to fulfill DentaQuest’s mission to improve the oral health of all, with a focus on systems change. She will lead the DentaQuest Partnership’s existing philanthropic and programmatic initiatives and align the team around new strategies and innovative approaches to deepen and accelerate DentaQuest’s impact. She will also work with a broad set of external stakeholders in business, government and academia to influence and drive policy and clinical changes that improve the health of millions of Americans.”


Click here to read more about her new role.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter To Receive Thinkers50 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award

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Thinkers50, the global ranking of management thinkers, today announced that member Rosabeth Moss Kanter is to be the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


The announcement states, “The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to someone who has had a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management,” explains Thinkers50 cofounder Des Dearlove. “Rosabeth Moss Kanter has championed a humane, inclusive, practical, and inspiring brand of management throughout her career. From Men and Women of the Corporation and The Change Masters to her forthcoming book, Think Outside the Building, Rosabeth has a distinctive and compelling take on what it takes to manage.”


Click here to read more about Rosabeth’s innovative work and this prestigious honor.

First International Women’s Bahamas Intensive Program

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Priscilla H. Douglas moderated the first-ever International Women’s [IWF] Bahamas “Intensive” Program 9/19-20 in Nassau over 100 women from the Caribbean enthusiastically participated. Former IWF President Allyson Maynard Gibson and current Nassau President Sonia Brown realized their vision by hosting an “Intensive” leadership event, formerly called Executive Development Roundtables [EDR].


The Intensive included eight sessions and took a deep dive into trust, political leadership, women on boards, agility, and crafting a personal narrative. Mrs. Patricia Minnick, wife of the Prime Minister, a stalwart supporter of women and girls greeted the group. Futurist Edie Weiner began the event with a powerful morning session on innovation. Sonia Brown, IWF member and President of Graphite Engineering welcomed the 100+ women. Dignitaries included The Right Honorable Dame Janet Bostwick, The Provincial Parliament member the Honorable Mitzie Hunter, Former Mayor of Reykjavik and current Senior Advisor to the UN on Women’s Leadership Hanna Birna Kristjansdottir, the 2019 Nelson Mandela Humanitarian “Mother” Pratt and former Attorney General of Bahamas Allyson Maynard Gibson.


In addition to facilitating the two days, Priscilla moderated two panels one on Agility and Curiosity. Featured panelist: Dr. Susan Amat, Executive Director of GEN Accelerates and Irene Arias Hofman, Head of the InterAmerican Develop [IDB] Lab and the second with Anthropologist Nicolette Bethel and Darryl McKissack,  President of McKissack & McKissack construction engineering [Smithsonian AA Museum and MLK Memorial].


Priscilla Douglas with panelists Irene Arias Hofman and Dr. Susan Amat

Members Named Amongst Leaders of Massachusetts’ Top 100 Companies

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The Commonwealth Institute and the Globe Magazine partnered to name the most noteworthy 100 companies and nonprofits helmed by women in Massachusetts in 2019. Congratulations to the following members who were honored:


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Laurie H. Glimcher, President and CEO

Boston Children’s Hospital, Sandra L. Fenwick, CEO

Globalization Partners, Nicole Sahin, CEO

Bentley University, Gloria Cordes Larson, President

The Dimock Center, Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Laurie Leshin, President

John Hancock, Marianne Harrison, President and CEO

Regis College, Antoinette M. Hays, President

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, Eileen Skinner, Administrator

InkHouse, Beth Monaghan, Cofounder and CEO

KHJ Brand Activation, Judy Habib, CEO


Click here to read coverage of this honor in the Boston Globe.

C.A. Webb: When Principles Guide Work, Innovation Follows

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C.A. Webb has spent her career building ground-up products, programs, and brands at the intersection of entrepreneurship and social change. In her current role as President at Kendall Square Association, C.A. and her team are making Kendall Square a global corporate destination and the world’s epicenter of innovation. Through her current work at KSA, she is creating systems and campaigns to drive connectivity, learning, and social impact. Recently we had the chance to speak with her about her career and the new transportation initiative in Kendall Square.


Guided by a personal mission statement


In 2017 C.A. found herself in a transition. Moving on from the venture firm she co-founded C.A. started with her own personal mission statement — to help make Boston the most equitable and prosperous place possible. She looked for platforms that would enable her to bring powerful communities together around needed critical change. Networking was essential in her search and she sought out connections with people ready to do this type of work. C.A., having spent four years running the New England Venture Capital Association, connected with entrepreneurs that were forging new paths and capitalized on shared motivations with local venture capitalists that could lead to transformations in existing organizations.


Defining her own rules


For C.A. it has been crucial to live by her own principles, defining what was most important to her in guiding her own career.

  • Space was key – C.A. vowed to work mostly in cities, where diversity and connectivity were valued and pervasive.
  • Startup mentality was a must – She would only work in an entrepreneurial setting where smart people were willing to walk through walls and build things that mattered and impacted the community.

C.A. found symbiosis in a place where this vision was possible, the New England Venture Capital Association. During her time there, she reinvented the organization, turning it into a meaningful platform for engaging the community. C.A. has been lucky that she has been able to continue this vision in her work with the Kendall Square Association.


There’s no playbook when you build from the ground up


Kendall Square Association defines itself as an organization that enables the future by connecting the people who are changing the world. At KSA, C.A. is leading a new transportation initiative with 19 of the state’s largest employers to ensure that Kendall Square remains the epicenter of global innovation. As the first business community to advocate for the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President, the KSA is working to push the state to raise new revenue and find solutions for the worst congestion in the country.


Over the next five years, KSA will guide transportation reform and innovation through employer-led initiatives of experimentation and they will share their data with the broader Massachusetts community. C.A. says there is “no playbook for what we’re doing” and is passionate about the collective action work that KSA brings to the employer community. C.A. believes that through KSA, they are inventing the next-generation community platform.


Finding meaning outside the office


C.A. sits on several Boards. One of her most passionate projects is her work with the Boston Foundation, an organization that connects philanthropists to high impact social change organizations. These initiatives range from reforms in K-12 education to reforms in the criminal justice system. She has found incredible meaning in this work and would love other Forum members to join her in finding ways to be involved with the Foundation.


Throughout her career, C.A. has led innovative transformations of companies and championed projects that enhanced communities. Be sure to follow the trajectory of her new transportation initiative where she plans to transform not only Kendall Square but all of greater Boston.

MWF Goes to Santa Fe

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A group of our MWF members spent four days of art, culture, and beauty in America’s oldest Capital. Hosted by IWF New Mexico, 100 IWF members celebrated the Santa Fe‘s 30th Anniversary while raising funds for its philanthropic outreach, Leadership, Empowerment, and Advancement Program for Women (LEAP).


The group stayed at the historic La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. Where they experienced exclusive behind the scenes tours of many world-class museums and the famous Meow Wolf, which is the 4th most visited art site in the US! They were introduced to Native American artists and visited their studios or pueblos in unique ways. The also became involved with small group discussions on timely topics, learned the secrets of good writing, life after retirement or a new profession, running businesses, and women in public policy and board rooms. They took art walks up Canyon Road and saw so much behind the stunning adobe walls of Santa Fe.


Dawn Marie Driscoll with US Congresswoman Xochiti Torres Small



Jesse Mermell for Congress

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MWF member, Jesse Mermell has officially announced that she is running to represent Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District. Throughout Jesse’s 20-year career, she has championed women’s and workers’ rights and protecting the environment, among other progressive causes. Read more about her campaign here.