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In the season 3 premiere of Giving Done Right, hosts Phil Buchanan and Grace Nicolette talk with Gladys Vega about her remarkable work leading Boston-area nonprofit La Colaborativa. In the first of eight episodes this season, Gladys takes us deep into her community and her organization’s work. She discusses the strengths of La Colaborativa’s approach, which is deeply integrated into the community it serves, revisits both the most difficult moments of the pandemic and the positive changes that emerged, and discusses how to make sustainable change through both direct service and advocacy work.
Gladys Vega moved with her family from Puerto Rico to Chelsea, Massachusetts when she was nine years old. Vega joined the Chelsea Collaborative, later renamed La Colaborativa, as office manager in 1990. She wore many hats, working as a receptionist, tenant organizer, and immigrant rights advocate. In addition, Vega served in whatever capacity the moment required, fighting for residents’ rights, creating positive connections between law enforcement and residents, and helping Chelsea youth find summer jobs.
In 2006, Vega became the organization’s executive director. In her tenure, she has successfully urged the City Council to make Chelsea the third sanctuary city in Massachusetts and helped found Centro Latino, the only direct service for Hispanics-Latinos in Chelsea at the time. Vega has served on the Chelsea Board of Health, United Way Committee, and as a Democratic delegate for the National Convention in 2000. In 2007 and 2008, she was named as one of Massachusetts’ one hundred most influential leaders, and in 2020 she was named a Bostonian of the Year by The Boston Globe.
Read the full transcript of the conversation with Gladys Vega at Giving Done Right.