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Vikki Spruill: Creating a Civic Anchor for the Community of Boston

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Vikki Spruill, CEO and President of the New England Aquarium, has led
the impassioned fight for ocean conservation in many different organizations
throughout her career. Her love for the ocean began in high school when living
in Florida. However, after receiving her master’s degree in Communications,
Spruill worked at public relations firms, until a specific project presented the
opportunity to pivot back to the ocean. This experience pushed her to start the
nonprofit organization SeaWeb, focusing on translating science and raising
awareness of ocean issues and communicating to policymakers and
journalists. This work helped elevate public awareness of ocean issues at a
time when most of the focus was on terrestrial challenges. She also served as President and
CEO of Ocean Conservancy, a nationally renowned advocacy organization and the Council on
Foundations, an association of philanthropic organizations working to advance the common good.
For the past year, Spruill has led the New England Aquarium and its research institute, the
Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, and furthered its reputation as a leading institution for
scientific research, advocacy, and public education.


Individual moments will lead to great purpose


We recently had an opportunity to speak with her and reflect on her career, her proudest
moment and her career accolades. Vikki’s career has been focused on purpose – she
has been most proud of the opportunities she has had “leading teams of people beyond
individual moments in service of larger goals” and watching organizations “grow into
greatness.” A major fight of her career has been turning complex information into
accessible information for the public, especially in the past when there was less
awareness about environmental issues. In her time at SeaWeb, she co-created the “Give
Swordfish a Break” campaign. This initiative brought awareness to the overfishing of
swordfish and prompted the public to think more critically about the seafood choices they
were making. This movement heavily influenced the framing of the current sustainable
seafood movement.


Support & Community


Vikki is a recent transplant to Boston from Washington DC, and she believes that the
instant connection to peer level female professionals that the Forum provided was
instrumental in her transition and that the community and support that came from the
Massachusetts Women’s Forum when moving here was invaluable. She spoke about her
mentors as powerful women that guided her within her personal life and career. Her
mother taught her confidence and instilled in her that she “could do anything,” in sharp
contrast to a male teacher who once told her “there wasn’t a place for women in the
sciences.” In her career, Spruill was mentored by women like Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the
past Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and marine
biologist, Sylvia Earle. She is also inspired by her two daughters who have continued her
legacy through involvement with nature and ocean conservation.


Opportunities come in many different forms


When counseling emerging leaders in her world Vikki recommends that they do not close
themselves off. She credits many transitions in her career to her ability to “be open to
opportunity!” She would advise her former self and others not to overthink things and to
go with the natural flow. She believes following this path will lead you to where you are
meant to be in life.


A “Civic Anchor” in the community


Vikki lights up when she talks about her vision for the Aquarium and how she plans to
transform the institution going forward. In comparison to previous advocacy work where
she did not have a captive audience, Vikki’s vision for the New England Aquarium began
with the opportunity to have an existing “flow of people to influence and educate.”
Through community outreach and lecture series, she sees the museum becoming “more
than a place to take your kids” and hopes that the Aquarium is seen “as a civic anchor in
the community” and a leader in marine conservation.


Small steps are the key to change


Vikki recommends educating yourself and starting with a small step as a way to get
involved in preventing climate change and aiding ocean conservation. She encourages
members to visit the New England Aquarium website at neaq.org to get more information
about its conservation work. The Aquarium recently led an initiative for a plastic-free July
where they brought awareness to the issues of single-use plastic. Vikki asks we examine
our habits as consumers and try to eliminate single-use plastic from our lives. Vikki
believes that in order to solve issues of climate change, it is important to be civically
minded and elect officials well-informed around environmental issues.


Vikki Spruill has worked tirelessly to conserve our oceans and continues to do so in a high-stakes moment for our planet. It is our privilege to call her a member and a part of our MWF community.

Pam Hamlin: From “Curiosity Tour” to Entrepreneurial Adventure

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Pam Hamlin has a new role. After twenty years at Arnold Worldwide where she was an engine for growth, evolution and culture vibrancy and the CEO of the acclaimed global advertising agency, Pam found herself wondering “what’s next” so she chose to embark on a “curiosity tour” to explore the broader marketing ecosystem today, examine her goals, and define her next professional chapter.  


Marketing – Where creativity meets commerce.


At the starting line of a new chapter, Pam joins York Creative Collective as their new president. YCC is a collective of creative ventures who believe that creativity is the foundation for growth. As she tells it, she believes that she was “genetically born to go into marketing.” Her father was a wall street financier and her mother was a designer. A curiosity for business and artistic abilities brought her to marketing which she describes as the “place where creativity meets commerce.”


It’s obvious when you love what you do.


In her time at Arnold, Pam found ways to clearly define the role that marketing should play to accelerate growth for the agency’s clients, undercover the essence of a brand and reflect that in an enduring brand idea expressed through compelling campaigns. As a creative business leader and progressive marketer whose strength and passion is “fueling the growth of brands and businesses through creativity,” she is most proud of her work reimagining brands like Royal Caribbean with the “Get Out There” campaign which shattered the misconception among non-cruisers that cruising was a vacation only for those that were “overfed, newlywed and nearly dead” by focusing on people’s explorer mindset and emphasizing new innovations on the cruise line. She oversaw double-digit growth at Ocean Spray with their “Straight from the Bog” campaign that highlighted the grower-owned cooperative heritage of the company and the health properties of cranberries which set the company apart from much larger beverage brands.

Pam is also proud of Arnold’s work renovating the historic Filene’s department store building into a key component in Boston’s downtown revitalization and Arnold’s new headquarters. Filene’s legacy and authenticity mirrored Arnold’s mission of innovation and creativity as Filene’s was the place where department store retailing began. She relished the challenge of celebrating the historic aspects of the building while designing for the needs of a modern workspace.


Speak up and let your ambitions be known.


Spending the first portion of her career observing how male peers more overtly promoted themselves and their career goals, Pam chose to let the reputation of her work and results alone lead to career advancement. Pam had to learn to be forthright with employers about her goals in her career by speaking up more and letting her ambitions be known. Pam advises that women practice advocating for themselves in ways that also serve the best interests of the company.

Support is a critical component to growth.


Support came in many different forms within Pam’s career. Fran Kelly, Arnold’s former CEO, was an invaluable leadership and business role model for her. He took special interest in supporting Pam’s career ambitions and growth. Pam also formed a tight bond with her female colleagues at Arnold whose support, wisdom, friendship, and insight about the challenges of being a professional, working mom was a critical component in her growth. And while Pam has been a member of MWF for several years, once she left Arnold, she has had the opportunity to lean in and she relishes the “camaraderie of such an interesting, smart, talented, experienced group of women.” Since the Forum is not industry-specific, Pam especially appreciates being able to learn from those who aren’t in marketing and advertising.  

From “Curiosity Tour” to an Entrepreneurial Adventure.


Last year, Pam hit her 20-year milestone at Arnold and she took the opportunity to step back and envision the next chapter in her career. For Pam, this meant going on a “curiosity tour” and taking the time to explore different ways to apply her extensive marketing and general management experience. After completing a few fascinating consulting engagements, Pam is taking on two new positions — landing her first public Board seat at Cambridge Trust and a new adventure in a new world built on creativity and entrepreneurship.   As the new president of York Creative Collective, she is excited about bringing her expertise to a portfolio of promising emerging growth companies.

Pam Hamlin has been a leading voice in marketing and advertising in Boston for many years and we are proud to have her as a member of our MWF community where she sits on the Board as our Communications Chair. 

Carmen Ortiz was named a Women’s Bar Association 2019 Lelia J. Robinson Award Recipient

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The Lelia J. Robinson Award honors women attorneys who have captured the spirit of Lelia J. Robinson, the first woman admitted to practice in Massachusetts. The award recognizes women who, like Robinson, are pioneers in the legal profession and have made a difference in the community.

Carmen Ortiz was named a Women’s Bar Association 2019 Lelia J. Robinson Award Recipient

Pam Hamlin

Pam Hamlin is named to the Board of Cambridge Bancorp

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Pamela Hamlin is one of three women named to the Board of Cambridge Bancorp and its subsidiary, Cambridge Trust Company. Read about her appointment here.

Leadership Learnings with Dana H. Born, Ph.D.

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We are continually inspired by our members, their accomplishments, and the lessons they have learned. Let us know if you wish to be highlighted. Check back monthly for new conversations.


A Conversation with Dana H. Born, Ph.D., Brigadier General, USAF Retired
Co-Director, Center for Public Leadership, Chair, Senior Executive Fellows (SEF) Program, Lecturer in Public Policy


Dana Born, the Immediate Past President of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum is a leader of leaders. Holding a Doctor of Philosophy degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Pennsylvania State University, Born has a long history of social science education. Combined with nearly 30 years of military service, Born is an effective leader and has applied this knowledge to a multitude of positions throughout her career. At the beginning of her journey, Dana became the first woman to hold the presidentially appointed position of Dean of Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Currently, Dana works at the Harvard Kennedy School where she holds the position of co-director for the Center for Public Leadership. At Harvard, Dana has built a legacy as an educator, teaching leadership to students and fellows from all around the world. Dana’s background as a leader and her incredible knowledge of female professional development made her the perfect president of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum in 2017 and 2018. 

     We recently had an opportunity to speak with her and reflect on her career. 


Q: Looking back through your career accolades, what has been your proudest moment thus far?

DANA: “Professionally, having had the extraordinary privilege of leading and serving alongside this country’s best, brightest and bravest men and women in service to our nation for thirty years. Personally, the raising of two beautiful daughters also dedicated to serving in the military and having a close-knit family grounded by love, faith, and friendships.” 


Q: Throughout your life, and your career, what has been the most effective piece of advice you’ve received? 

DANA: “In the long run, you will be judged only by your character…as without that, it doesn’t matter how high up the corporate ladder you’ve climbed, how much money you’ve earned, or how many awards you’ve received. You will be remembered not by WHAT you accomplish in life…but by HOW you accomplish it.” 


Q: Work like yours is not for the faint of heart. What has been your driver all of these years — what has kept you going?

DANA: “As Winston Churchill once said, ‘You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.’ My drive over the years has been inspired by those I have had the privilege of serving for – dedicating themselves to making a life instead of a living.”


Q: How has this mission-driven you to the Massachusetts Women’s Forum?

DANA: “I have been the beneficiary of, and am now a huge proponent of the sacred obligation each of us has to pay it forward to the next generation and/or those less fortunate than ourselves. The MWF provides an ideal community enabling us to do just this. We are women of power and influence. We support and co-mentor women leaders, champion future trailblazers, and advance a better world. We are a community of dauntless women who share intimate connections, conversations of substance, and contributions to a better world.”


At nearly every point in her career, Dana Born has worked selflessly to protect, serve and better those around her. Whether they are her students, friends or colleagues, a woman who knows Dana Born is an empowered woman. It is our privilege to call her a member and a part of our community at MWF. 

Massachusetts Women’s Forum
Madison Shaw, Communications Associate
May 2019

Leadership Learnings with Jackie Jenkins-Scott

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We are continually inspired by our members, their accomplishments, and the lessons they have learned. Let us know if you wish to be highlighted. Check back monthly for new conversations.

A Conversation with Jackie Jenkins-Scott, Founder & President, JJS Advising


MWF President, Jackie Jenkins-Scott is a nationally renowned leader with decades of experience in executive roles in the world of public health and higher education. Growing up in a religious African American household Jackie learned early the importance of giving back and the importance of education. These are themes that have remained integral to Jackie’s character in all of her endeavors. Jackie’s career in public health began after her graduation with a masters degree from Boston University when she worked at the Boston Department of Public Health. She would then become CEO of Dimock Community Health Center before transitioning into education as the president of Wheelock College until 2016. Jackie’s most recent career transition has brought her to the Forum, where she is now the president and as dedicated as ever to her mission of empowerment. 


Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Jackie and ask her some questions. 


Q: You’ve had a remarkable career.  What do you point to as your proudest achievement amidst it all? 


JACKIE: “Having had a positive impact on the careers of people I have mentored and guided – I like to believe that this has long-term impact and effect. I am proud to have touched the lives of so many people, particularly women, in their early career. This is more important to me than any specific, tangible success.”


Q: To be a great leader you must have great examples, what is the most effective advice you received throughout your career?


JACKIE: One of the most effective pieces of advice I’ve received came from a lecture professor in grad school who came to Boston to be the first African American commissioner of corrections. He gave us advice to “keep our bags packed.” That really stuck with me, he was saying that if you’re in a position to compromise your beliefs and core values you should have your bags packed, you may have to move on. He ended up leaving Massachusetts for that reason; he wanted systemic changes and that wasn’t an option. I try to share this with the people I am coaching or working with, both professionally and personally: Our beliefs and our values are really important to implementing organizational mission. When we sacrifice our mission and our beliefs and our values, we risk our ability as an organization and as a leader to be most effective.” 


Q: If you could go back, and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give her?


JACKIE: “I would say build in more time for myself. Because you give so much and over time you need to find time to breathe. More time for your own reflection, refreshment, and replenishment.”


Q: I know that giving back to the women who follow is a big part of your life’s work. How do you plan to continue supporting women through the Forum?


JACKIE: “Aretha Franklin recently passed, and she was famous for one word: respect. We have to hold ourselves to the highest standards of respect for ourselves and when we do so we can demand that from others. I am set on creating a climate of respect both for ourselves and those around us. I am incredibly proud of the foundation and legacy we inherited at the Forum and I look forward to what we will build on in our next phase of growth and development. I would describe my role as being a bridge between the hopes and dreams that came before our current membership, those of our future members. So the next generation of women can carry this organization forward. Their challenges will be different than ours and those of our founders, but I am hoping to keep this bridge intact. It is a big responsibility, but I want to see our community thrive.”


Throughout her career, Jenkins-Scott has worked to empower young professionals to be uncompromising in their ambition, be it through executive positions or volunteer efforts. At a time when women have more opportunities to find and secure their paths, Jackie is ready to cultivate an environment where Forum members are emboldened to do just that. 


Massachusetts Women’s Forum
Madison Shaw, Communications Associate
May 2019

MWF Members celebrate State Auditor, Suzanne Bump

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Members celebrate with State Auditor Suzanne Bump’s at her annual summer reception.

Sandra Fenwick is the “We Can” Woman of the Year

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Member, Sandra Fenwick the President & CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital received the “Woman of the Year” award by WE CAN — Women Empowerment through Cape Area Networking.

WE CAN empowers Cape Cod women of all ages who are experiencing challenging life situations by providing services that bring increased opportunity, self-sufficiency, stability, and lasting positive change for themselves, their families, and their entire community. WE CAN is the leading resource to facilitate that transformation. With an integrated, engaged community of other organizations and local businesses, WE CAN creates hope, identifies possibilities and supports aspirations.


Katie Bouton with DotCom Magazine

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Read new member Katie Bouton’s interview with DotCom Magazine where she discusses her own leadership and innovation, and where it’s taken her.


Carol Fulp Takes On A New Chapter

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Congratulations to Carol Fulp, for all of the work she has done as CEO of the leading organization dedicated to supporting professionals of color, and the amazing work she will continue to do.