Eastern Bank Honors Phyllis Barajas With Community Advocacy Award

October 2, 2018

Leader Advocates For The Latino Community And Putting Diversity And Inclusion To Work
For The Good of Business

BOSTON, October 2, 2018 – In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Eastern Bank, America’s oldest and largest mutual bank, is pleased to announce it has awarded Phyllis Barajas, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Boston-based Conexión, with a Community Advocacy Award. The award celebrates leaders who give their time and talent to address vital needs in our communities.

As the Latino population in Massachusetts continues to grow in size and influence, Phyllis has been a vocal advocate for raising awareness about the changing demographic landscape and a mentor to many people in developing Latino professionals. She helps organizations develop diversity and inclusion strategies, focusing on providing mentoring and opportunities to mid-career Latino professionals. She began Conexión, which means “connection” in Spanish, to open up new networks and create a talent pipeline of Latino leaders. Participants in Conexión’s mentorship and leadership programs often become leaders in public and private organizations, creating new pathways for their organizations to holistically approach diversity and inclusion, and mentors of all demographics often comment they get as much out of the program as they give.

Among her other accomplishments, Phyllis was appointed in 1994 by President Clinton as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education Offices of Elementary, Secondary and Bilingual Education. Before her appointment, she served as the first Latina Assistant Dean for Human Resources at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She is a former National Director of Human Resources for Houghton Mifflin Publishing and Instructor at Boston University School of Management Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She is a Trustee Emeritus of Eastern Bank and was the first Latina Trustee in the Bank’s 200-year history.

Her board involvement is extensive, and she uses it to connect organizations and Latino leaders. She serves as a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Trustee and Chair of the BIDMC Community Benefits Committee, is on the Board of Directors of United Way/Merrimack Valley and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), and is a Trustee of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and Jobs for the Future. She is the recipient of many awards, including most recently in 2018 as an Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion 50th Anniversary Community Leader, and in 2017 as a Boston YW 150 Women of Influence, a Girl Scouts of New England 25th Anniversary Leading Women Honoree, and a Comcast Newsmaker/Massachusetts.

This celebration of Eastern’s Community Advocacy Award coincides with the Bank’s 200th anniversary year, when it is focusing its community service, philanthropy, and advocacy on Advancing Women -- working to eliminate barriers around issues that disproportionately impact women, such as pay equity, protecting civil rights and fighting discrimination, self-esteem, workforce development, economic development, and senior management and board representation.

“Phyllis is an inspiration to us all. She teaches us how to be better colleagues, provide better workplaces and be better advocates in the community for diversity and inclusion. On behalf of everyone at Eastern, we are proud to honor her with a Community Advocacy Award,” said Bob Rivers, Chair and CEO of Eastern Bank. “She champions the idea that when companies create diverse and inclusive environments, they improve their ability to innovate, serve more customers, attract strong talent, and build stronger ties within their companies and externally in the community.”

Phyllis Barajas, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Conexión, added, “I believe strongly in serving as a connector, and opening doors for Latinos and organizations that see diversity and inclusion as a business imperative. When it comes to breaking down barriers that stand between people and prosperity, and advocating for diversity and inclusion, Eastern Bank walks the walk. And they are intentional in their practices, willing to be explicit in their efforts at outreach, in this case to the Latino community. This award is a great example, and I am honored and humbled to be recognized by an organization that truly values diversity and inclusion, and to receive Eastern’s Community Advocacy Award.”

Photo Caption:
Pictured at the October 1, 2018 celebration event are, from left to right: Eastern Vice Chair and President Quincy Miller; Eastern Bank Community Advocacy Award Honoree Phyllis Barajas; Eastern Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Charitable Giving and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Nancy Stager; and Eastern Chair and CEO Bob Rivers. [Photo Credit: Marilyn Humphries]

About Eastern Bank
Founded in 1818 and celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2018, Boston-based Eastern Bank is America’s oldest and largest mutual bank, with $11 billion in assets and over 120 locations serving communities in eastern Massachusetts, southern and coastal New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Eastern provides exceptional access to fairly priced banking, investment and insurance products and services for consumers and businesses of all sizes. Eastern Bank, which includes Eastern Wealth Management and Eastern Insurance, is known for its outspoken advocacy and community support that has exceeded more than $110 million in charitable giving since 1999. An inclusive company, Eastern employs 1,900+ deeply committed professionals who value relationships with their customers, colleagues and communities. Join us for good at and follow Eastern on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.


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