Work

“Work” is a value-laden term that has changed drastically over time, particularly in relation to women’s daily lives. Despite a legacy of opinions to the contrary, WWHP views women’s work as inherently valuable, whether taking place in the formal structure of paid employment or the private realm of home and family. We seek to understand each woman’s work on her own terms in her own words.

Holly Burgess

Attorney; Member of WISE

I’ve been fortunate to have lots of mentors and a number of women mentors in my career. So that’s something I think would be important to be noted, of how important that is and has been for my generation and I think would continue to be. Women helping women to learn the ropes.

Holly Burgess was born in Holden, Massachusetts in 1953 and grew up and attended primary school and high school in the Greater Worcester area. Upon completion of high school, she briefly attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but did not obtain a degree as she decided to get married. Later, she attended Quinsigamond Community College and received her associate degree in the dental hygiene program. She went on to continue her undergraduate education at Clark University in business administration.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/03/2019
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Geraldine Brophy

Social Worker; Psychotherapist, Director of Psychiatry; Member of WISE

Always have a beginner's mind; always keep your mind open. It’s difficult in these times when there is so much divisiveness and venom being spewed in all directions, it’s hard to find your own center, I would say, and this may sound flip, but practice yoga because yoga gives you the opportunity to find where your center is. If you know where your center is, if you know who you are, and what you are, then what’s going on around you is irrelevant. You are going to make the decision that is right for you and that is what you need to do and not be distracted by all the cacophony going on around you.

Geraldine Brophy was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1944 to Katherine and John Brophy. She is the eldest of two daughters. She is the mother to two sons; one from her first marriage and another from her second. Geraldine attended Southern Connecticut State University and got her bachelor’s degree in education. At 48 years old, after she had met and married her second husband, she went back to college at Boston College and received her master’s degree in social work.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/16/2019
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Joan Arnold

Lawyer; Member of WISE

I had a great legal career and I had the experience of being the first woman to do the job. And that's not an uncommon thing with women of my age. I’m 71 now and for example, when I went to Boston to find a job after law school, the [jobs] classifieds were still listed in columns, women and men.  Or female and male or something like that: classifieds female, classifieds male. And so, because it was just that time, so many of my jobs were [pause] they hadn't come across women before.  And so, my first job as a public defender, which I wanted that job very badly because by then I had done clinical education at my law school. I had gone to court as a student, a supervised student, and I thought I loved that. I thought that's really great stuff and I wanted to do criminal law because it sounded exotic. [laughs] I didn't know anything about it, it just sounded like, “That's pretty cool, I'll do that.” And so I applied and I did get the job, but the person who told me—I was interviewed a bunch of times by the person who was the decision-maker guy and he said to me, “You know, I don't think women can be trial lawyers [laughs] but we need to start hiring some women so we're going to hire you and send you out to Springfield where they never had a woman so good luck.”

Joan Elizabeth Arnold, born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1947 grew up in Chicago and eventually settled in Worcester with her husband. She attended Vassar College for her undergraduate degree and then received her law degree at Boston College. After working in Boston and Springfield, Arnold moved to Worcester to open her own law practice. In this interview, Arnold discusses her life growing up, her parents’ relationship in comparison to her own, her career in law, and her life outside of work. When Arnold was about to enter college, her parents moved to Switzerland.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/09/2019
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Asima Silva

Software Engineer; Co-founder, Enjoin Good; Radio Host, Perspectives

I think the reason why I’ve been able to do it as long as I have is because with work people say do what you love, and what I liked about doing what I do, is once I start coding, or once I start programming, or once I start designing, I lose complete track of time. I could be doing it for eight hours straight and not even realize that eight hours went by. When I was in school doing it as an undergrad, I’d sit at the computer at eight at night and I’d realize at six in the morning—wait a second, the entire night went by. And I thought to myself this is wonderful.  People say you have to work eight hours or ten hours a day, isn't it wonderful if you go in and you do something that you don't even feel like it’s eight to ten hours it felt like it was one because you enjoyed it and that's the reason why I think I'm still a software engineer.

Asima Silva was born in Hyderabad, India in 1974 and moved to the Worcester area when she was three years old. Asima received her undergraduate degree, as well as her master’s degree in computer science from Worcester Polytechnic University, where she was a top performer. She has five children, a full-time job as a software engineer, co-founded an outreach and diversity organization, called Enjoin Good, with her husband, and also has a local television and radio show, Perspectives, which airs weekly.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/11/2018
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Carol Shulman

Registered Nurse

I loved mentoring new nurses. I loved telling them every trick of the trade, and everything they can forget about, and make them fast, and make them smart. Precepting was really something I really loved.

Carol Anne Shay Shulman was born in1943 in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was raised in an Irish Catholic home with three siblings. Carol met her husband Joseph dancing the night away. They had three children together and although Joseph was Jewish, the kids were raised Catholic as Carol hoped. Together they created a loving home and today all of their children are successful with kids of their own. Unfortunately, Carol’s husband passed away at the age of fifty-nine and she became widowed. Carol is a very compassionate person, and she displayed her compassion throughout her work experience.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/17/2018
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Barbara Morton

Regional Director, State Department of Youth Services, Worcester County

Now I just think we need to look at workplaces through an equity and justice lens and see if there’s bias there. And if it is there, I need to do a better job.

Born in 1959, Barbara Morton grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts in the Burncoat area. Barbara’s education consists of St. Peter Marian Central Catholic High School and then for college Barbara went to UMass Amherst and then postgraduate school at Suffolk University. Barbara is the Regional Director for the State Department of Youth Services for the Worcester County which she discusses her passion for in this interview. She stresses in the interview that it is important to start talking about difficult conversations and helping people.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/12/2018
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Breanna Goodrow

Owner/Creative Director, Studio DiBella

I decided that in my thirties—I turned 30 this year—that I wanted to have my own business. I'd always admired people who ran their own business and I read a lot, tons of interviews on ‘how do creatives have their own business’? How do you make the leap from working for someone and having full-time security to being out on your own? And everyone seemed to be able to figure that out by their early thirties and they never talk about it an interview, but they seem to get it together. I've just always had it in my mind, that I'm going to get it together to do that in my thirties. So somehow, I did that magic and .... it's just nice to close out this time of leading from within a company to going to lead out on my own, as my own proprietor so to speak. 

Breanna Goodrow was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1989. She lived in Worcester for the first five years of her life and then moved to Holden, Massachusetts, a town directly next to Worcester. She attended Worcester Arts Magnet before moving and then attended elementary school in Holden as well as middle school and high school. After high school, Breanna got into her top choice college and attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In New York she interned with fashion designer Michael Nash. That was the first of many including Inside Edition and Seventeen magazine.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 02/26/2019
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Susan Mailman

President, Coghlin Electric

Since I am a female business owner I get asked to do a lot of things. I think that often times you are filling a slot. I think that as we engage, as different demographics get added to different tables, it is up to us to really engage with groups so their voices are heard.  Since I have been doing it for a long time now, I feel that my role is to make sure younger people who are coming along and sitting at a table with a lot of old white men, that we give their voices a chance to speak and to be heard because that’s the future.

 

Susan Coghlin was born in Shrewsbury Massachusetts in 1962 and attended Shrewsbury High.  She then moved to Worcester at the age of 18 and took evening courses at various Worcester colleges.  She completed her MBA at Northeastern University. Susan took on the family business of electrical contracting at Coghlin Electrical in 1985 and become the owner in 2003. In this interview Susan discusses the growing challenges in Worcester and why she believes Worcester to be the wonderful and thriving community that it is.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/17/2018
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Valerie Cohen

Senior Rabbi, Temple Emanuel Sinai

I am, in a one-liner my friend wrote an article about, which is the best line I ever heard, “I am, it is an honor and it is humbling to be invited into people’s lives at the highest moments, the most joyful moments, and the lowest moments.” And I get to do that. People invite me in because of my position and it’s really an honor and humbling.

Valerie Cohen was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1971 and currently lives in Holden Ma with her husband, daughter and son. In this interview she reflects on being a rabbi at the Temple Emanuel Sinai as well as a mother and wife. Valerie explains moving from state to state due to the extreme demands of her job as a rabbi. Valerie is the Senior Rabbi overseeing much of what the synagogue does. She explains working 60-80 hours a week just to cover the demands of the job. Valerie elaborates on her education at the University of Florida and the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/05/2018
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Amanda Collins Bernier

Editor, Baystate Parent

Before I met my husband I was engaged to someone that I had known growing up, and he died from cancer when we were twenty-four. So that definitely has had a big impact on my life. And I took care of him. I quit my job. I got my first job at the Charlton Villager, and he found out he was really really sick, and I quit my job and took care of him. That’s definitely the biggest health thing that has impacted my life.

Amanda Collins Bernier, Baystate Parent editor, was interviewed on October 9, 2018 at the Worcester Magazine Office. Amanda was born in 1986 in California and now is the editor of Baystate Parent Magazine and works in the Worcester Magazine office in Worcester. Amanda is a very passionate mother, worker and communicator. She has worked her way up through the media ladder, from working at a small-town newspaper to being the editor of a major Massachusetts magazine.

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Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/09/2018
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