“Taking Space While Making Space”: The Wise Words of Five Unstoppable Women

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On Wednesday, June 15th, YW Boston hosted the 27th Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon at the Westin Copley Place in Back Bay. We want to thank everyone who made this event a success, including our awardees, speakers, sponsors, and guests. This celebration would not be possible without you all. Thanks to your support and generosity, we reached our goal and raised over $30,000 to fund our programs that will help eliminate racism and empower women across Boston.

Hundreds came together, in person and online, to celebrate our honorees and to support YW Boston. It was our first time gathering in person for the event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your enthusiasm was felt through the roaring cheers, online chatter, and donations. Check out our digital program book for the Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon here.  

We were delighted to induct five incredible women into the academy. Each honoree pre-recorded their remarks, and you can view them below:  

  • Evelyn Barahona, Director, the Latino Equity Fund  Evelyn’s Remarks
  • Saskia Epstein, Vice President, Client and Community Relations, PNC Bank Saskia’s Remarks
  • Allison Feaster, Vice President of Player Development & Organization Growth, Boston Celtics Allison’s Remarks
  • Jeneé Osterheldt, Culture Columnist and creator of A Beautiful Resistance, The Boston Globe Jeneé’s Remarks
  • Michelle Tat, Senior Data Analyst, Reify Health (Sylvia Ferrell-Jones Awardee) Michelle’s Remarks

Our host committee Co-Chairs, Annis Gill-Miller and Beyazmin Jimenez, welcomed the audience and kicked off our 27th Academy of Women Achievers celebration. YW Boston President and CEO, Beth Chandler, also shared a few words. Beth paused to acknowledge the challenges that the world, our country, and Boston, are facing today. She stated, “In some ways, the darkness is a reminder to savor days like today. We come together as a community, and it is our ability to connect with each other that’s going to sustain us through these difficult times.” 

MA State Representative Liz Miranda, who was inducted into the academy last year, was also invited to the stage to congratulate this year’s award recipients. Speaking to the honorees directly, Liz said, “Thank you for being brave, bold, and for being badass. We need more badassery! You can learn to be many things – but you can’t learn the heart, hope, and hustle that it takes to get to where you’re going.”  

Liz was followed by Emmy Award-winning anchor on NBC10 Boston, Latoyia Edwards, who has emceed this event for five years with her unmatched energy. Latoyia led a live fundraiser for the audience, which ultimately led to us surpassing our goal of $30,000. If you haven’t already, you can still support YW Boston by donating today. Your gifts will mean that we continue our work in helping individuals and organizations to create inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.  

“Giving to YW Boston right now is investing in a better Boston for all.”

Latoyia Edwards

Latoyia also led a panel with our award recipients, where she asked them poignant questions on their triumphs, what gives them optimism, and beyond. Each honoree candidly reflected on their journeys to becoming the powerful women they are today. Across industries, they are telling stories, fighting structural inequities, and making space for women, people of color, and women of color. We hope their words of wisdom not only instill hope, but that they also light a fire inside of you to join us in working towards racial and gender equity.  

“When I’m in this room… It stirs my spirit because I recognize that we are all invested in shifting this paradigm. That’s why we’re here. That’s why YW Boston exists. We’re all invested in not only seeing the lies, but getting to the truth. In the Latino community, and women generally, we are waking up and realizing our inherit worth.”

Evelyn Barahona

“To move the needle, I believe we also have to do the work quietly and privately in our own lives… Social change requires widespread, sweeping conviction. To stand up, not aside. But it can start simply with one or two degrees of separation: in our families, in our workplaces, with our friends.”

Saskia Epstein

“I am you and you are me. Seeing me, and other women, who hold executive and leadership roles in NBA team front offices …. means young women and girls know these roles are available to them. That is the pure definition of impact. That is the pure definition of empowerment.”

Allison Feaster 

“We do it for the story and not the glory…. That’s why I do what I do. Joy is essential to that. When you’re only seeing through the lens of suffering and brutality, then you start to believe the lies you’re told… To be here, it inspires me to go harder and to do more. Every time I sit in a chair like this, I think of who I can bring with me next. As we take space, we have to make space.” 

Jeneé Osterheldt

“One of the things that gives me great optimism in my work is seeing queer youth that are coming of age. It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the streets and doing the work, but I am incredibly optimistic when it comes to the new leadership that is coming on board. I think the queer youth are the future in the movement.”

Michelle Tat

Learn more about some of our awe-inspiring awardees by reading our interviews with them: Evelyn Barahona, Jeneé Osterheldt, Allison Feaster, and Michelle Tat. Check out a recording of the event below:


Thank you to our awardees, speakers, amazing sponsors, individual donors, The Westin Copley Place, and everyone who attended the 2022 Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon! 

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DEI Services—such as InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and F.Y.R.E. Initiative, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed. 

As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sheera@ywboston.org.