On Tuesday, June 23, the YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts will hold their annual Tribute to Women, virtually. Each spring, the North Shore-based nonprofit honors a group of local women who have made outstanding contributions to the community. Though the event is typically a luncheon at the Andover Country Club, this year the event will be virtual, starting at 6 p.m. and accessible on Facebook here.
In addition to honoring remarkable women, the event also helps the YWCA raise funds for its twenty-six community programs, like health services, rape crisis services, transitional housing, economic empowerment, workshops, and child advocacy.
The YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts was founded in 1892 to help provide safe housing and job training to disadvantaged women moving to the area. Today, they continue that work and are an agency for social change, focused on eliminating racism and empowering women. They serve over 15,000 women, children, and families in Merrimack Valley and Essex County each year.
Among the twenty-two honorees this year are these four remarkable women.
VP of Residential Services for Fidelity House CRC, Lawrence
Born and raised in Lawrence, Wanda Gomez is a second generation American and the Vice President of Residential Services for Fidelity House, a nonprofit supporting people with disabilities and their families. Her mother immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic as a young woman, working on a visa for a diplomatic family in D.C., and eventually settling in Lawrence.
“I was introduced to Fidelity House in 2006 at a point in life when I desperately was seeking guidance,” says Gomez. Caretaking for family members with medical issues meant Gomez’s own education and ambitions had to take a backseat. She often found herself working three jobs at a time while attending Greater Lawrence Technical School.
Now, she oversees all day to day operations in programs at FHCRC. She helps facilitate new program openings and ongoing moves, and manages the health and wellbeing of the people FHCRC supports. “My goal has been to always encourage those who need guidance,” says Gomez. “I love to serve others in any way possible, to lead by example and to be their voice of reason. I love helping my community.”
And even pouring all her energy into helping her community, Gomez continues to blossom. She recently completed her Associate in Human Services and looks forward to enrolling in Cambridge College next semester for Healthcare Management.
Dr. Margaret Marotta
Superintendent of Public Schools, Haverhill
When Dr. Margaret Marotta noticed systematic issues in public schools, she decided to create change from the inside. The Lynnfield native, who started her career in social work, has degrees from Assumption College and Suffolk University, and a doctorate from Boston University. Over the past twenty years she’s worked as a special education director in Boston, an assistant superintendent in Salem, and now, Haverhill’s superintendent for the past two years.
“I really felt like I saw some changes that needed to happen in education, particularly for disadvantaged students and students with disabilities,” says Marotta. “[In Haverhill we have] a broad representation of backgrounds, economically and culturally, so we have a lot of learning needs. One of the problems that we have in Haverhill is that things are not necessarily equitable,” she says. Some of the biggest work she’s done since coming to Haverhill has been to shift resources to make sure students and teachers are getting their needs met.
Marotta says that school didn’t come easily to her as a kid and wants to make sure her students have all the tools they need to be successful. “It’s a lot of work,” she says, “but it’s really meaningful work.”
Patricia Ahern, RN, MBA, FACHE
President & CEO of Care Dimensions, Danvers
Though she’s only been here on the North Shore for three years, Pat Ahern has made herself a vital part of our community. Along with being the president and CEO of Care Dimensions, the state’s largest hospice care provider, she’s a member of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce HealthCare Leadership Committee, and the Danvers YMCA Ambassador Program.
Originally from Chicago, Ahern served as president and CEO of Chicago’s Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care for 18 years, then CEO of the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Buffalo, New York. Combined, she has over forty years of healthcare leadership experience. She holds a nursing diploma, a BS, and an MBA. “I’m unusual because there aren’t a lot of RNs with MBAs out there,” she says.
But she’s much more than her impressive resume. “It may be the skills she learned as a nurse in the emergency room that guide her today,” says Jean Graham, who nominated Ahern for this award. “She has an innate ability to put people at ease… She knows the value of someone guiding a family through their hardest days.”
Graham also champions Ahern’s ability to put her employees first. “I love growing people and helping them form into their full career potential,” says Ahern. She’s grown her organization, too—under her leadership, Care Dimensions launched a home-based primary care practice, and opened a second location.
“I love working in an organization that helps families have better endings,” says Ahern.
Founder of Silverio Insurance Agency, Lawrence
This isn’t Julia Silverio’s first rodeo—she was one of the first YWCA honorees back in 1984, the year she started her Lawrence company, Silverio Insurance Agency. Back then it was called Julia’s Consulting Agency.
Silverio was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the North Shore in 1969. “My company started out of a growing Latino Community in need of services in their native language in the Merrimack Valley and other close by communities,” says Silverio. Offering protection for auto, home, life, business, and health, her company aims to take the mystery out of insurance.
Silverio loves that her job allows her to connect with other people, serve her community and get to know her peers. “I love to feel the satisfaction of a job well done helping others,” she says. She wants to offer congratulations to the other nominees and honorees and hopes this inspires ambitious women to continue chasing their dreams, and those in their life to continue supporting them. “I hope this will encourage other young women to realize that doing your best pays off,” she says.