Women who Inspire Us: The Women of the BGC Board of Directors

Women who Inspire Us: The Women of the BGC Board of Directors

The Boys and Girls Club of Stoneham & Wakefield continues to celebrate National Women’s History Month by sharing stories of the women of our club history— those who have attended our clubs in the past, work or volunteer at our clubs today, and represent our youth as we move into the future.  

This part of our series focuses on the women of our Board of Directors for our Stoneham & Wakefield clubs.  We thank and acknowledge the following women of our board who inspire us everyday:

Kathy Boyle

Nicole Calabrese

Kristina Encarnacao- Patt

Karen Guillaume

Sharon Iovanni

Sarah Neal 

Laurie O’Brien 

Paula Pustorino

We spoke with a few of these inspiring women to learn more about why they decided to become involved in our mission.

Nicole Calabrese

Tell us a little about yourself- My name is Nicole Calabrese and I’m a parent, spouse and investment management professional.  I have a global MBA and BS in Business Management.  I am passionate about learning, education, diversity and equality.

What made you decide to participate as a board member of the BGC of Stoneham & Wakefield?  I first got to know the Wakefield Club by volunteering there.  I hosted a “Girls Group” with our 5th and 6th graders where my goal was to lead discussions about things like saving money, STEM fields and the like.  We ended up having more conversations about relationships and communication – they shared their successes and struggles in relationships with their families, friends, teachers, etc.  I was able to help (with lots of expert guidance from Club Staff) , provide a safe place for these kids to ask these tough questions, share and connect with others who may have gone through or was going through something similar.  It had such a major impact on me.  As adults, I think we take for granted how important this is, and how important learning how to build healthy relationships and manage conflict is, really at any age.

What has been your favorite initiative to be involved in with the BGC? Definitely our annual Dodging for Dollars event. It’s such a blast.  Our games range from uber competitive to fun and silly, there really is a dodgeball team for everyone.

Who is a woman you admire and why? – Michelle Obama is someone I strongly admire. The work she does as an advocate for education and health, particularly for children, is inspirational and important.

What word(s) of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today? – It’s hard work to be kind.  Do it anyway. 

Sarah Neal

Tell us a little about yourself- I’ve lived in Wakefield for 14yrs with my husband and two kids.  My daughter is a Freshman at Malden Catholic and my son is in 8th grade at Galvin Middle School.  I started volunteering in middle school. I think volunteering gives me a sense of greater purpose and a stronger connection to the community.  Volunteering was a requirement of graduating high school and something that stayed with me during my college experience at St Anselm College.  After graduating with a degree in Psychology, it took me a few years to find my way into the Human Resources field, but once I did, I realized it was the right fit.  I’ve been in the HR field for almost 20yrs and have worked in many industries, High Tech, Software, Marketing Technology and Pharmaceutical.  I currently work for PTC as a Sr Director of HR. 

What made you decide to participate as a board member of the BGC of Stoneham & Wakefield?  About 6yrs ago when I was working at Epsilon, I was responsible for the Corporate and Social Responsibility outreach.  Since Epsilon is located in Wakefield, I reached out the Boys and Girls Club to see if there was a partnership that we could form to provide employees with a volunteer experience and from there the relationship blossomed.  It wasn’t long before Epsilon was making significant contributions to the Club and I was able to get more involved on the Board.

What has been your favorite initiative to be involved in with the BGC?  The Club offers so many ways to be involved, but my favorite is the Dodging for Dollars event.  This is a fun way to bring people together for a great cause.

Who is a woman you admire and why?  My mother is someone I’ve always admired.  She was young when she had my brother and me.  Her marriage to my father didn’t last long and by the time I was 2, she was single, raising two kids on a bartenders income.  It wasn’t until she met my stepfather that she pursued a college degree while working and raising a young family.   She never gave up on her dreams, worked hard and always had a positive outlook. 

What word(s) of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today?   My advice would be to find an interest.  You should never be bored.  If you have an interest, you will always be interesting!  Share your talents, skills and interests with others as it creates community and it feels good to share.   Lastly, never give up on yourself.  Sometimes when you feel like giving up, you just need a change of scenery or perspective so go for a walk, talk to a friend or listen to some uplifting music – but keep moving forward!  Progress isn’t about the big milestone, it’s about the little steps you take every day that show the greatest growth over time. 

 Paula Pustorino

Tell us a little about yourself — I am the youngest of 3 girls and I have 3 nieces. I grew up in Reading and just moved back to town after living in Wakefield for 13 years. I have a masters in Higher Education Administration from Suffolk University. Worked at a bank in high school and loved it so much I went back to it after college!  

What made you decide to participate as a board member of the BGC of Stoneham & Wakefield? — I used to be a club kid in Woburn when I was younger. I went there when I was living with my grandmother for a year before a new condo was ready. I loved that time I spent there and was upset when I moved back to Reading and there wasn’t a club in Reading. When I found out that The Savings Bank worked closely with the club in Wakefield, I knew that I wanted to get involved and help out in any way I could.

What has been your favorite initiative to be involved in with the BGC? — The Festival of Trees in 2018 and 2019. It was so much fun to watch all the participants with their trees and the excitement of the children and adults that came by to see.  

Who is a woman you admire and why? — Greta Thunberg. As a young teenage activist, she has rallied almost the entire world in her fight against climate change. She shows that no matter the age, people can make a change about anything they feel strongly about, no matter how big or small the change is.

What word(s) of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today? — Be yourself and aim higher than you can imagine. Anyone can do anything they want as long as they believe in themselves. The journey is the most important part of any adventure in life. Outcomes never look like what was imagined at the beginning. It’s what we went through to get there that matters and shapes us.

Sharon Iovanni

Tell us a little about yourself- A lifetime Stoneham resident, I spent only 5 years away early in my marriage.  My husband and I raised three daughters here all of whom attended Stoneham schools and one of whom was also a Club kid for several years. I worked for many years in a variety of jobs, served as the Executive Director of the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce for thirteen years and am currently employed at StonehamBank as Clerk to the Board of Directors.  I was honored to serve as the Chair of Stoneham Girl Scouts for six years in the 1990’s and to receive a Crystal Apple from the Stoneham School Committee in recognition of my community efforts to partner the business and school communities in mentorship and read-aloud programs. 

What made you decide to participate as a board member of the BGC of Stoneham & Wakefield? As the parent of a Club Kid, I saw first-hand the opportunities for youngsters in our community to be cared for and encouraged by dedicated adults. When the opportunity arose years later, I was excited and honored to be asked to serve in a leadership role and I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. 

What has been your favorite initiative to be involved in with the BGC? I especially enjoyed my position on the Board Development Committee, where I had the opportunity to meet and identify community members who, with their time and talents, were invited to join the Board and who have supported the growth of our Clubs and our staff as they kept our doors open to the communities we serve over the last year.

Who is a woman you admire and why? – There have been so many women I’ve come to admire in my life, but my admiration now is for the young women, like my daughters, who are parents, remote school educators, employees with one or more job commitments, caregivers to elderly parents and community volunteers.  I admire their strength, their fierce devotion to those they love, their willingness to be an agent for change and their persistence in the face of daily challenges in this current environment.

What word(s) of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today? – I would ask them to enjoy every stage in their life, to take their time growing up, to believe that they can do great things, to listen to and learn from women they love and trust and to be their own true selves every moment.

Thank you to all the women of our Board of Directors for inspiring us and all the young women of the communities we serve!