WMCN Timeline

Since 1991 the Winchester Multicultural Network has worked to build inclusive community. One admirer describes it as “the conscience of Winchester.” Another underlines the word “Network,” recognizing the bridges continually building among differences and similarities at many levels—interpersonal, intrapersonal, systemic and institutional, and cultural.

Founder Sandy Thompson, who discovered purpose and inspiration through attending a VISIONS, Inc. workshop in 1990, worked with others who had a vision of Winchester’s potential to create a new civic organization, the Winchester Multicultural Network. The VISIONS’ principles and philosophy, with adaptations for our Town, continue to serve as the group’s foundation.

From a small group of inspired individuals to today’s dedicated activist Board, Community Advisors, a part-time office administrator, and a new Executive Director, the Winchester Multicultural Network moves forward in educating, advocating, and responding around issues of social justice.

Here are a few highlights:

first five years 1990-1995

Sandy Thompson, together with a few other interested residents, form the Winchester Multicultural Network. Collaborating with the Winchester Public Library, the schools, Town officials, clergy and residents, they plan programs and begin outreach to international residents. A Board of Directors is formed, non-profit status is achieved, and the first Community Workshop is held.

1996-2000

Programs include a forum, “Race and Racism: Where Does Winchester Stand?”; celebrations of Asian-American History Month, an Oxfam Hunger Banquet; and workshops on the healthy development of boys and girls planned with the League of Women Voters and Parent to Parent. Challenging issues of intolerance are addressed through an Anti-Defamation presentation, “Not in Our Town,” and the screening of “It’s Elementary: Talking about Lesbian and Gay issues with Young Children.” A campaign, “Respect for All” is launched and the Network takes a stand in support of gay marriage.

2001-2005

The Network celebrates its tenth anniversary with a dinner and guest speaker Peggy McIntosh, is a founding member of Winchester Reads, and helps sponsor “Safe Town, Safe Schools for Gay and Straight Youth.”  Other programs include “War and the Economy,” “The Religions of Abraham: War in the Name of God,” and “The Palestinian Narrative,” and “Adoption and the Winchester Community.”

2006-2010

The Network organizes a focus group for people of African, Asian, and Latino heritage who live or work in Winchester; collaborates with other Winchester organizations to celebrate the town’s diverse heritage with a dine-around, “Our Common Threads;” and co-sponsors “Including Samuel.” In 2008 The Network pilots a four-part Sunday afternoon series using the documentary, “Race, the Power of Illusion” and in 2009 proposes a Human Rights Statement to the Board of Selectmen which is accepted.

2011–2015

The Network continues its focus on institutional and cultural racism, joining the YWCA’s “Take a Stand against Racism” movement in 2012, and in 2015 supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign. Programs have included the documentary “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” and a well-attended “From Selma to Ferguson: Re-Imagining the Civil Rights Movement in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter” with Prof. Peniel Joseph, Tufts, and Dean Jamele Adams, Brandeis. In 2015, VISIONS, Inc. founder, Dr. Valerie Batts, led 26 participants in the Network’s annual community workshop, titled this year “Communicating Effectively in a Multicultural World.” Other important recent programs have called attention to women’s issues, anti-bullying, immigration, racism in our criminal justice system, and accessibility for all. A major milestone in the Network’s history is our move to an on-street accessible office at 2A Winchester Place, staffed by a full-time executive director and office assistants. This milestone results from a generous major grant by the Cummings Foundation. In January of 2013 Kathy-Ann Hart becomes the Network’s first Executive Director and following her relocation to Connecticut in September 2015, the Network conducts a thorough search process and elects Aba Taylor Executive Director, commencing November 2, 2015.