MCSW is composed of women from diverse backgrounds, representing counties and municipalities from across the state. Their commitment to improving the status of women in society is evident within their professional endeavors, and their contributions to MCSW stand true to its underlying mission. Their biographies highlighting some of their notable work within and outside of MCSW are linked below.
All Commissioners are appointed by one of the four appointing authorities: Five Commissioners are appointed by the Governor, four by the Senate President, four by Speaker of the House, and six by the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators. The Commissioners are sworn in by the Secretary of State or another authorized designee and serve for up-to 3 terms (renewable).
Interested in becoming appointed as a Commissioner? Contact one of the appointing authorities to find out their respective policies and timelines for appointments. Prospective Commissioners may also contact Executive Director, Jill Ashton (email@example.com), for additional information regarding the nomination process and expected responsibilities.
As a Commission, we are empowered to:
- Study, review and report on the status of women in the Commonwealth
- Advise executive and legislative bodies on the effect of proposed legislation on women
- Inform leaders of business, education, health care, state and local governments and the communications media of issues pertaining to women
- Provide referrals and serve as a resource of information on issues pertaining to women
- Identify and recommend qualified women for positions at all levels of government
- Promote and facilitate collaboration among local women's commissions and among women’s organizations in the state
- Serve as a liaison between government and private interest groups concerned with issues affecting women
- Assess programs and practices in all state agencies as they affect women
Denella Clark, Hyde Park (she/her/hers)
Eastern Regional Commission Liaison
Denella Clark, Hyde Park resident and President and CEO of Boston Arts Academy (BAA) Foundation, has been re-elected as Chair of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW). Chairwoman Clark was first appointed to the Commission in 2015 and reappointed in 2018 by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. She was elected to Chair by her fellow Commissioners, and is the first Woman of Color to lead the Commission. Clark’s past roles include serving as Vice Chair and Treasurer.
Chairwoman Clark shares, “The Commission is ever grateful to our partners and colleagues, including the members of state administration and the legislature, who collaborated with us during this challenging time in order to listen to the voices of women and advocate for legislation that uplifts our voices. We look forward to expanding our research and efforts in line with our mission to advance the status of women and girls in Massachusetts.”
A nonprofit executive, mother, and philanthropist, Chairwoman Clark is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion. Chairwoman Clark states, “As the first Black woman to chair the Commission, one of my goals is to amplify legislation that will directly benefit and improve the lives of women of color.”
Audrey Hall, Framingham (she/her/hers)
MCSW Vice Chair
COVID-19 Action Committee Chair
MetroWest Regional Commission Liaison
Audrey Hall was recently elected by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW) to the office of Vice Chair. Hall was appointed to the Commission in 2018 by Senate President Karen E. Spilka. She served as Vice Chair of the MCSW’s Legislative and Public Policy Committee from 2019 to 2020 and as Chair of the MCSW’s Budget and Personnel Committee from 2020 to 2021. In March of 2020 after Governor Baker declared a state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall was elected to serve as Chair of the MCSW’s COVID-19 Action Committee. Hall is a Strategic Communications Consultant with 35 years of Executive Leadership in Marketing and Operations in the private and public sectors. She is the President of the Board of Directors of Framingham Public Access Television and the Executive Producer and Host of The Audrey Hall Show on YouTube, RCN, Verizon and Comcast. Hall is a Mayoral appointee to the Framingham Council on Aging, serving as Clerk. Hall served as an elected town meeting member in Framingham for 19 years and 12 years as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
Speaking about her new role as Vice Chair, Hall said, “I am relentlessly passionate about justice, equality, and integrity in government. It’s an honor and a privilege to put that passion to work in this leadership role at the MCSW on behalf of all women and girls in the Commonwealth.”
Leslie-Ann McGee, Kingston (she/her/hers)
Leslie-Ann McGee is the Director of Projects and Special Initiatives, Marine Operations and Facilities at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Leslie-Ann is responsible for developing strategic vision and leadership, managing external relations and partnerships and retaining primary responsibility for organizational and program management of CMR. She provides leadership on customer relationship management for industrial clients and government sponsors and supports CMR’s acceleration of a robust robotics program at WHOI. Ms. McGee is also the Program Manager for the Cape Cod Blue Economy Project in association with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and the Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation. She is an expert in ocean and coastal issues in both the domestic and international arena and has a diverse background working with and for state, regional, national, business and environmental entities globally. She also maintains a consulting practice through her firm, Full Sail Consulting based in Kingston, MA. Ms. McGee served as the Director of Coastal Zone Management for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, McGee was the Director of Programs for the World Ocean Council, Director of Ocean and Coastal Solutions at Battelle Memorial Institute and held state and federal positions with NOAA, the New England Fishery Management Council and the MA Department of Fish and Game. Ms. McGee is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. She conducted her graduate research on Bluefin Tuna at the New England Aquarium. Leslie-Ann lives in Kingston, MA with her husband, Dan Shropshire, and their two children, Coyle and Holden. And, one very large Bernese Mountain Dog, Tanner.
Sarah Glenn-Smith, Holliston (she/her/hers)
Budget and Personnel Committee Chair
Dr. Sarah Glenn-Smith was appointed to the Commission by Senate President Karen Spilka in November 2020. She has worked as a professional in the healthcare, education, technology and nonprofit arenas for more than 20 years. She is currently the President and CEO for The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham. Prior to joining TLC, Dr. Glenn-Smith worked for Kaleida Health, the largest healthcare system in Western New York, as both a CEO for their joint radiology venture, and, later, as President of Ambulatory Services. Applying her passion for education, she worked for six years at PLS 3rd Learning, an international education technology company, as Chief Operating Officer, and brings extensive experience in the conception, development and execution of strategic and tactical financial, organization and development initiatives. Dr. Glenn-Smith has also held the roles of Chief Administrative Officer for the healthcare management group, Exigence, and Executive Director of Deaf Adult Services, in Buffalo, New York. She is currently serving on the board of The Center for the Assessment of Sign Language Interpreters in the role of Treasurer. Dr. Glenn-Smith earned her Executive Master's Degree in Business Administration at State University of New York at Buffalo, and both a Masters and Doctorate in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She grew up in Southern California, and currently resides in Holliston, Massachusetts.
Rebecca Bact, Auburndale (she/her/hers)
Upper Middlesex Commission Co-Liaison
Rebecca Bact, Newton resident and attorney, has been elected as MCSW Vice Chair. Bact was appointed to the Commission in 2017 by Governor Charlie Baker. From 2018-2020, Rebecca served as Secretary of MCSW and Vice Chair of the Program and Planning Committee. Rebecca is committed to advancing the interests of all women, girls, and non-binary people, and is particularly committed to hearing from and including the voices of communities of color, immigrant communities, and the LGBTQ community as to their particular needs. Outside of the Commission, Rebecca works as a lawyer, including at the firms of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Beck Reed Riden LLP, where she represented clients in litigation, concentrating on intellectual property and appellate matters. She is also dedicated to her pro bono practice, which has focused on LGBTQ and immigrant rights.
Ruth Bramson, Boston (she/her/hers)
Program and Planning Committee Vice Chair
COVID-19 Action Committee Co Chair
Ruth Bramson is the former CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. Bramson was reappointed to the Commission in 2019 by Governor Charlie Baker, having served on the Commission under two previous administrations. Bramson served as the Commonwealth's Undersecretary of Administration and Finance in the Romney Administration. Her career has been dedicated to advancing opportunities for all women and girls and advocating for gender equity and against domestic violence. Bramson has spearheaded initiatives in diversity and STEM education. She served as the first CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA, working with 45,000 girls to develop their leadership skills and self-confidence. She holds a B.S. from Columbia University and a M.S. from Boston University's School of Education. Bramson also serves as Co Chair of COVID-19 Action Committee.
Jean Fox, Freetown (she/her/hers)
Program and Planning Committee Chair
Jean Fox is the Director of Outreach for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s South Coast Rail project. Fox was appointed to the Commission by MA Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo, in 2017. Heading up the public engagement and outreach effort for a major commuter rail expansion project, Fox led the South Coast Rail project through MassDOT’s environmental review and permitting process, ushering the project to construction. Jean is active in her hometown of Freetown as well as the South Coast, most recently spearheading the effort to launch and implement the Freetown Regional Food Pantry. A former Freetown Selectman, Jean has participated on numerous educational boards and committees in the South Coast. She is Chair of the Freetown-Lakeville Regional School Committee and Secretary of the Global Learning Charter Public School Board of Trustees. Fox has been active in bringing much-needed attention to the transportation needs of the region, working on a Transit Development Plan in New Bedford as well as advocating for reliable transportation for women and students to get to and from work, jobs, education, healthcare, and childcare. Fox was named a Woman of Distinction by the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts in 2013, and received the Lifelong Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in 2010.
Marianne Fleckner, Westford (she/her/hers)
Upper Middlesex Commission Co-Liaison
Marianne is currently the Director of Human Resources for the Town of Acton, since 2008. Before joining Acton, Marianne worked for the Commonwealth for over 20 years in various administrative capacities for 11 State Agencies, specializing in mergers from a Human Resources standpoint. She worked directly for 5 different Governors serving in such capacities as Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioner. She appointed to the Commission by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Previous to joining the Commonwealth, Marianne worked in private industry. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Westfield State University and possesses a graduate-level Human Resources Certificate from Bentley University and an MBA certificate from UMASS Lowell. Marianne is involved with a number of organizations such as the Domestic Violence Services Network, the Center for Hope and Healing, Acton/Boxborough Rotary and the Westford J.V. Fletcher Library. Marianne also volunteers her time to the family’s bagel business, Bagel Alley, and at various Farmer’s Markets.
Liz Friedman, Northhampton (she/her/hers)
Hampshire-Franklin Regional Commission Liaison
Liz Friedman MFA has served as a Commissioner since 2017, appointed by Speaker Robert DeLeo because of her ongoing commitment to perinatal women’s health and her effective advocacy on behalf of the MA Pregnant Workers Fairness amongst other critical bills. Commissioner Friedman currently serves as the Legislative Chair of the Commission and brings more than 30 years of expertise in advocacy including serving on the MA PPD Commission since its inception in 2011 and launching a national coalition for perinatal mental health. She is currently on the Advisory Boards of MA PPD Fund and It Takes A Village and is an associate at Effie’s Grace, focused on maternal-child health policy. She Co-founded MotherWoman, a reproductive justice organization in Western MA and is currently Co-Founder and Co-President, with Annette Cycon, of GPS Group Peer Support, a national organization leading communities, non-profits and state-entities in implementation of trauma-responsive and culturally co-created support groups across a spectrum of lived experiences including parenthood, incarceration, addiction/recovery, and those targeted by immigration discrimination. Currently she is launching the COVID-19 Emergency Support Program across the U.S. and internationally. In 2010, she received the Ted Women’s Award for her outstanding work on behalf of mothers and was highlighted in two award-winning documentaries on perinatal mental health, "Dark Side of the Full Moon” (2016) and “Not Carol” (2019). Commissioner Friedman has never been more excited than in her work on the MCSW. She says, “ We have the opportunity to unite ALL women in the Commonwealth towards a collective voice as we share our experiences and partner with legislators in advocating for equity for each one of us. Now is the time. Come join us!”
Allison Goldberg, Marblehead (she/her/hers)
Essex County Regional Commission Co-Liaison
Allison Goldberg was appointed to the Commission by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in 2018. Allison currently serves as Chair of the Marketing & Communications Committee, formed in 2020 to develop the voice of the Commission as it works to bring programs and outreach to women and girls across The Commonwealth. Past roles include serving on the Legislative, Budget & Personnel, and Program & Planning Committees. A food and beverage entrepreneur, Commissioner Goldberg is passionate about educating women & girls about money: how to save, how to plan and how to journey along a path to self-reliance and independence. Commissioner Goldberg lives in Marblehead.
Patricia Hohl, Framingham (she/her/hers)
Budget and Personnel Committee Vice Chair
Patricia was appointed to the Commission by Senate President Karen Spilka in November 2019. She is the Director at Voices Against Violence in Framingham where the mission is to save lives, rebuild lives, and secure safer futures for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Prior to taking the helm at Voices, Patricia worked at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center as a national training and technical assistance provider implementing Domestic Violence High Risk Teams across the country as part of the Office on Violence Against Women / Dept. of Justice Demonstration Initiative and Technical Assistance grants. Patricia is an attorney with over two decades of nonprofit management experience. She holds a B.S. in Business from UMASS Lowell, a M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Boston University, a graduate certificate in Gender Leadership and Public Policy from UMASS Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy & Global Studies, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. Until her appointment, Patricia had been a Commissioner on the MetroWest Commission on the Status of Women since its inception in 2015, where she served at different times as Chair and Legislative Director. She volunteers as a member of the Jane Doe Inc. Policy Advisory Committee and is active in the League of Women Voters of Framingham.
Christine Monska, Aburndale (she/her/hers)
Christine Monska was appointed to the MCSW by the Caucus of Women Legislators in 2020. She is originally from Easthampton, but currently lives in Auburndale. Christine is the Youth Leadership Program Manager at The Clubhouse Network, a collaboration with the MIT Media Lab that brings innovative technology and inclusive leadership development to young people across the world, including sites across MA. Christine brings over ten years of experience in public policy, international relations and leadership development with a strong focus on women and girls’ empowerment. Before joining The Clubhouse Network, Christine worked across Western MA on various initiatives for women and girls. She designed and led the Young Women’s Initiative, a policy advocacy and leadership development program for young women, often systematically pushed to the margins, in Springfield. This program was a local implementation of a national program stemming from the White House Council on Women and Girls. Christine was also the District Director for former Senator Ben Downing in Pittsfield where she also sat on the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women and served as a Board Member for Berkshire County Action Council and Shout Out Loud, a small nonprofit addressing human trafficking across MA. In addition, she taught at Bard Microcollege in Holyoke, one of the nation’s first free associate degree programs for mothers whose education was disrupted by parenting and poverty. Christine also worked at The Department of Justice, Office of Legislative Affairs, International Center for Transitional Justice’s Gender Justice Program, Bean Group Global LLC, and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Her publications, speaking engagements and workshops center on girl empowerment and policy advocacy, women in leadership across sectors and other global gender justice issues. Christine holds a B.A. in Government from Smith College, a M.S. in Global Affairs with a concentration in International Law and Human Rights from New York University, and holds Certificates in Financial Accounting, Economics for Managers and Business Statistics from Harvard Business School, a Paralegal Certificate from Boston University as well as a Certificate in Transformative Leadership in Disruptive Times from George Washington University where she currently sits on the Advisory Council.
Marlene Sallo, Marina Bay (she/her/hers)
Marlene Sallo, J.D., is the Executive Director of Disability Law Center in Boston. Marlene has held several roles throughout her career where she has continuously advocated for human and civil rights. Previously, she served as Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel for the U.S. Dept. of Justice Community Relations Service. Appointed by President Obama, Marlene also served as the Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Marlene has dedicated her career to protecting the rights of disenfranchised and vulnerable children through her work as a case manager, special education teacher, and child welfare attorney. Marlene holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Manhattanville College and her J.D. from Florida State University College of Law. In addition to serving on many boards throughout Boston and beyond, Governor Charlie Baker appointed Marlene to serve on the Restrictive Housing Oversight Committee and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. Marlene also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Boys & Girls Club of Boston.
Sara Schnorr, Holliston (she/her/hers)
Sara Schnorr, Holliston resident and Of Counsel in the Boston office of Locke Lord LLP, has been re-elected as MCSW Treasurer. Schnorr was re-appointed to the MCSW in 2018 by Governor Charlie Baker. As a former partner and now Of Counsel at Locke Lord LLP, her more than 40 years of practicing law have focused on complex commercial real estate development, acquisition, leasing, financing and permitting, with specialties in the biotech, telecommunications, and affordable housing and community development industries. In addition, she has served as a former chair of the Town Of Wellesley’s Advisory (Finance) Committee, and as a member of the Founders’ Circle of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, SpeakOUT Boston, the American Bar Association, and the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association.
Shaitia Spruell, Clinton (she/her/hers)
Legislative and Public Policy Committee Chair
Shaitia Spruell, a proud young mom, has served as a Commissioner since 2019, appointed by the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators. She currently serves as the Chair for the Legislative & Public Policy Committee. Originally from Springfield, Shaitia lives in Clinton, MA and currently works for the Office of the State Treasurer & Receiver General as the Program Manager primarily overseeing Women's Economic Empowerment Programming and Digital Financial Education Programs. Before joining the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, Shaitia served as a regional commissioner on the Hampden County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls for one year. Shaitia is passionate about financial literacy, empowering girls and working moms. Earning her B.S. from Bay Path University, Shaitia is now enrolled at Fitchburg State University pursuing her MBA in Business Management. Shaitia is also a member of the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition (MAWOCC) and formerly sat as Board Chair of Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts.
Wendy Silver, Needham (she/her/hers)
Wendy Silver was appointed to the Commission in 2018 by the MA Caucus of Women Legislators. She is the founder and President of Beyond the Workplace LLC, a boutique HR consulting company specializing in employee relations. Before transitioning into HR, Wendy was an Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. With over 20 years of experience in law and HR, Wendy has worked in a variety of industries including higher education, health care, and hospitality. Her unique combination of legal knowledge and HR operational know-how has made her a successful, valued, and highly trusted advisor at all levels of an organization. Wendy is passionate about inspiring, promoting and creating great places to work and challenges organizations to think outside the box to create workplace cultures that support business growth and employee success. Wendy holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and received her JD from Suffolk University Law School. In addition to her professional work and her work on the Commission, Wendy is a Mentor for the Women Accelerator’s program, a member of the Newton/Needham Chamber of Commerce, and a member the League of Women Voters of Needham. Wendy lives in Needham, MA with her husband and two teenage children.
Marydith Tuitt, Boston (she/her/hers)
Legislative and Public Policy Committee Vice Chair
AD HOC Regional Committee Chair
MetroWest and Worcester Regional Commissions Liaison
Mary-dith Tuitt, Boston resident and a Community and Peer Veteran Specialist, was appointed to the Commission by the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators in 2011. Mary-dith was born on the Island of Montserrat in the British West Indies to Henrietta and Michael Tuitt. Tuitt has served as Chief of Staff for State Representative Gloria L. Fox, where she worked as Constituent Services Coordinator for a Boston City Councilor, providing support to the underserved communities of Boston, and has worked on various political campaigns. Over the years, Mary has always been involved and invested in enriching, enhancing and empowering her community. She served as a volunteer with Boston Public schools, various community youth groups, and with her church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Columbia Road in Dorchester, MA. An alumnus of the Boston Public School system, Mary-dith graduated from Boston Technical High School in 1985. Shortly after graduation, Mary-dith entered the United States Navy, where she served fourteen years as a Navy Aviation Machinists Mate, first on active duty and then in the active & inactive Reserves. Mary-dith runs her own special events coordination business that specializes in design, planning, decoration and assisting her clients in making their dreams reality.
Jill Ashton, Clinton (she/her/hers)
Jill is a leader and activist in the women’s advancement community. Since 2009 she has served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. In the 2015-2016 Massachusetts legislative session, Jill led the coalition of organizations that successful stewarded the passage of the Equal Pay Act, a piece of groundbreaking economic justice legislation that, among other provisions, prevents hiring managers from inquiring about salary history. She continues to work with colleagues inside Massachusetts to ensure full and effective implementation of the law, as well as partners across the nation to support the advancement of similar policies.
Jill is committed to developing talent among young women and men, having mentored more than 150 students through the commission’s robust internship program and beyond. She currently serves as co-president of the National Association of Commissions on Women, with which she has increased peer-to-peer learning opportunities to encourage the success of member commissions. A graduate of the Program for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass-Boston, she now proudly serves as a member of the program’s advisory board.
Ellen Panarese Gibson, Newton (she/her/hers)
Interim Executive Director
Ellen Panarese Gibson was hired as Interim Executive Director in 2021. Prior to joining MCSW, Ellen was the Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for MA (SEL4MA). She remains a member of the Steering Committee and Board of Directors. Ellen was elected to the Newton School Committee in 2013 where she served for two terms until 2017. Ellen has been a parent and community activist for over 22 years. She was recently appointed by the Mayor to the Newton Parks, Recreation and Arts Commission. Ellen is a graduate of Vassar College with a B.A. in English and received her Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law where she focused on Family Policy and Law. She was an Associate at the Boston firm of Taylor, Anderson & Travers specializing in family law, custody issues and domestic relations. Ellen grew up in Milton and now lives in Newton
Melanie Soto, Boston (she/her/hers)
Communications and Events Coordinator
Melanie Soto is a Boston native and a youth worker at heart. During her time as a youth worker from the ages of fourteen to eighteen, she was provided with support by community members to pursue her passions in both writing and higher education. Growing up in the city allowed her opportunities to work with various nonprofit organizations in both her undergraduate and graduate experiences. With the help of those in her community, she graduated Wheelock College with a Bachelors in Social Work and Juvenile Justice and earned a Masters in Social Work at Bridgewater State.
As the Communications and Events Coordinator, Melanie will increase engagement of local policy discussions and action through MCSW’s social media channels with those across the state. She aims to make information accessible to all age groups while also supporting and showcasing advocacy that is happening within our communities that may go unrecognized.
Penny Blaisdell, Marblehead
Victoria Budson, Wellesley
Linda Cavaioli, Worcester
Chris Chanyasulkit, Brookline
Maureen Curley, Medford
Joanne Fitzgerald McCrea - springing
Elizabeth Hart, Malden
Clare Higgins, Northhampton
Denise Hurst, Springfield
Nina Kimball, Plymouth
Margot Parrot, Athol - springing