Executive Committee

Kathryn Nielsen, Ph.D. launched 100 Women Who Care, Boston North in 2017 with the assistance of a dynamic and talented group of women. Continuously inspired by women who lead with authenticity, values and vision, she is committed to transformative learning, philanthropy, and community engagement. Kathryn is a researcher, administrator, speaker, and teacher in higher education and also serves on local non-profit boards. A feminist, aspiring minimalist, and mother of four, Kathryn enjoys art, tennis, golf, travel and work that inspires personal, professional, and philanthropic growth. 

Karen Vigurs-Stack is a founder of 100 Women Who Care to make an impact for community organizations doing remarkable work. Karen believes that the power of women combined with radical hospitality - the concept of bringing people together to stimulate empathetic collaboration and participation, will provide a relevant space for women to make a difference in their own communities. As a marketing executive who lives to spread the word, no matter if it’s a movie, destination or recipe, this is not the last you’ll hear from Karen.

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Mary Schwalm is an independent photojournalist taking regular assignments from Reuters, the AP, and local media outlets. As the official photographer for the Boston North chapter of 100 Women Who Care, Mary showcases the collective effect of participation and collaboration through shared giving in the community. An avocado eater, duck aficionado, and lover of flying kites, Mary lives in North Andover with her wife and their dog and cat. 

Melea Ray is a high school English teacher in Massachusetts and joined the 100 Women board in 2020. She is passionate about creating innovative and meaningful lessons for her students and helping others with their educational endeavors. Melea is also an advocate for four-legged friends big and small and regularly rescues animals, which she did for her horse Libbey. Melea is nacho average individual. She could taco bout her love for puns all day, is a huge fan of Mexican food, enjoys crafting and resides in New Hampshire with a house full of critters and loving husband. 

Linda Hartnett is lead agent and owner of the mother-daughter Hartnett Homes Team at Keller Williams Realty and a proud “top producer” each year with the Northeast Association of Realtors. With a background in interior design, she is passionate about leadership development and joining with community. A born connector, Linda initiated and chaired KW Cares in Andover, MA, the philanthropic arm of Keller Williams. Besides being a mother to two and a Nonni, her favorite work centers on being a founding member and Sunshine Committee chair of 100 Women Who Care. You will find Linda outdoors, in any season, enjoying travel, tennis, hiking, yoga and walking her pups, Pippa and grand-doggy Cooper. 

Cynthia McGowan, Ph.D. is Professor of Chemistry at Merrimack College in North Andover MA where her 26-year academic career has spanned a number of roles in the sciences, teaching, and senior administration. As co-founder of 100 Women Who Care she helps the organization identify worthy causes in local communities. Cynthia resides in Bedford MA with her husband and two large Maine Coon cats. Her two married daughters with bio-medical careers live close by. In her spare time, Cindy enjoys an engaging novel, a challenging recipe, a relaxing round of golf, and hugs from her grandchildren.

Deborah Higgins loves working with giving-minded women to collectively make a significant impact in the local community. She supports multiple charitable causes, whether organizing walking teams or gathering the requisite signatures to champion legislative change. In addition to philanthropy, Deborah’s passions include learning, animals, and international travel that has taken her to India, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, the Seychelles, and Bora Bora. A graduate of Bentley University, Deborah spent most of her career in supply chain management and sales for large corporations before developing a successful career in residential real estate 10 years ago. A longtime resident of Tewksbury, Deborah shares her home with four rescue animals: Teagan, Charlotte, DeeDee and Daisy.