Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I've Never Missed an Election

I’ve never missed an election in my entire life. I vote in presidential primaries, I vote in all primaries. I’m a member of the Democratic Party and I go to the caucuses. I’ve been to Democratic Conventions. [My husband] was an American History professor at Holy Cross for many years. He was also in politics. He was a member of the Worcester City Council for 22 years and the mayor of the city of Worcester. So I’ve always been involved in politics and my uncle was the mayor of Worcester. [James O’Brien] I’ve always thought one advantage I had is that I grew up in a very feisty political family. So, I tend to think politically, and I think that can be helpful.
Mary Lou Anderson
in Voices of Worcester Women

Friday, August 12, 2016


After we qualified [for the 1952 Olympics], the team all got together and they issued us uniforms, and things like what you see them wearing in the opening ceremonies. And then we got on a plane and went to New York, and then we flew from New York to Helsinki, Finland, and the training out there in Finland with the pool, 50 meters was really great, kind of scary [laughs]. It was fun, when you come out of your dormitory there would be little kids hanging around... [whisper], “Can we have your autograph?” Then we got transported every place, and went and got taken to the embassy, and but I think the most goose pimple part of the whole thing was the opening ceremony when you all march in and because they do it alphabetically, the United States was the last one to go in. And by then the whole stadium was roaring and that was really goose pimply [laughs].
Coralie May O'Connor,
Olympian and gold medal winner of the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City
Interviewed November 2015 for Worcester Women's Oral History Project

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Finding Her Own Path: Entrepreneur in a New Country

I never thought I would stay here [in America].  It just happened.  I am from a Communist country.  We are not allowed to go anywhere, so you have no comparison.  You cannot talk with other people.  You are not allowed to go to other capitalist countries.  If you don’t know, you don’t miss stuff.  [A hard transition] for me [was] the language.  First immigrants face always the worst [laughs].  It’s easy for my children.  They have the houses, they [are] educated, they think differently.  That was my goal and it was solved.

Urszula Wierbik
Excerpt from In Her Shoes

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Passion Project: Fighting for a Cause

And so there were several projects that I got involved with, in addition to teaching.  As part of the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, I was one of the people who worked on the booklet for sexual harassment that was aimed at employers to let them know why they needed a policy and what sexual harassment was.  I was involved in the American Civil Liberties Union in Vermont, the state affiliate, and I ended up being head of the state affiliate so that I could help get things done.  And we ended up doing the first conference that there was in the state on women’s issues.  And when I was teaching, there were two of us that were interested in teaching a class called “Issues of and About Women.”  Well, it’s hard not to be involved with women’s issues.  At least, I don’t see how you cannot be.  By being female you’re involved in women’s issues, in one way or another.  Whether it’s formal or not. 
Joan Webster
Excerpt from In Her Shoes

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Balancing Act: Everything to Everybody

I’ve come to accept who I am and what my role is.  I think for the longest time I thought I can be everything to everybody.  You’re just supposed to work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work all the time.  I worked at work, I worked at home.  I walked through the door and I was doing laundry, and I would do dishes, and I was chasing kids around, and cleaning out backpacks, and doing all the things you would imagine.  Running from work to some kind of school event, trying to appear—maybe to myself, maybe to everybody else, I’m not sure—that I could be everything.  And I think, over the course of time, you start to figure out, wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  And it’s interesting because if you look at my career, from the point [of] mid MBA, I started gaining more and more and more confidence.  My job has gotten enormous.  I was managing three or four people, and now we have 1,500 people on our staff, and another 1,000 volunteers.  So, there’s a direct correlation between gaining confidence and feeling solid about who you are, and letting go of these predisposed notions that you have to be everything to everybody.
Angela Bovill
excerpt from In Her Shoes

Monday, April 4, 2016

Finding Her Own Path: An Immigrant Story

America spoils me with freedom because, even when I was in Vietnam, I always hungered for freedom.  So when I met Phillip, when I first came here, I realized my goodness this is worth dying for.  You see America gave me the freedom to be who I am, and also gave me the resources so that I can get what I want.  Also, American people gave me an amazing example of giving themselves to others.  I came from a culture where life was so, so hard. 
Ahn Vu Sawyer
excerpt from In Her Shoes

Friday, March 4, 2016

Passion Project: Working for Women and Children

If you had known me 50 years ago, I am a different person [now].  I went along with everything.  I had so many experiences in my life as a woman, finally I realized that women were truly second-class citizens in every area, and I just began to do more and more in the Women’s Movement and was very affected by that and became really an advocate and an activist for women.  I literally found my voice. And one of the happiest moments was [when] I was asked to speak at Mechanic’s Hall.  I shared the stage with Anita Hill.  Anita Hill was the woman who held up the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, based on her experience of having been sexually harassed by him in the workplace.  She’s become a poster woman, so to speak, for advances in [the handling of] sexual harassment [cases] for women.  She spoke on the stage, and I spoke with her.  It was a defining moment for me because she had found her voice, and she didn’t want to concentrate on the bad treatment that she [had received.]  Watch those hearings to see how badly she was treated by the senators.  I had written my first book, Wearing Smooth the Path for women, and I told the story of my experience starting Abby’s, and we connected.  I mean I did a little tiny thing, and she did a great big thing.  But the point was we were both advocates for women in a different range of influence and in different spheres.  I did become a girl who [was] quiet and afraid to raise her hand, to [a woman] who was an activist for women.
Annette Rafferty, Founder of Abby's House
excerpt from In Her Shoes