MONALISA SMITH is the President of Mothers for Justice and Equality, a non-profit grassroots organization in Dorchester that aims to eliminate youth violence in Boston neighborhoods by bringing together families and communities through education and engagement. Monalisa founded MJE in 2010 following the loss of her nephew to local violence and through a “call to action,” gathered fellow mothers, many of whom were also suffering the loss of a child to violence, to share their concern with the gross amount of violence against children occurring within their neighborhoods. It was then that the group agreed upon its mission to end neighborhood violence and began to believe that mothers can become catalysts for change in their communities.
Since its founding, Mothers for Justice and Equality has humanized homicide statistics through the sharing of personal stories in various media forms throughout Boston, established Monthly Empowerment Meetings and has engaged hundreds of local people in marches and rallies in support of the cause. MJE has also partnered with the City of Boston Public Health Commission in creating their first Mothers Watch Circle which advises the Defending Childhood Initiative, and has impressed upon Governor Deval Patrick the urgency to addressing neighborhood violence. Accomplishments such as these have then allowed for MJE to receive the following awards: the Boston Business Journal’s Extraordinary Leadership Award, the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation’s Community Leadership Award, the Asian American Civic Association’s Community Leadership Award and the Boston Globe 100 innovation award.
Monalisa is a Dorchester native who has used her corporate background as Director of Community Investment for Citizens Bank, Massachusetts, to help drive this movement of mothers looking to put an end to youth violence within their neighborhoods. She is also a local civic leader and serves on the governing board of the Black Ministerial Alliance and Boston Higher Ground.
Monalisa earned B.A. in business from Simmons College. She received Executive Leadership Training from Babson College. Monalisa resides in Dorchester with her husband and three children.