The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) partnered with The Home for Little Wanderers for the inaugural Women of Color Conference held at Wellesley College in June 2018. This program—geared toward providers who work with at-risk youth and families across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts— highlighted the importance of self-care; offered opportunities for relaxation, renewal, and inspiration; and provided a context in which to view the critical work done on behalf of young women and girls of color. The conference was spearheaded by Joan Wallace- Benjamin, Ph.D., the recently retired president and CEO of The Home, one of the largest service providers in New England dedicated to ensuring the healthy behavioral, emotional, social, and educational development, and physical wellbeing of children and families living in at-risk circumstances.
The opening speaker, Wallace-Benjamin, a member of the WCW Council of Advisors and a Wellesley College alumna (Class of 1975) was joined by other dynamic presenters: the Rev. Liz Walker, M.Div., who offered a keynote that reflected on her decades of award-winning journalism and ministry work; Layli Maparyan, Ph.D., the Katherine Stone Kaufmann ’67 executive director of WCW, who led a mindfulness and meditation exercise; Paula Johnson, M.D., M.P.H., president of Wellesley College, who offered the luncheon address; and several other presenters and performers.
WCW scholars lent their expertise during afternoon workshops, which included: “Body and Culture,” by LaShawnda Lindsay-Dennis, Ph.D., WCW research scientist; “Equity & Equality in the Classroom and Beyond,” by Kamiliah Drummond-Forrester, M.A., director of Open Circle at WCW; “Finding Courage, Self-Confidence, and Role Modeling,” by Mia Roberts, vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Big Sister Association of Greater Boston; and “Impact of Social Media and Television,” with Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., WCW senior research scientist.
“I was excited when Joan and The Home asked the Wellesley Centers for Women to partner to offer this conference because both our organizations are committed to social justice and human wellbeing,” Maparyan said. “While our approach is through research, theory, and action programs, and theirs is through direct service, we are working together to amplify our efforts to create a better world for women and girls, families and communities.”