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Framingham State honors women's history by highlighting those making it now

By Brittney McNamara
MetroWest Daily News, Framingham

FRAMINGHAM – As Women’s History Month comes to a close, Framingham State University launched the first-annual Women Making History Now awards, honoring six women who have made an impact on their communities, the region and the state.

Tuesday’s award ceremony marked the first round of Women Making History Now award recipients, an honor created by the school’s Inclusive Excellence office. Rather than keeping Women’s History Month focused on achievements of the past, Framingham State’s Chief Diversity Officer Sean Huddleston said the awards are meant to shine light on what women are doing now that will no doubt have historical significance.

In the award’s first year, the school chose state Sen. Karen Spilka, MassBay Community College interim president Yves Salomon-Fernandez, Framingham State Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Vaden-Goad, United Way of Tri-County Chief Philanthropy Officer Jen Maseda, Executive Director of Leadership MetroWest Helen Lemoine and attorney and former first lady of Massachusetts Diane Patrick as recipients.

Though Spilka made history on Tuesday as one of the first women to receive the award, she said she doesn’t start her days with her legacy in mind.

“When I wake up every morning, I don’t say to myself, ‘how can I make history today?’” Spilka said. “What I do wake up in the morning and say to myself is, ‘How can I help people today?’”

Lemoine said she reached her status as a community activist also by setting intentions. Lemoine said she follows a personal mission statement aimed at making positive change, while Vaden-Goad said she relies on careful listening and compassion to achieve equality for the students she serves. For both Salomon-Fernandez and Maseda, the other women in the room serve as inspiration.

“Tonight we celebrate not just the six of us,” Salomon-Fernandez said, “but all of you for the work that you do every day.”

Patrick was not at the ceremony.

Other women along the way, Maseda said, showed her she could dream big. Now, Maseda said her main mission is to enable people, particularly girls and women, to go out and do the same.

“I’ve spent my 20-year career on a mission to help people achieve great expectations,” she said.

Honoring these women, Framingham State President Javier Cevallos said, is a way to not only mark their accomplishments, but to remember there’s still work to be done.

“In spite of all the things that have changed…there are still challenges in terms of equity,” Cevallos said. “I think we have to continue to talk about the issues that are important to us.”

For Maseda, the fight remains not to be thought of on the same level as a man, but not to be thought of in terms of gender at all.

“I don’t want to be treated equally to a man,” she said. “I want to be treated like a … leader.”

Brittney McNamara can be reached at 508-490-7463 or by email at Follow her on Twitter at @bmcnamara_MW.