Women of the Year

The Brookline Commission for Women’s longest-standing tradition, Brookline Woman of the Year honors women from the community who have made a significant impact on the town and on the people who live here.


We will celebrate our Women of the Year at a virtual event on Wednesday, March 29th from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. JOIN US to congratulate and hear more about the work of these remarkable women!
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Women of the Year 2023

The Brookline Commission for Women is delighted to announce our 2023 Women of the Year: three incredible individuals whose many contributions have done so much for so many in Brookline and beyond.

Our honorees stood out among a crowded field of impressive nominees. The Commission received recommendations for more than 15 nominees this year, all of whom have made a difference for others. We thank everyone who took the time to make a nomination, and we especially thank the fabulous people they told us about, women whose work and example, often unsung, never fails to inspire us.

Our 2023 Brookline Women of the Year are:

Betsy DeWitt, who has devoted herself to Brookline over the past 45 years, including leading and transforming the Brookline Community Foundation from 1984-2006, serving as a member of the Town’s Advisory Committee and then Chair of the Select Board, and most recently energizing informed democracy as President of the League of Women Voters Brookline. Betsy’s impact on all aspects of Brookline life, from championing public art to funding our schools to supporting non-profit organizations to civic engagement in democracy, cannot be measured.

Ruth Ellen Fitch, who has led by example for decades to break down barriers and advance racial equity in health, education, and civic life in Brookline and the Commonwealth. Active in the 1970s with the Foundation for Brookline Housing to support Black families moving to Brookline, Ruth Ellen became one of Brookline’s first METCO directors and has since stepped up time and again to lend her considerable skills in finance and the law to the Town’s Advisory Committee, Financial Planning Advisory Committee, and more. Ruth Ellen was also the first Black woman partner at a major Boston law firm (Palmer & Dodge), after which she became CEO of the Dimock Center in Roxbury, capping a lifetime of trailblazing work to address persistent health care inequities for women in historically underserved urban communities.

Jane Piercy, who has been a tireless champion for women and girls, and a warrior for compassionate and caring reproductive health care access and equity. Jane is co-founder of a group that has gathered an army of volunteers and supporters who have provided ongoing, essential support to sustain Brookline’s independent women’s health clinic (headed by last year’s Woman of the Year, Lolly Delli-Bovi). Jane is now Managing Director of Reproductive Equity Now, bringing together her personal passions and professional skills, where she is helping R.E.N. lead Massachusetts and the nation in the fight for reproductive health and equity in the post-ROE era.

2022 Brookline Women Who Inspire Us

We were delighted last year to honor four incredible individuals whose many contributions have done so much for Brookline (and beyond). Follow this link to watch our Women of the Year virtual event held on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022 when we honored:

Dr. Laurent (Lolly) Delli-Bovi, founder and medical director of Women’s Health Services in Brookline. A tireless and courageous champion for reproductive health and equity for over thirty years, Dr. Delli-Bovi has helped thousands of people with their decision to end a pregnancy, providing safe and compassionate care to all.

Chobee Hoy, for decades a cheerleader for local businesses, Chobee has also been a dauntless supporter, mentor, volunteer, and advisor to countless non-profit and civic organizations that form the warp and weft of Brookline life. 

Kimberley Richardson, a thoughtful and passionate civic leader, Kimberley's work to advance racial justice and equity raises the voices of those who are struggling in the Brookline community and ensures they are reflected in the decisions and direction of the Town.

Kate Silbaugh, a law professor who for years has contributed energy and expertise to improve Brookline’s schools and inform civic conversations, Kate last year was co-author and chief advocate for Brookline's first-in-the-nation bylaw to create a tobacco-free generation.


Watch our Virtual Celebration of the 2021 Women of the Year honoring the following women:

  • Bonnie Bastien, founder of Mutual Aid Brookline. MAB volunteers have spent more than 10,000 hours since March 2020 delivering food and medications, financial assistance, and a helping hand in countless ways to the most vulnerable in the Brookline community.
  • Ann Brackett and Andrea Johnson, co-founders and leaders of Women Thriving, empowering and co-creating opportunities for women with low income to thrive through learning, leadership development, and community.

  • Deborah Brown, a leading advocate for racial justice, whose energetic work during Covid-19 moved Brookline to focus town attention and resources on vulnerable residents, especially those facing food and housing insecurity.

  • Kathleen Scanlon, leader of Brookline of Mothers Out Front, mobilizing Brookline’s efforts to reduce fossil fuel use, expand Brookline Green Electricity and composting, and drive legislative action to address climate change.

  • Chi Chi Wu, leader of the Brookline Asian American Family Network (BAAFN), supporting the needs of Brookline’s vibrant AAPI community and, during the pandemic, mobilizing Brookline to combat rising anti-Asian rhetoric and hate crimes.

  • (2020) Kim Kushner, Founder of Brookline Thrives
  • (2019) Lihua Shorter, World Languages Department teacher and adviser for the Asian Pacific American Club
  • (2018) Chloe Lara-Russack, Executive Co-Director of Artbarn Community Theater
  • (2017) Misti Jaynes, Community Activist and Collaborator
  • (2016) Rene Feuerman, Food Pantry Executive Director
  • (2015) Doreen Gallagher, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Advocate and Violence Prevention Coordinator at BPD
  • (2014) Mary Dunne, BEEP educator
  • (2013) Rita McNally, Engaged Community Leader
  • (2012) Sonya Elder, Former Director of Food Services for Brookline Public Schools 
  • (2011) Janet Selcer, Former Director of Steps to Success
  • (2010) Molly Paul, Former Brookline Community Foundation Executive Director 
  • (2009) Hsiu-Lan Chang, Community Advocate
  • (2008) Vicki Milstein, BEEP Principal
  • (2007) Pat Norling, Domestic Violence Advocate
  • (2006) Sue Howard, Attorney