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Women of Excellence Breakfast raises $113,000 to support the work of Youth Villages in Massachusetts

November 6, 2013

Three hundred guests showed their support for the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus at our recent Women of Excellence Breakfast at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The event raised $113,000 to support the work the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus is doing to improve the lives of adolescent girls. More than $23,000 of the event’s proceeds was pledged to support our campus’ experiential therapy program, so girls in our care can have the opportunity to explore new activities and develop their talents – just like kids in the community.

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In their own words…
YssabellaRelated story:
Now in grad school, Yssabella recalls the help she received at Germaine Lawrence Campus.
AUDIO: Learn about the positive impact the programs of the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus are making on the lives of girls in their own words:

Learn more about our event’s honorees: Susan Goldfarb, Dolores Ortiz, Colby Swettberg and Rising Star Andreia Soares.

Susan Goldfarb, Executive Director
Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County


Susan has made it her lifelong mission to help protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation, make sure cases of abuse and sexual violence against children are investigated and help child victims receive the services they need to recover and heal.

She served both as a coordinator for the Sexual Abuse Investigation Network at the Middlesex County Distrist Attorney’s Office and as coordinator of Child Victim Services for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

In 1993, she helped launch — and now serves as executive director of — the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County in Boston, an organization that unites public, private and community partners to promote safety, healing and justice for children who have been abused or exploited.

In 2004, she initiated Suffolk County Support to End Exploitation Now, a multidisciplinary effort to improve services and safety for commercially exploited youth and increase accountability of the adults who exploit them. This initiative has helped more than 700 exploited and high-risk youth in our community, and helped spearhead the Safe Harbor legislation, enacted in 2012, that protects child victims of sexual exploitation from legal charges.

This summer, Susan testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Sex Trafficking and Exploitation in America on Child Welfare’s Role in Prevention and Intervention. And, among other volunteer commitments, she serves on the Governor’s Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force.

Susan is guided by the staunch belief that every child deserves to be safe and free from harm.


Dolores Ortiz, YouthLeaders Program Manager
BNY Mellon New England


Dolores is the program manager for BNY Mellon’s YouthLeaders, a partnership with several community organizations that host an apprenticeship program for high school students. She’s also a graduate student in social work, a single mom of two children and, until recently, she also was a research study assistant for the Chelsea Collaborative, developing programming for young girls from the Somali Bantu community in Chelsea.

In addition to designing program curriculum, youth retreats and other program events for BNY Mellon’s YouthLeaders, Dolores provides high school students with the individual support they need to help them achieve their academic and career goals. That sometimes means helping youth complete college applications, meeting with parents to engage them in the program, as well as securing shelter for a young woman kicked out of her house or bringing dinner to a past program participant in need of emotional support.

Dolores is the first in her family to complete a college degree and work on a master’s degree. Her own experiences as a woman and single mother make her pay special attention to the girls she helps through her full-time job and in her previous positions at the nonprofit Year Up and Organization for a New Equality. Her goal is to help girls deal effectively with tough issues around self-esteem, competitiveness among peers, relationships and making smart lifestyle choices.


Colby Swettberg, Executive Director
Adoption & Foster Care Mentoring

SWETTBERGColby is the executive director of Adoption & Foster Care Mentoring, a mentoring organization that empowers foster youth to flourish through long term mentoring relationships and the development of essential life skills. Colby is also a commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth and was a founding member of the leadership team for the nation’s first co-ed group home for LGBT youth in foster care.

A tireless advocate, consultant and thought leader on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, she has written curriculum and provided training on LGBT issues to schools, social service agencies and the Department of Children and Families, and is a sought-after speaker at national conferences, institutions and universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT and others.

Her work on behalf of foster and adoptive youth has garnered the attention of not just the Women of Excellence Committee but also now Secretary of State John Kerry, who honored Colby as a 2012 “Angel in Adoption.”


2013 Rising Star: Andreia Soares, Chapter Director
UMass Boston Strong Women, Strong Girls Chapter


Andreia and her family immigrated to the United States from Portugal when Andreia was a toddler. Andreia and her parents worked hard to succeed in their adopted country and make New England their home. Since becoming a student at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Andreia has been working just as hard to help other young girls develop their unique strengths and skills so they can reach their potential.

Now a junior, Andreia serves for the second year as founding chapter director of the UMass Boston Chapter of Strong Women Strong Girls, which helps female college students become mentors to elementary school girls, and she also assumed the role of mentor coordinator for Project Serve at the University of Boston.

Through her diligent outreach work, Andreia helped recruit other young women to serve as Strong Women Strong Girls mentors, significantly growing the chapter that now provides mentors to about 65 elementary school girls.

Andreia also helps women become the most effective mentors they can be to girls through coaching and helping them develop a successful and meaningful mentoring curriculum that focuses on girls’ issues, leadership, community service and healthy eating habits, among others.

Andreia also participated in the Global Leadership Exchange Program in Panama, learning about leadership and social entrepreneurship while also participating in community service projects.

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