Tribute to Women Recipients

Non-Profit to Celebrate Women Leadership in Worcester County

YWCA Central Massachusetts is proud to announce the recipients of the 2021 Katharine F. Erskine Award.


“For the last 27 years, recipients of the Erskine award have proven, time and time again, just what women leaders are capable of,” stated Executive Director, Deborah Hall. “They’ve blazed trails, shattered glass ceilings, and laid the foundation for future generations of women and people of color to succeed.”


With more than 120 welcomed into this esteemed sisterhood, this year’s recipients have reached exemplary levels of achievement in their professions. They have opened doors for young women and people of color and have broken down barriers. They have created positive change and inspired others to follow suit.


The 2021 class of Katharine F. Erskine Award recipients will be honored next month at the 27th annual Tribute to Women Luncheon on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. at Mechanics Hall.


Arts & Culture: Laura Marotta, Co-founder and Executive Director of Creative Hub Worcester

Laura is currently Executive Director and oversees all programming for Creative Hub Worcester, a non-profit focused on using art as a vehicle for healing and social change. Ms. Marotta was an art educator in several different school systems for over seven years. She previously worked at both Diamond Newman Fine Arts as well as Newbury Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts as a fine arts sales consultant. She is currently the Past-President of the Massachusetts Art Education Association, and is a practicing artist working mainly in watercolor and pen and ink. Currently Ms. Marotta oversees all programming for Creative Hub, including childcare, youth arts classes, adult workshops, gallery exhibitions, events, and more. She currently serves on the board for Love Your Labels, an LGBTQ+ youth focused advocacy organization.


Business & Law: Gina Plata-Nino, Attorney, Central West Justice Center

Gina Plata-Nino is an Attorney at Central West Justice Center. Ms. Plata-Nino manages the Food Security Outreach Project where she works with state and federal agencies to eliminate systemic barriers to food access. Additionally, she works with and trains community organizations and volunteers on overcoming obstacles to accessing government benefits and how to maximize them. Ms. Plata-Nino is the 2019 MassBar Rising Star Award recipient for her advocacy in the SNAP/ food security arena as well as her work supporting the victims of Hurricane Maria and the relief efforts. She is also a founder and leader of LEON, Latino Empowerment Organizing Network and is a leader within the Worcester Together Coalition.


Community, Social Services, & Government: Rush Frazier, Central Eastern Massachusetts Field Coordinator, Neighbor to Neighbor

Rush Frazier is the Central Eastern Massachusetts Field Coordinator at Neighbor to Neighbor. With close to twenty years of organizing experience, Mx. Frazier tackles many important issues from cultural to human rights. Mx. Frazier helped win the country’s first statewide fight to defend nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public spaces through their role as Field Organizer on the Yes on 3 ballot campaign. Additionally, they worked in coalition to end repeal of the death penalty in New Hampshire. Mx. Frazier has twice represented Worcester at the National Poetry Slam, was Co-Grand Marshall of the 2018 Worcester Pride Parade, and a former President of the Worcester County Poetry Association. Currently, Mx. Frazier is President of Worcester Pride Remix. Recently they were awarded a Key to the City of Worcester for their artistry and role in the Black Lives Matter mural.


Education: Heather-Lyn Haley, Ph.D., Assistant professor, UMass Medical School

Heather-Lyn Haley, Ph.D., is a sociologist and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) at UMass Medical School.  She teaches medical and graduate nursing students about the social determinants of health and interprofessional networks of care through the Population and Community Health Clerkship and spends much of her time supporting the work of our community-engaged students. She is the founding director of the MLK Semester of Service Student Awards and project manager for the institutional DRIVE Initiative for Diversity, Representation and Inclusion for Value in Education.


Dr. Haley is a two-time recipient of the FMCH Excellence in Education Award and received the Community Service award for her work from  the UMMS Women’s Faculty Committee.  She has served twice as the president of the Worcester Women’s History Project and as a reader for the Science Journal at the Audio Journal Radio Reading Service for over 20 years after hosting the public radio program Positive Noise at WICN for 8 years.


Health, Science, & Technology: Jennifer Bradford, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director, Community Healthlink

Dr. Jennifer Bradford is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). She is board certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine and earned her Master of Public Health while completing a Preventive Medicine Residency at UMMS. Her clinical practice at Community Healthlink is geared towards providing primary care services to individuals in the community who experience the triad of homelessness, substance use disorder, and commercial sexual exploitation through a program called Project WORTH.  Dr. Bradford’s other clinical roles include Medical Director of Community Healthlink Detox program and, in collaboration with Commonwealth Medicine/UMMS, she serves as an Addiction Consultant to the Massachusetts Medicaid program.


For more information about the Tribute to Women or this year’s recipients, please contact the Development Office at (508) 767-2505 ext. 3009 or events@ywcacm.org.

YWCA Central Massachusetts is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen our community. YWCA Central Massachusetts is part of an international movement serving over 2 million in the United States and 25 million worldwide. For comprehensive information about this important work, go to: www.ywcacm.org and www.ywca.org.

Alyssa Mancinelli
Development & Communications Specialist
Email: amancinelli@ywcacm.org