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.

Erin Bradbury

Lawyer; Owns law firm; Community Volunteer

My father  was the one who prepared me for college. He, from the time I was in the fourth grade and he realized that I had skills for academics, took me out – I’m sorry I’m crying – and purchased a  desk for me. And we didn’t have a lot of money, but he went out and bought me a brand new desk that I picked out because being a student was my only job. Excuse me, he encouraged me to look at Smith College. I wasn’t looking at any other single-sex schools and he asked me to look at Smith College and took me around to all my college interviews and helped me prepare the tape, my audition tape, for all the schools. He’s the one [who] went out and bought the equipment to be able to make a recording, I recorded a Mozart concerto and I played the flute part and then I learned the piano part which was condensed for an orchestra score and he recorded both parts. So, I accompanied myself on this audition tape. So my father was a huge contributor.

Erin Bradbury was born in Grafton Hill in Worcester in 1972. She attended Wachusett Regional High School, Smith College and Suffolk University Law School. She is a lawyer currently practicing law and owns her own practice in Holden, Massachusetts. Erin is a mother of two, a wife, and an active volunteer, and also has musical abilities. In this interview, she discusses her family aspects and how much they mean to her and how they influenced her life decisions. For example, she discusses how her mother was a “great debater” and how she taught her to stand up for herself.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 02/28/2014
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Bradbury

Luanne Westerling

Associate Dean of Business Studies, Program Chair Business Communications, Nichols College

When you are comfortable you are not learning and you are not pushing yourself.  So sometimes you’ll be offered an opportunity, and I think women do this, they say, “Oh my God, I couldn’t possibly do that,” because I think we underestimate what we can do.  And so what I would say to you is, “Do it.  Put yourself outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.

Luanne Vardo Westerling was born in Meriden, Connecticut in 1963.  As an undergraduate student she attended Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Luanne says she began developing her leadership skills in college as a Resident Assistant and these skills later helped her to transition into careers in business and higher education.  Although she briefly considered a career in law, Luanne is very proud of her current position as Associate Dean of Business Studies and Program Chair of Business Communication at Nichols College which allows her to bring her leadership ski

Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/13/2013
Interview Focus: 
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Westerling

Polly Tatum

Lawyer; third woman and first person of color to serve as President of Worcester County Bar Association

That was the challenge. Sleep deprived; didn’t have computers back then, so I typed everything out on a word processor, so I used my secretarial skills. The challenges were working full time, raising a family, having three children, my husband at the time was just new to the police force, so he was working nights, and just trying to balance everything. It was a struggle, but – so I guess from undergrad to law school because I went straight through, it took me ten years; and anything worth having…you have, you fight for it, so that’s what I try to instill in my own daughters. But to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have the energy to do all that. 

Polly Tatum was born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1964, where she lived from childhood into adolescence with her adoptive parents.  In this interview, Polly talks about the challenges she faced during her many years in education.  She enrolled at Worcester State College, achieved her undergraduate degree, and went on to get her JD while simultaneously raising a family of three daughters.  Polly shares a message of motivation and strength in professional and personal lives.  Being adopted as an infant, Polly also emphasizes the importance of family.  Polly had bot

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/25/2013
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Tatum

Linda St.John

Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Fallon Community Health Plan

I found my fit, you know, and not everybody gets to find that.  God, you talk to people and they’re in jobs – they hate these jobs, they’re miserable, or they’re in three different jobs or you know? And I’m so, I’m so lucky that I’ve found it. I’m very happy.

: Linda St. John was born in 1964, and grew up in Willsboro, New York. She attended Castleton State College in Vermont before transferring to Utica College of Syracuse University where she graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor’s Degree in public relations journalism. She moved to Worcester about two years after graduation, where she worked in human resources for Fallon Clinic. In this interview, she focuses on her career as a human resources worker and the path her work life has taken.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/13/2013
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St.John

Carleen Roy-Butler

Director, Reach Out Center, Assumption College

If you look back on your life when you are 70 years old you will probably say you had it all, but you didn’t have it all at once.

Carleen Roy-Butler was born in Rhode Island in 1974.  She moved to Worcester six and a half years ago when she got the job as the director of the Reach Out Center at Assumption College.  After studying Sociology at St.

Interview Date: 
Sun, 09/29/2013
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Roy-Butler

Caroline Lavalleee

Retired postal worker; mother of four

I think if the woman is qualified I think she should run for office because if you want the job well done you hire a woman.

Caroline Lavallee was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1936. She attended Oxford High School. She met her husband Norman Lavallee when she was twenty-two years old at a Polish Dance Hall. They married a year later and together they had four children. Caroline Lavallee worked multiple jobs; her most memorable was her position as a clerk in a Worcester Post Office where she retired in 1999. In this interview, Caroline discusses the struggles and joys of her life in the Worcester area.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 11/08/2013
Interview Focus: 
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Lavalleee

Mimoza Koshi

Bank branch manager; security officer;Albanian immmigrant

I could give advice to them that when the opportunity is there, they need to grab it and go for it. This is the country that the women have all the rights of this country that they can exercise all their – [long pause] all the freedom they exercise and everything so they'll be able to continue education, take care of family, and be someone in life.  I am proud of what I've done so far and always as I told you I meet a lot of people and a lot from different countries. And in Worcester we see a lot of newcomers who are immigrants from different countries and I’m always try to talk to those women, how they can become someone in this country. They have this opportunity. That's how I see it.

Mimoza Koshi was born in Tepelena, Albania in March of 1969. She came to America in June of 1999 along with her husband and two sons through a program called DV Visa. It is a program where a person is selected to come to the United States to work. After her arrival in Worcester, it took her a long time to adjust to the different culture and way of living. She spoke no English, but eventually learned through night school. Eventually, she enrolled in Assumption College and received her bachelor's degree for Business Administration in 2010. Today, she continues to work two jobs.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/05/2013
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Koshi

Robin Kennedy

State house emplyee and political activist

I would say get involved and speak up. I think even as far as society has come, society still teaches us to take a back seat, to sit on the outsides of a meeting table. You’ll see the men all come sit at the table and you’ll often still see women sit around the outsides.  So I would say sit at the table. It’s still going to be very rare that somebody invites you in, so sometimes as uncomfortable as it may be you have to invite yourself in. And then I would say something certainly that I have tried to do is pay it forward.  You’re given an opportunity,  pay it forward to someone behind you because we’re our best allies and our best advocates so it’s our responsibility to bring other women along with us.

Robyn Kennedy, a state house employee and political activist, spent her childhood in Worcester, Massachusetts and still resides in Worcester today. Robyn was born in 1980, and at 32 years of age has found herself in many leadership positions including the Board of Directors of the YWCA, the National Board of the YWCA, and a political adviser to many campaigns including Lt. Governor U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/22/2013
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Kennedy

Susan Kasper

Nurse; Donut Shop Owner

Because when I first got to [St. Peter] Marion I had fun there. I really liked it, but they had home-ec rooms, there was a sewing room, and then there was like this cooking room and I was on the tail end of all that going away. But I did experience it for like that little bit and then it was gone ....  you just didn’t do that anymore. So when they brought St. Peter’s and Marion together, it just became like probably what it is today. It was just academic, you know, it was just school and they got rid of all that stuff.

Susan Mary Kasper was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she still continues to live today. Not only did she attend grammar school and high school in Worcester, Susan is also a member of the Assumption College graduating class of 1982. Experiencing the Worcester education system first hand, Susan is extremely familiar with the changes and transitions of the schools over the years, and reflects on its progress in gender equality. In addition to owning a donut shop with her husband William, and working as a nurse at UMass Memorial Hospital, Susan is also a mother of two.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2013
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Kasper

Michelle Jones-Johnson

Director Human Resources UMass Medical School

Well, when I think back on my education, especially at University of Michigan, that was right around the time when they had opened the doors for a lot of minority students through affirmative action. There was a constant challenge of trying to overcome the perception that that was the only reason why you were there was because you were a minority student.

Michelle Jones-Johnson was born in Detroit, Michigan. She lived in the Midwest for the majority of her lifetime, and is relatively new to the city of Worcester. She moved to Worcester four years ago in 2010. Prior to coming to Worcester, Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and two master’s degrees. She has worked in the field of Human Resources for the past 23 years at various companies, and continues to do so today as Director of Human Resources at UMass Medical School.

Interview Date: 
Sun, 11/03/2013
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