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The Yankee Express

Womens Success Network Part 2

Mar 10, 2021 08:59AM ● By Barbara Van Reed

This month we continue our conversations with members of the Women’s Success Network executive committee. WSN was established under the auspices of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce two years ago to ”help women in the workplace to achieve their vision of success by creating a community of support and inspiration.” 

Alise Breton began her work life when a teenager at Whitter Farms in Sutton. Today she is Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager/Social Media Manager at Millbury Federal Credit Union, in its main office in Millbury.

She offered her insights as a WSN committee member. 

Why did you agree to join the WSN committee?

To have an opportunity to be part of a group of professional women was a no brainer for me!  These women are smart, innovative, accepting and inspiring. Although we come from different backgrounds, we are like-minded and have experienced the same challenges. To be able to share your thoughts with other women whom you know are going to be supportive is so encouraging. Then, to reciprocate that, and provide support to other women, that’s making a difference!

 your article here...How do you think WSN can best support women?

The fact that this group exists is of value to women. The network was designed as a means to offer support and inspiration to women in their personal and professional lives. You can use us for education, networking, maybe you just need a little encouragement. Regardless of the reason, we’re a resource that’s available to help. 

How do you think you 

can personally contribute to that?

There’s so much value in what this network has to offer. I don’t that think there’s a better way to contribute than by spreading the word and sharing the network with other women. 

WSN seeks to connect with women in a great variety of careers and life stages. What’s the best way to do that? 

Our network has women from all different industries. We are all different ages with all different life experiences. The diversity is what makes us unique and relatable. When we host an event or offer a service, we always consider our audience. We want to be able to offer a little something for everyone.  

What experiences in your life would make a good illustration of having received support from another woman? Or, how have you been helped by other women? 

I started working when I was 14 years old for Whittier Farms in Sutton. Being a teenager, I was so unsure of myself. I had very little confidence and absolutely no clue what I was doing. As I tried to navigate through my first job, Mary Whittier became my mentor. She literally taught me everything during the nine years I worked for her! While I could go on and on about those skills and principles, the important part of my story is that she offered me a level of support that set me up for the rest of my life. She spent time and energy on my success – that’s an amazing mentor! To this day, I still fall back on those lessons, and remember her guidance and encouragement when offering my own support to others. 

What is your advice for young women, middle-aged women, older (maybe 

retiring) women?  

This can be life advice, financial advice, career advice or other.

Don’t say that you can’t! Maybe you won’t or you don’t want to, but you can do anything!


Much of the energy, inspiration, and implementation for the Women’s Success Network has come from Jeannie Hebert, President and CEO Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce and President Blackstone Valley Education Hub.

She talked about the beginning.  

Why did you create WSN?

As a resource for women to turn to for support and assistance when navigating their way through professional, business and life situations. A place where they can openly discuss questions and concerns among peers and feel comfortable to receive real answers without judgement. 

How do you think WSN can best support women?

 By providing a forum and peer group to work out concerns unique to women. Women are considered the caregivers, and that does not stop because they may also have a demanding full time career. They traditionally put others first and create feelings of guilt when devoting time to pursue an occupation. Having a setting with others who face the same challenges is valuable in creating a life balance.

How do you think you 

can personally contribute to that? 

Honestly, by listening to the needs of the members and creating a community of support. By developing resources with live and virtual sessions, networking events, access to keynote speakers who have firsthand knowledge to inspire strength to cope with and conquer challenges amplified by the demands made on women to do more, be better and handle it all, both in their professional and private lives.

WSN seeks to connect with women in a great variety of careers and life stages. What’s the best way to 

do that? 

Again providing a forum to share.  When that happens you find you have a lot more in common with each other than you first thought.

What experiences in your life would make a good illustration of having received support from another woman? Or, how have you been helped by other women?

I have to say a number of people have helped me along the way, but the one who stands out comes from the Blackstone Valley. Louise Redding. She was treasurer on my Board of Directors when I first came to the BVCC. She was the first woman to achieve a CPA degree in her college class, had an accounting career, is strong, and definitely stood her ground to break through the glass ceiling at a time when women were treated as second class. She was a good counsel, inspiring me to have the courage to follow my gut and pursue projects that I knew were worthwhile, even when others told me I was a “dreamer.” I credit Louise with my strength and success with many achievements. I still stay in touch with her. 

What is your advice for young women, middle-aged women, older (maybe retiring)

Work together to overcome the cultural demands of women and support one another are probably the most important things we as women can do. One of the most mind-boggling practices I find is that some have a hard time working together for the good of all.  

Being unsupportive of initiatives to especially address gender inequality creates more barriers. Heightened awareness of inequality should lead women to foster alliances and actively support one another. If women don’t help each other, this is an even worse form of betrayal than those committed by men.

The successful woman should use her power to help other women advance, not undermine her colleagues.  Especially for the woman reaching retirement age. Don’t be afraid that the woman just starting out has your job in her sights. Be a mentor, as Louise was to me. You will gain respect, and perhaps a good friend. Communication is the key. The WSN fosters this and more.


The other members of the executive committee are Pat Hurton (chair), Pat Baker, Carol Dauphinais, Ashley Daviau, Heather Elster, Jessica Muradian, Kathy Tonry, and the BVCC staff.

As chair of the committee, Pat Hurton elaborated on the Women’s Success Network mission.  The WSN has an executive committee consisting of seven women from various professions.  We work collaboratively to create opportunities within the network where partnerships are forged, friendships made, mentors found, resources offered, and skills are shared. Our mission is to support, unite, and inspire women in the workplace in Blackstone Valley to achieve their self-defined personal and professional success.  

Because of COVID-19, the BVCC Women’s Success Network had to cancel several programs and events in the last year.  However, the WSN committee members and BVCC staff are looking at various possibilities that will continue to be resources in the near future.  We anticipate we will have breakfast programs with outstanding speakers and early evening cocktail events with “networking” as a theme.  Our WSN newsletter is published quarterly, and a new edition will be out in March.  We are also creating subcommittees so that can get more women involved and focus on areas that need attention (i.e. marketing, entrepreneurs, programs, etc.)

If you would like to be on our mailing list and get more information about the WSN, please contact Pat Hurton (WSN committee chair) at [email protected]