Celebration Gala


26th Annual

Celebration of Today’s Woman

It’s that time of year when we ask for your help in selecting the 2019 “Woman of the Year” for our 26th Annual Celebration of Today’s Woman! The Celebration is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.

Do you know a woman who:

  • Demonstrates exceptional leadership and commitment; has a strong work ethic, integrity, compassion, and cares for our community and its people?
  • Works with dedication to enhance the quality of life and effects positive change in the Greater Lowell community?

If so, please fill out the Celebration Nomination form and return it to:

Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell, Tracy Ingersoll, Executive Director

220 Worthen Street, Lowell, MA 01852

Email tingersoll@girlsinclowell.org

Or Fax 978-458-4837


A Throw Back to 2018… at our

25th Annual

Celebration of Today’s Woman

Past, Present, and Future

“Women of the Year”

Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell hosted its Celebration of Today’s Woman on June 7, 2018 at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.

This year marks the Celebrations 25th anniversary of honoring local women that are making a difference in our community.  On the culmination of its 100 years of service to the girls of Greater Lowell and in recognition of its Celebration anniversary, Girls Inc. was pleased to honor three women; Mary Sampas, an accomplished woman who forged the way both for the women of her time and of today; Yun-Ju Choi, a distinguished woman of today dedicated to improving the lives of families in our community; and Lianna Kushi, a woman whose enthusiasm and accomplishment will light the way for the women of tomorrow.

(Handcrafted awards created by artist Aron Leaman of Mill City Glassworks)

(L to R: Marina Schell accepting on behalf of her mother, Mary Sampas; Lianna Kushi; Yun-Ju Choi)

(Photos courtesy of Meghan Moore of Megpix Photography. For more event pictures, go to Megpix Facebook Album)

Mary Boutselis Sampas was born in Lowell in 1917, the child of Greek immigrants.  Always an avid reader and scholar, Mary quickly excelled academically and was encouraged by her teachers at the Bartlett School and Lowell High School to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer.  In the 1930’s, as a senior in high school, she began writing a column on Greek news for the Lowell Sun.  This was the beginning of Mary’s journalism career, which would span over 75 years and include columns for the Lowell Evening Leader and the Greek Sunday News as well as the Lowell Sun.  Much of her work was written under v

arious pen names including ‘Gal Friday’, ‘Lowellita’, and ‘Pertinax’.  Among her favorite columns were the first-hand accounts she wrote in 1961 from Europe when she covered President and Mrs. Kennedy’s tour during which the President met with Khrushchev in Vienna and de Gaulle in Paris, and Jacqueline Kennedy went on to visit Greece.  Over the course of her career, Mary met and interviewed numerous celebrities for her columns, bringing them to life for her readers.

In 1940, Mary married fellow-journalist Charles Sampas, with whom she shared a life-long love of writing, literature, travel, world events, and politics.  Their daughter, Marina, was her joy, and sometimes became an inspiration for some of her columns.  Always eager to give back to the city she loved, Mar

y served on the boards and fundraising committees of numerous local non-profit organizations, including the Lowell Art Association, Community Concerts, the Hellenic Heritage Society, the Hellenic Culture Society, the Brush with History Gallery, the Folk Festival and Regatta Committee, “F.L.I.C.K.S.!”, the Lowell Garden Club, the Lowell Historical Society, the Friends of the Pollard Memorial Library, and many others.  Mary was passionate about her family, her friends, her community, and her work.  On January 8, 2011, Mary’s final column was published in the Lowell Sun, dictated from her hospital bed just days before she passed away peacefully at the age of 93.  Her passion for what she loved did not fade, and it lives on in the example that she set for those who knew her.

Yun-Ju Choi is a devoted community development professional who has spent the last 25 years in leadership roles at community-based non-profit organizations.  Currently the Executive Director of the Coalition for a Better Acre, Yun-Ju is focused on furthering the growth of the CBA in its mission of community revitalization and resident empowerment.  A graduate of Bowdoin College with a Bachelors in Physics, and of Cambridge College with a Masters in Management, Yun-Ju began her career as a financial analyst, but soon discovered a passion for working with people when she accepted a position as a live-in staffer with young people who were in state custody.  This marked the beginning of a new career in the non-profit sector.  Applying her strong financial background and management skills has allowed Yun-Ju to make a real impact in her leadership roles at Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Youth Opportunity Boston, Lena Park Community Development Corp., Center for Health and Development, The Boston Foundation, and Madison Park Development Corporation.

Yun-Ju is very active in her community personally as well as professionally, serving on the boards of several organizations, including the Whistler House Museum of Art, the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, Mill City Community Investment, Lowell Development Finance Corp., Lowell Heritage Partnership, Lowell Collegiate Charter School, Lowell House, Inc., and Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association.  Her dedication to her community and her tireless efforts to help others are an inspiration to all.

Lianna Kushi is part of the founding team of Entrepreneurship for All (known as E for All), a non-profit whose mission is to accelerate economic and social impact through entrepreneurship in mid-sized cities.  Originally founded in 2010 under the name Merrimack Valley Sandbox, E for All is now active in five cities in Massachusetts.  Lianna now serves as the Executive Director of E for All in Lowell and Lawrence.  A graduate of Smith College where she earned both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Masters in Economics and Social Development of Regions, Lianna is committed to entrepreneurship and community development.  She has given of her time and enthusiasm in service to several local organizations, including the Asian American Commission of the Commonwealth of MA, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, the Cultural Organization of Lowell, the Revolving Museum, the U.S.-Japan Council, and Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Program on U.S.-Japan Relations. Her dedication and devotion to her community are sure to inspire leaders of the future.

Girls Inc. is proud to honor Mary, Yun-Ju, and Lianna at the 2018 Celebration of Today’s Woman.  We are so grateful for the shining example they set for our Girls Inc. members, who, like these women, strive to be strong, smart, and bold in making their world a better place.


Become A Sponsor

Gala sponsorship’s provide an opportunity to help empower and educate more girls from across Greater Lowell.

Sponsors will receive tickets based on sponsorship level. More information can be found by clicking the button above.


2018 Celebration Sponsors


Nancy L. Donahue

Carol & George Duncan





Dr. Eric & Carrie Meikle

Yun-Ju Choi


Diane & John Jeray

Irene Egan

Mary Lou & Jim Keenan

Susan Mitchel & Jim Waldo

Christine & David Hart

Michael G. Conway Insurance Agency

In-Kind Donations

Middlesex Community College

Yeti Outfitters

Girls Inc. Board of Directors


Historic “Woman of Today”

Award Recipients

1994, Carole Cowan, Ed.D.          1995, Susan Black, M.D.

1996, Clementine Alexis          1997, Nicola Tsongas

1998, Patricia Crane          1999, Nancy Donahue

2000, Eileen Donoghue          2001, Patricia Bradley

2002, Janice Stecchi, Ed.D.          2003 Mary Ellen Fitzpatrick

2004, Margaret Palm          2005, Mary Jo Leahey

2006, Karen Frederick          2007, Therese O’Connor

2008, Jacqueline Moloney, Ed.D.          2009, Kay Geirge Roberts, D.M.A

2010, Linda Chemaly          2011, Mary Louise Keenan

2012, Dorcas Grigg-Saito          2013, Deedee O’Brien

2014, Carol S. Duncan          2015, Naomi M. Prendergast

2016, Amy J. Hoey        2017, Judy M. Burke

2018, Mary Boutselis Sampas,  Yun-Ju Choi, Lianna Kushi

At Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell, girls grow up healthy, educated and independent.  Support like yours allows us to reach even more girls and fully impact their lives resulting in exponential change and brighter futures for all. We are excited to have you join us in this effort to make the girls of Greater Lowell stronger, smarter, and bolder than ever before.

The Celebration of Today’s Woman Bronze Medal Award created especially for Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell by world-renowned sculptor, Mico Kaufman.