Ayesha Wilson’s journey with the Cambridge Housing Authority started in 1987 as a resident growing up in a single-parent, first-generation household at the agency’s Jefferson Park property in North Cambridge.
In 2015, Wilson’s relationship with the CHA came full circle when she was hired by the Resident Services department to help guide youths living at CHA properties toward positive personal growth while achieving academic and career success as part of the award-winning The Work Force program.
Outside of her duties as a Senior Teacher-Counselor, Wilson is active in the community and is a proud first-term member of the Cambridge School Committee.
What do you enjoy most about your position at the CHA?
“As a kid who grew up in Cambridge, grew up in CHA, and grew up participating in the Work Force Program, I am blessed and honored to see my world come full circle. I have devoted my adult life to working with young people in Cambridge, and being able to give back, not only to the youth, but to their families as well has been a complete joy.”
What qualities make a great leader?
“I believe that good listen skills, active leading by example, following a strength-based/solution-focused approach, and building empathy are just a few of the qualities that makes a great leader.”
Why is it important to close the gender gap?
“It’s important to close the gender gap and race gap because women—black women—deserve it! We deserve equal pay and equal rights to be more independent and to support ourselves and our loved ones. To think that we can work just hard as men, get the same degrees, and yet get less pay is an injustice that must be changed!”
If you could meet anyone from the past or present, who would it be?
“I would absolutely love to sit down, have tea and be friends with the First Black Congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm. Rep. Chisholm remains an incredible influencer to many women, specifically Black women, currently in or seeking to enter political office. Since my journey to run for and win a seat on the Cambridge School Committee, it is definitely because of tremendous women ceiling breakers like Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Boston’s New Historic Mayor, Kim Janey, and many more, as to why I am here continuing to make Herstory.”
A key female figure to your professional or personal development/career path – and why:
“Iyanla Vanzant is a remarkable woman who has experienced bringing her own chair to the table. I see Ms. Vanzant as a key figure because she saw her self-worth and kept pushing towards it. She says, “Spirit is the key to everything we desire. It is our weatherproofing, our Teflon, our line of credit that assures if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one day; there will be a miraculous payoff.”
What would you say to your younger self and to women who will enter the workforce in the coming years?
“Continue to be bold, advocate for injustices, and step into your power. As Shirley Chisholm said, ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.'”
This is the final piece of a Q&A employee feature series throughout the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month.