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Meet the Winners of the 2020 Target Storytellers Contest!

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The Massachusetts Conference for Women is proud to partner with Target on the Storytellers contest to showcase how women continue to step up, help others, and spread joy even during this difficult year. We were moved by all the submissions and stories shared.

Laysha Ward announcing Target Storytellers contest winners

Below you can learn more on the women we’ve selected to honor at the 2020 MA Conference for Women.

Laquisa Burke

Laquisa knows the power of women and community. In 2016, she organized a group of neighbors advocating for sustainable change in Dorchester, Boston’s largest and most diverse neighborhood.

Calling themselves the West of Washington (WOW) Coalition, it took just one year for them to be named Community Group of the Year.

Laquisa is devoted to her community in a way that is rarely recognized and never paid, and has spent more hours on WOW than anyone can count. She has organized neighbors to shovel snow for elderly residents, monthly meetings, murals at the local school, “Love Your Block” cleanup events, and an annual BBQ that closes several streets and features local artists and performers. And last year, they received a grant to build a park in an abandoned lot.

Throughout this challenging year, she has been the driving force of planting days, open mic and jam sessions, clean-up events, and more. Laquisa is a true example of a woman bolstering spirits and building community.

Learn more about the West of Washington (WOW) Coalition.

Laquisa Burke taking selfie outdoors

Denise Duclos

Denise knows the power of women and compassion. A native of Chile, she speaks three languages, and holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Ten years ago, she faced what no mother ever wants to face: her child was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Denise was at her child’s bedside for two years. It was a heartbreaking experience. She responded by dedicating herself to helping others.

She joined Hospitality Homes, a nonprofit that provides free housing to families and friends of patients seeking care at Boston-area healthcare organizations. And she has single-handedly doubled their services since 2014—even managing to safely arrange for 5,700 nights of accommodation this year.

Learn more about supporting Hospitality Homes.

Denise Duclos comforting her sick baby in the hospital

Brittany Gaetano

Brittany Gaetano knows the power of women – and basketball – to bring girls of color together to challenge stereotypes and to help girls lead healthier and more prosperous lives. As Program Director at Learn more about supporting Shooting Touch, she bridges opportunity gaps and provides girls with health education, intervention, and mentorship.

When Covid struck this year, she worked endless hours to quickly pivot to virtual— where she and her organization have been providing free daily fitness sessions, nutrition education, and group mental health sessions to more than 200 girls ages 9-17. These young women receive free daily fitness sessions, nutrition education, group mental health sessions, and opportunities to be inspired by some of Boston’s most prominent women leaders including Allison Feaster of the Boston Celtics and Nora Baston of the Boston Police Department. Brittany is the epitome of a leader in her community, and her dedication shines in these young girls who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

Learn more about supporting Shooting Touch and their mission.

Brittany Gaetano coaching basketball

We thank Laquisa, Denise, and Brittany for reminding us that even amidst the struggle, we can find hope, opportunity, and growth. We are honored to celebrate your stories.