2024 Women of the Year

June 25, 2024 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm Eastern Time (EST)

Join us in celebrating the 2024 Women of the Year honorees State Representative Tram Nguyen, Council President Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, Councillor Ayesha M. Wilson, and Trailblazer Honoree Senate President Karen Spilka

State Representative Tram Nguyen is a 2017 graduate of the Emerge MA Candidate Bootcamp and serves the 18th Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives where she pushes for laws that address issues of racial and economic justice and protect the rights of the most vulnerable populations. The first of her family to attend college, Rep. Nguyen earned a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a juris doctor from Northeastern University School of Law. Before joining the House of Representatives, Rep. Nguyen worked as a legal aid attorney for Greater Boston Legal Services, advocating for domestic violence survivors, workers, seniors, veterans, and children. Rep. Nguyen is the first Vietnamese American elected to the House of Representatives, the first Asian American on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, and the first Asian American woman to serve as vice chair of a committee.

Council President Tessa Murphy-Romboletti is a 2021 graduate of the Emerge MA Signature Training Program and is serving her second term as Holyoke City Councilor at Large and is the City’s first female city council President.

Councillor Ayesha M. Wilson is a 2019 graduate of the Emerge MA Signature Training Program. Growing up as the oldest of three girls, in a single parent Jamaican immigrant household in the Jefferson Park Public Housing Development in Cambridge, Ayesha witnessed first hand the socioeconomic barriers that families face. Ayesha is the product of the public school system, graduating from Cambridge Rindge and Latin and later attending Wheelock College attaining a Bachelor and a Masters degrees in Social Work. With over 20 years of service in human services and youth work, Ayesha has felt compelled to serve on an even broader level by running for school committee in Cambridge. She is an advocate for children and is passionate about empowering students and parents to use their voices. Her focus is to make an impact through the combined efforts of students, parents, educators, and the community at large. Ayesha is committed to be a servant leader who assists students in realizing their abundant potential. These unique qualities have afforded Ayesha many opportunities to serve the City of Cambridge’s youth in many capacities. With her deep Cambridge roots, wealth of knowledge, experience, and track record of service, Ayesha is prepared to translate her passion and commitment into action to contribute to a shared city vision. Ayesha currently works with 8th-12th grade students through Cambridge Housing Authority’s “The Work Force Program”’ developing and implementing programs for youth focusing on life skills, job readiness, career awareness, and post-secondary opportunities. She also serves as a Cambridge School Committee member where she has been a champion for all Cambridge students by chairing the Special Education and Student Supports Subcommittee meetings, co-authoring policy to prioritize racial equity as a school district, advocated for a k-12 mental health curriculum, working closely on the implementation of Universal Preschool for SY 2024-2025 and more. As a councilor, her experiences and leadership as a lifelong resident, social worker, non-profit leader, mental health advocate and school committee member have given her the insight, experience and vision to help build a Cambridge for everyone.

Senate President Karen Spilka is President of the Massachusetts State Senate. Representing the MetroWest communities of the 2nd Middlesex & Norfolk district—comprised of Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway and Natick—Senate President Spilka is dedicated to the advancement of progressive social causes and a pragmatic fiscal policy of balancing investments in education, infrastructure, and economic opportunity with saving for the future. She has championed issues such as mental health, juvenile justice and services for the elderly and disabled communities. During her career, Senate President Spilka has been a social worker, small business owner and attorney, and she went on to become one of the first legislators in the nation to vote in favor of marriage equality and transgender protections. Her tenure as Senate President has included the legislature’s response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. As a part of this response, the Senate President pursued the passage of Patients First legislation, which eliminated barriers to care and advanced support for community hospitals, COVID testing sites, medical staff and telehealth services. Despite a crisis that resulted in budget cuts throughout much of the country, Senate President Spilka’s leadership in establishing one of the most robust Rainy-Day funds in the country allowed Massachusetts to not only avoid cuts to social safety nets, but rather expand support for housing stability, food security, unemployment benefits and relief for the hospitality and restaurant industries. Senate President Spilka’s first priority as Senate President was the passage of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA), the culmination of a twenty-year effort which combined the largest increase in education funding in Massachusetts’ history with changes to make future education funding more equitable. In the wake of protests stemming from the murder of George Floyd, she led the effort to pass one of the most comprehensive and intentional police reform bills in the United States, including the creation of a first-in-the-nation civilian-led commission with the power to independently investigate police actions. In response to the threat posed by climate change, she supported a law which provided a timeline for a complete transition away from fossil fuels and toward a carbon-neutral economy and which codified the concept of environmental justice into law. Most recently, Senate President Spilka has led a number of efforts to decrease the barriers to accessing quality mental health care, including directing state funding towards public awareness of mental and behavioral health, as well as to increasing the mental health workforce pipeline. She has also introduced the concept of Intergenerational Care Centers as a way to address the caregiving crisis in Massachusetts, provide support for women in the workforce, and encourage high quality caregiving for all residents, from infants to elders. Senate President Spilka is a graduate of Northeastern Law School and holds a B.S. in Social Work from Cornell University. She has been married for over thirty years to Joel S. Loitherstein, an environmental engineer, and has three adult children, Heather, Scott and Jake, and two rescue dogs, Lincoln and Mikasa.

Please join us in person on Tuesday, June 25th as we gather to celebrate these two inspiring leaders!

Event Date:
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
5:30 pm Eastern Time (EST)
Event Location:
Foley & Lardner, LLP
Foley & Lardner LLP, Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, USA