Celebrating Influential Women

Women’s History Month commemorates and encourages the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. As March draws to a close, we asked several of our team members to reflect on influential women who have shaped their lives and careers, molding them into the leaders they are today. Below is a compilation of their responses.


As I sit and reflect on Women’s History Month, I cannot help but smile. I had the privilege of being molded into who I am today because of my grandmother, Mary Wilson. An ordained minister who holds a Doctorate Degree in Theology from Kings College, she gave so much to ensure the best for my siblings and me. In the process, she instilled the values of love, compassion, and hard work within each of us. Her influence continues to drive me today as I work to help our scholars find their own versions of success.”

Jeffrey Wright, Scholar Support Specialist, BVP High School

“My mom, Janice, is an amazing woman who continually inspires me. From my earliest days, I can remember my mom encouraging me to read and to study so I could go to college ‒ an opportunity she never had. As a single mother raising two girls on a clerk’s salary, she set a great example of what hard work, pride, and determination could do. We went without a lot in our lives, but we always had love.”

Christine Losea, Director of Finance

“My maternal great grandmother, Hazel Hesselgrave, made a significant impact on my life. From listening to her stories about Sputnik; living in America with her huge immigrant family; being a teacher; or hearing about how she moved from the city to marry my step-great grandfather who owned a huge farm in upstate NY; any time I spent at her knee helped broaden my mind, experiences, and perspectives. She was a no-nonsense female at a time in my life when I was learning about feminism and what it means to be a woman- even though it wasn’t common or the “norm” at the time. She attended college (UCONN), played collegiate field hockey, became a teacher, and divorced her alcoholic husband. She died when I was in high school but her impact on my life is immeasurable. My niece carries her name, and it serves as a constant reminder to do what’s right and best even if it’s not the norm or it’s challenging.”

Sara Tucker, Head of School, Elementary School 2

“My grandmother motivates me daily. At the age of 89 she has no stop in her. She is the matriarch of our family and still supports all her kids and grandchildren. It’s impressive that she still is able to do all that she does and still be the rock of our family.”

一 Emmanuel Pina, Dean of Operations, Elementary School 1

“My mom, Diane Lally Colarusso, is one of the most important people to impact my desire to become an educator. After working as an accountant for many years, she finally pursued her passion to become a teacher and made a career switch when I was in 6th grade. She started as a substitute teacher in my hometown and ultimately fell in love with teaching Middle School Math. As a mid-career changer, she had to work very hard to find success in the classroom, spending long nights and weekends planning and grading. As I was in Middle School myself, I was able to see how hard you had to work to find success as a teacher. I also saw first hand how rewarding it is be to connect with students and help them ‘get it.’

When I was having second thoughts about moving to Miami as a Teach for America corps member, my mom supported me emotionally through that transition. As someone who valued education, she encouraged me to pursue applying to Harvard to attain my Masters Degree as I considered what to do next after my experience in the corps. Although she never had the chance to see me teach or lead at BVP, I know that I would not have had the impact on our scholars, families, and team without her endearing love and conditional (yet practical) support.”

Colleen Colarusso, Chief Schools Officer