Honoring Unsung Heroines

Rep Connolly, Mass Commission on the Status of Women Announce Unsung Heroines of 2019

Karen Chen of East Cambridge was honored as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s 2019 class of Unsung Heroines.  Representative Mike Connolly recommended Ms. Chen for this recognition because of her work in progressive community organizing to achieve full equality and empowerment of the Chinese community in greater Boston and beyond. Ms. Chen was honored with 134 other Unsung Heroines for her outstanding contributions to the Chinese Progressive Association and our Cambridge and Somerville community in a ceremony on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 from 1-4 p.m., in the Great Hall at the State House in Boston.

“I was excited to welcome Karen Chen to the Statehouse to receive the 2019 unsung heroine award, Karen’s commitment to activism is inspiring, and many in our community are better off because of her work in affordable housing advocacy, workers rights, and social justice,” Rep Connolly said.

Karen Chen has served as the Executive Director of Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) since 2013. CPA is a grassroots community-based organization that works for full equality and empowerment of the Chinese community in greater Boston and beyond. Karen immigrated to the US when she was 10 years old, attended Boston Public Schools and became involved in the Chinese community through the CPA’s youth program. Her inspiration for social justice work came from her experience as an immigrant and her parents’ experience as low-wage workers in the restaurant and garment industry. Upon completing college in 2001, she became a Worker Rights organizer at CPA, helping Chinese workers learn about and organize for rights in the workplace. As a new organizer, she helped organize electronic manufacturing workers to fight for fair severance and job re-training benefits, include a $1 million in state assistance for the Power One dislocated workers. Karen also led campaigns to fight for tenants facing displacement and rising rents. From 2007 to 2013, Karen worked as a paralegal for the Asian Outreach Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services.

The Unsung Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make the difference.  They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community is better because of their contribution.   

The ceremony included a program emceed by MCSW Chair Nina Kimball, acknowledging each of the 2019 Unsung Heroines, along with remarks from Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, Senate President Karen E. Spilka and Representative Liz Malia, Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators. The ceremony was followed by a group photograph and a “Just Desserts” reception.

A complete list of this year’s honorees is available by contacting the Commission; to request this list or for additional information please contact the MCSW at 617-626-6520 or mcsw@state.ma.us.

This event was made possible with the generous support of the following sponsors: Eastern Bank, Girls Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, Jacqueline’s Gourmet Cookies, Kerry Goodwin Photography, Nina Kimball (TBC), Polar Beverages, Tufts Health Plan, and WilmerHale.

The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is an independent state agency that was legislatively created in 1998 to advance women of the Commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities. The MCSW provides a permanent, effective voice for the women of Massachusetts.