Watertown Woman Named a 2020 Commonwealth Heroine

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Charlie Breitrose

Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin, the winner of the 2016 Unity Award.

Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin, was named a Commonwealth Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Here she speaks at the 2016 Unity Breakfast.

The following information was sent out by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women:

Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin, of Watertown, will be honored as a member of the ’s 2020 class of Commonwealth Heroines. State Rep.Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women Jonathan Hecht recommended Hershman-Tcherepnin for this recognition due to her outstanding work on immigration and refugee issues.

Hershman-Tcherepnin will be honored with the other Commonwealth Heroines at the 17th annual Commonwealth Heroines celebration. This year’s celebration will be virtual, with the commission sharing a slideshow on its social media platforms on the original planned date of the event of June 24.

Hershman-Tcherepnin has led efforts in Watertown to increase awareness of challenges faced by our immigrant and refugee neighbors and to build trust between immigrants and the police. She is convener of the Watertown Citizens Refugee Support Group, which engages in vigils, cultural celebrations, clothing drives, legislative efforts, film festivals and direct support of Massachusetts refugee families in need. In recent years, the group has initiated a communitywide effort, Watertown Celebrates Iftar, at which local Muslims and non-Muslims share Ramadan fast-breaking and engage in interfaith dialogue. Professionally, Hershman-Tcherepnin is a flutist who has performed with symphonies around the world and teaches at MIT.

Commonwealth Heroines are women who don’t make the news but make the difference. Thousands of women in every community of the state perform unheralded acts on a daily basis that make our homes, neighborhoods, cities and towns better places to live. Commonwealth Heroines use their time, talent, spirit and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others in their community. They are mentors, volunteers, and innovators who strive to protect and represent the interests of seniors, victims of violence, children, immigrants and other vulnerable populations. They are the glue that keeps a community together.

A complete list of this year’s honorees is available by contacting the commission at mcsw@state.ma.us.

15 thoughts on “Watertown Woman Named a 2020 Commonwealth Heroine

  1. Sue-Ellen, What a well-deserved honor for you. You have worked behind the scenes on so many important town issues mentioned in the award. And most lately, you’ve been helping refugees and immigrants feel welcome in Watertown, from finding housing to creating a broad community that enriches us all.
    Thank you and congratulations for you and for Watertown, the beneficiary of your hard work and creative vision over the years.
    With great respect, Barbara Ruskin

  2. Hi Sue Ellen,

    Judi just sent this, what a wonderful commitment this has been for you and all of humanity that you serve. Dedication and service to others are the cornerstones of the Hershman Family. Congratulations and continued success!


    Ro Thompson

  3. Sue Ellen- Joel sent this to us. What wonderful work you’ve been doing! You’re an example to us all. Keep it up!

    Anne & Ken

  4. I realize I’m not surprised, since I’ve seen Sue-Ellen acting as an agent of change in multiple ways over the 40 years I’ve known her. Some examples: she helped create the cooperative chamber orchestra ProArte, she was the President of the Musicians Union and she was constantly involved in progressive political efforts. I expect Sue-Ellen will continue to be celebrated and recognized over the years to come, because she will not stop her constant efforts and that’s why I deeply admire her.

  5. For decades Sue-Ellen has been our heroine as a tireless advocate for musicians in New England and beyond for decades. We are thrilled to see this acknowledgement of her life’s
    work for all to appreciate.

    With much love and affection,
    Patrick Hollenbeck
    President Boston Musicians’ Association
    on behalf of generations of musicians

  6. I echo the theme of Sue-Ellen’s lifelong dedication to raising community awareness of and action to address the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society, but also to cooperative solutions in the arenas of music, food, housing, and politics. She is dogged but gentle and inclusive –– a beautiful soul.

  7. I once asked a teacher, “Are there any enlightened people in the world today?”
    He said, “there are a few. But you won’t know who they are. They might be flipping burgers somewhere. But whoever gets one of those burgers, gets SOMETHING.”
    I don’t know about enlightenment. But the “glue” of goodness in our world is the burger flippers, the ones who compassionately and quietly just perceive the need and find a way to fill it. I am so grateful to you – and all the other burger flippers in the world – for helping to keep our collective boats afloat in these stormy times.

  8. Congratulations Sue-Ellen!
    What you are doing to help specific groups actually makes the whole world a better place!
    Thank You

  9. Hi, Sue-Ellen! You are an inspiration and a role model for not being “scared” to get out there and do something instead of complaining. A well-deserved award for you: an honest, determined, good person.

    Many compliments,
    Tracy McGinnis

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