Where Is She Now? Following up with Former SheGives Fellow Kalina Deng

STAT BOX

Former Research and Management Fellow for SheGives

Served as SheGives's Vice Chair of LGBTQ Equality Track

Currently a paralegal at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Where are you working now, and how long have you been there?

A: I work at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. at its headquarters in Boston’s Financial District. I’m a paralegal in the Immigration Section and have been working at Mintz for a year now. I primarily work for our section’s largest client.

What sort of projects/responsibilities do you have?

A: I work on a variety of employment-based visas, including “non-immigrant” visas such as H-1B Specialty Occupation, L-1 Intra-company Transfers, E-2 Treaty Investors, and TN visas based on the NAFTA as well as “immigrant” visas such as Outstanding Researchers, Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, and Multinational Managers/Executives. I work with the client on a global scale, especially when we’re working to transfer one of its employees from an affiliate abroad into the US.

What is your favorite thing about your position?

A: I really enjoy working in immigration law because I get to learn about so many aspects of the legal system from local courts to federal courts and across different federal branches, such as the EOIR (federal immigration court), Dept. of Homeland Security, and Dept of State. I previously worked on the humanitarian aid side of immigration – in cases of asylum, Violence Against Women Act, ICE detention, and Special Immigrant Juveniles – and was able to attend EOIR hearings and asylum interviews. Now, in business immigration, I’m learning so much more about corporate law, mergers & acquisitions, and venture capital by virtue of working with our different clients that range from large multi-national corporations to start-ups. It’s really been amazing to have had quite a spectrum of experiences from working in this field.
But I think ultimately, my favorite thing from working on all different aspects of immigration law is that I’m able to give back in a very tangible, real way. I came to the US when I was 7 and have certainly benefited from the immigration system. I’ve been very blessed in my life, and I’m very fortunate that I’m able to do work in my day-to-day to pay it forward.

Have you utilized any of the skills or connections you made while working with SheGives?

A: Depending on the type of case I’m working on, I may be digging through a lot of financial documents about the client. This usually happens when I’m working on a E-2 Treaty Investor or a L-1A New Office petition. Even though the training that I had at SheGives was tailored to the non-profit sector and the kind financial statements NGOs would produce, I’ve found that having that financial vocabulary was really helpful for me to quickly ramp up and digest the information I was handling for my clients.

What was your favorite thing about your time as a SheGives fellow?

A: I do believe that as women, it really behooves us to be financially literate, both personally and professionally, so that we can confidently stand on our own two feet. So it’s great that I was able to take that away from my SheGives experience.

Do you maintain contact with anyone from SheGives, or from any SheGives non-profits?

A: I still keep in touch with some of my co-Fellows from my year. One of my good friends also has been working at Build, so I’ve attended a few of Build’s events since being in the SheGives Fellowship.

What causes do you care most about?

A: So many! Certainly from a professional and personal standpoint, I’m very attuned to and concerned about the state of the refugee crisis globally and the state of immigration policies domestically. Aside from that, I’m very passionate about arts engagement and art as a medium for raising social justice awareness. I’m also currently active with three awesome organizations in Boston!
I’m a Human Rights Committee Member for Bay Cove Human Services. Bay Cove is the largest Boston area provider of human services for persons with mental health and developmental disabilities. The Human Rights Committee evaluates the human rights program within the agency and monitor compliance with state regulation mainly through attendance at committee meetings and visiting residential and day programs in the metro and greater Boston area. I’m also on a sub-committee working on updating the human rights trainings for the officers of the organization.
I’m also a Live Blue Service Leader at the New England Aquarium. In this capacity, I organize and lead episodic events in the greater Boston area. This could range from protecting turtle nests out on the shores, removing invasive species from the Mystic River, or hosting educational events at the Aquarium itself.
Finally, close and dear to my heart, I’m an alumna mentor for the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI). AAWPI is the only organization in the US that proactively works to close not only the gender gap but also the racial gap in representation in the political system. It does so by providing training and support for Asian American Pacific Islander college and graduate students to engage in meaningful fellowships at the Massachusetts State House. As an alumna mentor, I get to work one-on-one with a current Fellow and provide the support she needs to navigate her professional path.

Posted in WhoIsShe? | Leave a comment

GLAD Executive Director Janson Wu Addresses SheGives Members

als_160412-9131

SheGives members and supporters gathered on Tuesday for  discussion with Jason Wu, Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). After some brief refreshments, members heard heartbreaking stories of members of the LGBTQ community facing prejudice, and learned how GLAD is working hard to ensure that people of all orientations feel safe and are celebrated, rather than denigrated, for their differences.

Wu began with the story of Leila, a transgender teenager who committed suicide after being rejected by her family. Before her death, Leila wrote on her Tumblr page that she had no hope for the future. Leila is one example, Wu says, of the 50% of young people face repudiation  from their families when they come out as LGBTQ. For this reason, a disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth are homeless or in the criminal justice system. They are also twice as likely to attempt suicide as their non-LGBTQ peers.

Wu then spoke about Nicole Maines, an 18-year-old transgender girl from Maine who had two advantages over Leila: a supportive family and GLAD’s legal advocates. Nicole’s parents, Wayne and Kelly Maines, knew early on that one of their identical twin sons was actually their daughter. Kelly decided to learn as much as she could about transgenderism, while Wayne learned to put aside his own reservations to accept his daughter.

By the fifth grade, Nicole was wearing girls’ clothing to school, and her parents had her name legally changed from Wyatt. Nicole had permission from the school to use the girls’ bathroom, and her peers, for the most part, accepted her as a girl. When the grandfather of one of Nicole’s fellow students found out that Nicole was using the girls’ bathroom, however, he encouraged his grandson to bully Nicole at school. Instead of punishing the bully, Wu says, the school punished Nicole, by singling her out. They made her use the nurse’s bathroom and assigned an adult to follow her throughout the school to ensure her safety.

The Maines family decided to sue the school, and enlisted the help of Jennifer Levi, who leads the Transgender Rights Project for GLAD. At that time, Wu says, no transgender person had ever won a court case for access to facilities. Another hurdle came when a Maine legislature passed a bill that would require everyone to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate–a law that is very similar to the one recently passed in North Carolina.

However, because of GLAD’s efforts, and because of Nicole and her family’s willingness to tell their story, the bill was defeated with bipartisan support, and the family won their lawsuit against the school district. Wu applauded the Maines’ courage in telling their story, and that they were able to convince the legislature of “how baseless the fears were about trans people living their lives and using the facilities.” The family’s testimony was important because “we can’t win in the court of law unless we win in the court of public opinion.” Nicole and her family still advocate for transgender rights, and Nicole was recently named one of Glamour’s “50 Phenomenal Women of the Year who are Making a Difference.”

This victory, like many GLAD has had in New England, has set a precedent for legislation in the rest of the country: “The playbook we created in Maine is now being used across the country to fight anti-trans legislation,” says Wu; and for all of GLAD’s cases, “the progress and precedents that we set here in New England lays foundation for progress across the country.” This is clear from GLAD’s ability to take their victory for gay marriage in Massachusetts to lay down a path for the rest of the country with the Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling for marriage equality in all fifty states.

The long-term goal for GLAD is not just to ensure rights, however; Wu discussed how GLAD’s overall mission is to change society by educating people and changing mindsets. “We don’t just change laws, we also open hearts and minds,” Wu said. In Nicole’s case, they did this by showing pictures of her in court to give a face to the issue. They will not be satisfied, Wu says, just with laws. Instead, they need to focus on making society better: “We can change and transform the way people understand and treat differences in gender and sexuality.”

GLAD will continue their work in 2016 by petitioning the Massachusetts state legislature to pass a bill to help HIV patients get coverage for lipodystrophy, a side effect of some HIV medications. They will also work toward creating policy to protect LGBTQ youth in foster care and the criminal justice system, and they are currently in the news for fighting to protect the rights of gay parents. Wu explained that GLAD hopes to expand the GLAD Answers service, a free legal information and resource service for LGBTQ and HIV communities. Overall, he is confident that “Through the power of litigation…we can educate society about accepting all differences.”

You can learn more about Nicole Maines’ story in the book Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family (Random House), by Amy Ellis Nutt. Nicole and her twin brother Jonas will also be speaking at the Museum of Science in Boston on Wednesday, May 11.

Be sure to also follow GLAD on Twitter and Facebook for updates on their work.

Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below.  

Posted in News | Leave a comment

SPOTLIGHT: Sharon Kazan Harris of RARECAT Wines

STAT BOX

Founder of an exclusive trade group called Wine Entre Femmes: comprised of women in wine in Napa + Bordeaux

Co-founder of: A Woman's Palate, a company that celebrates wines by women for women.

Mom of two sons and three fur babies

Lives in Napa Valley - but can also frequently find her at her 2nd home in Bordeaux

I fell in love with wine in Bordeaux when I was 20 years old, a time when I was obsessed with speaking French and living abroad. There to study French, Bordeaux brought me some of the most important things in life: an appreciation of fine food and wine, and a joie de vivre one gets from sharing those things with the people we love and cherish.

Most people have long lists of accolades that define their life’s successes. For me, it is quite the opposite — my successes have been a result of fortuitous introductions, dreaming big ( with the ability to make ideas happen), and a willingness to try new things. My love of food and wine directly stems from naive gumption, charm, and a desire to learn, all of which led me to my first wine experience at Haut Brion; then to living with France’s most famed cheese making family; and finally to a cooking internship under the wings of Amat, a famous 2 star chef in Bordeaux and my first fine culinary experience.

I have had the desire to be in the wine industry for decades, but getting to Napa Valley has been like taking windy back roads more than efficient toll roads. I spent many years working in executive positions in publishing (Managing Director of Miller Freedman’s International Division), advertising (President of an ad agency, Transphere), and technology (VP of Sales of Inktomi, an internet search engine start-up and consultant to Visa and Estamp). Luckily very successful in business, I was able to trade computers for vineyards.

Undoubtedly the hardest thing I have accomplished is graduating with honors from the Universite de Bordeaux’s famed D.U.A.D. program, a technical oenology diploma taught in French.

I now live in Napa Valley full time, yet frequent a second home in Bordeaux. I have two great sons who are my greatest love, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. While promoting RARECAT, my greatest passion has been empowering women through wine and supporting women in the wine industry. Several years ago I formed an exclusive trade group called Wine Entre Femmes, comprised of some of the most remarkable women in wine in Napa and Bordeaux, and co-founded A Woman’s Palate, a company that celebrates wines by women for women.

I am lucky; I am living my passion. Wine puts me in contact with amazing people and brings me endless laughter.

——-
Sharon will be our special guest and pouring her RARECAT wine at our ShePartakes event: Sugar + Spice at Oleana, Wednesday April 27th from 12:30 – 2:30 PM. Tickets are still available, RSVP Here

Posted in Spotlight, WhoIsShe? | Leave a comment

BRIX Wine Shop Hosts ShePartakes Women in Wine Celebration

als_160329-7243

ShePartakes supporters and guests gathered at the beautiful BRIX Wine Shop to celebrate women leaders in the wine industry Tuesday night. They tasted four delicious wines made by women, paired with cheese and charcuterie from South End Formaggio. They also heard from five female experts in the wine industry over the course of the entertaining and educational event.

ShePartakes was honored to have women leaders in the wine industry at the party to share their wisdom. Each woman told her story and gave advice about ordering wine in a restaurant, pairing wine with food, and whether to tip a sommelier (it’s nice, but not expected). They also talked about how they were able to thrive in the male-dominated wine industry.

The speakers included Helen Gallo, the Northeast VP of Winebow who has been in the wine import business for over 30 years; Mary Masters, the VP of Classic Wine Imports and an experienced sommelier; Tanya McDonough, Wine Director at Straight Wharf Restaurant; and Carri Wroblewski and Klaudia Mally, the joint owners of BRIX Wine Shop.

Wroblewski and Malley, who founded BRIX together in 2003, spoke about their decision to open a wine shop, and about their favorite female wine makers. Every month, Wroblewski and Malley compile six wines to be bought together in a BRIX Six, and, in honor of Women’s History Month, this month’s limited edition six-pack consists of delicious wines that were made by women.

The package includes a bottle of bubbly from Maria Elena Jiménez and Marta Casas of Parés Baltà in Spain, whites from French and Austrian winemakers Nathalie Oudin and Barbara Wimmer, Donatella Colombini’s Rosso di Montalcino, Laurence Féraud’s Côtes du Rhône, and Stefania Rocchi’s Castelvecchio.

To get your own limited edition Women and Wine BRIX Six, you can visit a BRIX shop in the South End, the Financial District, or Nantucket. You can also contact them at info@brixwineshop.com or 617-542-2749, ext. 2. The collection runs until April 8th for $125, of which five dollars will be donated to SheGives.

Be sure to follow ShePartakes on Facebook and Twitter for information on future events.

Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below. 

Women in Wine
Women in Wine
als_160329-7230
als_160329-7230
Slide 2
Slide 2
als_160329-7038
als_160329-7038
als_160329-7015
als_160329-7015
als_160329-6936
als_160329-6936
als_160329-6877
als_160329-6877
als_160329-7292-Edit
als_160329-7292-Edit
als_160329-7243
als_160329-7243
als_160329-7206
als_160329-7206
als_160329-7193
als_160329-7193
als_160329-7185
als_160329-7185
als_160329-7065
als_160329-7065
als_160329-7055
als_160329-7055
als_160329-6976
als_160329-6976

Photo Credit: Salty Pixels | saltypixelsstudio@gmail.com

Posted in News | Leave a comment

SheShinesOn…Janson Wu, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders

STAT BOX

Has served as GLAD's Executive Director since December 2014

Has a dog, Oreo, plus a growing circle of nieces, nephews, and godchildren who all currently love legos

Favorite go-to comfort meal is roasted chicken with thyme and lemon (Oreo loves the scraps!)

Describe your job in one sentence. 

I lead an organization that has been at the forefront of LGBT legal rights for almost four decades.

What did you do before working at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders?

I worked at an anti-poverty organization outside Boston, specifically with survivors of domestic violence. I came to GLAD in 2006 and am coming on my 10 year anniversary.

What has been the hardest part about your job (or what would make your job easier)?

It’s sometimes difficult to explain the breadth of our work. Many people associate GLAD as having only worked on marriage equality, and that’s not true. We have worked on a whole breadth of issues affecting the LGBTQ community for our entire history: including HIV rights and all matters related to LGBTQ civil rights (like protecting families, and ensuring the rights of youth and elders). When I started at GLAD, I was originally focused on bringing down DOMA and on transgender rights. I’m still incredibly passionate about transgender rights, and proud that it is a big part of our work.

It can also be challenging to explain the way the law works to folks who are not lawyers. I spend a lot of time explaining to our supporters the difference between our impact litigation – which  makes strategic changes to the law through select cases that have a big effect – and direct services, which is about providing legal representation to folks who can’t afford it. And while we don’t provide direct services, we do run a great legal info line, GLAD Answers, which helps people find those resources.

What has surprised you most since starting your work with GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders?

When I first started working here, I was really impressed with the enormous experience and knowledge that the attorneys bring. Collectively, the lawyers at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders have over 100 years of experience advocating for LGBT people, and are nationally known for their areas of expertise. I think that’s amazing and inspiring.

What advice would you give people who are interested in the type of work done by GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders?

 There are so many ways to be a part of the movement as a professional: from communications, to fundraising, to direct service, to community organizing. The most important thing is to hold on to your passion for the mission – the work can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding.

I also want people to know how incredibly important each and every person involved in this work really is – regardless of whether they are doing this work professionally. Each donor who supports the work financially and each volunteer who gives their time is changing lives and creating a better future for all of us.

Posted in SheShinesOn | Leave a comment

SPOTLIGHT: Tanya McDonough

STAT BOX

WINE DIRECTOR AT STRAIGHTWHARF & VENTUNO RESTAURANTS

Graduated from UNH w. a degree in social work and spanish

2014 Rising Star Sommelier for Coastal New England by Star Chefs

When Tanya McDonough graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in social work and spanish, she never thought a career in wine would be her future. She got her start bartending at Boston’s Radius Restaurant. It was here that Tanya was introduced to tasting and learning about fine wine. Tanya was later asked to take over the wine department at Plaza III Steakhouse in Boston.

After confessing she felt under qualified for the job they sent her to Boston University to study in their wine program for two years. She then went on to work as a wine manager at Grill 23 in Boston. While there, Tanya was encouraged to become a Certified Sommelier through the Guild of Sommeliers. It was here that she fully realized her passion for wine.

This devotion to wine brought her to Nantucket to work as the Wine Director for Straight Wharf and Ventuno Restaurants. Tanya was awarded the 2014 Rising Star Sommelier for Coastal New England by Star Chefs.

Come say hi to Tanya and pick her brain about all things “wine” at ShePartakes Women in Wine on Tuesday, March 29th at 6:30 at BRIX South End. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Posted in News, WhoIsShe? | Leave a comment

Spotlight: Ana Sortun

STAT BOX

James Beard Award Winner

Chef + Owner of Oleana, Sofra and Sarma

Hosting Sugar + Spice Lunch at Oleana on 4/27 - tix still available!

With a degree from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, the Seattle-born Ana Sortun begun her career, when Sortun was still cooking what most people think of as typical Mediterranean food. People loved it. While at Casablanca, a friend invited Sortun to study in Turkey.

Eager to learn, she accepted. (“I imagined flying carpets and genies,” she says wryly.) When she arrived Sortun’s host and friends presented a potluck of sorts. “I tasted 30 amazing dishes from these women’s family repertoires,” Sortun remembers. “I was stunned at how rich and interesting yet light everything was.”

That trip was when she learned that in the Mediterranean, spice is used to create richness, depth and flavor without heaviness. She also experienced the mezze style of eating, which is to have many tastes of mostly vegetable-based dishes before reaching a protein course. “Chefs always focus on flavor and appearance,” says Sortun, “but few think about how one feels after eating a long meal.”

Upon her return to Boston, she wanted to fuse her newfound love of Eastern Mediterranean spices with her passion for using only the best ingredients. The result of this union was Oleana, which opened in Cambridge in 2001. A mere four years later, Sortun won a coveted and prestigious James Beard Award.
Sortun’s commitment to locally grown food took a turn for the personal when a farmer selling spinach turned up at the back door of Oleana one day. “I knew then that I would marry him,” Sortun says. Since 2006, Siena Farms has been providing the restaurant with most of its fresh, organic produce. It is owned and farmed by the chef’s husband, Chris Kurth, and named after the couple’s daughter.

In August of 2008, Sofra was born. This Middle Eastern bakery, café and retail shop offers flatbread sandwiches, mezzes, prepared foods and baked goods. It has received both local and national press; Food & Wine, Metropolitan Home and Gourmet have all featured it as a place not to miss.  In 2013, Sortun opened yet another door for Chef Cassie Piuma, with the opening of Sarma in Somerville.  Sarma is a restaurant & bar where food, drink and music come together in a vibrant celebration of the good things in life. Modeled after the traditional meyhanes of Turkey, the menu is a large selection of small, seasonal plates ( meze ) that are designed to be shared. The flavors represent the Mediterranean and encourage food-friendly cocktails, craft beers or a glass of wine from a small but carefully selected list.

We are already salivating for Ana’s upcoming ShePartakes Sugar + Spice lunch on Wednesday, April 27th at noon. Tickets are still available for purchase here.

Posted in WhoIsShe? | Leave a comment

Spotlight: Helen Gallo

STAT BOX

VP Northeast Vice President of Winebow

Speaking at the ShePartakes Women in Wine event on 3/29 at BRIX in the South End

Helen has been working in the wine industry for over thirty years. As a veteran of the trade who explored wine producing regions around the world, Helen enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for wine with a variety of audiences— restaurants, retailers, consumers, wine educators, and journalists….

Helen is also a founding board member of Boston University’s Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center. In January 2009, the Italian Trade Commission recognized Helen as a Gold Award Honoree for her longtime commitment and contribution to the appreciation of Italian wine in the United States. Helen’s expertise also extends to the culinary realm; she frequently consults on food and wine pairings, and is working toward a Masters in Gastronomy at Boston University.

Make sure you say hello to Helen at Women in Wine on 3/29 where she will be speaking.

Posted in WhoIsShe? | Leave a comment

ShePartakes has launched!

We launched ShePartakes with an orgasmic eleven course lunch at O Ya – attended by a fascinating mix of SheGives women, as well as women active in the Boston region’s food, wine and hospitality industries. Our guests included: Haley Fortier – from the forthcoming haley.henry wine bar, Valerie Gurdal – owner of Formaggio Kitchen, Amy Fischer – Director of Marketing and Events for Boston Common Magazine, Helen Gallo – Senior VP Northeast, Winebow and  Kate Urekew – Founder of Revel Experiences.

Our Host, Nancy Cushman – co-owner of Cushman Concepts (O Ya + Hojoko) started our intimate conversation about women in Boston;s restaurant scene by sharing the story of the launch of O Ya. “The women who are part of Boston’s restaurant culture are extremely generous, welcoming and supportive” and that tradition — of women inspiring and celebrating other women — is at the crux of ShePartakes!

Check out even more photos from the launch by scrolling through the gallery below.
shepartakes082
shepartakes082
shepartakes030
shepartakes030
shepartakes083
shepartakes083
shepartakes025
shepartakes025
shepartakes079
shepartakes079
shepartakes020
shepartakes020
shepartakes081
shepartakes081
shepartakes042
shepartakes042
shepartakes019
shepartakes019
shepartakes024
shepartakes024
shepartakes032
shepartakes032
shepartakes080
shepartakes080

Don’t miss our next intimate lunch {Sugar + Spice} w. Ana Sortun (James Beard Award Winner!) at Oleana. Get Tix Here! 

Meet the mastermind behind O Ya –
and the other Cushman Concepts – Nancy Cushman!

shepartakes083

Nancy Cushman’s experience includes the creation of the highly acclaimed, award-winning O Ya restaurant Nancy’s passion for sake was sparked in Chicago. After her first sake experience, she became fascinated with it and made studying sake a passion, completing the Sake Professional Course in Japan with the world’s foremost sake expert. In 2007, she opened O Ya, a contemporary Japanese restaurant, with her husband Tim Cushman.

Chef Tim and Nancy ​Cushman have expanded their restaurant group to New York City. In 2014, they opened Roof at Park South, a seasonal rooftop cocktail bar with a 360 degree view of the NYC skyline from the top floor of the Park South Hotel. In 2015, they opened a second o ya in Manhattan and a new Japanese Tavern called Hojoko in Boston’s Fenway Neighborhood.

O Ya has received numerous awards, including being named by the New York Times’ Frank Bruni as the #1 new restaurant in the U.S. outside of New York. In 2012, Nancy travelled back to Japan to complete the Advanced Sake Professional Course and is now one of less than 100 people in the world to have this certification.  In 2014, Boston Magazine ranked o ya the #1 restaurant in Boston. O Ya us Boston’s most impossible reservation to get and highly sought after for their Japanese-inspired cuisine and sake menu.

Thanks Nancy (+ Team) for hosting such a memorable launch to ShePartakes!

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Innercity Weightlifting Founder Jon Feinman Featured on TheEditorial.com

static1.squarespace.com

Photo from TheEditorial.com

Heidi Legg of TheEditorial.com sat down with Innercity Weightlifting founder Jon Feinman for an illuminating interview as part of their new Young Blood series. In it, Feinman discusses the challenges and successes that ICW has faced since its founding in 2010, and his goals for the future. Check out the interview here!

Posted in News | Leave a comment