article by: Guest Writer

The Dress for Success Western Massachusetts board of directors has appointed Jessica Roncarati-Howe as the organization’s new executive director.

Candidates were vetted by a volunteer hiring committee and the board of directors. “We were
very deliberate in this process; thus, we are certain that we have selected the best possible
candidate to lead our organization,” says Tracy Friedenberg, Dress for Success of Western
Massachusetts (DFSWM) Board President. “Jess has an intimate understanding of the work of
our organization, and we look forward to a smooth transition as she formally takes on the role of executive director.

Jess excelled in the role of interim executive director and the board is
confident that her vision and passion will take DFSWM to the next level.”
Roncarati-Howe’s dedication to promoting dignity and quality of life in our community is
apparent from her 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She previously held the
executive director role at both The AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts and The Greater
Chicopee Chamber of Commerce. With a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Bay
Path University, her expertise lies in program development, management, board governance, and
she prides herself on leading grassroots, mission-based organizations toward maximum
community impact. Roncarati-Howe has been working at DFSWM for four years; she served as
the interim executive director since Jan. 1, 2024, and before that, as the organization’s director of programs and operations.
“We have had a tremendous year, turning challenges into the opportunities that have led us to our first organizational home and growing staff into the standout team we currently enjoy. My
overarching goal is to keep that momentum going, capitalizing on our many strengths, and
building ever-stronger community relationships,” says Roncarati-Howe.
She has identified early goals that include restructuring the organization’s staffing model so that the dedicated team that is currently in place is truly supported and allowed to shine in roles that highlight their individual and team strength while they work to fill the program management void that was left with her promotion.

A major goal for this year includes building out the organization’s office, boutique, and program space in the new O’Dell Women’s Center on Lyman Street in downtown Springfield. When the organization moved into the space last summer, it was a vast, open room. Roncarati-Howe
explains that DFSWM’s spring campaign will focus on raising funds to complete the build out
necessary to create professional and inviting meeting space for their programs and workshops,
offices that are comfortable for their staff and allow for private conversations with participants and include gathering spaces for everything from digital literacy coaching to yoga practices.

More immediately, Roncarati-Howe and the DFSWM team are looking forward to the
organization’s annual celebration and only major fundraising event to support their work of
empowering women in the community – Common Threads. The event will be held on Thursday,
April 11 at the newly renovated Log Cabin. Guests can look forward to a fresh, upbeat vibe at
the event where they will hear inspirational stories from program participants while enjoying a
networking reception with hearty hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, an inspirational keynote
speaker, and a delicious three-course meal. More information about Common Threads and
tickets are available at

Roncarati-Howe succeeds Margaret Tantillo, the organization’s first executive director who,
after six years in the role, departed for another opportunity in December of 2023.

About Dress for Success Western Massachusetts

Located in downtown Springfield, Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts’ mission is to
promote the economic independence of all women and non-binary people by providing
professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help them thrive in
work and life. Envisioning a world where all women and non-binary people are financially
independent, and are treated with dignity and respect, the organization’s purpose is to offer
long-lasting solutions to break the cycle of poverty. DFSWM is part of a global movement for
change, empowering women and non-binary people to obtain safer and better futures. For more
information on Dress for Success, visit
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By Published On: March 14, 2024Categories: Speaking of Women

About the Author: GUEST WRITER

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