Last week, Rep. Adrian Madaro announced that he has nominated longtime East Boston activist and professor, Dr. Neenah Estrella-Luna for the 2021 Commonwealth Heroine Award for her commitment to furthering social, environmental, and racial justice in the neighborhood and beyond.
Dr. Estrella-Luna is a Salem State University Department of Sociology professor and author who focuses on topics including environmental justice, racial equity, immigrant rights, and bias. Dr. Estrella-Luna has been extensively involved in grassroots activism, policy advocacy, and community-based organizing in Eastie, as well as communities around the Commonwealth.
“It’s an honor to nominate Dr. Neenah Estrella-Luna with the Commonwealth Heroine Award from the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women for her remarkable achievements and commitment to furthering social, environmental, and racial justice in East Boston and the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Madaro. “On these issues Dr. Estrella-Luna has been a valuable advisor to me and my staff over the years. Thank you, Dr. Estrella-Luna, for making East Boston and the Commonwealth a better place for us all.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Estrella-Luna has worked with mutual aid groups throughout the neighborhood, providing critical insights on the inequities that have led to communities like Eastie bearing a disproportionate impact of infections. In the wake of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, she led a community teach-in about how to facilitate conversations on racism.
Aside from her work as a professor, Dr. Estrella-Luna is a Social Equity and Anti-Racism Consultant.
“It is an honor for us to identify extraordinary women from across the Commonwealth,” said the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women in a statement. “We would like to thank our many legislative partners who have recommended and recognized women within their district who perform unheralded acts daily that make our homes, neighborhoods, cities and towns better places to live. These acts of public leadership and volunteerism help advance the status of women and girls in Massachusetts in ways big and small, and the collective effort is meaningful.”
Each year the Commission partners with state legislators to identify women who make outstanding contributions to their organizations and communities. Each legislator is encouraged to submit one woman from their constituency as a means of recognizing their invaluable community contributions.
“The Commonwealth Heroines are women who don’t always make the news, but truly make the difference,” said Rep. Madaro. “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 has them.”
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 Commission provides a voice for Massachusetts women and has 19 members who are appointed by the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Caucus of Women Legislators.