The Story Behind Trailblazing Women

In January of 2017, the Cambridge community lost a long-time member, activist, and unsung hero, Renae Gray.  While deciding how to honor her legacy, Denise Simmons, Dita Obler, and Eva Martin Blythe came together with an idea. The group was touched by Renee Gray’s commitment to teaching her daughter Michele Scott about women’s role in social change. This lead to the idea of honoring 6 sets of mothers and daughter team activists in the Cambridge community.

During that time, two Community Conversations fellows went to an event where they met Fran Smith, a staff member from Mass Humanities. Mass Humanities had developed an Open and Honest Dialogue program focused on race and white supremacy. Using this model alongside Community Conversations: Sister to Sister Dialogue Model, the idea of Trailblazing Women was born.

Having lost another important social change activist, Nancy Beckford, the team decided to continue the Trailblazing Women tradition. This event will be running for a second year with the theme of “Nevertheless She Persisted” in honor of our women’s champion, Elizabeth Warren, Senator of MA. The night will consist of an honoring of 6 sisterhood duos who are committed to social change within the Cambridge community.

From there, we will hold a communal reading of Maya Angelou’s “In Her Own Words”. Using the combined dialogue model, facilitators will break the audience up into small groups to discuss the piece and the role of gender, ethnic, and racial identity, resilience in the face of diversity, and building women’s networks.

Please join YWCA Cambridge, Community Conversations: Sister to Sister, Mass Humanities, City of Cambridge, Cambridge Women’s Commission, and E. Denise Simmon on March 28, 2018 from 5:45-8pm at Cambridge City Hall for the 2nd Annual Trailblazing Women: Communal Reading & Community Conversation.

Trailblazing Women is honoring the following sisterhood duos this year:

Nancy Beckford, Shelley Flaherty, & Roberta Green
Denise Maguire & Christine Elow
Rosalind O’Sullivan & Claudie Jean-Baptiste
Poppy Milner & Gail Willett
Dorothy Elizabeth Tucker & Andy Taylor-Blenis
MeiLin Pratt & Naomi Tsegaye


Stand Against Racism

To kick off this year’s Stand Against Racism campaign, YWCA Cambridge is making
t-shirts available through Bonfire.
On April 21, 2018, YWCA Cambridge will host a panel discussion featuring Women of Color Elected Officials on “The Importance of Registering to Vote, Voting and Running
 for Public Office”. Order your t-shirt and save the date! A portion of each t-shirt sale goes to YWCA Cambridge.
Keep an eye out for more details on this upcoming event!

Black History- More Than Just A Month

Each year since 1926, we celebrate Black History Month. It’s no secret that February is the shortest month in the year and just isn’t long enough time to discuss the many important aspects of Black History. There are a multitude of ways we can continue celebrating and educating ourselves throughout the year. From the classroom to our homes, it’s important to continue the conversation of Black History.

In the Classroom:

  1. Utilize the National Education Association and Scholastic for Lessons and Resources.
  2. Develop a group project, activity, or craft using ideas from Pinterest to get students engaged and talking about Black History.

In Your Home:

  1. Read to your kids. Have a discussion about diversity. 
    1. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
    2. A Poem for Peter, by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson
    3. Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Christian Robinson.
    4. This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration, by Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by James Ransome
    5. Source:NY Times
  2. Sit yourself down with a Black History book 
    1. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs
    2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
    3. The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
    4. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    5. Source: The Huffington Post 

On a Roadtrip:

  1. Check out a Black History Podcast and have a discussion after it’s finished.
  2. Visit significant Black History sites, monuments, and museums throughout the country.

Watching Netflix:

  1. Check out a documentary while hanging out on a weekend afternoon.
    1. African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
    2. The Loving Story
    3. Dark Girls
    4. Source: Brit+Co



We Are On a Mission in 2018.

When thinking about the New Year and what it means for YWCA Cambridge, we began to look at the four core programs that make us who we are. Those four programs are: Housing and Shelter Services; Health and Wellness; Empowerment and Economic Advancement of Women and Girls; and Racial and Social Justice. Each area is key to the success of our mission: to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

In order to highlight our efforts in 2018, we have created this blog to showcase issues, achievements, stories, and events surrounding our program areas.  From telling the stories of our girls leadership program (GOLD) participants to reporting on our efforts to overcome the issues of personal and institutional racism, we want to give you the ins and outs of YWCA Cambridge through monthly blog posts. Our goal with this blog is to educate, motivate and create conversations about each program area.

We want to know what issues are important to you. Tell us what you want to hear or learn more about! Email Whitney at