Board of Directors
RITA ARDITTI (Board) was born in Argentina and immigrated to the United States in 1965. She holds a doctorate in Biology and is a Professor Emerita of the Graduate College of the Union Institute and University (UIU). Rita is one of the four founders of New Words Bookstore, and co-founded the Women’s Community Cancer Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1989. She is currently a member of the Human Rights Working Group of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is an activist in social justice, public health, and human rights arenas, and author of several works including Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina (University of California Press, 1999).
GILDA BRUCKMAN (Board & Co-Director) was one of the founders of New Words Bookstore in 1974 and continued as book buyer and part of the managerial team for 28 years. She has been President of New Words, Inc. for most of that time and was President of New Words Live from 1997 to 2003. She has also been working as a writing tutor for undergraduate and graduate students at Cambridge College since 2003. She has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Boston University and a fifth degree black belt in Aikido (a Japanese martial art), which she has studied since 1972 and which she teaches. She served for four years (1996-2000) on the Board of Directors of Project 10 East, Inc., a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender advocacy and support organization for students in Massachusetts. She also served on the Advisory Council of the New England Booksellers Association (1993-1999), and on the Steering Committee of the national Feminist Bookstore Network (1997-2002). Awards include the Independent Spirit Award (1999) from the Astraea Foundation, New York, and a Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission (1998). Email Gilda:firstname.lastname@example.org
ELYSE D. CHERRY (Board/President) is Chief Executive Officer of Boston Community Capital, a community development financial institution whose mission is to create and preserve healthy communities where low-income people live and work. She is also President of Boston Community Venture Fund, an affiliate of Boston Community Capital, which invests in businesses that have the potential to achieve a social return as well as a financial return. Elyse is an attorney and a former partner of the Boston law firm of Hale and Dorr, where her practice focused on large commercial real estate transactions, the development of affordable housing and the preservation of open space. Prior to joining Boston Community Capital, she served as Vice President and Counsel to SRB Corporation, a member of the Plymouth Rock family of insurance companies, and CEO of Earthwide Products Corporation, an investment fund that targeted environmental businesses. Elyse is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Northeastern University School of Law. She serves as a member of the Executive Council of the Boston YWCA, as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Community Capital Association, and as a board member on many of Boston Community Venture Fund’s portfolio companies.
KATE DAVY (Board) is Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley College in Waltham, MA, where she has launched three innovative initiatives in liberal studies, one of which received a $200,000 grant from the Davis Foundation. She has written and edited dozens of essays and articles on theater and is currently working on a book entitled Born in the WOW Cafe: Making Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers, Remaking Women’s Theatre, to be published by the University of Michigan Press. She has a Ph.D. in Drama/Performance Studies from New York University and has had an extensive career in both teaching and academic administration She has served in upper administration posts at University of Wisconsin, University of California, Adelphi University and Alverno College.
HAYAT IMAM (Board) is an American-Muslim of Bangladeshi origin. She is a feminist-activist who has worked for social justice in Bangladesh, the USA, Indonesia and the Philippines. Her efforts have been directed towards nuclear disarmament and peace, renewable energy and gender equity and economic opportunities for women. She has written and organized extensively on violence against women and the negative effects of globalization and is co-author of Watermelons Not War - Parenting in the Nuclear Age. Former Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund, Ms. Imam has worked as a consultant for UNDP and UNFPA in the Philippines and Indonesia. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of Isis, Manila and the Women’s Crisis Center, Manila. Presently, Hayat is helping the Boston Women’s Fund in building its sustainability for the future. Hayat is enjoying being a new grandmother and is active with the Dorchester People for Peace.
GAIL LEONDAR-WRIGHT (Board) is the founder of Gail Leondar Public Relations, which promotes progressive, feminist and lgbt books. Her clients have included Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, Fr. John McNeill, Holly Hughes, Nicole Conn, Barbara Wilson, and Ellen Hart. She serves on Arlington’s Safe Schools Task Force (Arlington, MA), which works to ensure the safety of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
MICHELLE OSHIMA (Board) has been active in the community serving on boards/committees for the New Words Ford Board, Asian Sisters in Action, Asian American Unity Dinner, the Boston Dragon Boat Festival, National Women’s Studies Association, Sojourner: The Women’s Forum, The Theater Offensive, and the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Professionally, she has worked in international business (shipping à la oil tankers and high tech) and university administration. After 7 years as coordinator of the MIT Program in Women’s Studies, she is now tackling new challenges as Director of Special Programs in the MIT Office of the Arts. Playing trumpet in various big bands and the indie band JUMBO, self-billed as chaos and cacophony, keep her sane.
JILL PETTY (Board) is an editor/publisher at South End Press, a non-profit, collectively-run book publisher based in Cambridge, MA. She also teaches courses on alternative media and literature by women of color in the Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College. Before coming to South End Press, she worked at The Nation and Ms., and she earned her M.A. in English from Duke University. Originally from Chicago, she is an avid baseball fan and media junkie.
RAQUEL EVITA SARASWATI (Board) is a queer Latina/South Asian performance poet, activist, plus-size model, dancer, and scholar. She is relatively new to the CNW Board of Directors; and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Somos Latin@s LGBT Coalition and the Steering Committee of Boston MASALA (Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association). Raquel Evita’s main interests lie in conflict resolution and the rights of women and ethnic minorities in states coming out of conflict. Professionally, Raquel Evita is the Bilingual Case Manager and Vocational/Education Counselor at Cambridge Cares about AIDS. Raquel Evita lives online at
JONI SEAGER (Board/Treasurer & Co-Director) has been a co-owner of New Words Bookstore since 1988, and has been particularly active in the development and planning process for the Center for New Words. She is also Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. She is the author of several books, including Earth Follies: Coming to Feminist Terms With the Global Environmental Crisis and three editions of the State of Women in the World Atlas. She is a co-founder of the Committee on Women, Population, and Environment, an international coalition of activists and scholars. She has extensive academic management and administration experience through appointments at the University of Maine, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Vermont. She has managed several large grant projects and multi-disciplinary research efforts, including work with the National Science Foundation, the Vermont Humanities Council, and the Massachusetts Humanities Council. Email Joni:email@example.com
LAURA ZIMMERMAN (Board/Clerk & Co-Director) has been an owner and part of the managerial team for New Words Bookstore since 1988, specializing in both bookbuying and personnel. During that time, she has been an officer on the Board of Directors for New Words, Inc., and, since 1997, an officer for New Words Live. In 2002, she co-founded the Center for New Words. Since 1990, she has also co-chaired Boston’s Tibetan Women’s Association, serving as an advocate for newly-arrived Tibetan immigrant women and their families and mobilizing American grassroots support for Tibetan autonomy. She also served for seven years as Poetry Editor for Sojourner, the women’s national newspaper. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, she formerly worked extensively with troubled adolescents at McLean Hospital and taught in the mental health departments of Middlesex and North Shore Community College. She co-directed New Hampshire’s first group home for adolescent foster care, and also co-founded the Keene Learning Community, an alternative high school in Keene, New Hampshire. Email Laura:firstname.lastname@example.org