Honoring our Past, Present, and Future

Dear MCSW Community:  

Happy July! It brings me great pleasure to be the first featured guest author of FY24. Here at the MCSW, we’ve just elected our new slate of officers for the upcoming year, and as an original founding mother, I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to continue to see our Commission thrive.  

I was first appointed to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women in 1998 by Governor Paul Cellucci and sworn in by the first female Governor of Massachusetts, Governor Jane Swift.  

It was a privilege to watch this come full circle, with former Governor Jane Swift and the current Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, Kim Driscoll, engaged in a fireside chat at the MCSW’s 25th Anniversary gala celebration. And the very next day, we honored more than 125 trailblazing women and girls across Massachusetts as this year’s Class of 2023 Commonwealth Heroines. I am so grateful to be able to celebrate alongside each and every one of you.  

For more than 25 years now, the Commission and our regional bodies have worked to advance the rights and opportunities of all women and girls across MA, regardless of age, race, color, creed, abilities, language, socio-economic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, or gender assigned at birth.  

The enacting legislation of the MCSW was inspired by the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women, held in September 1995 in Beijing, China. Massachusetts’ delegates to the Conference, including Massachusetts First Lady Susan Roosevelt Weld, returned determined that our state would have its own Women’s Commission. This passion and commitment led to the creation of a coalition of dedicated women and brought this dream to fruition.  

In some ways, I think we take for granted that an organization dedicated to fighting for all women and girls in the Commonwealth has always just “existed.” We come from a long line of founding mothers, dedicated to leaving our corner of the world a little brighter than we found it. We may only be 25 years young on paper, but if we look back to the women who came before us, we can continue to grow and learn from the paths they paved for us.  

Some of the capacities in which I served on the Commission were Secretary, Treasurer, and Chair of the Finance Committee. I was the 2nd Chairperson of the MCSW, following the 1st Chair, Susana Segat, where I served for 2 (two) years. We had launched our statewide Public Hearings, as mandated by our legislation, and had strong public participation in Worcester and Brockton back in 2001 advocating for proposed legislation that allows domestic violence victims to collect unemployment insurance.

Time really is flying by – check out a previous “update” I wrote for the MCSW back in Spring 2002, featured below. It’s humbling to realize the progress we’ve made over the years and how we’ve been part of that progress.  

I’ve dedicated my career to public service and truly believe in the community coming together to advance liberty and justice for all. I am currently the Director of Administration for the Town of Acton, and before joining Acton in 2008, I worked for the Commonwealth for over 20 years in various administrative capacities, working directly for five different Governors. Since 2010, I have been on the Board of Directors for The Center for Hope and Healing (formerly Greater Lowell Rape Crisis Center) where I’m currently the Board Development Director; a member of The Rotary Club of Acton/Boxborough where I am currently the Program Chair; and an Elected Trustee for the Westford J.V. Fletcher Library. 

I am grateful to work alongside my sister Commissioners as we continue to make change, and it takes courage, persistence, love, and compassion. 

I’m honored to stand in solidarity with women who do just that. 

Marianne Fleckner
MCSW Commissioner
MCSW Founding Mother