Meet Denise Hurst - Our New Board Member

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. 




HuffPost Live: More For Moms?

More For Moms?: A HuffPostLive video chat about family policy that Beth Spong, MotherWoman Director was featured on, September 26, 2012.

Link to the HuffPost article: More For Moms, 9/26/12. 
Link to video on our videos page


Support for Mothers Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Updated: Tuesday, 02 Oct 2012, 1:19 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 01 Oct 2012, 5:00 PM EDT on WWLP.com
Ashley Kohl

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) - Welcoming a child into the world brings immense joy and fulfillment, but many new mothers find it difficult to find happiness at such a joyous time. The Postpartum Depression Commission exists to support mothers.

When Governor Patrick created the MA Commission on Postpartum Depression (PPD), he wanted to ensure representation from western MA experts who work with mothers. He appointed two area professionals, Liz Friedman, Program Director of MotherWoman and Donna L. O'Shea, MD, Medical Director of Health New England.

The Commission, co-chaired by Rep. Ellen Story (Amherst) and Senator Thomas M. McGee (Lynn), is charged with making recommendations to the Department of Public Health and the MA State Legislature on advancing best practices regarding PPD screening, treatment and public and professional education.
To learn how to get involved send an email to coalition@motherwoman.org or visit motherwoman.org.

10 - 25% of mothers experience postpartum depression (PPD). These numbers drastically increase when additional risk factors like poverty and teen pregnancy are taken into consideration. When undiagnosed and untreated, PPD can have severe negative effects on mother, infant and birth outcomes including low birth weight of infant, depression and anxiety for mother and developmental challenges to newborns. This results in increased medical expenses and visits to the ER as well as loss of income to families. In the four county region there are approximately 9000 births each year. There are a minimum of 900 - 2250 women suffering with PPD each year in our region alone.



Madeleine Kunin Speaks About Next Steps for Women's Rights


Tuesday, September 18, 5 p.m.
Gordon Hall 302-304, UMass Amherst


UMass alumna Madeleine M. Kunin ('56) will speak about her new book, The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family. The event will be followed by a reception and book signing in the Gordon Hall Atrium.

Kunin was the first woman governor of Vermont and later served as ambassador to Switzerland under former President Bill Clinton. In her book, Kunin argues that while the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s made great advancements for women, progress has stalled significantly since then, in large part because the social structures surrounding family and work in this country have remained static. By examining the history of women's rights in the U.S. and the state of women's rights in other countries,Kunin looks ahead at what will be possible when women and men together demand government and workplace reforms that will improve the lives of women and their families.

For more information about the event and Kunin's book, click here.

This event is hosted by the Center for Public Policy and Administration and co-sponsored by the Center for Research on Families, the Five College Women's Studies Research Center, and MotherWoman


A more detailed article on the subject, published by PoliBlog, August 22, 2012:  

The Honorable Madeleine Kunin to Speak about Next Phase of Women’s Progress

UMass alumna Madeleine M. Kunin (’56) will speak about her latest book, The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family, on Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. in Gordon Hall 302-304.

Kunin served as governor of Vermont from 1985 to 1991, and during the Clinton administration was deputy secretary of education, then ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein. She is now a Marsh professor of political science at the University of Vermont and is a commentator on Vermont Public Radio.

In The New Feminist Agenda, Kunin highlights the advancements that feminists made in the 1960s and 1970s and shows how those have allowed for improved rights and freedom for women in the United States today: Women now comprise nearly 60 percent of college undergraduates and half of all medical and law students. Most women today work outside the home, and families with two wage earners are the norm. While women have changed, though, social structures surrounding work and family have remained static. Affordable, high-quality childcare, paid family leave, and equal pay for equal work are still out of reach for most women....

Kunin — the first woman governor of Vermont and the only female in U.S. history to be elected governor three times — believes it’s time to usher in a new social revolution that will make it possible for all women to move forward. By examining five decades of women’s history in the United States and the current state of women’s rights in other countries, Kunin looks ahead at what will be possible when women and men together demand government and workplace reforms that will improve the lives of women and their families.

A reception and book signing will follow Kunin’s talk.

For the full article, please click here. 


MotherWoman Earns Excellence Award for Advocacy!

MotherWoman received the 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Award in Advocacy on June 11th at the State House in Boston. The Excellence Awards are given each year to outstanding nonprofit organizations in the Commonwealth by the
MotherWoman was awarded the Nonprofit Excellence Award for its work with Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) to craft and pass  Postpartum Depression Legislation in 2010, which resulted in new postpartum depression policies in Massachusetts. The Award also honors MotherWoman's current leadership in the effort to pass Earned Paid Sick Time legislation to help working families. 

MotherWoman Banner
Elizabeth Maynard, Rep. Ellen Story, Beth Spong, Board 
President Joanne Sunshower, Rima Dael. 

We mobilize mothers, fathers and caregivers to take action on policy issues that impact families. Through advocacy trainings, community-based coalitions and increased media exposure about the effects of social policies on maternal child health, MotherWoman is changing the ways legislators see these issues. 
Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) applauded the award, saying, "MotherWoman has had an unusually powerful impact in the arena of women's health. It makes me very proud that they have been recognized for their valuable work. We all benefit from it!"


Also on the subject, an article covering our award, published by the Amherst Bulletin, Friday, July 13, 2012.

MotherWoman, a health and human services organization based in Amherst, recently earned the 2012 Nonprofit Excellence in Advocacy Award from the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

The organization was selected for its support of policies to address the risk of perinatal emotional complications for mothers and for promoting, with the western Massachusetts political leadership, the adoption of earned sick time legislation.

MotherWoman worked with State Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, on advancing a bill, since signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick, focused on postpartum depression and requiring providers and insurance plans to provide annual data on perinatal screenings.

Story said in a statement that all women benefit from the work of MotherWoman and she is proud the organization is being recognized. "They started quietly in 1999 and have had an unusually powerful impact in the arena of women's health," Story said.

The earned sick time bill, still in committee, seeks to assist an estimated one-third of workers in the state who can't risk losing wages and work while they are sick. MotherWoman is advocating for legislation that will benefit and save money for both employers and employees.

"This award honors the extraordinary work of many dedicated staff, board members and volunteers over the past several years," said MotherWoman Executive Director Beth Spong.

In addition to the advocacy award, MotherWoman received certificates of recognition signed by Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, Senate President Therese Murray and State Treasurer Steven Grossman.