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.

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
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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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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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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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Patricia Jones

Owner, P.L. Jones & Associates P.C.

I recall that I had mentioned the teaching mentor that I had who always said if you go to school and work hard you can do anything. And I would say going to school means continuous education. It doesn’t need to be a structured school, but it’s important that people are always learning. And I do think that it’s important for individuals in future generations to know that they need to contribute to their own destiny. It’s not something – it’s not an entitlement – and that they have to work for themselves to accomplish something. So that would be my advice – what was passed on to me. I would say continue your education, not necessarily that it needs to be in a formal setting and work hard by contributing to your own destiny.

Patricia Jones was born in Worcester in a neighborhood near Chandler Street.  She dropped out of school at age 16 to marry and have children.  When she divorced, she realized that her calling was to public accounting.  She attended Quinsigamond Community College and discovered she liked accounting. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University and later her graduate degree from Bentley University. Patricia Jones began working as a partner and eventually became the owner of  P.L.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/17/2013
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Beth Foley

Marriage and Family Therapist

Well it’s really stressful and for me I had such a hard time having my children – I lost four before the two that I have – that once I had them, I wanted to stay home and take care of them. So I stayed home all day, and then went to work at night. But you always feel like you’re not doing the right thing. The working moms are giving you dirty looks for being home, the stay-at-home moms are giving you dirty looks for going to work and it’s because we have this false concept which is you can do everything perfectly.

Beth Foley was born in 1968 in Worcester MA, where she also attended Saint Peter Marian High School and Assumption College. After graduating from Assumption she went on to obtain her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Anna Maria College. After obtaining her master’s degree she went on to start her own private practice in Sterling MA, where she counseled children. She and her mother were the only mother-daughter private practice in Massachusetts. In this interview Beth explains the struggles she faces with being a divorced single mother while running her own business.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/24/2013
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Foley

Angela Bovill

President and CEO Lutheran Social Services of New England

But it is hard because society expects you to be one way, and in reality, if you’re going to do a job like this one, there’s no way to do both. Not well. You can try, and I’ve tried for years to manage how to do both, but in, in reality, the sacrifices are very high.

Angela Bovill tells about her life as a President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of New England, mother, and wife. Lutheran Social Services serves refugees from Iraq, Bhutan, Nepal, Somalia, Liberia, Uganda, and Lithuania. She explains how her self-image changed over time as her confidence grew, and how that gave her the power to be herself in a career which severely lacks women, especially those with school-aged children. It took many years to get to the place where she now finds herself: a confident woman with a lot of belief in her own abilities as a leader.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/11/2013
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