Kile is a community organizer extraordinaire. Working as a consultant with the state of NH, Kile helped create an initiative called Pathways for Healing, which did community outreach to connect residents in Manchester from diverse and marginalized groups with services. She brings her lived experience of how well community can work from growing up in Nigeria and her natural instinct to listen and connect people. She helped found and facilitates the Manchester Community Action Coalition. The Coalition hosts regular meetings in the Manchester community for people of color, immigrants, and others to come together to address their needs and have voice in community and civic matters. During the pandemic, this group launched a virtual tutoring program to support marginalized and low income students in the Manchester School District. Without this program, many students would not have received the critical support they needed to keep up in school. Further this program and the work of MCAC had been a critical place of connection, support and community engagement during a time when youth in particular have been struggling with feelings of helplessness and social isolation. We are so grateful for all the work they Kile helps to facilitate with other community members to ensure all people thrive in Manchester and across our state, even in these times of crisis.
The staff at the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is proud to nominate all of the frontline domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center advocates in NH. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Hampshire in March of 2020, the advocates at the 13 crisis centers around the state did what they do best: they became more dogged, creative, innovative and dedicated than ever before. The people they serve were already unsafe; the advocates committed that victims’ lives would not become more endangered on their watch. COVID-19 profoundly re-shaped crisis center operations. During the first months, in-person advocacy shifted to technology-based interventions. In the face of victims being given the terrifying directive to shelter in place with an abuser, advocates swiftly sought new and innovative ways to connect with victims. They began using text, chat, and video services to reach victims who were isolated and scared. Some advocates moved their in-person support groups to an online format. When courts shut down or reduced hours, advocates partnered with the court system to pilot and implement a system that allowed victims to file a restraining order electronically and participate in hearings telephonically, helping many survivors feel more safe. Advocates developed these technology-based services while also working from home themselves and caring for their own families experiencing tremendous upheaval during the pandemic. Faced with limits on the capacity of their already tiny shelters, shelter advocates began placing survivors in hotels, a welcome resource but also a remedy that brought additional needs; in addition to safety planning, advocates found themselves delivering food, paper plates and basic necessities to victims trapped in a single room with their kids and without a kitchen. Calls to the statewide domestic violence and sexual assault hotlines skyrocketed during the pandemic. And yet again, advocates stepped up to take the calls. Advocates are the most resilient people we know and that has never been more evident than during the pandemic. Thanks to their willingness to embrace new technology, the commitment to collaboration that insured that system changes were trauma informed, and the creativity to provide services in new ways, victims of intimate partner violence in New Hampshire were still able to reach an advocate 24 hours a day every single day of the pandemic. The staff at the Coalition are deeply grateful to the frontline advocates of the 13 member programs of the Coalition. READ MORE
An institutional leader at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) and at the Geisel School of Medicine, Antonia Altomare, DO, MPH, has worked relentlessly to ensure specifically that the people of New Hampshire and northern New England are safe from high-threat infectious diseases. Never has this work been more important and impactful than it is now.When the threat of Ebola came to the U.S. in 2014, Dr. Altomare helped establish DHMC as one of two Ebola assessment hospitals in New Hampshire. Based on that work, she was asked to create and lead a High Threat Infection Team – a group of highly-trained staff and leaders who respond to the clinical care needs of high-threat infection patients, while maintaining staff safety. “The creation and maintenance of this program has been the greatest accomplishment of my career thus far, particularly since it positioned Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health [D-HH] where we needed to be when the global pandemic of 2020, COVID-19, hit.” Her expertise in interpreting ever-changing federal and state guidelines and research on high-threat infections for D-HH, the state and the region is, in part, why New Hampshire and Vermont have lower-rates of COVID-19 prevalence.
She continues to be one of the leading voices internally for our clinical and non-clinical staff on COVID-19, through emails, in both internal and external articles, and through Facebook Live and informational videos (such as ongoing updates, the proper use of masks and face shields, testing and others). We are privileged to have Dr. Altomare as a member of the D-HH provider community. READ MORE
Deb is a powerhouse. When covid happened, she mobilized her team at Gather to meet the need of food insecure folks in the region. Her team transitioned from their normal pantry ‘shopping’ model to boxing up food and even delivering food to clients. Deb and her team worked with Evan Mallett of Black Trumpet to keep his employees working by cooking meals for food pantry clients. She helped start up the Pop Up Portsmouth market, bringing much needed revenue to local restaurants and businesses and providing a safe, fun outlet for Seacoast residents. She also piloted a program to provide mini grants to small food pantries across the Seacoast, enlisting funders to the cause and supporting pantries that otherwise wouldn’t have the capacity to apply for loans or grants, with an easy, simple application process and disbursement. She is a tour de force and deserves a tremendous amount of recognition for the work she does. READ MORE
Dr. Mimi Armellino is a VA Psychiatrist, mother, wife of ER doctor (NH first responder). She has made sure that the female and male veterans she treats here on the sea coast of New Hampshire have received outstanding, continuous, compassionate mental health care during the past year. Her patients are grateful for her excellent clinical advice and judgment combined with optimistic encouragement in extraordinarily tough times. As her colleague (I am a clinical psychologist working together with Dr Armellino) I benefit from the warmth, strength, humor and grace she brings to work every day. Dr Armellino is an outstanding power of example as a woman, Psychiatrist, wife and mother.
For this award, I nominate Bobbie Bagley, director of the Department of Public Health and Community Services for the City of Nashua and the Greater Nashua region. She has been at the helm of this department since 2016. Director Bagley is an incredible leader for our city. She has led Nashua’s COVID-19 response for the past year.
Since the first cases appeared in Nashua, Director Bagley and her department have worked around the clock to help limit the spread of the virus and keep the community safe. Whether it’s educating on the city’s mask mandate, providing regular updates on COVID cases/testing/vaccine to city officials or joining Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess in regular COVID briefings to the local press and members of the public, she always puts Nashua first. Director Bagley was instrumental in coordinating Nashua’s temporary Alternative Care Site at Nashua High School South along with CERT and Nashua’s Department of Emergency Management. She continues to support and assist the Nashua School District with COVID education and safety protocols and always makes herself available to city employees with questions and concerns about COVID. In the midst of all of this, Director Bagley is serving as a preceptor for a nursing leadership student from Rivier University, has kept Nashua’s public health department on track with pre-COVID priorities, including working on the public health strategic plan, launching a Community Improvement Plan, operating annual campaigns for communicable diseases and regular work with community partners. In 2017, thanks to her leadership, the Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Services became the first nationally accredited health department in New Hampshire. Director Bagley truly cares for our community and dedicates her every day to doing so. Strong, intelligent, capable, driven, compassionate and a real leader are just a few words to describe her. The City of Nashua is forever grateful for her invaluable contributions and work ethic.
As an infection preventionist (IP) at a large academic center, when a pandemic strikes, all eyes are on you to keep your staff safe. Caitlin stepped up in her IP role and worked tirelessly as an integral part of our incident command and emergency response team. As the subject matter expert she lead most of the contact tracing work, was our primary liaison to occupational medicine, developed and updated all infection control policies and procedures, rounded on our COVID units, and always had compassion though it all. She is an invaluable member of our team and deserves this recognition for the sacrifices she made to put our staff’s safety first.
Barbara Barney is a remarkable person. She took retirement after working for the State of NH Department of Family Services where she specialized in understanding the ever-changing rules of Medicaid as they relate to seniors who are suffering from dementia. She works with seniors and their families focusing on the red tape (paperwork) that has to be dealt with to help transition her ‘clients’ from their private homes to assisted living homes that best match up with their needs. After her retirement Barbara realized that there was a very limited safety net to help ‘her’ seniors understand Medicaid’s ins and outs. She started a non-profit that has allowed her to (with very limited resources) continue helping those seniors in need and she has seen in this last year her list of clients almost double due to the pandemic we are all living through.
I am also a Home Care Provider, I have 2 disabled young ladies who live in my home and I support them 24/7. I work with them on their Independent Skills and how each person can handle their daily lives with their disabilities AND learn skills to help them become as independent as possible. It is extremely rewarding to see the remarkable changes to these individuals as they work to develop these skills.
Dr. Ellen Bassett is a retired physician who has rolled up her sleeves and answered the call to volunteer at Concord’s vaccine site. Dr. Bassett is among the most active and dedicated of the medical volunteers putting in long but rewarding days side by side members of the National Guard who have called her ‘invaluable’.
Manchester West High School has a significant number of homeless students, so much so that the school offers a food and clothing pantry, run by the school’s guidance counselor, Eli Glass, for these individuals to get some of the items they need. This school year, the pantry needed additional inventory so it could be opened to more students. While there has always been a need for this pantry at West High School, Covid-19 has made engaging with people experiencing housing and food insecurity even more vital.
For the spring 2021 semester, Meagan Dubois, a senior Social Work major at Saint Anselm College, has been completing her practicum placement at West High School. Meagan recognized the need for more donations to the pantry and decided to start a clothing and food drive at Saint Anselm College. To help reach the campus community and collect donations, Meagan partnered with another student, Hannah Beaudry, and the college’s Center for Ethics. Students, faculty, staff, and community members enthusiastically participated in this great cause, and the drive helped replenish West’s pantry, especially by adding to the winter clothing inventory. READ MORE
Early childhood providers, predominantly women, were asked to make extraordinary sacrifices during this pandemic. MaryLou Beaver, Executive Director of the Children’s Place and Parent Education Center (TCP), a program of Waypoint, was forced to make the difficult decision to suspend her in-person program last spring. She and her talented staff immediately pivoted to a virtual enrichment program that was a bright spot in my child’s day and an opportunity to see friends and beloved caregivers. MaryLou worked tirelessly over the summer to secure additional resources to safely open in person. Whether performing temperature checks at the door, housing a local diaper bank for families in need, running a grandparent support group, or serving on numerous board and committees, MaryLou works tirelessly not just for the children at TCP but to improve outcomes for all New Hampshire kids.
I am nominating my school aged children Charlotte and Evelyn. To say that this year has been a challenge is an understatement! However, my girls, Charlotte (age 11) and Evelyn (age 8) are incredible and embody the word SHEro. Rather than being sad at how much was taken away from them during the last year, they found the silver linings. No more sports teams- that’s ok, more time to spend together as a family. No friends to go play with- that’s ok, they turned the shed into a playhouse and spent the summer playing together! Parents busy with work- that’s ok, they wrote, starred in, and filmed their own plays! I can honestly say, they have shown me the way through these challenging times.
Diane Bessey has been the Executive Director at the Monarch School of New England since 2009. Diane is a collaborative, engaged, hands-on leader who knows every student and every member of her staff. Diane always gives at least 120% to the Monarch School of New England, always for the benefit of the students and their families. She leads by example.
Diane is always willing to jump in to work directly with a student if a staff member needs an extra set of hands or lend a listening ear to staff, to help them find a positive solution. She is also a very active volunteer in the greater Rochester area, through her work with the Rochester Rotary Club. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Diane’s steady leadership enabled the Monarch School of New England to consistently serve its students with special needs, through many different models of learning. READ MORE
Mary Ellen Biser is a 75 year old Bedford grandma currently undergoing cancer treatment and raising her youngest daughter’s five children, one of whom with a feeding tube, as their legal guardian for the past five years, and still maintains a support group she founded for other seniors impacted by their children’s substance use disorders despite the added stress and danger of COVID-19. She volunteers in a myriad of other ways such as founding a team bringing care and comfort to couples who’ve lost pregnancies, but this year her health has especially been taxed due to having no break during the school days and teaching all three of the youngest who have IEPs due to various learning disabilities. She’ll always be my biggest Shero, my biggest inspiration, and my awesome mom. Thanks for considering her for possible recognition.
Since the pandemic started Dr. Brady has been organizing, facilitating, and holding space to provide access to mental health support to our first responders and vulnerable community members across New Hampshire. She has spent tireless nights building curriculum centered around the interests of her students to ensure they felt connected to their academic institution while engaging 100% remotely. Further, while advocating for the mental well-being of students to prevent cognitive overload while in isolation. Lastly, but certainly not least as a mother of five she had managed to create a safe learning environment for her children to feel the and acknowledge the social heartaches we are currently experiencing, while maintaining respect and love for her husband and life partner.
Emily is a teacher at Oyster River Middle School in the Durham region, as well as a member of a fifth grade, newly-formed, Seacoast Educators for Equity (SEE) group. Their mission is to create more inclusive versions of history within their public school. Key to this work is helping students understand the language of racism and empathy. Emily shares this nomination with the two women who are responsible for forming SEE – and currently run a PLC on Antiracism for the staff, as well as a Social Justice Club for students – Kyra Dulmage and Valerie Wolfson. They deserve the recognition for making our community better by providing these spaces to learn and grow.
Emily’s passion for change in the classroom around diversity is challenging on its own – yet coupled with the pandemic and remote learning added to trying to build change. Establishing creative ways to teach the regular curriculum and building a community on Zoom, was incredibly difficult. In addition, the desire to share essential knowledge that touched more sensitive but the necessary topic of diversity and inclusion was just another hill to climb. Emily remains focused and passionate to share, teach and inspire her students. Whether working remotely with her cats on her desk or dog barking in the background, or a student clearly distracted by her own household pets, to being in person in the classroom — Emily keeps her mission focused on change – inspiring her students with compassion and empathy. Ms. B. (as her students call her) provides an unique approach — not a one size fits all end game. We can all learn from Emily and her views on life, acceptance, inclusion and equality. She inspires me every day.
Jen was raising two children, caring for her ailing mother and ran an organization through the closure. Jen was able to reach in her tool box and make sure that her staff were well supported as they continued to provide services the best we could in a shutdown. It would have been so easy to say sorry the world is shutting down so we will close our doors as well until it is safe to work again and Jen rose to the challenge of how can we make sure the families we serve are still supported through the pandemic. Jen embodies the five protective factors and does all this behind the scenes. She gives me hope that we can make a difference.
Krista is a rock star. She is one of the hardest working, kindest, most generous people anyone could ever know. In addition to raising her own 3 boys, she also has for the last few years hosted and international exchange student. Krista also works full time as a paraprofessional at our local middle school, always going above and beyond the call of duty. During the pandemic, she made her home a safety bubble for a group of kids so that their parents could also work full time. This means she is hosting a group of 5-7 middle schoolers in addition to her own brood.
Krista is also someone that does not ask for help. Last summer, in the midst of all the chaos, her husband (a police officer) suffered from spontaneous eye issues that could have left him blind. Krista added in being his full time care-taker while trying to manage her own health issues during a time when we still didn’t know if it was safe to go to the grocery store. She tried to stop the meal train people organized for her but ultimately accepted it so that she had some support in managing everything. When a friend was suddenly widowed during that time, she then organized a meal train and a house keeping train for him and his children. I could go on and on with stories of how many families Krista has helped secretly, publicly, by setting up or publicizing meal trains, but Krista would probably be annoyed with me. She would say she hadn’t done anything that anyone else wouldn’t do. But the truth is that Krista is a role model to us all. READ MORE
I am nominating Jessica Cantin, CEO of YWCA New Hampshire. Jessica has led our organization with astounding grace and wisdom throughout the pandemic. She is equally loved and respected by our staff with good reason. Jessica never fails to highlight the accomplishments of those within the organization and the empathy she exudes relating to the impact of the pandemic on our own staff is unlike anything I have seen in another leader. In addition to over 5 years of intentional, thoughtful leadership, Jessica has an impressive list of career accomplishments. She has over 23 years experience working on behalf of children and families in the state of NH and is incoming President of the Manchester Rotary Club. Over the years she has served on multiple nonprofit boards, and she also is employed as an Adjunct Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. I think that Jessica should be recognized for her effective leadership style. Because our staff feels supported, they can continue to deliver critical services during uncertain times.
Jess Carson is a Research Assistant Professor with the Vulnerable Families Research Program at the Carsey School of Public Policy. She is also a caring and amazing teacher, mother, and spouse. Throughout the pandemic, Jess has been one of many women who worked full time, cared for her young child, and managed a home where her spouse is an essential worker at Market Basket. I imagine this is the kind of story that will be repeated in your nomination feed. I feel Jess is a Shero for her passion for great research and a deep commitment to making sure policy makers understand the plight of vulnerable families, especially women and children. She is a bright light even as she names and lifts up the structural barriers experienced by her own family and many, many others.
Kathleen accomplished two extraordinary things in Portsmouth during the pandemic that saved dozens of jobs, provided income and opportunity to artists, helped several small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic activity. Under her leadership, the Seacoast Repertory Theatre was able to pivot so quickly that even during the early days of the pandemic, it never closed its doors or laid off core staff. Instead, they focused energies on live streaming original productions. Because of her efforts the Rep was the first theater in the country to livestream a live, fully produced musical, which won the theater national recognition, including an entire writeup in the NYT, TimeOut, and other publications. She also sat on the arts reopening committee with the State of New Hampshire to help other organizations figure out a safe way forward and remained an arts advocate. She met with Senator Shaheen and other elected officials and helped create awareness about the important of arts in a community.
The second thing she did was conceive of a ‘pop up’ arts venue to hold cultural and community events outdoors in the summer of 2020, which was not an option for many organizations and even some restaurants. A temporary stage, food sheds, a beer garden, and outdoor seating provided the backdrop for dozens of area performers and four arts Portsmouth based organizations to sell event tickets. In addition, three Portsmouth restaurants and several local breweries were able to generate income while serving the public in a safe, socially distant outdoor environment. Thousands of residents and visitors were able to support the arts, small businesses and nonprofits while remaining safe and socially distant during the worst of the pandemic. None of that would have happened without the wildly creative, determined efforts of Kathleen Cavalaro.
Corina Chao, a public health professional at the University of New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice, works on efforts to engage pediatric providers in trauma-informed care, particularly focusing on the impact of community trauma, including discrimination and racial trauma, as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). When COVID-19 data showed disproportionate impact on BIPOC communities, and the voices of BLM and the racial justice movement became louder and louder in response to police killing Black people, Corina considered her own community’s role in perpetuating racism. Corina is a 2014 graduate of Winnacunnet High School in Hampton and, after collaborating with Penacook Abenaki leaders, started a petition to end the use of the offensive Winnacunnet Warrior mascot which perpetuates harmful, stereotypical Native American imagery. This would be in line with the efforts of Native peoples and experts in the wellbeing of children including the American Psychological Association who found that the use of stereotypical Native American imagery is harmful to not only Native peoples, but are also undermines the educational experiences of members of all communities. And in 2002, the New Hampshire State Board of Education agreed and passed a resolution on the elimination of schools’ use of Native American mascots. READ MORE
During COVID, Masheri found ways to continue her leadership of the NH Writer’s Project by partnering with NHPBS and New Hampshire Humanities to present on-line discussions and challenges for writers.
As the New Hampshire Writers’ Project Chair, I suggested we use our budget for our annual fundraiser to pay authors to teach a series of webinars that would be free to our members and to students at SNHU. My wonderful Board immediately agreed. Everyone needed to hear different voices and laughter, see new faces, and focus on creating something in a time of great devastation. In our last effort to provide comfort, we added a literary Bingo game night. People came together with their favorite beverage and dessert to talk about everything and anything except the pandemic. We were grateful for the opportunity to feel a little joy, a little hope, and a little normalcy for two hours. BINGO! READ MORE
Ashley Is the Director of Infection Prevention at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH. She is an amazing medical professional who has worked tirelessly during the global pandemic to help all people in the Granite State. She is also the president of the New Hampshire Infection Control and Epidemiology Professionals group and owns her own consulting business called ACPH Consulting LLC in which she provides help with public health projects. During this very difficult time and with all the responsibilities that Ashley has, Ashley took the time to make masks with her Mom for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. These masks have plastic in them so people can read each other’s lips. Ashley works very hard as a mother, wife, advocate, and medical professional. I am hoping that this award will give her some time to enjoy her family! I nominate Ashley and she is an amazing She-ro!!!!
Ms. Conley is the Infection Control Practitioner at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester. She has worked tirelessly, as so many of our front-line healthcare workers, to care for those infected with COVID as well as protect others from becoming infected. She is compassionate, bright and a supportive leader to all who know and work with her. During the early months of the pandemic, she organized other women around the state to create cloth face masks for patients and staff at CMC when PPP was scarce. This past weekend she volunteered at the first NH drive-through COVID vaccination clinic at Loudon. She never stops giving and caring and is absolutely a Pandemic SHEro!
I am nominating a group of women who worked together to ensure that no one had to choose between their health and their right to vote in 2020. Kate Corriveau and Rosemary Danelski of America Votes, Louise Spencer and Kyri Claflin of Kent Street Coalition, Olivia Zink of Coalition for Open Democracy, Liz Tentarelli of League of Women Voters, Grace Kindeke of American Friends Service Committee, and Devon Chaffee of ACLU NH. (I hope I’m not forgetting anyone.) They worked tirelessly throughout the spring and summer to ensure that Vote by Mail legislation was passed and then to carry out a massive effort to ensure people (particularly underrepresented demographics) understood the new law, how to access their ballot by mail, and to answer questions. They did this through phone programs, social media, and by working with local nonprofits/service providers. They also worked with local town officials throughout the state to ensure seamless application of the new law and to support a safe and healthy Election Day at the polls, recognizing that many people would still want to vote in person. This work was carried out in a non-partisan way, and was critical to ensuring that no one had to choose between their right to vote and their health on Election Day.
Mayor Joyce Craig has been a great leader for the citizens of Manchester during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not easy leading the largest city in New Hampshire during normal times. Now leading the largest city in New Hampshire during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new and unique challenges. Mayor Craig has risen to the occasion. Mayor Craig strongly advocated for the residents of Manchester. She worked with the Governor and Congressional delegation to secure the necessary funding and resources to fight the pandemic. She championed and partnered with city departments throughout the pandemic. For these reasons I nominate my mayor, Joyce Craig, to be recognized and celebrated as one of the Women and Girls of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Mari DeBlois has always worked hard to support the mission of The Way Home for over 17 years. She has lead the agency in innovated programs and services as a HUD certified Housing Counselor. When the Pandemic hit she didn’t miss a beat – she worked on creating a platform to deliver a financial literacy class from in person twice a week to via Zoom twice a week. The new platform has created a new way to share information and collect data. It has also created additional work to manage the program without/limited volunteer assistance because of the safety during COVID-19. Mari has served as the lead in reporting of data to HUD, training staff, teaching financial literacy class, and maintaining client workload. We have not seen a slow down to those in need that are homeless or at-risk and because of Mari’s passion we have been able to continue to deliver those services in a safe way.
I met Renie in 2002 when I moved to NH; she helps me as many other immigrants and refugees to apply for a job. However, she does way more for the Manchester community, and she does it with dignity and respect. I asked the vice president of her board of directors to say some words about Renie. Here is what she said;
As the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Manchester Community Resource Center, I am thrilled to nominate Renie Denton, our Executive Director, as a Pandemic SHEro. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in NH, Renie was a selfless champion for Manchester’s most vulnerable populations. She helped countless youth and adults engage in job readiness activities and find work, as well as access other supports and public assistance to ensure they and their families can thrive. With the pandemic, Renie never stopped – in fact, she persisted and work longer and harder. When some community-based organizations had to close their doors, Renie kept hers open. She remained mission and vision driven, ensuring that anyone who walked through the doors of MCRC got the help they needed and safely. She remained a constant support for her staff who face daily contact with the public as well.
Lara Quiroga, M.Ed. Director of Strategic Initiatives for Children
Debbie is a member of the Woman’s Club of Concord. When the pandemic broke out and masks were needed by all who came in contact with the public, she mobilized a group of about 20 women, which grew to almost 40, at the end of March. She located fabric, and particularly, elastic, which was really tough to find! Since March, this group, called the Masker-Aiders, has made about 18,000 masks. Every week, Debbie would organize and energize this group of women to make and deliver masks where they were most needed. This included the NH State Prison, the Merrimack County Nursing Home, County Jail and Sheriff’s Office, Riverbend Counseling, Concord Regional, Lake Sunapee & Franklin VNAs, Concord City Public Works, Human Services and Police Departments, Concord Homeless Resource Shelter, NH State Hospital, Concord Hospital and so many more agencies. By January, with many of these agencies finally being able to meet their needs, she pivoted to indigenous communities throughout the Southwest. She provides photos and tallies each week to keep the whole group informed over all these months! What a strong group of women thinking of others.
Strong leaders make communities stronger. Now more than ever we need strong leaders who tell the truth, shake us out of silence, and propel us to action. This describes Aiyana DeYoung-Martin. She might not see herself this way, but this is how I see her and the role she plays at Arts In Reach. Aiyana began as a program participant at AIR, but as she grew older, she volunteered as a teen mentor with younger participants. When her mother came down with COVID last spring, she took on extra responsivities at home but continue to seek out AIR for moments of respite and to continue to help younger teens express themselves. She volunteered for all of AIR’s summer 2020 programs and has participated in over 30 additional programs and workshops since last fall. Aiyana has been an advocate for social justice, and when protests erupted last spring, she marched with Black Lives Matter and for gender inclusivity, proudly waved a rainbow flag for justice. She encouraged everyone she came into contact with, in-person and online, to vote and make their voices be heard. This fall when AIR presented the opportunity to dive into documentary filmmaking, Aiyana jumped at the chance to explore the experiences of teens during the pandemic. She not only shared her story but also documented the stories of other teens who became socially isolated as they managed quarantine at home and remote schooling. Aiyana took the lead on this project and, along with her filmmaking mentor Catherine Stewart, produced a poignant short film that tells an important, and until now untold, story about the lives and mental health of teenage girls during the pandemic. Aiyana is a humble, unassuming, and honest person who has found ways to shake us out of silence and to propel us to action. She is a leader who has made AIR and our community stronger.
Charlotte has extensive experience working in property management and housing compliance, and served as Commissioner of the Newmarket Housing Authority. As a legislator in New Hampshire, she has been a champion of equity and affordability in housing.
Charlotte is serving her third term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving Rockingham County, District 17, the Towns of Newfields and Newmarket.
Housing Action, New Hampshire, Legislator of the Year recognized Charlotte’s work supporting legislation advocating for on behalf of New Hampshire residents. 2018
The coalition recognized legislators and advocates for their efforts to advance policy solutions to the housing affordability challenges faced by many New Hampshire residents.
Kirsten Durzy is NH’s foremost leader in showing and leading others in understanding what health equity is and how to practice equity to dismantle oppressive systems and create equitable outcomes for all. And Equity is not even in Ms. Durzy’s job description or title: she is the Evaluator for the Bureau of Infectious Disease, and still carries out all the responsibilities of her actual position. She is also recognized outside of NH for her expertise. However, it is since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that Kirsten’s skill and talent has been most evident, as she has been the Equity lead for the whole NH COVID response – a position that was only created after the start of the COVID pandemic.
She also is the lead for all health equity efforts within the Division of Public Health Services. She serves as Director for the Vaccine Equity Branch, and is responsible for efforts around the 10% vaccine equity allocation – where NH is one of 3 states prioritizing equity in the allocation planning, for which NH has garnered national attention. She has been advocating tirelessly to assure vulnerable populations are remembered at every step of the vaccine roll-out, and she has spearheaded innumerable community conversations to make sure word gets out to those who need it most. Thanks to her leadership, there are now equity focused positions that will increase DPHS capacity for equity into the future. I was privileged to serve with her on the Governor’s COVID-19 Equity Response Team which produced the Initial Report and Recommendations in July of 2020. Since my departure from state government, Kirsten has worked tirelessly with the other 2 remaining GCERT committee members to push the recommendations out into the community, and they have overseen Cares Act Funding being made available where needed. READ MORE
In March 2020, when New Hampshire schools closed due to COVID-19, students with autism and other disabilities were suddenly separated from their teachers, therapists, and support staff. Parents struggled to keep their children safe and learning at home while also meeting work obligations. Nonverbal students used picture symbols to tell their parents they wanted to go back to school–and overwhelmed parents tried to explain why school was closed. That’s when Shelly Fagen stepped up to help lead our state through this particularly challenging time for students with disabilities. As Director of Student Services at The Birchtree Center (a nonprofit autism agency), Shelly helped ensure that Birchtree’s day-school students with autism continued learning at school and at home–in spite of the pandemic.
As Chairperson of the New Hampshire Private Special Education Association, Shelly was a key leader in mobilizing New Hampshire nonprofits to collaborate and advocate on behalf of students with disabilities during COVID-19. In March 2020, Shelly was a key leader in the launch of The Birchtree Center’s first-ever remote learning program. She helped Birchtree’s staff find ingenious ways to meet students’ educational and therapeutic needs through individualized home-learning kits, online coursework, video conferencing, and phone consultation. As COVID-19 enters its fourteenth month in New Hampshire, Shelly continues to go above and beyond to help students with disabilities in our state. She truly is a pandemic ‘Shero’! READ MORE
Marsha exemplifies the way that women have pivoted to support their families and their communities through the pandemic. A working mother of two boys, Marsha is also the Executive Director and sole employee of Portsmouth’s Hospice Help Foundation. Like many women in the Granite State and beyond, Marsha needed to adapt to keep her family safe and to ensure her boys’ education didn’t fall to the wayside as schools struggled to identify the best way to move forward.
Marsha found herself, like many parents, overseeing remote-learning, coordinating Covid-safe play dates to keep her boys happy and healthy – and did all this while single handedly keeping the Hospice Help Foundation not only running but growing. While all Americans were impacted by the pandemic, hospice patients – already diagnosed with a terminal disease and typically 65+ – were especially at risk. They also tend to have more volatile financial situations. Despite the pandemic, the Foundation (which really means Marsha) ensured that hospice patients were able to stay in their homes, maintained access to electricity, and had food on the table. During this time of increased need, the Hospice Help Foundation supported 100% of patients who turned to them for support – not turning away a single applicant. Further, they expect the need to grow in terms of both number of applicants and size of applications as the state of emergency is lifted, months of postponed payments are due, and many people remain unemployed.
As many of us are looking toward vaccinations as the end of the tunnel, Marsha and the Foundation are gearing up for an even bigger year ahead. Marsha is always a SHEro but this year in particular, she has really made a mark during a particularly challenging time. (Plus she has a wicked sense of humor and always makes time for a call from a friend). In recognition of her service to women and men across the state of NH and beyond, I nominate Marsha Filion for the NH Women’s Foundation AmplifiHER award.
Gabrielle Flanders is the Associate Director of Family Services at the Family Resource Center in Gorham, NH. I nominate Gabrielle for her amazing leadership skills, her kind, supportive style of communication and her compassion for the numerous families we serve. . This last year of Covid hit our employees and our many families hard. Everyone was unsure how this pandemic would affect our own families and our clients families. Gabrielle checked in with us almost daily to discuss and alleviate our fears. She provided support in employee zoom meetings to check in to make sure we were all ok. She and our directors never missed a step in support services during this long year of Covid. She came up with creative ways for us to still provide family support to our clients. She manages our family programs for the very best outcomes for our clients. She goes above and beyond for our agency and our families. She works hard to get our families the things they need. She works hard to make her employees happy too. We love her kind spirit. She is a wise, gentle soul who is able to guide us through any situation. Please recognize her unique style and the admiration I have for her hard work and determination.
Andrea is Vice Chair of the Hopkinton School Board, a strong advocate for public education, and a communications strategist. She led the School Board through an incredibly difficult time and was largely responsible for the community organizing and communications necessary to pass this year’s budget. Last year’s budget failed after several attempts. Andrea’s work to build community trust and communicate the priorities of the Board are invaluable. She also ran my contested primary campaign for NH Senate District 15 and led us into victory in the middle of a pandemic. She did it all with grace and grit. Anyone who knows Andrea can attest to the fact that she has so many remarkable and varied talents all wrapped into one deeply wise, honest, and amazing human being.
Emily recognized the significant stigma that high schoolers coping with mental health face., and quickly recognized that the pandemic was further increasing anxiety and other mental health issues for teenagers across New Hampshire. For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Emily developed a program “Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health in High Schools,” addressing a wide variety of audiences. She took her message to high schools in New Hampshire, and represented New Hampshire students at multiple state events and programs, including the Youth Summit in Concord, 99 Faces at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, No Safe Vape on Facebook Live; the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO), and more. In May, Galeva participated in the third of a series of webinars allowing high schoolers to talk about mental health issues they were experiencing during the pandemic.
Steph stepped up early on in the pandemic and made hundreds of masks for the Seacoast community, taking a lot of local leadership and making sure frontline workers were protected first. She is also on the board of the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire where she has helped ensure that people needing abortion care can access it regardless of their ability to pay.
Note from Steph:
I personally made 700 masks, but in total our group of primarily women made over 50,000 masks. We called ourselves the Seacoast Mask Makers, and had hubs all around the area where we would trade supplies, drop off masks, and coordinate deliveries. I would love the group to be recognized alongside myself, because while I’m incredibly proud of the individual work I did, I wouldn’t have done it without my group.
On behalf of Aimee Kereage of Granite United Way, Steve Thiel of Southern NH University, and Jessica Riendeau of the Granite YMCA, I am honored to recognize Dr. Jennifer Gillis of the Manchester School District. Throughout COVID-19, Dr. Gillis has balanced providing leadership, strength and dedication to the youth of Manchester in her role as Assistant Superintendent. Her utilization of partnerships with community-based organizations has created an environment of collaboration between these partners and the district in service of students and families, leading to previously unheard-of levels of collaboration across stakeholders. “Speaking from experience, SNHU has worked with Dr. Gillis on food distribution programming since the schools were first forced to go remote in March of 2020. This partnership has led to almost 200,000 meals being distributed to food insecure families,” notes Thiel. She also utilized these partnerships to improve cross sector communication and set the stage for greater integration of services as the pandemic ends. Dr. Gillis served as a model of resiliency and leadership, demonstrating that one can help others while pursuing their personal dreams. During this time of incredible service, she has completed her doctorate in education leadership while parenting two children at home who had shifted to remote learning. For women across our community, Dr. Gillis has been a light and an inspiration, leading with authenticity, grace, and candor.
See a video of the program here.
As Administrator, Jasmine responded to the pandemic and the Covid outbreak at Evergreen Place with professionalism, empathy and courage. She ensured that testing schedules were appropriate for our assisted living residents and our healthcare workers lobbying with the State of NH to ensure that Assisted Living communities experiencing a higher than normal spread of Covid would be tested with the same frequency as nursing homes. We never lacked for Personal Protective Equipment because she was there on the front lines getting the things we needed to protect our staff from the spread of the vaccine. When residents passed away, no matter the time of day or night, she was here to make sure that they were removed with dignity and for those residents and staff who contracted the virus, she ensured that they received care calls on a regular basis. She worked tirelessly for 4 weeks. On nights when we were short-staffed she filled in for sick employees in nursing to serve residents, even putting cushions on the floor in her office to catch a few winks in between shifts. She filled in for food service staff all while maintaining the ongoing operations of Evergreen Place Assisted Living in Manchester NH, always with grace and a smile on her face. A top performer, she rose to new heights during the pandemic.
Liz Gray, State Director of NH Small Business Development Center (SBDC), embraced the pandemic needs of small businesses around the state. She has brought big ideas as solutions to big issues, and made them happen. At the beginning, Liz recognized that people needed a place to go to find out about what businesses needed to know about doing business during the pandemic, so SBDC built a COVID assistance webpage that has had over 35,000 pageviews and began sending weekly newsletters. SBDC’s business advising team met at least weekly to continually learn about the changing relief programs; essential businesses and reopening; and how to survive and thrive. SBDC worked with SBDC has offered hundreds of webinars on COVID relief programs and other pertinent topics, and developed new eCourses and videos. We helped 7,178 businesses in 2020. Liz also saw the need for quantifying businesses’ pandemic journey so that SBDC and economic development organizations can better address current and future business concerns. SBDC recently released results of Phase 2 of a 3-part Business Resiliency Survey produced with the UNH Survey Center, which had 1,611 respondents from 174 NH cities and towns.
Next week starts a never-been-done-before (as far as we can tell!) 10-week Small Business and Community Resiliency Academy, presented in partnership with UNH Cooperative Extension, offering a speaker/panel series and cohort support for developing or updating businesses’ resiliency plans. Currently, over 200 people have registered, including people from elsewhere who are interested in bringing the idea to their state. In addition, SBDC, in partnership with NH Tech Alliance, just launched the Cybersecurity Initiative, bringing proven cybersecurity resources and a webinar series to the Granite State. Another key piece that Liz has brought to the NH business community during this crisis has been the ability to attract and work with partners all across the state, including a new Chambers of Commerce Collaborative partnership. This adds strength to projects and embeds the work done into the fabric of the business community. Liz Gray is truly deserving of being part of the Women and Girls of the Pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, and starting right in March 2020, Terry provided free seated yoga movements, breathing practices and meditative opportunities using a live virtual format. One group she outreached to was healthcare professionals. The other group was comprised of persons with vulnerable health statuses (e.g., cancer, paralysis, etc.). The aim was to help build resilience and combat social isolation. She mentored a group of female healthcare professionals in a weekly yoga session online from July to December 2020. She transitioned a nonprofit and small business to online care. She helped prepare other yoga/movement teachers to transition to online care. She made and decorated ‘thank you for your service’ care packages for healthcare professionals. The care packages had a mask, mini hand sanitizer, relaxing tea, mini hand lotion and healthy snack items. She supported me (a health professional) in countless ways for which I am blessed!
I believe that Amaryllis Hager, CNM, WHNP-BC should be nominated because she took on the essential role of leading The Lovering Health Center at the height of the pandemic. As our sole provider, Amaryllis was able to consistently provide compassionate and thorough reproductive health care while also implementing new measures of Covid-19 safety such as in-depth telehealth visits and other distanced measures like parking lot visits. Despite the adversity of being one of four abortion clinics in the entire state during a pandemic, Amaryllis has continued to put her entire heart into making sure abortion remains accessible and compassionate. Additionally, during the pandemic, Amaryllis kicked off a brand new transgender health care program at The Lovering Health Center which includes Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy. Thanks to Amaryllis, The Lovering Health Center has widened its ability to provide comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care to people of ALL genders. As a queer and feminist health care provider, Amaryllis continues to let her positivity, inclusivity, and commitment to social justice shine through her medical practice. In the short amount of time Amaryllis has been at The Lovering, she has proven to be a strong leader that the team can model themselves after.
Tara is a small business owner, mom to three girls, supporter of friends and community, juggling it all through the pandemic. Early on she coordinated a local ‘front steps’ photo project in our area, creating community, giving hope, and raising over $5,000 for the Dover Children’s Home.
Stephanie Hausman has continued her important work as a public defender throughout the pandemic. During that time she has spearheaded a project in Portsmouth to produce changes in the protocols of the Portsmouth Police Dept regarding racial discrimination. In top of all of this, Stephanie became a certified Foster Parent in 2020 and welcomed a 10yo foster child into her home. She is amazing!
Laura has worked tirelessly during this crazy time to push forward the mission of the public library in Portsmouth as well as for the City of Portsmouth. While Laura has always been able to use her creativity, compassion, and articulate messaging to engage the community, she has also stepped up to support the general City’s communication process. Simultaneously, she is engaged in citywide efforts to connect mission-based organizations such as the Chase Home, Gather, Haven and other smaller organizations, to streamline needs and communication among each other. This ultimately strengthens our whole community.
Gretyl is a powerhouse of integrity, commitment and compassion. As the Youth Services director at Portsmouth Public Library, she has supported her staff through crazy times- remote school, programming upheaval, mission shifts and more! She developed creative programming to pivot the youth services department offerings during these COVID times and always with one eye on the most vulnerable in our community. She is a vocal advocate for considering the broad perspectives and needs of our community, even when we are working with in a vacuum of COVID. Furthermore, she tirelessly ensures that procedures and policy are logical for all. WHAT IS MORE, Gretyl is a loving aunty to two fabulous young children with diverse needs. She has shifted her schedule to ‘do remote school’ with them once a week, take them to various therapy appointments, and have them to stay with her for weekends to give their single-dad a break.
Jen and Girls On The Run (GOTR)- NH have worked tirelessly thru COVID to continue to support girls with summer home GOTR kits, virtual and in person fall programs and a new spring program. It is the 20th year of GOTR-NH! As one of the early BOD members and in the hiring process of bringing Jen on board, this program has grown and thrived under Jen’s leadership – from 35 girls running a 5K to thousands of girls going thru the program. She is truly a SHEro.
Chapters of Black Lives Matter represent the concerns of people of color in their fight against systemic racism. The pandemic has put them at high risk due to many factors that are magnified by racist policies. BLM groups are community organizers and they shine light on the problems and also help their communities by finding and connecting them with aid they need. Examples of help include taking care of utility bills, providing groceries, funds for school supplies, linking with local mutual aid. It’s no surprise that some people don’t want to hear their message and can be disruptive and threatening as they raise voices.
I am nominating a team of five women from the Portsmouth Housing Authority in Portsmouth, NH: Tammy Joslyn, Olivia Baker, Daphne Rivera, Jennifer McGinley, and Krista Gilmore.
During the past year, these women have figured out ways to continue to best serve the residents that live in our housing. We house individuals that qualify as elderly and/or low-income. The Resident Services Team adapted the summer and after-school programs for the children in our family developments, keeping everyone safe while still being able to have enriching fun. They worked with the City School Department to schedule tutoring for children that needed the extra help, as schooling at home proved a difficult transition. Additionally, our family developments have a recurring family dinner night hosted by the Resident Services Team. In response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Team began providing meals to go, so that families could continue to get a free meal once a week.
Shortly after the state began shutting down due to the pandemic, the ladies were concerned for our elderly residents, especially those who live alone. They spearheaded a group of volunteers to make weekly check-in calls to all elderly residents in our 11 properties, asking how they were, seeing if they were in need of anything, or sometimes just joining them in conversation that hopefully helped alleviate feelings of isolation. The ladies then followed up with those needs by delivering groceries, toiletries, and medications to residents who were in need of help. When the COVID-19 vaccine became available to the residents in our 11 properties, the ladies put in the effort to contact every single resident, asking if they would like the vaccine. The ladies scheduled a vaccine clinic for all of the Portsmouth Housing Authority properties and ensured that the information on the details of the clinic were handed out door to door. These women have made an extremely positive impact in the physical and emotional wellbeing of many residents since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and are deserving of recognition for doing so!
Aimee Kereage, Director of Community Impact with Granite United Way has committed so much time and energy into supporting her community members, especially children and families in the Greater Manchester area, throughout this challenging year. Aimee champions efforts to help others through this crisis both professionally and personally. She has established deep roots and built strong relationships with Manchester’s youth-serving organizations and school district through the Youth Enrichment Partnership and has led many efforts to support families, such as: distributing bags of groceries through the weekly “Fuel Our Families” program, expanding mental health and academic supports, and raising funds to connect families to critical resources through Granite United Way’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. All the while she finds time to celebrate the many partners who contribute to these efforts and tries to help people smile and find joy in these acts of caring for our community. READ MORE
Lisa is one of the most genuinely kind individuals anyone would be lucky enough to know. Specifically during COVID, Lisa and JoAnn created ‘Cheers for Charity’, an online, video-based platform to introduce local charities and given them a voice. It has been incredible to watch the charities spotlighted in a way I’ve never seen before.
Andrea Keslar worked on the front lines as the school nurse, and the Covid resource for the school system in the Kingswood school district. Last spring the school was remote so she worked at Huggins hospital in the ER and on the COVID team. When school reopened this fall they were in person but hybrid. They have been back full time since April 4th.
She not only had to report numbers to the state regularly, she took care of students and regularly fielded phone calls from concerned families at all hours of the day and night for months. Her dedication to the community is worthy of recognition.
Jordan King, a senior at Milford High School, began a high school student grocery delivery program for individuals unable or reluctant to go shopping due to the pandemic. She is a National Honors Society student, organizer for her school’s NH Youth Movement, and President of the Young Democrats. In my many years as a high school teacher and now as a state representative, rarely have I encountered a student with such a strong sense of civic mindedness.
Gail has been a long standing volunteer for Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, is Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts of the USA, and was recognized for her outstanding contributions with the Honor Pin award. During the past year she pivoted in order to continue to provide the Girl Scout program not only for her own Girl Scout troop but for all of our registered Girl Scouts throughout our council, where we serve over 10,000 members throughout NH and VT, girls and adults alike. Gail is limitless and a forward thinker. If there is an idea, she will find a way. Gail ran several virtual workshops via FB live and Zoom for girls and adults during the past year on Girl Scout program to First Aid and CPR. Gail is an American Heart Association instructor and found a way to train life saving skills for girls and adults via Zoom nation wide.
Sarah was one of many great people working on https://seacoastmaskmakers.org/ making thousands of masks for first responders and others at the start of the pandemic. Sarah made masks, and also was the PR coordinator. Of course there were many others such as founder Javi Kalback who should be recognized. I can’t find a proper list of them though to list. A group of about 30 people on March 21 to about 1200 3 days later! 2,075 FB Members, 57,000+ masks made and 285 orgs helped!
Kristyn LaRochelle is an elementary school teacher. Last year when the schools switched to remote learning with no advance warning, Ms. LaRochelle made it work! She quickly found a way to make online learning fun for the kids and manageable for the parents (who were trying to work remotely with young children at home). In September when the new school year began, we were thrilled to learn that Mrs. LaRochelle would be moving up to Second Grade with her class from last year. Mrs. LaRochelle has provided a calm stability for her students. She has high expectations for them and their work. However, she has also knows that kids this age needed to have some fun! She has spent hours after school with the kids building forts in the woods, perfecting chalk art, and making slime! Mrs. LaRochelle has worked tirelessly to make sure that her students had a great schoolyear, despite all of the challenges in the world today. Mrs. LaRochelle is our SHEro!!
Shannon Lavertu, our Kinship Navigator, has stood out at our agency, the Family Resource Center, for many reasons in the last year. Shannon is a great resource for our agency and our families. She works tirelessly to find resources for anything from Electric bills, to Clothes, to shoes. On a more personal level Shannon works full time, cares for 4 young boys, and moved to a new residence during Covid. While working she mentored her four boys in remote learning for school. She started ‘Jake’s Neighborhood Patrol Bike’ fundraiser on Facebook last summer. She raised $1300 for bikes for children in foster care, adopted, or relative care. She has given out 9 bikes totaling $800. She still has $500 available and is thinking of making this a yearly fundraiser. Shannon is amazing. She deserves recognition for her awesome caring personality and giving soul. Shannon ROCKS! Gorham, NH
Mary Leone is the mother of two amazing children. However, her daughter, Viola (Vivi) has a very rare genetic disorder. Vivi is not even 3 years old and on top of her genetic condition, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She went into Boston Children’s Hospital just before Christmas of 2019. She underwent brain surgery, several rounds of chemotherapy, lung surgery, and bone marrow transplant. She developed a rare infection and several times nearly died. Her mother remained with her the entire time which became devastating because once COVID hit in March, there could be no visitors. So her mom spent day after day, night after night, week after week, month after month by her daughter’s side often sleeping in the same crib as her daughter to keep her safe and secure through the pain and the retching and the unbelievable challenges to this little baby’s body. Vivi was finally able to come home after over 6 months at Children’s Hospital where mom virtually had to set up a hospital like environment in her home. She had to reconnect with her son who had to be away from her through Vivi’s ordeal. And to book, had to quarantine as she returned home due to this deadly surge to protect her vulnerable daughter. I have been a physical therapist for over 40 years and have the honor of walking this journey with this amazing family. In those year, I have seen many challenging circumstances in family’s lives. But these two amazing females are my true heroes. They deserve to be honored.
Michelle is a City Councilor in Dover, Principal of a recovery based high school, single mom, mental health and substance misuse advocate, and the list goes on. Most of all though, she’s a mentor and a role model who always reminds me to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.
Sallie started a music program for the residents of Edgewood Centre in Portsmouth, NH. She called it ‘Music is Magic’ because it brought joy to people who could no longer go out as well as helping those with memory loss to sing-a-long. When Covid 19 closed Edgewood Center to visitors, she worked with Ali Nesman to bring the live performances to the residents virtually. Incidentally, Sallie found dedicated musicians who gladly donated their time and talent.
Ali made Sallie Macintosh’s vision for live music at Edgewood Centre come to life before the pandemic and figured out the technical challenges to make the performances virtual after Covid closed the Edgewood Centre to outside visitors. Ali and Sallie are a redoubtable team!
The inspiration for the music was Sallie’s partner, Ron Shaw, one of the musical group The Shaw Brothers. His brother Rick Shaw was a resident at the Edgewood Centre and was part of the meetings and decisions about the music program. She saw how Rick would come to life listening to music and so began ‘Music is Magic’.
Sumati is a very caring Physical therapist a single mom who not only worked as frontline worker throughout PANDEMIC going into people’s home providing home care as PT. Both her grown children are Doctors and were working with COVID patients while Sumati kept her for us on her service in NH. Adding to this she was one of core members of New England Maskateers a volunteer group providing cloth masks to community members such as Hillsborough county nursing home, Dept of Corrections, Nashua City hall departments and many more. This group sewed and distributed over 5,000 masks in 3 months period she was the filter lady who researched and ordered HEP filter inserts to go along these cloth masks when PPEs were not available to frontline workers. I can go on and on about how dedicated and giving Sumati is in every aspect of life. She is one of the greatest selfless person that I have come across. True unsung SHero in our community.
Cindy Martin is our idea of a SHE-RO, as evidenced by her intelligence, compassion, dedication and total grace under fire, as she led our large family of communities through this pandemic. She was the chief clinical voice for more than 1,000 residents and close to 1,000employees across our three communities, for more than a year, when we were in the eye of the pandemic storm. Cindy translated the daily guidance at the federal and state level, and helped our Executive Directors understand how to safely close our communities, yet execute on our promise of care for residents, including meal deliveries, social interactions, activities, fitness, etc. She provided the clinical guidance on how to safely open up and has fielded literally hundreds of questions on what is safe and what is not, from her colleagues and residents. In the early stages of the pandemic, she guided our Birch Hill community during their initial outbreak, up to and including and providing direct care to residents affected by Covid. She trained staff on pandemic protocols. and successful use of PPE, spoke to concern3d families and was our lead voice with the Department of Public Health, and the State of NH. She was the epitome of leading by example, as she never asked a team member to do anything she had not done personally for our residents. She calmed the fears of staff, residents, and their families, and explained the science of the virus countless times in ways that anyone could easily understand. She provided guidance to RiverWoods Durham when they were faced with opening up a health center safely in the midst of a pandemic, and worked side by side with the Executive Director and Director of Nursing to ensure all guidelines were being met. Cindy led the organization through weekly testing and became a true partner with Convenient MD (CMD). She helped to establish testing protocols at all three communities and was there to swab staff and residents each week. Beyond just the testing, she would spend four nights a week diligently and tediously checking test results, ensuring no result was left unchecked. When each community inevitably had positive cases throughout the past year, Cindy led the teams through the necessary steps to perform contract tracing, close down operations, identify others who needed to be tested, and ensured we all had the proper guidance and communication to move forward. Cindy expanded her mind and learning on a weekly basis when she participated in all CDC and DPH calls so that she could provide a nightly update any new developments with the virus to the leadership teams. She tracked graphs, charts, data, and absorbed all new regulatory guidelines. Most significantly, was the way in which Cindy dispatched these responsibilities. She worked tirelessly, nights and weekends, to keep our residents and staff safe. She was conscientious ñ she paid attention to the facts and science, and did not get lost in speculation or wishful thinking. She was courageous ñ facing the challenges of the pandemic head on, and never backing down, even when exhausted, and when answers were unclear. She was candid and told the truth, even when it was hard to hear. She was calm while all hell was breaking out around her. And through it all, Cindy has somehow kept her sense of humor, incorporating positive messages and funny comments throughout all her work, to keep others upbeat. Cindy has been resilient – this has been a long battle for someone in her role, and she has not succumbed to the many challenges she has had to confront. Cindy was a partner to all when we needed it most. When no one else was prepared for a global pandemic, Cindy made it seem like she was born to lead us through this, and we truly believe in many ways, she was. In sum total, Cindy has the intelligence, fortitude, internal strength, compassion and humor that has kept our almost 2,000 people safe during the most dangerous year we have all had to face. We cannot be more grateful for her leadership. 2020 was supposed to be “The year of the Nurse”, and while I’m sure many nurses would wish that to not be true, at RiverWoods, 2020 was the year of Cindy Martin saving us all.
Michelle is as close to Wonder Woman as anyone is going to get this year. I have known her for 30+ years and she is leading the charge when it comes to military / pandemic response teams in NH. As a Medical Administrative Officer for 157th Air Refueling Wing out of Pease Airbase in Portsmouth, she leads medical operations and planning. She essentially brings all of the stakeholders together for COVID-19 initiatives and gets sh*t done! She was able to create 12 acute care sites across NH in only 14 days. She is also a Process Improvement Manager (green belt) and facilitates multiple projects across 5 different departments at Pease. She’s also in charge of educating commanders and streamlining medical processes which has significantly improved the efficiency measures NH needed as we implemented these testing sites. Did I mention she’s a wife and mom of 3!? She is incredible.
Sabrina is the Senior Program Manager for our program. We serve over 400 nursing home level of care clients throughout the state that choose to remain at home. Over the past year, Sabrina has worked tirelessly to make sure our staff had everything they needed to remain safe and to keep our clients safe. She made multiple runs to local vineyards/distilleries to pick up large quantities of hand sanitizer when there was a shortage. Sabrina is an incredible leader, mother, wife and friend. We are all so grateful for her.
Dr. Cari Moorhead is an extraordinary woman who works tirelessly to lift others up during the pandemic and always. She constantly thinks about and looks for ways to help those in (obvious and not so obvious) need, to pay forward and give back, to support, encourage, and educate. She remembers those who are often forgotten, underrepresented, misrepresented, oppressed, and marginalized. She’ll go out of her way to do things that may seem too small to others because they don’t make a huge difference. But by doing so she makes a huge difference in individual lives just as much as she does it on a larger scale through education, opportunities, and access she creates for others. As the Dean of Graduate School at the University of New Hampshire, she’s made an impact on thousands of students throughout her career and she’s doing so now during the pandemic. She fights and advocates for graduate students– domestic, international, parents, LGBTQ+, veterans, and any other traditional or non-traditional graduate student– to help them navigate graduate school during these challenging times and succeed in their endeavors. For everything she does she deserves every recognition as a shero because she truly is one.
During the beginning days and weeks of the pandemic, Nancy and Mackenzie organized ‘Snacks for Our Heroes,’ collecting and distributing bottled water and snacks to frontline health workers at area hospitals. Here is their Facebook page which gives a flavor for the extent and impact of their initiative: https://www.facebook.com/SnacksforourHeroes
I don’t know if I have all the words for how heroic our teachers have been during this pandemic. Teaching is a heroic career in the best of times. During pandemic times, when the world is topsy-turvy, our kids are being left hugely vulnerable, and everyone’s anxieties are at their highest, is more than heroic. The staff at New Franklin has provided consistency, support, engagement, individualization, and enthusiasm during a time when our students need it most. They have been creative, resilient and embodied the growth-mindset in every way! I have witnessed this as a parent, and also as a librarian who does Zoom stories with various classes. Teachers are often also parents – in some cases to high-risk children, children of aging and ill parents, life-partners, and more. And yet, every day they walk into New Franklin School with the same smiles, enthusiasm, and creativity for our children’s sake.
I have often said that the baseline for every teacher at New Franklin is to give 2000%. This year, it may look different but we see them giving 5000%. In the midst of a crazy year, witnessing public commentary that would be demoralizing to most, they have stepped in ways big and small. We are so grateful for SHE (and HE)roes of the New Franklin staff for supporting our little family in such a trying time AND supporting all of their students.
As a Breakthrough Manchester Student and Teaching Fellow alumna, Chau Ngo has experienced both sides of Breakthrough’s dual mission and knows the importance of the Breakthrough community for our students. As the current Program Director, Chau has worked tirelessly to support our students and families this past year when they have needed it most. Manchester is the hardest hit city in New Hampshire for COVID, and our families represent the most vulnerable population. They come from families disadvantaged at good times, and with the onset of COVID, are being impacted even more. Last spring, Breakthrough advisors and staff checked in regularly with our students to offer academic, social, and emotional support and keep them on their path to college. Chau spearheaded the transformation of Breakthrough’s six week summer program to a virtual platform and personally delivered school supplies and laptops to our 104 students to kick off the summer. She continues to be quick to pivot to meet our students’ needs ;Breakthrough has helped counter our families’ food insecurity with gift cards for groceries and pizza; provided laptops, internet, and tech support for those who need it; as well as extra support and tutoring to empower our students as they navigate their remote education. As we all begin to heal from the pandemic, Breakthrough will be there for our students to share the joy of building community in person once again – and inevitably Chau Ngo will work tirelessly over the summer to ensure that happens! READ MORE
I am nominating Joanne Pearce, New Hampshire Mutual Bancorp (NHMB) Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer. During her nearly 20 years with NHMB, Joanne has been a constant champion for ensuring all of our organizations are prepared for any major issue that could negatively affect our local communities, our employees and our customers. Her extensive knowledge in business continuity and planning coupled with her natural influence as a leader helped her make planning for disaster situations, including the possibility of a worldwide pandemic, a top priority for the company.
For years, Joanne has guided company leadership and employees through important exercises to look at the way we do business from every angle – thinking of all the “what ifs,” analyzing systems and processes, and identifying creative solutions to keep business up and running during any number of possible disasters. Joanne considered every detail that might happen in a disaster, including planning and discussion about pandemic response. Thanks to Joanne, every employee knew what they would need to do in an emergency and everything was documented in easily accessed and followed procedures. As a result, our sister organizations – Meredith Village Savings Bank, Merrimack County Savings Bank, and Savings Bank of Walpole and NHTrust – were prepared. Cleaning and communication supplies were appropriately ordered, stored and disseminated to all of the appropriate staff and buildings. READ MORE
Courtney is the Director of the SNHU Center for New Americans which serves immigrant and refugee youth and families. Since the pandemic reached Manchester, Courtney and her staff have been delivering food, household supplies, financial assistance, and other resources to the families served at the Center each week. This has included translating important documents about COVID-19 protocols, remote school procedures, technology requirements, and ensuring that all families understand how to keep themselves safe and their kids engaged in school. Over the past few weeks this has turned into sharing trusted, translated information on the COVID-19 vaccine in making sure that families can have their questions answered and know how to access the vaccinations when eligible. Courtney has supported some of our community’s most in-need residents, while also providing leadership to her team and supporting her family at home. She has been a graceful, empathetic leader, and she is certainly deserving of greater recognition from the community.
Sara Persechino was elected Hopkinton’s first female town moderator last year right around the start of the pandemic. While working full time and taking care of her two kids/doing remote learning, she spearheaded – along with Sabrina Dunlap* – the organization of both the primary and general elections. Because of her dedication and commitment, we had safe and accessible elections during the pandemic. She is an excellent leader and one of the hardest working people I know. She did an amazing job of helping our town navigate the past year of the pandemic.
*Sabrina has been an integral partner in preparing for the town’s remote Town Meetings and COVID safe elections; she truly gives her heart and soul to this Town. She has also done an amazing job leading our community through a difficult time and navigating remote business that is still comprehensive, respectful, and inclusive while also juggling remote learners and a full-time job at home.
Janet is a Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter (NSKS) Board Member and also a volunteer in our Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry. With the onset of COVID, since March of 2020, Janet comes in three times a week to help with breakfast. We serve a hot breakfast To Go and Janet assembles approximately 150 bags each morning, with condiments, plasticware, napkins and the hot entre. After she finishes that task, she helps shelve donations in our Food Pantry. She always has a kind and uplifting message for both staff and clients. Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter and the Nashua community at large are so very lucky to have Janet as part of our team! Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter sees a new day for the men, women, and children experiencing homelessness in our community, in part because of the leadership and commitment of our Board Member and Building Committee Chairwoman Janet Polaneczky. Janet’s dedication to our tremendous new project of sheltering the homeless, as well as feeding the hungry, will positively impact the Greater Nashua community at large, all beginning with her desire to give back to the community and assist those in need. READ MORE
Isabel Povey recognized the increased need that the pandemic and lockdowns was going to bring and worked tirelessly throughout the past year with local organizations like 68 hours of hunger, her local food pantry, and the NH Foodbank. She has also spent almost every Saturday morning helping distribute food at the mobile food pantry in Manchester. Isabel is a junior at Pinkerton Academy and chose to focus on how she could help others during the pandemic rather than how it’s upset her own life between school and loss of those typical experiences like pep rallies and prom.
Jo Anne Rainville is the Tamworth Community nurse [yes, Tamworth has a community nurse!] who has kept the town informed about the pandemic, vaccine, safety, stats regarding our community. She arranged back in March 2020 to give all residents of town hand sanitizer [it was unavailable in our area] and has refilled these bottles throughout the year.
She made masks available to residents who needed them. Meals on Wheels recipients were given toilet paper back when that was unavailable. Jo Anne also made sure that the local libraries had masks and sanitizer available so they could open safely. She has recently collected and is giving out diapers to parents who are struggling to afford them. She has done all this while keeping the office open for residents who need health care [she treated people in their cars and in a tent outside all winter], found and loaned out equipment for residents who need things like hospital beds and walkers, organized a phone tree at the beginning of the pandemic so that every resident got a twice-weekly phone call checking in on needs, arranged a town-wide walk with friends program to get folks outside, and continued being a gruff, down-to-earth supporter of every Tamworth resident. She is amazing and Tamworth is lucky to have JoAnne.
Dr. Marie Elizabeth Ramas is a family physician who has worked within the community health center realm since 2011. She is known for her dedication to providing high quality, comprehensive primary care that focuses on individual well-being. As a full scope family medicine provider, Dr. Ramas practiced obstetrics for nearly 10 years, delivering her last baby in Nashua the summer of 2020. Caring for multigenerational families from across the world, Dr. Ramas helped initiate plans of care and the distribution of personal protective equipment in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic for the vulnerable community members she served. She understood early on that her patients were most affected as the ‘unseen essential workers’ who did not have the option of working remotely.
While enlisting the donation of hundreds of cloth masks by local community members in the early days of the pandemic, she also began campaigning on her own social media platforms, in order to help her patients understand the gravity of the virus. Dr. Ramas worked closely in conjunction with the local public health department to create a means of COVID-19 testing, and protocols to protect herself and fellow colleagues with necessary personal protective equipment, PPE. As a result of both experiencing firsthand and witnessing the catastrophic effects of the pandemic on herself and her healthcare colleagues, Dr. Ramas decided to take step back from full-time direct patient care: to focus her attention on advocacy at the local, state and national level; to address the inequities and needs exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and; to provide primary care for people who suffer with substance use disorder as medical director of Gatehouse Treatment Center. Moved by witnessing the stress, fatigue and trauma of her fellow healthcare workers, she joined early as an advisor to Healthcare Voices of New Hampshire, https://www.healthcarevoicesnh.org/. Through this campaign, over 2,000 healthcare workers across the state have signed a pledge to advocate for mass COVID-19 vaccination and given voice to many of their stories. READ MORE
We all know someone who has had COVID-19, and we all know someone who has been on the front lines facing this disease – medical staff, food and other service workers, and teachers. I would like to introduce you to a woman who during this pandemic: has fought the disease personally; has been a front line teacher; and an educational and environmental advocate at the community, state and national levels – Ms. Kimberly Rawson.
Kim, a single Mom, was very sick (undiagnosed) for a month during the early spring days of the pandemic. Missing very few days to the disease, she would gather her energies during the day for on-line because it was important to her to maintain a positive attitude and a consistent routine for her students.Several weeks into the school year her children contracted COVID-19, and her school transitioned to remote. All recovered, but being the first within their small community to be diagnosed with the disease, local folks were initially scared of her family and this promoted even more of a feeling of isolation for Kim and children.
Kim Rawson, my nominee for the “Women of the Pandemic Award” has not only survived this pandemic year in a truly personal and professional manner; she has found the time and energy to actually lead, inspire and champion innovative actions that address the root causes of the COVID-19 pandemic – over-exploitation of natural and non-renewable energy resources and environmental degradation linked to climate change. Please support this nomination of an extraordinary woman. READ MORE
Raude leads an organization that promotes community connections with those in the Indonesian diaspora. Immediately before the pandemic she and her organization were spearheading an effort to bring the country’s first Little Indonesia to Somersworth. Despite the setbacks of lockdown, she kept her team motivated and engaged, which included pivoting her organization to help those in her community that were struggling with food insecurity to get the support they needed, particularly when English was not their first language.. She continued to run online cultural events and attracted the attention of politicians, developers, and press to keep her vision alive. Most recently she secured funding and a space to house the project while many other developments in the region are on hold. She never ceased working through the changes COVID brought and our community is stronger and better connected because of it.
Dawn Reams has dedicated her life to helping clients dealing with domestic and sexual violence and stalking. She has managed to make a huge difference for those who have been traumatized through this violence, their children and families. She has committed the time, energy and care to insure victims and survivors receive the utmost care, advocacy, housing, education, legal assistance, and more. When Covid appeared nearly 13 months ago, Dawn went into action, The first thing she did was to be sure Bridges employed every action possible to continue all services – despite the pandemic. Bridges developed new and innovative ways as not to stop or interfere with everything from crisis intervention to safe shelter. When Dawn heard there were women and toddlers living in their cars during the lock down, she made it clear- no one will be turned away. She found the funds to pay for hotels and motels while our emergency shelter was full. Dawn developed ways for our advocates to go to hospitals with sexual assault survivors, so our clients wouldn’t have to deal with their trauma alone. She worked to protect both clients and staff through all the safety practices as well as masks, shields and safety protective glasses. Most recently, Dawn set up a Covid vaccination site which gave our homeless clients and staff the ability to be vaccinated. Dawn truly has made a difference for so many during this most challenging year. Dawn is truly a SHEro!
Diane Richmond, MSN is a light-house! She has ‘retired’ several times; but she is too mission focused in her passion for community health nursing stop serving as a nurse. Throughout the entire pandemic she continued home visits to frail elders to ensure their physical and emotional health, safety and basic needs were being met. She made sure her colleagues and friends (also older adults) had masks. Let’s remember those early days when masks were not readily available! She also found time to bake and leave front porch deliveries of healthy sweets/treats to her circle of friends on days when she was doing her home visits. As a grateful recipient, I know this made us feel connected and loved during those early uncertain stages of the pandemic. She is also passionate about person-centered care. Earlier in her career, she was the first Spanish-speaking community nurse to serve persons with HIV/AIDs in Lawrence MA, ensuring full translation of all materials and services. These are just two examples (COVID-19 and AIDS epidemic) where persons may have had the experience of fear. In both cases, Diane Richmond served skillfully, and with love, which she might say is among the best vaccines ever!
Sarah Robinson is the absolute best. She is constantly working to make her community better, both in her personal and professional life. She takes great care of her family every day. She organizes Concord’s chapter of SURJ (showing up for racial justice) and has endless patience for all of us who are working to be better people. For work, she chose a job that works to empower people in their community related to the education system. We are better people because we have Sarah in our lives.
Valerie Rochon is Chief Collaborator (President) of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth. Valerie is the embodiment of leadership by example. Though her staff may not always appreciate her Vermont-bred “no snow days” approach to winter customer service at the Chamber’s 500 Market Street headquarters, Valerie was quick to send the staff home to work remotely under the Governor’s Stay At Home orders in March 2020, while “standing the watch” at the office herself, in order to serve the hands-on needs of Seacoast businesses who needed import/export documents and other forms processed in person.
While there, she answered phones and counseled members and nonmembers on COVID guidelines. This work prompted Valerie to join the Citizen Response Task Force (CRTF) appointed by Portsmouth Mayor Rick Becksted in May “to help the City quickly and safely respond to the Governor’s guidelines for reopening, in Portsmouth.” Valerie was one of the CRTF “essential workers” who met in the downtown streets with City staff to determine how to save Portsmouth’s shops and restaurants by streamlining the process for restaurants to establish outdoor dining and for businesses to secure curbside pickup sites. In just 7 weeks the CRTF, the City Planning Department and DPW worked with 21 restaurant owners to approve 180 permits to convert parking spaces and sidewalks into dining spaces and to create curbside pickup sites citywide. The City of Baltimore took three and a half months to achieve a “street-dining” solution; meanwhile Portsmouth businesses were open and operating throughout the critical summer months. READ MORE
Juliana Rowland is an amazing force of positivity and connection. As a member of the Hollis Brookline Rotary Club, she has – nearly single-handedly – created and maintains an alternative news source for the towns of Hollis and Brookline NH (www.hollisbrooklinenewsonline.com) as a way of providing news and connection for the two towns. She also created the Flower Project in partnership with Trader Joe’s, distributing flowers throughout Hollis, Brookline, and Nashua to thank people, to recognize them for their efforts, or simply to brighten days (see here for related story). Another way Julie provides connection and positivity is through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. As the inbound coordinator for Rotary District 7870 (and past host mom), Julie helps bring a dozen or so international students each year into the southern NH/VT areas to spend a year in the US, developing relationships and understanding that then resonates throughout the world. Her professional life Julie is ‘helping others achieve more than they imagined’ through her work as a consultant focused on the dental and medical fields. In her spare time you will find Julie doing roadside cleanup, hiking trails, or kayaking throughout New England.
Ms. Roy demonstrates leadership in her role as an elected member of the Hudson Board of Select’men’ and as a committed community volunteer. She served as the Vice Chair of the Select Board which is/was faced with addressing the pandemic. Her experience as both a veteran and attorney was more than value added to our town’s Emergency Management Team that established our COVID-19 responses. She collaborated with the School Board Vice Chair to launch a local cable TV show entitled ‘Working Together for Hudson’ designed to align the two elected bodies and find opportunities for collaboration. She has a gift for bridging differences among groups which enriches our community. These are just some examples of why Kara is my shero. She demonstrates civic engagement, ethical leadership and equity minded practices. I appreciate she has chosen to continue her public service in my town!
April is a phenomenon. She is a wife and mother of four young children with two jobs and multiple Board roles. She is the director of the Revers Center for Energy at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth AND the Director of Sustainability for the Town of Hanover, NH. She is on the Board of Clean Energy NH and others. She is a thought partner with a team of us who have created last year’s NH Climate and Clean Energy Youth Town Hall, training and engaging NH students to ask probing, thoughtful questions of the 2020 presidential candidates in one forum the week before the NH primary. This year, students and young professionals engaged with the Biden-Harris administration officials, the complete Congressional delegation, scientists, business leaders and equity thought leaders.
What truly makes April worthy of this honor from the NH Women’s Foundation is who she is a person and citizen. April kind, compassionate and wise. She is a cheerleader for her husband, her children, the young people she works with at Tuck, and for all of us who know her. She takes on huge challenges and typically makes it look easy, while making people feel great about what they’re doing. She stayed on course during the pandemic and worked from home while juggling the needs of her school age children with a husband who was finishing up medical school. She is indeed a gracious, lovely human being. A phenom, indeed!
Colleen Sasso is chair of the Manchester Community College’s Humanities and Liberal Arts Department as well as a full-time professor specializing in composition, poetry, ethics and communications classes. She is very popular with both students and faculty for her eagerness to try new ideas and techniques and for the support and encouragement she gives to everyone at the college that she comes in contact with. Colleen also planned, raised money for and is currently co-running the nationally recognized UNH/CCSNH Mellon Foundation Humanities Collaborative now in its 3rd year. Despite her devotion to education Colleen also raises a family in Manchester and like Moms everywhere has taken on the added challenges to both her professional and personal life brought about because of the pandemic we are living with. Colleen’s spirit has been a guiding light for all who come into contact with her as she makes us understand the importance of our individual flexibility in the face of new, almost daily challenges. In many ways these lessons she is teaching are the ultimate triumph of her educational philosophy!
In 2019 Meagan bought Get Fit NH from its founders: Dean and Nancy Carlson. It was a huge financial commitment from a woman with 3 kids under 3. And she did a fantastic job guiding her clients and the gym through the transition. 2020 was going to be her year. Instead, she was forced to shut down her gym. She had 3 full time employees and hundred of clients. So she took to technology and live streamed challenging trainings. She delivered equipment to her clients homes so they could challenge themselves at home. She and her staff set up accountability for the clients through the use of various apps along with personal text messages, calls, and emails. And she took on the initiative for writing the guidlines that were used by the Governors office to direct the safe reopening of her gym to in person training, as well as allowing other gyms and fitness centers to open. Once we were back training in person, she recognized some clients wouldnít want to train indoors, so she and her staff managed to train clients simultaneously inside and outside. And during all this she saw that with winter coming she would need more space to ensure safe training. So she went out in the middle of the summer, scouted new locations, found a new HUGE space and then spent hours and so many dollars to turn an old tile show room into and amazing huge new training space where clients feel safe working out four days a week. She hasn’t missed a beat. She has been amazingly positive throughout. She is constantly putting others first: her family; her staff; her clients. She stood up when it would have been easy to sit down. She leaned in when everyone wanted step back. She lifted others when it was hard enough to lift herself. She is absolutely worthy of this award in every way possible.
For many years Roddi has been a faithful escort at the Equality Health Center in Concord, protecting the patients from the abuse of protesters. Undaunted by the pandemic, she has continued, even supplying masks when necessary. On a personal note, she made the vaccinations appointments for Doug and me (Katie), drove us to the appointments, and shepherded us through the entire complicated (for octogenarians) process.
Danielle Smith is a Medical Assistant at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, where I work. I do not know her personally, but I recently learned her story and found her to be incredibly inspiring in her ability to go above and beyond during the pandemic & her unwavering desire to give back to others. I’ve included her story below. —
“Three years ago I lost my son to cancer. I decided that I was going to go back to school to get my nursing license. We had some pretty amazing nurses while we were here in the hospital and I wanted to be able to help others in similar situations. I was inspired by them and I have always wanted to help people and I love working with children. Once the Covid pandemic began, my nursing classes were put on hold. I was determined to help others in any way I could. I taught staff how to don and doff PPE and screened staff entering and exiting following protocol. I delivered supplies all over the hospital, answered the Covid hotline and staffed one of the DHMC entrances. Classes re-started and I got the chance to complete the Medical Assistant program to work in the Pediatric clinic. When there was a need for help with providing Covid vaccines, I offered my help and I have been very involved ever since. I also help at the state fixed sites with the National Guard when needed.”
Sarah is my wife, mother to my children, and a nurse who worked in an Emergency Department throughout the pandemic. She continually puts others ahead of herself, whether at home or work. I can’t count the number of extra shifts and hours she’s worked during the past year. She sleeps little, works much, and manages to hold together a deeply challenging career- all while being a great mom and a better partner than I deserve. Sarah is a strong, dedicated, and caring woman who works every day to improve the lives of those around her and I’m so happy to be able to raise her up for the recognition that she and so many others deserve after all that they’ve done to pull us all through the past years’ trials. Thanks for the opportunity.
Beth is a convener and uses her talents to bring together individuals and organizations to have open, inspired conversations around developing shared approaches and solutions to big challenges. She pivoted to harness the power of electronic meetings to continue to bring people together, carefully setting the stage for thoughtful interaction. She poured her heart and own journey into curating the NH Workplace Racial Equity Challenge, which engaged almost 700 people in a four week learning journey, with weekly discussion groups. While she was paid for some of her work, the monetary exchange did not come even close to what I know was the time she devoted to it. She believes in the power of collaboration and she builds the relationships and the foundation to make them successful. We are so fortunate to have a quiet leader like Beth in NH.
When the pandemic first hit there was not enough ppe for the hospitals, mental health facilities, churches, and local businesses. Marcella Termini started the mask makers of Manchester project and had made over 5,000 masks for our community. I do hope she gets recognized for her tireless effort in helping Manchester stay healthy and safe.
In times that test us, one of the hardest things public servants must face is ensuring we fully rise to the occasion. And amid the coronavirus pandemic, Manchester Public Health Director Anna Thomas has delivered. For the past year, Anna has helped guide our community through the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as the leading public health expert for Greater Manchester. She has led the charge in helping to inform difficult decisions regarding the closure of events and institutions and was often the lone voice representing public health interests in discussions with policymakers. She has worked tirelessly seven days a week since the first case of COVID was diagnosed, establishing the City’s COVID-19 Hotline, assisting with contract tracing, establishing testing sites, vaccinations, and monitoring the rise of the virus throughout the city, state, and country. Anna has also led transparency and information sharing efforts to ensure her work and the data we collected was effectively being communicated to the general public. Under her guidance, COVID-19 dashboards were developed for the City and School District, even before the State of New Hampshire released theirs.
As a mother, a veteran, a cancer survivor and someone who lost their father during this pandemic, Anna has managed with compassion, kindness, and unyielding commitment. Of course, if chosen, Anna will immediately state this award belongs to the entire Health Department, which to me, further illustrates why she should be named as a Pandemic SHEro. READ MORE
Wendy Thomas is a former state representative from Merrimack. When the pandemic hit, she organized women to sew masks. I believe over 5000 masks were made and distributed. Wendy doesnít sew but she was a master at finding supplies, getting people to donate unused sewing machines. And getting fabric donations. She offered her house as drop off. And pick up site. She is my hero.
Dalia is a hero. As the Executive Director of the Equality Health Center, located in Concord, New Hampshire, Dalia lead the Center’s team, without any interruption, to ensure continued access to sexual and reproductive health care to New Hampshire’s most vulnerable populations through even the most trying days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of many doctor’s offices and local business during the Spring of 2020 made it more difficult that usual for New Hampshire residents to access their reproductive and sexual health care needs. Knowing that the need for such services would not abate during the pandemic, Dalia acted to quickly to implement safety measures and programs to ensure the safety of the Equality Health Center’s staff and patients and to ensure continued access to care, even through the ongoing public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dalia deserves recognition for the time, effort, and risk she has gracefully faced over the last year. Because of her leadership and the continued efforts of the team at the Equality Health Center, countless members of our community had continuing access to services such as birth control and family planning, abortion care, behavioral health care, pregnancy and options counseling, gynecological care, HIV testing and prevention, LGBTQ health services, men’s sexual health, miscarriage management, STD/STI testing and treatment, teen health services, and transgender health services that these individuals might not have had access to otherwise. Dalia is a hero because she is a true feminist in all respects. Not only does she unwaveringly believe in and support the concepts of feminism, but her life’s work has been dedicated to its conceptual core: the achievement of the full social, political, and economic equality of all people. For that, Dalia deserves recognition. Thank you for all that you do, Dalia.
Theresa and Emily Walker – a mom and her teen daughter – initiated and led the Bedford Sewing Battalion in mask sewing and distribution through the pandemic. They recruited hundreds of volunteers and coordinated all aspects of the operation resulting in over 30,000 free masks distributed statewide to individuals and organizations, and institutions. Volunteers cut fabric and elastic, sewed masks, staffed pop up mask giveaways, transported masks, and much more. They donated masks and surgical caps to hospitals, nursing homes, healthcare facilities, and many many more. There were even community-wide distributions at Farmers’ Markets on specific dates, and drive-through parking lot distribution to individuals was organized, all by these two phenomenal women!
Latonya Wallace is an awesome example of a women who ‘gets it done’. As a single mom, working full time, she has also managed to start a nonprofit, Purseverance 207, which provides purses full of necessities to women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In addition, she’s been a speaker on DEI at a time where the topic is at the forefront of many of our minds. Her dedication to others is an inspiration.
Sarah and Fiona are two Concord High students who are very active with service in their community but never so much as when they recognized the growing concerns about hunger and food insecurity during the COVID pandemic. Leading up to the Holiday Season in the Capital area, 2020 Sarah and Fiona launched and coordinated a month long food drive to benefit The Friendly Kitchen. They also collected hygiene supplies and hand warmers to help the local homeless who receive support at the Friendly Kitchen. Sarah and Fiona were aware of the challenges of conducting a food drive during a pandemic and they used creative tactics such as local neighborhood apps and Facebook ads to grow interest and sign ups. They organized the ‘driveway’ donations and other socially distant ways to pool the support of more than 40 families and they filled the dry storage room at the Friendly Kitchen more than once. Their enthusiasm and energy inspired many neighbors to stretch the scope of their donations and help these two achieve greater impact.
Director of Education at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center and mother of 2-year-old Samuel, Mirka Zapletal gave birth to son Andrej in February 2020. Taking just 8 weeks maternity leave, Zapletal came back to work for 32 hours a week in time to spearhead a project to highlight women in STEM through virtual programs and exhibits, while designing and implementing virtual school field trips, virtual summer camps and leading a team in reopening our museum safely – all while enjoying co-parenting her two sons with her husband, being a great colleague to her coworkers, and while working toward her Ph.D. in evolutionary biology!