Breaking Barriers

From a Provincetown selectman to a Woods Hole mooring technician, meet five outstanding women who are making a difference in science, politics, police work, business and community service.

By Lisa Leigh Connors | Photography by Julia Cumes

Dr. Cheryl Andrews
Provincetown Selectman and Dentist

Cheryl Andrews, photographed at MacMillan Pier, says it’s an honor to represent Provincetown. “The people here have a long history of creativity, compassion and decency,” says Andrews. “I love how much people care about this place and I love that they have entrusted me to take good care of the town’s soul.”

Cheryl Andrews grew up in Barnstable, then moved to Provincetown in 1986 to start her dental practice. She joined the board of selectmen in 1998, served until 2007, and then rejoined the board in 2014. She was recently re-elected to the board of selectmen for a fifth term. Andrews also served seven years on the Provincetown Housing Authority and six years as a Barnstable County Assembly Delegate beginning when she left the board of selectmen in 2007. Andrews is also event chair for the Great Provincetown Schooner Regatta.

You left the board of selectmen in 2007, then rejoined in 2014. What made you come back?

My town was experiencing an amazing amount of political upheaval. Our police chief was fired. Our town manager had lost a great deal of support and resigned. There was a vigorous campaign to recall the chairman of the board of selectmen that winter. I knew in my heart that I had the experience and reputation of trustworthiness that people wanted to help Provincetown get through those difficult times. It was not my plan, but it felt like the right thing to do.

Is affordable housing your biggest concern?

The Outer Cape has benefited from an amazingly robust real estate market during the last 25 years. Unfortunately, as rental apartments have been converted to serve the summer market, workers can’t find year-round housing. Worse, they don’t qualify for affordable housing. Their incomes are above the range. So Provincetown has set a new goal of working to provide year-round apartments that middle-income workers can access. This is hard because the state and federal programs don’t help. Provincetown has lost over 15 percent of our year-round population during the last decade. My biggest concern is what happens to our town if we lose more of our year-round community.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments as selectman?

It’s not romantic, but I am proud of the 10 years of work I did to bring us the public sewer system. It was my idea to utilize “Title V use” for the betterment calculation instead of the commonly used “frontage.” This allowed a level of fairness when it came to cost, which is now being replicated on the Cape in other towns. I am also very proud of my vote to apply a residential tax exemption here. Only a small number of towns in Massachusetts have taken this step, but it means a great deal to the working class that spends the winter here and pays high infrastructure costs to maintain our summer economy.

What do you love most about being a selectman?

This question made me smile. Some days, I hate the job (mostly when it’s really cold out and I have to go downtown for another meeting!). Most days, I really love it. And I love it because I think the town is just grand and so beautiful and it’s easy to make a difference here because it’s so small. I love how much people care about this place and I love that they have entrusted me to take good care of the town’s soul. The people here have a long history of creativity, compassion and decency. It’s a great town and an honor to represent Provincetown.

How long have you been a dentist? In what ways has your career helped you in your selectman role?

I have been in practice here since July 1986. I remember one week that first summer. I had a dental patient that lived at the Cape End Manor (the town nursing home). She was 95. And then the same week, a young mother brought her baby in with a chipped tooth. And I remember thinking what a great job. I get to meet all these neat people. Over time, as more local people got to know me, I was asked to get more involved with town government. They trusted me. They still do.

I understand you are a descendant of the Pilgrims. Are you involved with 2020 events tied to the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing?

Ahh yes. I traced my grandmother’s family through Brooks Library in Harwich and discovered our lineage went right back to the boat. It was a lot of fun and made learning Cape Cod history another one of my favorite hobbies. The first Andrews in America was a selectman (on my Dad’s side) and the early settlers on my mom’s side were sailors and boat builders and life savers. So, it all fits together. The upcoming commemoration in 2020 provides Provincetown with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share the story of the Mayflower landing. The boat stayed at anchor in the harbor for five very interesting weeks. Many of the families that went to Plymouth ended up coming back to the Cape and settling here. I am thrilled to do what I can to see that the 400th anniversary is one we will all remember.


Meghan Donohue
Mooring Technician, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Meghan Donohue is surrounded by mooring equipment at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The yellow spheres in the background are used as flotation and are typically placed in line in the mooring near the anchor end. The orange spheres are syntactic foam, which is the top flotation of a subsurface mooring.

As a mooring technician, Meghan Donohue is constantly traveling, meeting new people, seeing interesting places and learning new cultures and customs. Since joining Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution two years ago, she has been on about 15 trips at sea, from the Arctic to Taiwan. “It’s constant problem solving,” she says. “You always have some element that is going to change, from the weather to dealing with something that might break. It’s always different.” Donohue says she has always preferred technically challenging, risky and bizarre work—lucky for her, mooring work fits her criteria.

As a mooring technician for WHOI, what are your responsibilities?

My job entails building the components for moorings and making sure the design works. I am in charge of shipping and field logistics, deploying and recovering the mooring, and when on board I lead deck operations. For one project, I’m responsible for getting 22 shipping containers (mostly 40-foot containers) down to the southernmost city of Chile and back every year.

 

How long are you away at sea and what’s a typical day like for you?

I can be at sea anywhere from a day to 80 days. It all depends on the cruise. The cruise I just returned from was a month long, however, I was gone for two months. There was a long mobilization and demobilization period. On average, I am away from home for three to six months per year. Every year is different, but we try to keep it in the three-to-five-month range. A typical day at sea starts before daybreak getting everything prepped and checking weather. We make sure all of the winches are operational, get all of the tools and gear we need out on deck and staged. Then we spend the day either deploying or recovering the mooring with all of the instrumentation.

How did you end up as a mooring technician at WHOI?

After I graduated from University of San Diego and Maine Maritime Academy, I applied for several jobs at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and was offered a position as a shipboard technician (restech). My current boss John Kemp and his mooring group are very well known and respected in the industry. For a long time, other scientists and technicians had been telling me that I needed to meet him. By chance, I was assigned to be the restech for a cruise on one of the SIO ships that he was going to be on. After that cruise, we stayed in touch and he offered me a job here a few years later.

Is it true not many women go into mooring deck work?

Yes. The mooring technician field is very small. Job openings don’t occur frequently. This isn’t a position that is well known. Oceanography and its support staff have many disciplines and many people don’t know all of the various jobs that make up this field. I don’t think it has to do with male or female—it comes down to skillset.

As a new mom, how do you juggle a baby and a career at sea?

Do you have a strong support system? My husband gets a lot of the credit for taking care of our daughter. He does an incredible job of taking care of her when I’m away or still at work. On top of that, I have a very strong support system through the Falmouth Hospital Breastfeeding Support Group, my family and my coworkers. It is very reassuring to have all of these people available who have words of wisdom or encouragement or just come over to take care of our daughter for a short bit.

What do you love most about your job?

The challenges and puzzles we are constantly faced with. Finding a solution to making something work is great, whether logistically related or having to do with working in rough seas and weather conditions or rigging related. It keeps the job from getting mundane. Also, I get to travel.

Through your line of work, what message do you hope to send to women?

Be positive, work hard and don’t back down from a challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask a question or answer a question. Be honest and direct. Speak your mind, not what you think others want you to say. Have the courage to change course. Be you and it will fall into place, but never ever take anything for granted nor that it’s easy.


Detective Christine Hornby
Dennis Police Department

After college, Framingham native Christine Hornby worked for the Nantucket Police Department as a summer officer on its bike patrol unit in 1999. From there, Hornby moved to Dennis in 2001, worked for the Dennis Police Department, and later that year, she graduated from the Police Academy. In 2009, Hornby was promoted to detective. Outside of her police work, Hornby takes pride in community involvement. She started the Halloween Hustle 5K in Dennis in 2012 and volunteers for several organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and Children’s Cove.

Dennis Police Detective Christine Hornby,
who specializes in sexual assault investigations, also volunteers with Children’s Cove, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Cape Cod Athletic Club. She started the Dennis Police 5K Halloween Hustle in 2012 as a way to raise money and bridge the gap between the police and the community.

How did you get into police work? Did you always want to work in the law enforcement field?

My undergrad degree is in chemistry and I wanted to be a crime scene investigator. In college, I completed an internship at the crime lab and did not enjoy the work there as much as I thought I would. It was my first real exposure to police work. I did another internship with a detective unit of the Massachusetts State Police. It was during this internship that I knew I wanted to become a police officer with the hope of being a detective one day.

What kinds of cases do you investigate?

Working for a smaller department, I am involved in most major cases that come through, but I specialize in sexual assault investigations, crimes against children and high-risk domestic violence.

What are some of the more difficult aspects of your line of work?

I work with victims of traumatic incidents on a daily basis. Once the criminal process is completed, there are limited resources and services for victims to assist them with the healing and recovery process.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love that no two cases are the same, and I am constantly being challenged. I really enjoy working with the victims. I love helping to empower them, giving them the strength and support to take their life back or helping them find their voice.

You started the Dennis Police 5K Halloween Hustle in 2012. How did this come about?

Our Dennis Police Association had limited funding and I was looking for a way to raise money and bridge the gap between the police and the community. I envisioned a fun, family-friendly community event, and everyone loves Halloween, especially the kids. In the past five years, we have been able to establish both a benevolent and a scholarship account.

How many runners did it start with and how many did you have in 2016?

In 2012, our first year, we had 200 runners and walkers. By 2016, more than 550 participated.

How many scholarships have you handed out since it started?

We have issued 10 $1,000 scholarships to local students.

What other community groups and events are you involved with every year?

I volunteer with Children’s Cove, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the LoveLocal Fest, Cape Cod Athletic Club and the Mighty Meehan 5K. I also coach a swim team, mentor victims of sexual assaults and teach self-defense to women. I’ve run several marathons to raise money for cancer research.

Why is it important to you to be involved with the community?

I became a police officer to help others and make a difference. It’s important to create a strong connection between the community and the police in order for us to be successful in solving and preventing crimes and keeping the community safe. Being involved allows me to establish relationships, build trust and show that I am a real person.


Stacie Peugh
CEO and President, YMCA Cape Cod

The YMCA Cape Cod in Barnstable provides services and programs for all ages. From left to right: Tim Fialho, a Y Achievers program participant; CEO and president Stacie Peugh holds baby Arthur, who is enrolled in the daycare program; and Dorothy Connors serves as a board member and volunteers for the organization.

Stacie Peugh has vacationed on the Cape since childhood and it was always a dream of hers to work at the YMCA Cape Cod and in its surrounding community. In 2010, Peugh’s dream came true. The New York native, who got her start as a Y summer camp counselor in Schenectady, New York, was named CEO and President of the Cape organization. Since then, she has launched several successful programs, including an Achievers program for at-risk youth, helped plan the organization’s 50th anniversary last year, opened two new early learning centers and expanded its chronic disease prevention and support programs.

What was it like planning and celebrating the YMCA Cape Cod’s 50th anniversary last year?

The 50th anniversary served as a platform for us to honor our past, celebrate our impact and invest in our future. Most importantly, we have made new friends and reconnected with friends of the past that made our positive community impact possible on the Cape. As we look forward, we are poised to continue growing to meet the insatiable demand for serving the people of Cape Cod.

You started the Y Achievers program for at-risk youth in 2015. Can you describe the program and share some success stories?

The Achievers program is a college and career readiness mentoring and support program for low-income students who are the first generation in their families to pursue higher education beyond high school. In the first year of the program, we doubled our anticipated participation and gave 33 Barnstable students the hope and support they needed to believe in their futures.

What other programs have you started and what programs are you most proud of at the Y?

We have significantly expanded our non-facility based programs in an effort to bring services close to those who need us most. We opened two new early learning centers in Brewster and North Falmouth over the last three years. Additionally, we have significantly expanded our chronic disease prevention and support programs with the launch of LIVESTRONG at the Y for cancer survivors and the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Nurturing the potential and healthy development of infants, preschoolers, school-age children, teenagers, young adults, adults and seniors with what they need to thrive on Cape Cod is what I’m proudest of.

You recently took a trip with area leaders, including with Elizabeth Wurfbain (featured on page 69) to Portland, Maine, to learn about how that town deals with the homeless population. Did you walk away with helpful ideas?

The journey to visit Maine opened doors to other communities that also struggle with serious homelessness issues. We learned about additional complexities involved in addressing homelessness and saw other examples of why this issue is so difficult to solve. We learned there are no simple solutions. We learned about each other and had an opportunity to reflect on the positive work we are doing in our own community with the resources and talent we have available to us.

Some people might just look at the Y as a workout facility or a place to take their kids swimming, but the Y is so much more than that. What would you like people to know about YMCA Cape Cod?

The Y responds to social and human needs in our community, and opportunities for living healthier is one of society’s greatest human needs we strive to support. I want the community to know that we are a charitable organization that never turns anyone away due to their inability to pay, including supporting their efforts to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The Y understands there are many barriers to leading a healthy lifestyle for the whole family, such as finances, relationships, mental health stressors, physical disabilities and many other challenges every human faces in life. We offer empathy and support for anyone’s journey to live well in spirit, mind and body.

What do you love most about being CEO and president of YMCA Cape Cod?

I love the people I’m surrounded by and that my purpose is to serve in supporting our community as a healthy place for people to thrive.


Elizabeth Wurfbain
Executive Director
Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District

As executive director, Elizabeth Wurfbain is in charge of improving the mile-long Main Street in Hyannis. Wurfbain stepped into the position in 2010, following Cynthia Cole who had started the major project of fixing the streetscape and improving the attractiveness of the street. This process continues today. In addition, the job also entails fine tuning relationships with the town as well as state and local organizations. “The BID was started as a focused voice of the property owners to enliven Main Street and I am proud to be part of the movement that brings the downtown area to a higher level,” says Wurfbain.

Elizabeth Wurfbain aims to bring back the charm
of downtown Hyannis with events such as the Village Stroll, Jazz Nights and Movies on the Green. This year, Wurfbain is excited about The Dress Up Downtown Campaign, which will add year-round festive string lights on Main Street. “Our goal is to make the downtown thrive,” says Wurfbain.

Where did you grow up on the Cape? Did you spend a lot of time in Hyannis growing up?

My parents were from off Cape, but they moved to West Hyannisport because they had a dream to live a small-town Cape life with a boat and a slip. I went to Centerville Elementary, where my own children have attended. Remember, Main Street was the only shopping hub and it was novel to shop at Buttner’s department store. Puritan used to call our house when new suits came in. Later, I enjoyed visiting the bohemian shops—Mooncakes and Sunflower. I loved my first job seating patrons at the Cape Cod Melody Tent, where I met Lawrence Welk and Ben Vereen. At 14, I went to boarding school and then college, worked in New York, traveled around the world by myself, lived in Amsterdam, helped start a business, and now I am back in my mother’s house with my original phone number and P.O. Box. I am lucky to be here. But you only realize that by leaving.

When you became executive director five years ago, what were your goals?

Have you achieved them? I wanted to bring back the charm of the downtown through streetscape and events that would remind people of what is special about Hyannis. Our events, Halloween Trick or Treat, our Village Stroll, the Long Table, Jazz Nights and Movies on the Green are an infusion of inspiration.

In what ways has BID been involved with the homelessness issue?

We have been working on this for years, but most recently in the past year and a half with the escalation of opiates and housing costs, we put aggressive goals in place that reflect the best national practices. The shelters, now open 24 hours, conduct sobriety checks. They have also added services and food as well as medical help. The goal is to move people to the next level of recovery. The affordable housing dilemma and the concept of special disparity when it comes to social services are all crucial conversations, not just for Hyannis, but for all downtowns.

What have been some of the economic challenges?

The challenges are Capewide and even nationwide in nature. For instance, the Cape’s seasonal economy and expensive housing and a lack of year-round professional employers create a major challenge for traditional downtown retailers. Add to that the effect of internet retailers, such as Amazon.com and other online shopping, and you have your work cut out for you.

What’s ahead for 2017?

This year, we are excited about our Dress Up Downtown campaign, which we started by adding string lights year round to eight trees downtown and also showcasing local art in two Main Street alleys.We will continue to grow this campaign with more signage and lighting. We also hope to bring in quality retail and non-retail attractions that will enhance the positive experience and the excitement of living in the downtown area. To create this year-round atmosphere, we encourage residential occupancy above storefronts. We plan to continuously strengthen our relationships with developers and cornerstone local institutions, such as the hospital and the college. Our goal is to make the downtown thrive and eventually fill Main Street year round with residents as well as successful shops and restaurants.

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