Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



In 2015, UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy released the first-ever publication exploring the elected leadership of women of color in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts largely to make known the contributions of female electeds of color across the Commonwealth. The publication also aimed to delve into what hinders and what facilitates the elected leadership of women of color. This 2021 updated publication contains profiles of the 174 women of color who have been elected to key policymaking positions and offers quantitative analysis to better understand office-holding patterns.

Evident in the profiles is the centrality of community and advocacy for women of color who make a bid and secure elective office. Responding to a community need, an unaddressed problem, or a lack of leadership drove many women of color to seek office in order to make a difference in the cities, towns, and districts they represent. For those in non-municipal positions, the concept of community is just as paramount to many female electeds of color as they work toward solutions to issues that they have championed onto the political agenda. The profiles provide a glimpse into the personal and professional backgrounds of women of color who have been transformative forces in their communities, districts, and in Massachusetts over the decades. This publication offers a window to begin to acknowledge the many ways that women of color have made a difference in public leadership roles. From their election as early trailblazers in the early 1970s to those sworn in more recently, the women featured in this publication come to public service with a range of priorities but many explicitly call for transparency and accountability in governance, particularly on behalf of underserved and/or marginalized populations. Further, women of color leaders in Massachusetts are reimagining and constructing progressive policies related to the economy, labor, education, health, and other systems that work for, instead of against, women of color, which is long overdue.


This report was produced in collaboration with the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation for the Suffrage Centennial Grant funding supported the development of this publication.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //



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