June 22, 2018
Women’s Fund of Western Mass. Names Barajas-Román as CEO

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
August 8, 2014 — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, which engages in grantmaking to support economic and social equality for women and girls in western Massachusetts, announced that it has named Elizabeth Barajas-Román as its new chief executive officer.

She succeeds Carla Oleska, who stepped down after eight years to become vice president of Institutional Advancement at Elms College where she had previously worked for 22 years.

Michelle Theroux, board chair of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM), said, “We are very excited to have Elizabeth as the new head of the Women's Fund. Her experience, nationally as well as local, provides a unique perspective for the fund as we continue to grow and bring attention to the issues surrounding women, girls, and our community.”

Barajas-Román has been a leader in progressive movements, including advocating at the national level for the health and rights of immigrant women and their families. She has a background in data-driven strategy design, fundraising through philanthropic partnerships, and creating coalitions and mobilizing partners.

Most recently she was a manager at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she directed a portfolio of partners that campaigned for state and federal policy change to improve government performance on issues that impacted children’s health.

Previously, she held positions as a journalist, researcher, and as a director of policy and operations at a primary care clinic in Boston for uninsured youth. She is a certified project management professional.

A graduate of Oberlin College, she received her master's degree in international policy from Harvard University.

“I am thrilled to be leading this dynamic public foundation at such an important time,” said Barajas-Román. “Women are at the center of every issue impacting families today: health care, equal pay and economic security, safety and freedom from violence – and Women’s Fund is able to highlight these issues, aggregate resources, and collaborate with existing community organizations to develop impactful, sustainable, solutions.”

Since 1997, WFWM has awarded more than $2 million in grants to more than 101 programs in the four counties of western Massachusetts, and aims to be the “go to” organization for all issues related to improving the lives of women and girls. Most recently the foundation created the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, which has equipped 140 women from across the four western counties to become civic leaders in their communities, to impact policy on the local, state, and national levels, and to seek and retain elected positions.

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