11:03PM / Sunday, June 24, 2018
Gwendolyn VanSant of Great Barrington was honored as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s (MCSW) 2018 class of Unsung Heroines during a State House ceremony on Wednesday, June 20. State Sen. Adam Hinds nominated VanSant for this recognition because of her leadership in the Berkshires on matters of diversity, cultural competence and coalition building for justice and equity. In total, the Commission named 130 women from across the state their 2018 Unsung Heroines.
VanSant is the chief executive officer and co-founding director of Multicultural BRIDGE, a grassroots organization dedicated to catalyzing change and integration through promoting mutual respect and understanding among diverse groups. BRIDGE is a resource to local institutions and the Berkshire County community at large, and provides resources and training in collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy.
VanSant has worked with corporations, schools, colleges and universities, law enforcement, hospitals, teaching and leadership institutes, and more. In addition to designing cultural competence trainings, she is a frequent speaker and long-time activist deeply rooted in gender equity and positive psychology. Since 2012 she has served as an appointed official on the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women.
Most recently, she has served as co-curator and co-designer of the Du Bois 150th birthday festival commissioned by the town of Great Barrington. In spring 2017, she spearheaded the county-wide campaign and coalition "Not in the Berkshires" and, in partnership, stewarded the crafting and passing of her town’s Trust Policy. In 2016, she served as the Founding Director of Equity and Inclusion at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, her alma mater. In 2015-16 she was recognized as a “Berkshire Trendsetter” finalist and was named one of her county’s most dedicated and creative social entrepreneurs by Berkshire Magazine.
She is on the board of UU Mass Action Network and is a reactivation and annual member of the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP.
As described by MCSW, the 2018 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 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.