Women Making History: Julie Ramos Gagliardi, Vice-Chairperson, Somerset Berkley Regional …
Name: Julie M. Ramos Gagliardi
Position/title: Vice-Chairperson, Somerset Berkley Regional School Committee. Stay-at-home mom to Nicholas and Michael.
Education/background: Bachelor of science in management, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 1987; master of business administration, management, Boston College 1995
When my second son Michael was born in 2000, I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. For a number of reasons, including the fact that Mike was born with a number of health issues and my husband was traveling quite a bit, it ended up being a good decision for us. Prior to staying home, I was fortunate to have some rewarding work mostly in non-profit organizations doing fund raising, community organizing, marketing and public relations. I met so many amazing people and learned a lot about Greater Fall River.
United Way of Greater Fall River — started as Campaign Assistant, then became their first Planning and Allocations Director and then Campaign Director: John Cummings was the president at the time and great mentor, but I also learned so much from the women leaders at the time: Cathy Ann Viveiros, Zelma Braga, Mary Lou Mancini and many others. One of my roles was to go into all the factories and businesses in Fall River and conduct a “rally.” In many of the textile factories, I would stand on a table as all the workers would gather on the floor in front of me. I had five-10 minutes to explain to them (in English and Portuguese) what the United Way did and ask them to pledge $2 a week. The larger rallies could have as many as 300 people and sometimes I felt like Sally Field in “Norma Rae.” After becoming planning and allocations director and then campaign director, I had more involvement in training United Way’s many volunteers and assisting the Board of Directors as they oversaw the operations of the organization. I was really intimidated to start and because I didn’t follow sports — it wasn’t easy for me to strike up conversations with these captains of industry and big personalities. When I first started, at each meeting or event, my boss would monitor how many board members I initiated a conversation with and then ask me to work on increasing the number at the next event. It was a good way to increase my confidence.
St. Anne’s Hospital — Director of Marketing Planning and Development: I enjoyed working with the nurses and doctors at the Hudner Oncology Center and Hope House — the genuine care and concern they extended to their patients was inspiring.
UMD — Director of Annual Giving: I was offered this job when I was expecting my first child. As a new mom, I was given the opportunity to work from home one day a week which was great.
Community involvement: Faith formation teacher at St. Patrick’s, Somerset 2007 to present; member of the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee; Somerset Berkley Regional School Committee and Building Committee; Somerset Advisory and Finance Board (2007-2010)
Family: I met my husband Nick at SMU in 1986 and we finally got married nine years later. (Obviously, we didn’t want to rush into anything.) We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We have two funny, smart and kind teenagers, Nicholas and Michael, and a dog, Fenway.
1. What woman inspires you and why?
My mom — she came to this country at age 14 with her father and siblings not even knowing the language. She learned the culture, went to school, took care of her siblings and helped her parents navigate their new country. She met my dad and cared for his family as she started her own, started her a business and raised three girls to be independent, resourceful, believe that we “could do anything we wanted to.”
My mom is fantastic with children. I have fond memories of her playing with me and sisters as she does now with her youngest grandchildren. My mom also held pretty high expectations for us as teenagers and young adults and was never shy about telling us her opinion. And while my sisters and cousins can probably remember a zinger or two Tina may thrown their way, not one of us would doubt the fierceness of her love for us.
My parents were the oldest in their families and they created a home that was a center of celebrations and gatherings for our extended family and friends. With her amazing cooking and my dad’s knack for entertaining, they did a wonderful job of making everyone feel welcome. Being the oldest, my mom and dad often took on the role healthcare advocates, mediators and caretakers especially for those who first language was not English. Watching this spirit of generosity throughout my youth, I learned not only how to care for my own family but for others as well. She did all this while managing her own business for more than thirty years.
Growing up, my mom and I had our disagreements as all mothers and daughters do, but I can distinctly remember times as I watched her getting dressed to go out to a dance, getting the house set-up for a party, or shopping for the latest styles, or joking around with one of my uncles. I can remember those times watching her and thinking that if I could travel back in time as someone her own age, Tina would be someone I would choose to hang out with as a friend. My mom has always been deeply caring, incredibly stylish, intuitively smart about so many things, and beautiful both inside and out — but she really doesn’t know that. In fact, if I have one consistent critique of her is that she doesn’t often give herself the credit she deserves. I can see now that her lack of confidence held her back in some ways.
Over the few several years she has handled some significant challenges, including the loss of her husband of 49 years and a battle with gallbladder cancer. Her grace and faith in God throughout it all, continues to inspire me and so many others that she meets.
2. What advice do you wish you could have given your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to fail and give yourself a little more credit. Just like Mom and Dad said, “You can do anything you want!”
3. Is there a glass ceiling?
I would say yes. But in my experience, I would also describe it as a slower track for women vs. men. I have had the opportunity to be at home with my children for the past 15 years but prior to that I worked primarily in non-profits. In my each of my previous positions, I found that although I put in more work and got better results than my male counterparts, it took longer for me to advance or be recognized. It’s especially difficult to break into male dominated administrative team when you have to balance your career with raising a family.
4. How are you empowering other women in your workplace or personal life?
Through my work on the Regional School Committee and even prior to that, I have tried to get new people involved. I really enjoy collaboration and I am always amazed at the breadth of ideas, insight and pure resourcefulness that comes out of bringing a group of women together to address an issue or plan an event. I hope that by reaching out to other mothers in my town, whether it be helping out with PTO, Boosters or other projects, I can give them an opportunity to share their talents, passion and wisdom to better our community.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’ve asked women in a variety of leadership and other roles to respond to some key questions. We will publish one of these profiles per day throughout the month of March. The intent is twofold: we want young girls in our community to be inspired by these women and feel empowered to follow their dreams; and we want readers to recognize just how lucky we are, as a community, to have such dedicated, groundbreaking, accomplished and caring women helping to move us forward.