Denise M. Hurst, MSW, LICSW, Springfield School Committee Member, Department of Mental Health Child/Adolescent Supervisor

From an early age I knew that I wanted to be like my mother.  She was nurturing and loving, strong, independent and most importantly committed to making sure that I grew up to be the best woman I could be. I was blessed to have my mother, grandmothers, and aunts surrounding me as I blossomed into a young woman. They each embodied a characteristic that I admired. I am of bi-racial descent, African-American and Puerto Rican, and being from two different cultures I was given the opportunity to observe and appreciate the differences and richness of the cultures and their implications on womanhood. I recently became a mother, and even though I thought I was prepared for motherhood, I couldn’t believe the shift in life that had occurred. I love motherhood and did so from the very beginning, but quickly realized that without the support of my husband and my family the road would truly be tumultuous. The support I have received has made the transition enjoyable and the experience fascinating…
However, I know my case does not hold true for every mother, and as a mother and a social worker, I felt an obligation to serve and advocate for families who could benefit or are in need of support, and through MotherWoman I feel I am able to do just that, and have a profound effect. MotherWoman gives me hope that the world is indeed changing for the better. My child and the children of others, will reap the fruits of MotherWoman’s labor.  


Denise (Rosemond) Hurst was born and raised in the City of Springfield, MA. She is a graduate of the Springfield Public Schools. Denise graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Masters of Social Work from Springfield College.

While studying at UMass, Denise became involved with the Counselor Advocate program through the Everywoman’s Center. She was trained to staff a 24-hour hotline for sexual assault, domestic violence, lesbian battering and ritual cult abuse. She also received training through the Legal Studies Department as a mediator and mediation trainer in Multicultural Conflict Resolution. Denise’s volunteer work and training led her to take a position as a Victim/Witness Advocate for the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office. Denise cites this particular position as the foundation of the social and civic work she would engage in for the years to come.   

A strong commitment to professional development and the ability to better serve those in need inspired Denise to return to graduate school and obtain her MSW, while working full time for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families as a child protection worker. Denise also traveled overseas to London, England, to work as a child protective supervisor.  

For nearly a decade, Denise has committed herself to working with children and families in various capacities. She has worked as a crisis clinician and an independent therapist in the Pioneer Valley. In 2008, Denise became a Child/Adolescent Supervisor for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, providing direct supervision to case managers, and psychiatric and educational advocacy for children with mental health issues. She also serves as a member of the DMH Western/Central Region Diversity Committee. Most recently, Denise became an adjunct professor at Holyoke Community College in the Human Services Department. 

Denise is passionate about serving families, children, underserved and underrepresented communities. She is an Inaugural graduate of Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, a member of the Sixteen Acres Civic Association, the Puerto Rican/Latino Leadership Collective, and an active member of St. John’s Congregational Church.  

In 2009, Denise was elected to the Springfield School Committee At Large. She has served as vice-chair, and a two time delegate at the annual Massachusetts Association of School Committees conference. 

Denise resides in Springfield with her husband, Atty. Justin J. Hurst, Sr. and their 16 month old son, Justin Jr.