Nov 06, 2023
Dmitriy Ivanov

Senator Robyn Kennedy ’03 Leads Town Hall on Community Engagement and Women’s Intersectional Leadership

To kick off fall semester programming for Assumption’s Women’s Studies Program, Massachusetts State Senator Robyn Kennedy, a member of the class of 2003, participated in a town hall in the Tsotsis Family Academic Center on October 17th to discuss topics such as community engagement and women’s leadership.

“I never envisioned that I would someday be standing here as your state senator,” Kennedy said. “Keep your eyes open, your hearts open, and your dreams big.” 

Kennedy, who graduated from Assumption with a bachelor’s degree in history, currently serves as State Senator for the First Worcester District of Massachusetts, which includes Boylston, West Boylston, Northborough, Berlin, Bolton, and most of Worcester. Through her career, Kennedy has worked in multiple different public service roles, including Chief Operating Officer at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Central Massachusetts and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth, and Families at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Over 140 students, faculty, staff, and alumni filled Ballroom A as Senator Kennedy advocated for policies such as the care economy, making the workforce more accessible for all, period poverty, and early education for all children.

Senator Kennedy was introduced by Cinzia Pica, Director of the Women’s Studies Program and Professor and Chair of the Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies Department, and Kathryn Cannistraro ‘24, a human services major and women’s studies minor, who recently received the Outstanding Student in Human Services Award from the National Organization for Human Services.

Kennedy began her speech by connecting her public service to her undergraduate experience at Assumption, saying she found inspiration in the university motto, “Until Christ be Formed in You.” She also said that in her public service, she works to “drive the mission of the university into a values system,” ensuring that Assumption’s mission is reflected in her work.

She emphasized the importance of passionate leadership, encouraging students to take action in the Worcester community through volunteering for campaigns and uplifting and caring for those among us.

“We need more leaders – we need the conviction as leaders to be driven by passion,” Senator Kennedy said. “Leaders willing to listen to and to be led by those who are most impacted by any issue we are facing.”

To emphasize this point further, Kennedy quoted Bible verse Matthew 25:40, “…Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me,’” saying they were words that have always been important to her work.

Kennedy made a point throughout her talk to encourage students to get involved in the Worcester community, including doing both community service and volunteering for local campaigns, saying that doing this work “helps [students] learn and grow [their] own values systems.” 

After an introduction of her major policy initiatives and promoting getting involved in the community, Kennedy fielded questions from Assumption students on topics such as the opioid crisis, immigration into Massachusetts, and housing. 

While answering these questions, Kennedy promoted more resources being allocated to community wellbeing, making child care more affordable for families, increased capacities for addiction treatment spaces, and pay increases for teachers, among many other policies. 

Toward the end of the town hall, Kennedy was asked for any advice she had for seniors getting ready to graduate. To answer, Kennedy stressed the importance of internships, telling students to “take advantage of internships that may not be in your field,” saying that interning can help students learn both what they are and aren’t interested in.