Get to know Evelyn Barahona, 2022 Academy of Women Achievers Awardee

evelyn barahona

On June 15, 2022 we will join together and celebrate the achievements of five unstoppable women who demonstrate YW Boston’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women at our 27th Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon.

Since 1995, as part of our mission to promote and celebrate the achievements of women, YW Boston has held the Academy of Women Achievers luncheon. Through this event, we recognize and honor some of Boston’s brightest, boldest, bravest, and most influential women. Leading up to the event, we are sitting down with each of the 2022 awardees for interviews and releasing one each month.

YW Boston cannot wait to induct Evelyn Barahona into the Academy of Women Achievers. Evelyn is the director of the Latino Equity Fund, the only philanthropic fund centered on the Latino community in the Commonwealth. To learn about Evelyn, read our interview with her:


We are thrilled to honor you at our 27th Academy of Women Achievers on June 15th. Can you please tell us what about YW Boston’s work resonates with you?

I really appreciate YW Boston’s unapologetic mission to have an anti-racist society and using the intersection of gender and race to advance equity.

Tell us about your career journey. What drew you to philanthropy and to the Latino Equity Fund in particular?

Prior to philanthropy, I had worked in the private sector for some time. Over the years, I wondered about working for organizations whose main mission was to improve the lives of others. I initially started as a consultant for a relief and recovery initiative that the Boston Foundation had created in response to a disaster event with Latino leaders and as the project progressed there was an opportunity to join the Philanthropy Group and work with donors and to also serve as a TBF (The Boston Foundation) liaison to the Latino Equity Fund (LEF) which later evolved into becoming its first director.

What drew me to take on this role was the laser-focused mission of uplifting the Latino community in Massachusetts through its philanthropic platform as a funder, connector, and advocate. What makes this work exciting is the opportunity to show the assets that exist within the community despite the ongoing challenges. Latinos are not a monolith.

Why is it crucial to have a fund specifically dedicated to supporting Boston’s Latino/e/x population?

As one of the largest growing demographics in the Commonwealth, it is important for a fund like LEF to exist on the philanthropic landscape. Our work not only looks to strengthen the Latino nonprofit ecosystem that has historically received an average of 1.8% in philanthropic dollars, but it also looks to utilize our civic leadership levers of research, convening, and advocacy to address the systemic challenges facing the community with key stakeholders.

COVID-19 exposed the longstanding inequities impacting the Latino community, and reaffirmed for the Latino Equity Fund the need to take a long-term approach toward equitable recovery with a targeted approach toward community investments whose multiplier effect includes changes in policy, practices, and how Latino nonprofits are funded and supported.

How would you like to see the philanthropic sector more fully integrate principals of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Understanding that people are at different junctures in this journey, I would like to see the philanthropic sector continue to explore what DEI looks like in action, in practice and how it’s upheld through its policy and culture. It’s not enough to commit to the principals through diverse hiring and representation, the sector and individual organizations also need to evaluate if its current culture and structures allow for DEI to thrive or not.

'It’s not enough to commit to the principals...the sector and individual organizations also need to evaluate if its current culture and structures allow for DEI to thrive.' - Evelyn Barahona, 2022 Academy of Women Achievers Awardee Share on X
You lead workshops to support women negotiating their salary. Tell us about why this work is important to you and if you’ve seen any change in your work over the past seven years.

Facilitating salary negotiation for women is very personal for me because I know many incredible women who are head of households, helping family members or looking to advance their lives and every one of them deserve to earn a salary that aligns with their experience, talent, and education. They should not make less because of their gender, nor should they be expected not to negotiate because of conventional norms and attitudes toward women.

One of the best changes I have seen take place was the creation of the New Pay Equity Law that took place in 2018 prohibiting prospective employers from asking candidates about salary history prior to making a job offer. Prior to this law, many women saw their potential earnings dwindle because prospective employers sometimes used salary history as the range for their offer.

It’s great to see so many women who are investing in their future when negotiating for a new job and salary. Sometimes when you ask for what you want, you get more than you expect.

What advice do you have for women striving for equity in their workplaces and throughout Greater Boston?

Health is wealth, and your well being should not be the last thing on your to do list. Striving for equity also means striving for our own well being in the process. We cannot do this great work burned out.

''Health is wealth, and your well being should not be the last thing on your to do list...We cannot do this great work burned out.' -Evelyn Barahona, 2022 Academy of Women Achievers Awardee Share on X


Learn more from Evelyn Barahona at our 27th Annual Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

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2022 Academy of Women Achievers Awardees
Evelyn Barahona, Director, Latino Equity Fund
Saskia Epstein, Vice President, Client and Community Relations, PNC Bank
Allison Feaster, Vice President of Player Development & Organizational Growth, The Boston Celtics
JeneĂ© Osterheldt, Culture Columnist, The Boston Globe Read our interview with her.
Michelle Tat, Senior Data Analyst, Reify Health, Sylvia Ferrell-Jones Award Recipient