New Season Brings Ways to Connect at BHWF

September 5, 2014

The Beacon Hill Women’s Forum (BHWF) was formed last year to bring together the community’s diverse group of women to connect, inspire and enjoy each other. This year there will be even more ways to connect, thanks to the creativity of the organization’s board of directors.

“What a phenomenal charter year we had last season,” said Lisa Macalaster, BHWF founder and president. “Our membership expanded rapidly with about 80 women attending each forum. Our board of directors tapped into a bevy of well-received speakers from our BH neighborhood. As for the ‘enjoy’ part, happy new friendships were forged at every meeting. So now that we have a recipe that works, we now plan to facilitate smaller group gatherings for specific niches.”

BHWF members come together at the Hampshire House on the second Tuesday of each month to enjoy cocktails, appetizers and conversations, and hear inspiring presentations by neighborhood women. This year, members are encouraged to join in Fireside Chats, according to Alison Quartermain Gersten who serves as BHWF director of connections. “Members who would like to continue the discussions surrounding the guest speaker and her topic will meet at a nearby coffee shop or restaurant immediately following the meeting,” she said.

And there will be a lot more ways to connect as well. Quartermain Gersten is busily signing up volunteers to bring together those with common interests, such as young professionals, working women with young children and empty nesters transitioning back into city living. Others are planning a variety of activities for all members, ranging from museum trips to walks on the Esplanade.

Forging friendships and getting a sense of community with women from Beacon Hill and surrounding neighborhoods will be much easier, due to a revamped interactive website created by director of marketing Janel Cuneen, with the help of Florrie Everett and Nick Santaniello who donated his web design services.

New on is a password-protected ‘members section’ that will provide the contact information of those who wish to share it as well as news of special events and groups. Jacqueline Leahy, who is the BHWF director of communications, will keep members up to date with bi-monthly emails, and Suzanne Besser, public relations director, will get the word out in the media.

Because BHWF has applied for 501(c)(7) nonprofit status as a ‘social club,’ it must follow guidelines that require attendees to join before first attending a meeting, said Sarah Wilsterman, who serves as director of membership. The annual membership fee of $50 and monthly meeting fees of $20, which cover basic food and administrative costs, can be paid online when making reservations or when attending one’s first meeting.

The fall lineup of meetings kicks off on September 9 when Vivien Li, president of the Boston Harbor Association, presents “Take a Walk on the Harborside,” according to Shannon McAllister and Danielle Frissell, BHWF directors of programs.

On October 14, the group will hear from Beacon Hill resident A.K. Goodman, an obstetrician who focuses on global health and has deployed to various international disasters including Bam, Iran in 2004, Banda Aceh in 2005, Haiti in 2010, and the Philippines in 2014. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Baker, the newly-hired Stanford Calderwood Director and the sixteenth head of the Boston Athenæum, will be the guest speaker on November 11. The December meeting will be moved to the second Monday (December 8) and feature a holiday celebration.

Each meeting also features a brief Neighborhood Narrative by a local Charles Street merchant, arranged by directors Lindsey Higgins and Emi Winterer. “The purpose of the Neighborhood Narrative is two-fold,” explained Macalaster. “First, it is to help put a name and face to each business, and second to encourage everyone to shop local.”

For more information about BHWF, to join and to make reservations for meetings, go to

Search The Back Bay Sun