Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators Board of Directors
State Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan is a resident of Leominster. She graduated from Leominster High School, received a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a Master's of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Fitchburg State College.
Senator Flanagan began working in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1995 as a Legislative Aide, then as Chief of Staff on four legislative committees. She was elected to the House of Representatives for two terms, representing the 4th Worcester District. She was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in September of 2008 and was sworn in the first week of January 2009. Senator Flanagan now represents Ashby, Bolton, Precincts 1 &2 of Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Sterling, Townsend and Westminster.
Senator Flanagan is on the Board of Directors for Women in Government Caucus. She is also a member of the Regional Transportation Authority Caucus, the Gateway Cities Caucus, the Non-Profit Caucus and the Foster Care Caucus.
Senator Flanagan serves on the following boards in the community: the SHINE Advisory Board and the Leominster Education Foundation. She is an honorary board member of the Gardner Community Action Council.
Senator Flanagan has been appointed to serve on the following committees for the 2015-2016 legislative session: Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee, Chair of the Children and Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee, and Chair of the Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction. Senator Flanagan was also appointed as Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, and is a member of the Public Safety Committee and Homeland Security Committee.
A life-long resident of this district, I have served as a State Representative for the Towns of Dracut and Tyngsborough for the last 22 years. I am a full-time legislator who has a part time law practice which I schedule around all of my legislative responsibilities.
I have consistently voted for what is in the best interests of the citizens of our district and not what is in my own political interest. I have supported legislation based on what its effect on the people of Dracut and Tyngsborough no matter which political party offers it. I love being State Representative and never, and will never, use this position as a personal political stepping stone.
I have worked hard and remained committed to work my hardest to: improve the economy; create new jobs and retain current jobs; deliver increases in Local Aid to our communities to fund education, public safety, assistance for veterans and senior citizens, roadway improvements.
Eileen Donoghue is a third-term state senator from the First Middlesex District, serving the communities of Lowell, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Tyngsboro, and Westford. The Senator was first elected to the Massachusetts Senate in November of 2010.
Upon graduating from University of Massachusetts in 1976, with an individualized concentration in law and Spanish, the Senator pursued her passion for law. She received her Juris Doctor at Suffolk University Law School in 1979. After twelve years of practicing law, Senator Donoghue opened her own firm in the City of Lowell in 1991 before joining Gallagher & Cavanaugh in 2008. Senator Donoghue was elected to the Lowell City Council in 1996 and two years later was elected mayor for her first of two terms at that post. During her tenure as mayor, she was proud to champion some of the most historic and important economic development projects for the city, including the Tsongas Arena and LeLacheur Park, the construction and renovation of 17 schools, and the artist overlay district which resulted in more than 800 new artists’ lofts now occupying formerly abandoned mills.
Senator Donoghue serves as the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. This committee handles matters concerning commercial and industrial establishments, industrial development, science and technology, economic development, retention of science or technology-intensive industries; adoption of existing industries; innovation systems from research to development; computers; information, networking, the Internet, data storage and access; communication; biotechnology; stem cell research medical technology; medical devices; environmental technologies, classroom applications; workforce technology training and development, etc., and other matters similar in nature.
Issues surrounding higher education have long been a legislative priority for the senator, who is now Senate vice chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. She is in a great position to expand on her subcommittee work from the previous legislative session concerning the various components of the student loan and debt landscape.
The senator has also been appointed to serve as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Rules, and as a member of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means, the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, the Senate Committee on Personnel and Administration, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and the Joint Committee on Transportation.
In early 2013, Senator Donoghue initiated legislation to create a commission to study the feasibility of hosting the summer Olympics in Boston. The commission found that, despite challenges, hosting the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Massachusetts in 2024 would be feasible. Although Massachusetts will not end up hosting the Olympics, Senator Donoghue is proud that the bid prompted a robust discussion about the opportunities and challenges that the commonwealth will encounter during the next decade.
Christine P. Barber is State Representative for the 34th Middlesex District, which includes neighborhoods in Somerville and Medford.
Recently elected to her second term in office, Christine serves on the Committee on Health Care Financing, Committee on Public Health, Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and the Committee on Personnel and Administration.
Christine’s legislative priorities include expanding the availability of affordable housing, working toward high-quality early childhood education, providing access to health care and services for those struggling with addiction, and supporting the MBTA, particularly the Green Line Extension. She has been a leader in expanding vision screening for children. Christine was recently named as the House Democratic member of the Massachusetts Autism Commission. She is Co-Chair of the Justice-Involved Women Task Force, part of the Caucus of Women Legislators.
Before being elected State Representative, Christine was a health policy expert for a national health care advocacy organization, where she worked to ensure that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care. Christine previously served as Research Analyst for the Committee on Health Care Financing, drafting legislation including Massachusetts’s landmark 2006 health care law, which has provided coverage to hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts’s residents.
Christine is active in the Somerville Democratic Committee and a leader in Progressive Democrats of Somerville. Christine has been active in local affordable food access, expanding public transportation, cleaning up the Mystic River and its surrounding parks, and creating more affordable housing. She is on the Advisory Board of Emerge Massachusetts.
The daughter of a public school teacher and manufacturing plant manager, Christine joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after graduating from college and served as a community organizer working with low-income families. Christine earned her Masters of Public Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.
Christine lives in Teele Square, Somerville with her partner and cat.
Elected to the House of Representatives in the fall of 2008, Carolyn Dykema represents the 8th Middlesex District of the Metrowest region and includes the towns of Holliston, Hopkinton, Southborough and precinct 2 of Westborough.
Prior to entering the legislature, Representative Dykema worked professionally in the fields of financial services and environmental consulting. Since 1999 she has served on local boards and committees including serving on the Holliston Sewer Action Committee, as Chair of the Holliston Planning Board, Executive Committee member of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and a Steering Committee Member of the SuAsCo Watershed Community Council. In 2007, she was appointed by the Governor to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board.
Since joining the legislature, Rep. Dykema has worked tirelessly to support the communities she represents, focusing on issues related to small business, healthcare, water infrastructure, local agriculture and veterans.
A fourth-generation Massachusetts resident, Rep. Dykema is a graduate of Wellesley College and holds an MBA from Indiana University. She was raised in Massachusetts and now lives in Holliston with her husband Bill and their three children David, Julia and Andrew who attend the Holliston Public Schools.
Senator Gobi was born and raised in Spencer and still lives there today. She attended David Prouty High School and studied at Worcester State College. She began work as a teacher at Leicester High School, while attending Massachusetts School of Law in pursuit of her Law Degree.
member of the Spencer Democratic Town Committee since 1998, she was elected to serve as the State Representative for the 5th Worcester District. She was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 14 years, serving on multiple committees including the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, of which she was co-Chair.
Anne was elected as State Senator in 2014 and has continued her work for the entire Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex district.
For the last several years Sen. Gobi has ridden in the Pan-Mass Challenge and regularly contributes to various charities and charitable organizations.
Hannah Kane (R – Shrewsbury) serves as the State Representative for the Eleventh Worcester District, representing the towns of Shrewsbury and Westborough, precincts 4 and 5.
Hannah graduated from Boston University’s School of Management in 1993. Hannah has significant experience in both the public and private sectors, beginning her career working at Unum Insurance Company before being recruited by Lt. Governor Paul Cellucci to work in the Weld/Cellucci Administration on the redevelopment of the former 4,400 acre Fort Devens Army Base and on the merger of 2 quasi-public state agencies into the economic development authority MassDevelopment. Hannah served as Director of Marketing and Product Development, helping generate over a billion dollars in economic development across the Commonwealth. Hannah returned to the private sector as Vice President of Marketing Services for a consulting firm, developing and implementing business growth and marketing strategies for clients including Lucent Technologies and Avaya, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Grubb & Ellis and Pebble Beach Golf. Hannah co-owned and was managing partner of Beaton Kane Construction 2010-2015.
Hannah is deeply committed to public service. Hannah serves as an elected Town Meeting Member for 14-years, a member of the Shrewsbury Finance Committee, President of the Shrewsbury Public Schools Foundation, President of the Floral Street School PTO and parent member of the Oak Middle School Council. Hannah is also a member of the Shrewsbury Coalition for Addiction Prevention and Education and a Board member for Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS), and hosts a charity golf tournament benefitting SYFS, St, Annes’ Human Services and Westborough Food Pantry. Hannah is a Trustee for the Seven Hills Foundation and serves on the Board and Executive Committee for Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, MA. Hannah is past President of the Shrewsbury Development Corporation.
Hannah serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Health, Joint Committee on Transportation, House Committee on Personnel and Administration, and the House Committee on Redistricting. Hannah is an advisory board member of the 495/MetroWest Partnership, a member of the Central MA Opioid Task Force and a State Director for the national Women in Government Foundation where she is a member of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force.
Hannah and her husband Jim have lived in Shrewsbury for nineteen years and have 3 children, Madison, Caitlin and Patrick, in the Shrewsbury Public Schools.
Juana Matias and her family, fueled by hope and in search of the American dream, migrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States in the late 1980’s.
To provide for the family, her parents obtained blue-collar jobs in the Greater Lawrence area. Her father, a chemical engineer, worked as a Machine Operator for 17 years in Malden Mills (Polartec). Her mother, a former accountant worked for Central Metal Finishing as a precision finisher. After years of work, her parents started a small family business. Their teachings and entrepreneurial experience demonstrated to Juana that success could be reached through hard work and the attainment of an education.
From an early age Juana acquired from her parents strong values and work ethic. She internalized a passion and desire to learn, to be tenacious and to contribute to her community. She got her first job at 11-years-old as papergirl for the Eagle Tribune.
In 2009, Juana received a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts Boston. During college Juana served as the Undergraduate Student Government President, advocating for student interests and overseeing a $900k student activity budget. She also served as an intern for the Executive Office of Governor Deval Patrick, where she assisted with the preparation of internal/external events and public relation matters. Her college experience included studying abroad at the Hessen International University program in Marburg, Germany and Hochschule Fulda, Germany.
In 2008, Juana was selected as one out of 22 women to be part of the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Latina’s Learning to Lead Fellowship Program. The National Hispana Leadership Institute was established in 1987 to “develop Latinas as ethical leaders through training, professional development, relationship building and community activism.”
After college Juana worked as a Social Worker serving the Lawrence community. In this position she worked with children who had suffered abuse, neglect and were in the custody of the Department of Children & Families. She provided foster children and foster parents with a wide range of support and social services. This experience further instilled in her that through her work and dedication she had the capacity to make a difference in the lives of others.
In 2014, she received her Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School. While pursuing her law school degree Juana served as a Student Attorney for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, where she represented the Commonwealth in a range of criminal matters. Juana also gained experience in the corporate world while working for 5 months during the summer of 2012 for J. Sagar Associates a top Indian Corporate Law firm in Bangalore, India.
After graduating law school, Juana continued her commitment to the public sector by working as a Justice Americorps Legal Advocate for Central West Justice Center and Affiliate of Community Legal Aid. There she served as an immigration advocate seeking humanitarian based immigration relief for unaccompanied children in removal proceedings. The justice AmeriCorps program is a joint initiative of the Department of Justice and AmeriCorps. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Matias Enterprises, LLC. a residential and commercial construction services company.
Juana’s is committed to continue to dedicate her professional career to serving the public and fighting for others
Natalie Higgins is a lifelong Leominster resident, Boston-educated attorney, and director of a non-profit organization, who is dedicated to service and advocacy. Natalie is running for State Representative for the 4th Worcester District (Leominster) as a Democrat.
A 2006 graduate of Leominster High School, Natalie obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UMass Amherst, earned her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 2014.
Natalie’s interest in government was solidified during her undergraduate years at UMass, and particularly during an internship with then-Representative Jennifer Flanagan. Inspired by such a strong and confident role model, Natalie set a goal to continue serving the Leominster community through non-profit and government work. Her training in community organizing while at UMass also shaped what would be a future of advocacy and public service.
Natalie volunteers at Pathways for Change where she initially served as a counselor for victims of sexual violence. She also led Pathways' prevention programming, teaching local middle and high school students as a Teen Counselor and Educator. She continues to serve on Pathways' Board of Directors, where she was elected Vice President in 2015.
While in law school, Natalie secured a competitive Rappaport Fellowship in Policy and Law, where she worked in the Cabinet Affairs Office of Governor Deval Patrick, drafting best practices to protect non-student minors from sexual violence on public college campuses. Natalie also worked in the Worcester Juvenile Court, under the Honorable Carol A. Erskine and in the Elder Unit of Community Legal Aid. She participated in Northeastern’s Domestic Violence Clinic, providing support for Dorchester and Roxbury residents seeking restraining orders. Natalie even travelled to India as a recipient of the PHRGE (Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy) Fellowship where she worked with the Reproductive Rights Initiative of the Human Rights Law Network, advocating for the legal rights of women in India.
Natalie knows what it means to struggle with the burden of educational debt; therefore, shortly after finishing law school, she took on the position of Executive Director for the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), organizing and advocating for well-funded, affordable, accessible, and well-staffed public higher education in Massachusetts.
Natalie Is excited to have the opportunity to serve her hometown and represent the people of Leominster as the State Representative for the 4th Worcester District. She knows the importance of her traditional Leominster roots as she comes from a long line of Leominster residents. Many people know her paternal grandmother, Bessie Higgins, as one of the longest-serving staff at Hannaford’s, (formerly known as Victory Market) on Lancaster Street. Her maternal grandfather, Philip “Buddy” Bachand, was quite a city servant throughout his life, as a Foreman of the DPW, President of the Friends of Barrett Park, and volunteering for a number of other organizations in Leominster. Natalie’s parents own an independent auto parts store that epitomizes a family-run, mom-and-pop shop. You’ll still find Natalie there a few Saturdays a month, helping out when she can.
Natalie has a proven record of hard work, perseverance and determination. She believes in the importance of a government that is accessible and understandable to the people that it serves. Natalie brings a new voice for the people of Leominster -- a voice that is dedicated to helping all of its residents, especially for those who feel that their voice goes unheard.
Denise Garlick represents the 13th Norfolk District, composed of Needham, Dover and Medfield. Across the three towns she represents 40,000 people. Before coming to Beacon Hill she was the Vice-Chair of the Needham Board of Selectmen.
Her career has been dedicated to public service and advocating for the rights of people in her town, state and nation. In addition to her official state duties, she is proud to be a mother, a nurse, a volunteer and known by all as a hard worker.
She was elected to the House of Representatives in November of 2010, and is currently the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. This committee, and her role in the House leadership, allows her to have a positive impact on policy formation for her constituents and the Commonwealth. She has previously served as the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and on the Joint Committees on: Public Health, Healthcare Financing and Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
Representative Garlick strongly believes in working in coalitions with her colleagues and is a member of the Caucus of Women Legislators, the Metrowest Caucus, the Tech Hub Caucus, the Oral Health Caucus, the Caucus for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities, the Elder Affairs Caucus, the Biotech Caucus, and the Manufacturing Caucus.
Before serving in the state government she was a member of a number of elected and appointed boards. On Needham’s Board of Selectmen, she was responsible for municipal issues of education, public safety, public works and public health, and helped to manage a budget of more than $100 million.
She also served as the Chair of the Needham Board of Health and as a Town Meeting Member. In 2006, Denise founded and chaired the Needham Coalition for Suicide Prevention, which continues its work today and serves as a model for communities across the United States. She also chaired the Needham Senior Center Exploratory Committees, which lead the charge in constructing a $8.2 million Senior Center.
Denise is a Registered Nurse and values her wide-ranging experiences in both teaching and community hospitals, including union and nonunion systems, as well as community health settings. She has had many leadership roles in her profession and the broader field of healthcare. Nationally, she has delivered lectures on health and safety issues for healthcare professionals.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and recently completed Harvard University’s Healthcare Leadership seminar. Denise currently serves on the Harvard School of Public Health Environmental Research Center Advisory Board.
Representative Carole Fiola was elected to the House of Representatives for the 6th Bristol District which includes the northern part of Fall River and the Assonet part of Freetown on September 10, 2013. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Prior to being elected, Representative Fiola has been a Realtor and also served from 2001 – 2011 as an elected member of the Governor's Council. Representative Fiola was one of 8 council members who provided advice and consent for judical, clerk magistrate, appellate tax board and other appointees nominated by the Governor.
Representative Fiola serves on the boards of Steppingstone Inc., the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, the Durfee High School Athletic Foundation and has served her community on many boards throughout her career.
In 2012, Marjorie Decker was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives representing the 25th Middlesex District, including parts of the Cambridge neighborhoods of West, North, Riverside, Cambridgeport and mid-Cambridge. Representative Decker is both humbled and proud to serve the diverse and vibrant citizens of Cambridge and help to make it the strongest community it can be.
Marjorie has deep roots in the community. Growing up in public housing in Cambridgeport, she was the first in her family to graduate from high school, Cambridge Rindge and Latin. She then went on to graduate with honors from UMass Amherst, and earned her masters at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2007, focusing on Human Rights and Children.
Prior to her time at the Kennedy School, Marjorie served as legislative aide to former Representative Alice Wolf (D, Cambridge), her predecessor. Before her time with Rep. Wolf, Marjorie worked for current Representative Ellen Story (D, Amherst), gaining extensive experience in the state legislature.
A long-time advocate for families and affordable housing, in 1998, Marjorie temporarily left state government to serve as the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Coalition, which fights to increase support for civil legal aid for low-income people.
In 1999, Marjorie returned to local government as a Cambridge City Councilor, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to that body. Marjorie served seven terms on the Council, where she was a strong voice for social justice and the local community. For the last six years that she served on the Council, Marjorie chaired the city’s Finance and Budget committee, overseeing $500 million in city funds, and also led its Public Health Committee.
Throughout her career, Marjorie has been recognized as a tireless advocate for her constituents. She was the first woman to be honored by the Greater Boston Labor Council for her work on behalf of immigrants and workers as well as the youngest woman to be inducted into the Boston YWCA’s prestigious Academy of Woman Achievers for her advocacy for affordable housing and economic justice. Marjorie has also served on the board of the Cambridge Anti-Poverty Agency and the Cambridge Peace Commission.
‘All politics being local’, Marjorie is committed to strengthening local communities and helping them grow as demonstrated not only throughout the neighborhoods of Cambridge, but globally as well. In 2003, she was appointed to the United Nations International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, which provided an opportunity for her to travel the world to address issues of mining exploitation, stateless refugee children living in detention centers and nuclear disarmament. She continues to serve on the executive board.
Marjorie has been a staunch leader in her public service career. She has fought for citizens, families, veterans and seniors. In the legislature, Marjorie will continue to advocate for Cambridge residents as well as individuals across the state to ensure that every needy and eligible person has access to affordable housing, quality education and comprehensive health care.