Gladys Vega has dedicated 30 years of service to the City of Chelsea and the Chelsea Collaborative, which she joined in 1990 - just two years after its founding. She took on increasing responsibility with each passing year moving from receptionist to community organizer to Assistant Executive Director and ultimately becoming the Executive Director in 2006.
Gladys has worked as an organizer and an advocate to ensure that the Latino community has a role in determining the ways its needs and concerns are addressed. She believes that empowerment of the individual leads to empowerment of the community and that social action is the vehicle an empowered community can use to achieve its goals.
Gladys is the architect of most of the Collaborative's community coalitions. She has played leadership roles in organizing for immigrants’ rights, welfare rights, tenants’ rights, open space and the environment, multicultural and anti-racism programs and in numerous grassroots campaigns. She is not only a successful community organizer, but also one of Chelsea's most prominent and important community leaders, receiving citywide, statewide and national accolades for her leadership. In 2010 she was awarded a Barr Foundation Fellowship which enabled her to travel to Haiti to participate in a learning journey with 11 other non-profit Executive Directors from Massachusetts.
In 2007, Gladys led the Chelsea City Council to make Chelsea Massachusetts' third sanctuary city. She was also a founding member of Centro Latino, the only direct service agency for Latinos in Chelsea at the time, and served as Board President of the organization for five years. Gladys has also served on the Chelsea Board of Health, United Way Committee, and as a Democratic Delegate for the National Convention in 2000. In 2007 and 2008, she was named as one of Massachusetts' top 100 most infliential leaders. Gladys has been a guest speaker at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Salem State School of Social Work, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston University Law School, and numerous national conferences.
Gladys was born in Puerto Rico and came to Chelsea with her family at the age of nine. Since that time, Gladys has made a lifelong commitment to the community in which she was raised. Being a mother of two has deepened her commitment to building a better future.