A Day of Empowerment - 2021 Empowering Women

author/source: Cathie Briggette

1620 Winery, Photo Courtesy of Alyssa Parker PhtographyToday I went to an event called the “2021 Empowering Women”, put on by the Plymouth Chamber of commerce.  I was invited as the Chairwoman of the South Shore Conference for Women. I was moved to write about my experience because I found it extremely remarkable in the women they chose for their event to speak. 

When I first walked into the 1620 Winery, I was a little overwhelmed, there were A LOT of people there.  The most I have been around in a very long time. 

The place is beautiful, with high vaulted ceilings, amazing chandeliers, just gorgeous.  I found my way over to the table where you get my name tag and went to look for a seat.  I quickly found a table that wasn’t full and sat with some other lovely women.  I wish I could say that I got all of their business cards and gave them all mine, but as usual, I didn’t prepare for networking.  My job was to tell everyone about the South Shore Conference.  Which I did, I was constantly reminded mostly because it was on my name tag.

Anyways, what I really wanted to discuss was the 4 women that were being honored at this event, along with the Interviewer.

Ayla BrownThe first woman started with a beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, which got us all up on our feet with our hands over our hearts.   Her name was Ayla Brown, you may know her as our former United States Senator’s Daughter, or maybe you know her as a Co-Host at Country 102.5 in Boston.  As an empowering entrepreneurial woman, she shared the story of her music, her music company, and her job as the Co-Host on 102.5.  She talked about releasing 2 albums, her family, and being on American Idol.  Her story reminded me how I always find it amazing how people end up doing what they love best.

day-empowerment-2021-empowering-womenThe next powerhouse woman was Nancy Frates, AKA Peter Frates Mom… and if you are not aware of her yet, Nancy Frates, 27-year-old son, Peter was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, and in 2014 created the biggest fundraising event ever on Facebook, with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Peter and his mom’s efforts made and are continuing to make so many more people aware of ALS and continue to bring important issues affecting the ALS Community to Capitol Hill and the FDA.  If you haven’t taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of dumping freezing cold water over your head, you should just try it.  They set a precedent on Facebook.  They raised millions of dollars.  Hearing Nancy’s story about her son and the ALS community,  I think everyone there had tears in their eyes, for all that Nancy has been through and all she and her family have accomplished in the face of tragedy.  Nancy lost her son Peter to ALS in 2019 but has continued to be at the forefront of the ALS Association.  Nancy also continues to mentor and help other families that are dealing with ALS. 

Dorothy Saverese - Cape Cod 5Dorothy Savarese was up next.  She is known as one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking.  Well, Dorothy is definitely a take-charge kind of person.  She decided on answering the questions she wanted and ignoring the ones she didn’t.  She had us all laughing right from the very start of her conversation.  Dorothy is the CEO and Chair of Cape Cod 5 Bank and has also been appointed by the Federal Reserve Board to serve as the President of their Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council.  She shared how at one time she was the only woman in the room and being at conferences and events and having the lady’s room all to herself.  She talked about being angry that more women weren’t offered the positions in the Banking and Financial Industries.  She held a lot of meetings with these men telling them about diversity and inclusion, and that when there is diversity in the workplace, everything runs better.  But not until she was promoted to CEO was she able to prove this.  As of today Cape Cod 5 employs over 550 people at 26 locations and has been recognized as one of American Banker’s Best Banks to work for and by the Boston Globe Magazine as a Top Place to work. 

Raquel and Bob Mullaney 1620 WineryNext was my friend, Raquel Mullaney, she owns the 1620 Winery & Wine Bar with her husband Bob.  Raquel talked about her entrepreneurial spirit, how it came about, where she came from, and how she got where she is now with the wine business, with her children with her husband, and how every person that she has known and or worked with has helped her to achieve the amazing wine business that she now has. She made us all stand up so that she could thank us! <3  I love that her title is the “South Shore Wine Diva” because that is exactly what she is.  If you ask her what she does for a living, she will unabashedly tell you “I smile and pour wine”.  But she is so much more! 

And last but certainly not least, we got to meet Collette Divitto. Founder and creator of Collettey’s Cookies.  Collette was born with downs syndrome.  Collette has lots of sass!  When asked if she would share her cookie recipe, she responded with a resounding “NO”.  Collette Divitto - Collettey's CookiesCollette created her cookie business after graduating from Clemson University and after moving to Boston and looking for a paying job.  She went on many interviews, that all seemed to go very well, until she got the email saying, “It was great to meet you Collette, but at this time we feel you are not a good fit for our company.”  She was determined not to let rejection stop her from earning a living, she decided to turn her passion of baking into a business.  She started by approaching local grocery stores and asking if they would sell her cookie.  She now is talking to Ben & Jerry’s about adding her cookie to a new ice cream flavor. 

Sarah Jane Tolman of Valoisa MediaCollette, along with all of these women is an amazing example of going for your dream, not giving up your passion, empowering yourself and those around you, no matter what the odds.

I also would like to give a shout-out to Sarah Jane Tolman, who interviewed and helped these women share their stories.  She did an amazing job.

Everyone has a story, and all those stories need to be heard.