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slides: 15 Women Making a Difference in Central Massachusetts

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


When it comes to leading change in Central Massachusetts, women are at the forefront. From entrepreneurs and lawyers to fitness gurus, musicians and advocates for the disadvantaged, these 15 women are putting their passions to work, and creating change the region can be proud of.

They may differ in type, but all these women have one important thing in common: they make Worcester and Central Massachusetts better places to live, to work, and to play.


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Lin Hultgren

Fitness Guru

Lin Hultgren is taking the fitness world by storm with her expert knowledge of the craft. An ACE certified fitness trainer, "Feminine Fitness" is listed as her speciality. But she has also become a leading public advocate for the "virtual school option" in MA for children who can't attend regular "brick and mortar" schools. She will soon be visiting Capitol Hill to speak about the issue.

In her own words:  "I think that most woman have an inborn talent for multi-tasking. My goal in life has been to be effective and to make a positive difference, even if it be only in my small world that surrounds me."

To read more about Lin Hultgren, click here.

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Ashley Troy

Sole Proprietor of Trunk and Disorderly

Ashley Troy is a small business consignment shop entrepreneur with big dreams of going national. She unexpectedly discovered her true passion while working a college job at a Newbury Street consignment shop. Though she had no experience in consignment, and knew less than half the styles and brands scattered around the shop, Troy knew she found her calling. 

In her own words:  “The creativity in Worcester is out of this world. It inspired me to go for what I had always dreamed of doing. When I saw the tight strings and support in this community, I realized this was where I would want to begin Trunk & Disorderly's story!”

To read more about Ashley Troy, click here.

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Jennifer Durkin

Sole Proprietor of Soothe Massage Therapy

Durkin discovered her love for analytical problem solving and anatomy while studying at Boston University. She was captivated by courses such as physiological psychology and neuroanatomy. Now, as a licensed massage therapist, Durkin applies these skills and knowledge in a way her clients can take comfort in. She opened her business, taking a chance on a "crazy idea" only a little over a year ago.

In her own words: “It’s a city that has a strong foundation in small businesses, not chains and franchises. Worcester’s small business community is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s awesome to be part of, and a supporter of, that force.”

To read more about Jennifer Durkin, please click here.

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Lauren Monroe

Founder and Director of Worcester Think Tank LLC

Lauren Monroe of Worcester is changing the face of science education for youth in Central Massachusetts with her own innovative ideas for creative discovery in the 21st century. A passionate world-traveler, singer, songwriter, actress, and self-proclaimed “science nerd,” Monroe is founder and director of Worcester Think Tank LLC, formed in 2008 at the Sprinkler Factory on Harlow Street. 

In her own words: “I recognized a niche in providing hands-on science education to the home schooled community,” she said.  “After burning a small hole in a client’s table, I also recognized the need for a more appropriate space to hold my classes!”

To read more about Lauren Monroe, click here.

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Vanessa Costa

Principal and Co-Founder of Worcester-based Advantage Benefits Group

Proud of her status as an experienced professional and entrepreneur for the past 30 years, Vanessa cites her father, an accountant by trade, as inspiring fiscal responsibility and technical expertise at a young age. Thanks to this early introduction, she has grown a lucrative business in the insurance and financial services industry ensuring healthy lives one client at a time. She was also instrumental in bringing JetBlue to Worcester.

In her own words: “My husband and I grew up in Worcester, and we have chosen to build our family in Worcester County. Not only do we want to be a resource for other Worcester businesses when it comes to employee benefit plans, but we also enjoy giving back to the community.”

To read more about Vanessa Costa, click here.

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Corrie Painter

Anti-Cancer Crusader

While working as a Ph.D student, Painter was diagnosed with primary angiosarcoma (AS) of the breast, a rare but devastating disease. As a result she began a journey that became both a passion and a mission, helping organize charitable events to raise awareness and funds to combat the deadly illness.

In her own words: "I couldn’t live in a state of ignorance, so I just threw every ounce of my being into the fight against angiosarcoma. I was aware that this disease would probably take me out before my children had a chance to know me, so I tried to be a role model by living with strength and resilience.”

To read more about Corrie Painter, click here.

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Rose Pavlov

Child Advocate, President of Ivy Child International

Pavlov realized at a very young age that her passion was working with young children. Her commitment to community and international humanitarian service evolved as a teenager, when she worked with Mother Theresa and the Sisters of Charity. While serving slum dwellers in southern India, she taught art and music to children in villages. Over the past two years, she has worked with the victims of the natural disaster in Haiti, provided teacher/school training in the Dominican Republic, and lectured in the United States.

In her own words: “Enacting positive social change begins with a fruitful human revolution in one individual which will help achieve change in the destiny of a community and further, mobilize change for the future of all humanity.”

To read more about Rose Pavlov, click here.

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Robin Lane

Musician and Trauma Survivor

Upon arrival in New England, Lane formed her renowned band Robin Lane & The Chartbusters. Now Lane is on a mission to transform lives through the art of songwriting, a medium she credits with saving her own life, with her Songbird Sings and GIFT Programs. She herself is a surivivor of childhood neglect and domestic abuse.

In her own words: "Our mission is to transform the lives of women and children silenced by abuse and violence. Songwriting workshops enable participants to give a voice to their experiences and emotions, build inner strength and resilience and to develop much needed support systems."

To read more about Robin Lane, click here.

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Teresa Rafferty

Child Activist

Dr. Teresa Rafferty has spent much of her time providing therapeutic services to families, couple, and individuals. The recipient of Worcester’s Best Therapist award several years running. Dr. Rafferty is also the founder of a pilot program called Baby’s Breath that aims to expedite the securing of permanent placements for young children who are too often shuffled from one foster home to the next. Now Dr. Rafferty is launching the Baby’s Breath Bill to address the shortcomings and dangerous practices inherent in the current foster care system.

In her own words: "My goal is to partner with congress to help change the system so that the most vulnerable among us—young children who cannot speak for or defend themselves—receive the kind of safe, stable, and permanent care that will promote healthy development during their formative years. We want to help these kids to find permanency and a “forever home.”

To read more about Teresa Rafferty, click here.

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Audrey Kurlan-Marcy

Cancer Activist

At age 25, Kurlan-Marcy was singing in a band and opening an advertising and marketing agency when a chance meeting changed the course of her life. Twenty-six years later, in 2012, her work as a volunteer led to her selection by the Worcester City Manager’s Advisory Council on the Status of Women for the Women of Consequence Award. Her work as a cancer activist and philanthropist has changed the face of cancer research and treatment as well as directly helped cancer patients.

In her own words: "I have seen miracles happen along the way. Every day I get up and make the bed instead of being stuck in it. I am healthy. I realize how fortunate I am. I have learned so much about compassion and understanding through watching the struggle people endure so courageously when cancer is part of the equation. I now know that if you can dream it, believe, it and see it, you can make it happen."

To read more about Audrey Kurlan-Marcy, click here.

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Janice Yost

Founding President of the Health Foundation of Central Mass

The Foundation has played a key role in essentially eliminating chronic adult homelessness in Worcester and focused on multi-year projects that have achieved substantive public policy accomplishments such as improving preschool children’s mental health, preventing shaken baby syndrome, increasing access to dental services and mental health services, reducing hunger, guiding prisoner reentry and reducing recidivism, and moving public housing tenants toward self-sufficiency. Yost has recieved numerous awards for this work.

In her own words: "In the broader context of health, mental health and oral health are closely related to physical health. Adequate housing, food, good lifestyle choices are all part of the equation. Prevention is the key. I personally get great satisfaction out of fixing broken systems and preventing tragic consequences."

To read more about Janice Yost, click here.

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Maureen Binienda

Principal of South High School

Binienda is responsible for exercising vision and providing leadership that appropriately involves staff, parents, students, business partners and community in the identification and accomplishment of the school's mission and goals. Binienda has been called the “Angel of the Battlefield” for the work that she does in Worcester’s poorest school district. She sits on four boards of directors and takes every opportunity she can find to expose her school to the community.

In her own words: "I definitely think anyone considering a career in education should pursue it. We need good teachers and people who care about these children and the future of our country. It is a lot of work with little downtime but the rewards are huge."

To read more about Maureen Binienda, click here.

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Jean McMurray

Executive Director of the Worcester County Food Bank

McMurray provides leadership and direction to all areas of the Food Bank's programs and operations. She has also worked for a local homeless shelter and held positions in Washington, D.C., as a media analyst for the Embassy of Jordan, as a research assistant to former White House communications director David Gergen, and as a consultant to the Central American Peace Scholarship Program at the United States Agency for International Development.

In her own words: "We definitely have to do better as a country and a society to ensure that all people have enough nutritious food to support their health and development."

To read more about Jean McMurray, click here.

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Polly Tatum

Top Divorce Mediator

In 2011, Worcester attorney and resident Polly Tatum became the first African American and only the third woman to preside over the Worcester County Bar Association. As a solo practitioner focusing on Divorce and Family Mediation, Same Sex and Second Parent Adoptions, Family Law, and Estate Planning, Attorney Tatum is also a leader and a respected authority in the complex field of divorce mediation and in her work with those in non-traditional relationships.

In her own words: "I grew up in a community where people took pride in working hard and carving out their small piece of the American dream. When I graduated from high school in 1982, the country was in a recession and jobs were scarce. I worked for two years in factories in Leominster and Fitchburg and decided that I wanted more."

To read more about Polly Tatum, please click here.

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Amy Mosher

Workforce Consultant

An entrepreneurial-minded workforce development professional based in Worcester, Amy Mosher is a self-declared "entrepreneur in a government cubicle”. She currently holds the position of Strategy and Innovation Leader at Workforce Central Career Center, one of 33 One-Stop Career Centers statewide. She creates innovative programming and pathways to help jobseekers—especially those who are long term unemployed—to reinvent themselves and their thoughts to ensure long-term success.

In her own words: "To help people find their passion and their path and to watch when they find clarity and self-confidence is so rewarding. I feel deeply compelled to help everyone to fulfill their potential. I feel I am in the right place to do it, and I am grateful."

To read more about Amy Mosher, click here.


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