Our vision is to be the premier women’s philanthropic and leadership group in Central Massachusetts funding programs that improve the lives of adolescent girls. Women’s Initiative groups are part of a national trend of women engaging in philanthropy, organized to create a powerful force to effect change in society.
The Women’s Initiative was established in 2002 by Lois Green and Meridith Wesby who joined forces with other influential women leaders in Central Massachusetts to raise funds to prevent and reduce violence in the lives of adolescent girls in the community.
Working with volunteer committees of community leaders, the Women’s Initiative has engaged more than 1,000 members and 2,000 donors.
Funds raised support programs that improve and empower the lives of girls, ages 10 to 14, through mentoring, educational opportunities, and financial literacy. Grants are awarded to organizations which build, strengthen and support the development of healthy, safe and confident girls. With support from area colleges and local women volunteers, the Women’s Initiative runs biannual financial literacy conferences for teen girls, called Dollar $cholars.
Impact Since Inception
- $5 million raised in donations
- 125 grants made to programs that support safety, well-being, healthy relationships, education, and financial literacy among girls ages 10-14
- 13,000 adolescent girls helped through WI-funded programs
- 3,700 teen girls from 12 middle schools located in central Massachusetts participated in Dollar $cholar Financial Literacy Conferences
- 1,200 women mentors volunteered at Dollar $cholar Financial Literacy Conferences for teen girls
Meet the Women’s Initiative Leadership Team
Director, Women’s Initiative
Emily McCann joined the Women’s Initiative as Director in September, 2018. Emily has an extensive background in corporate philanthropy and non-profit development, community relations and program management, most recently at Staples and The TJX Companies. At Staples, where she was the Senior Manager of Community and Giving, Emily developed and launched the Staples Foundation’s employee-driven grant program, managed national and local charitable partnerships, disaster relief efforts, and community service activities. firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President of Community Impact, UWCM & Women’s Initiative
Kerry Conaghan has led Community Impact efforts for the Women’s Initiative since joining the United Way in 2006. She engages a committee of Women’s Initiative volunteers to review, evaluate, and recommend grant funding to programs which aim to reduce the incidence of violence affecting girls ages 10-14 in Central Massachusetts. Kerry also serves on the Steering Committee of Investing in Girls Alliance.
Chair, Women’s Initiative Leadership Council
Kerri Aleksiewicz Melley is a Financial Planner with Commonwealth Financial Group. Recognizing that today’s women face a unique set of challenges when it comes to their finances, Kerri is passionate about helping them grow and preserve their wealth, while building their confidence in planning and managing their financial lives. Prior to her career in financial services, Kerri honed her strategic planning and relationship management skills as a development professional for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Eastman School of Music. Kerri began volunteering for the Women’s Initiative as a Dollar $cholar Mentor over 10 years ago and has remained active and passionate about the organization ever since. She is honored to Chair the Women’s Initiative Leadership Council.
Kerri Melley is a registered representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. Supervisory Address: 101 Federal Street, Suite 800, Boston, MA 02110. Tel: 617.439.4389. CRN202109-253338
Leadership Council Members
|Kerri Melley||Chair, Leadership Council||Commonwealth Financial Group|
|Elizabeth Vittum||Vice-Chair, Leadership Council||Seven Hills Foundation|
|Kathryn Behan||At-Large||UMass Memorial Health Care|
|Christine Cassidy||At-Large||Fallon Health|
|Filomena Cesareo||Co-Chair, Financial Literacy||Assumption College|
|Kathy Esparza||At-Large||City of Worcester|
|Marianne Fini||Vice-Chair, Membership-Marketing||Unum|
|Patricia Hallberg||At-Large||Girl Scouts of Central and Western Mass|
|Connie Hamilton||Co-Chair, Financial Literacy|
|Elizabeth Helenius||At-Large||Fallon Health|
|Echo Lahey||Vice Chair, Community Impact||Educator (retired)|
|Leah Lamson||Chair, Governance||New England High School Journalism Collaborative|
|Sherri Pitcher||Chair, Membership-Marketing||Fidelity Bank|
|Krishan Prosser||At-Large||Worcester Business Journal|
|Aarti Smith Madan||Chair, Community Impact||Worcester Polytechnic Institute|
|Meridith Wesby||Co-Founder||MWesby & Associates (retired)|
|Pamela Boisvert, Chair, Emeritae||MassEdCo, Inc.|
|Lynne Flanagan Tsombakos||You, Inc.|
|Eve Gilmore||Edward Street Child Services|
|Rose Hayes||Edward Street Child Services|
|Karen King||Central Mass Housing Alliance|
|Cheryl M. Lapriore||UMass Memorial Health Care|
|Kathleen Myshrall||Seven Hills Foundation|
|Phyllis Pollack||Child Heart Associates|
|Stephanie Williams||Commonwealth of Massachusetts|