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Always Evolving…

The mission of the Center for Equity & Social Justice (CESJ) at Northern Essex is to end racial disparities and socioeconomic inequities through education, social justice, and empowerment of the communities we serve.

Our vision is to be a one-stop hub where everyone knows where to go for help and where everyone knows what work NECC does to foster equity and remove barriers through:

  • Educational equity programs
  • Community partnerships
  • Social justice initiatives


  • Basic needs of our students
  • Cultural Immersion
    • Trip to Dominican Republic
    • Courageous Conversations
    • White Fund Enlightenment Series
  • Data Equity Dashboard with faculty
  • ESOL Program Alignment

Strategic Goals

Foster Partnerships

Foster partnerships with the NECC community and our faculty and staff to help break down socioeconomic and racial barriers to educational success.

Leverage partnerships with community organizations in the Merrimack Valley:

Partner How They’ll Help Contact
AgeSpan Mobile markets
3rd Tuesday of the month
136 Water Street, Lawrence
No ID required.
AgeSpan Program Manager
Ruth Ortiz
Dignity Matters Monthly feminine products for 80 students
1st floor restrooms of each building on both campuses

Digna Lamarche
Food Access Worker


Food Pantry
Tuesdays 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
305 Essex St, Lawrence
No ID required

SNAP eligibility services for our students

Coordinated Family and Community Engagement
UTEC Piloting MADD Love Meals for our most vulnerable students
Thursdays (Oct. 19; Nov. 30; Dec. 12)

Digna Lamarche
Food Access Worker

Opportunity Works Hot meals on both campuses
Mon – Thurs 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Spurk – Perfect Blend Cafe
El Hefni – Lobby
$3 – NECC ID required

Digna Lamarche
Food Access Worker

Haverhill Public Schools    
Lawrence General Hospital    
MakeIT Haverhill    
Waystone Health and Human Services    
Common Ground    
Increase Degree Attainment

Increase number of degree-holding residents in our communities.

CESJ want to be a resource hub and a connector to

Align with workforce, student, and community needs and in collaboration with Academic Affairs, REJI, and the ELL Taskforce

  • Create more sustainable and cohesive non-credit to credit pathways
  • Support the goals of the SUCCESS Program
  • Engage and utilize system wide community college collaboration
  • Support faculty in analyzing their class equity dashboards

CESJ will create new academic and institutional policies:

  • Review, Revise, and Create with input from Academic Affairs and organizations throughout the college community such as REJI, HEIF, Success Program, and the ELL Taskforce

ESOL Expansion

  • Significant expansion of ESOL offerings
    • SNAP ESOL WF Training Programs
    • Grant-funded and fee-based ESOL classes
    • More balanced offerings of ESOL on Haverhill campus

In Collaboration with Lawrence Campus and Community Relations

  • Expand validating services (PIÉS LATINOS)
  • Helps increase Degree Attainment
Build Our Community

Build community and sense of belonging.

  • Continuously assess the fulfillment of our mission through partnership with Institutional Effectiveness
  • Study and utilize the sense of belonging survey as our starting point.
  • Data analysis to continue to inform programming and future decisions
  • Host Courageous Conversations and White Fund Enlightenment Speakers Series   
Support Social Justice

Initiate and support social justice initiatives throughout Haverhill and Lawrence.

CESJ is proud to represent all of Northern Essex with these organizations:

Contact Us

Giselle Peguero
Associate Director of Lawrence Campus & Community Relations
978-738-7423 (call/text/fax)


9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Monday and Friday
Haverhill (Spurk C313)

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Lawrence (Dimitry L125)

CESJ External Advisory Board

Quarterly Meetings

  • August 16, 2023
  • November 15, 2023
  • February 15, 2024
  • May 15, 2024


Beth Francis
President and CEO
Essex County Community Foundation

Jonathan Dowst
President and CEO
Pentucket Bank

Jessica Villas Novas
Founder and Principal Consultant
JVN Solutions

Keith Boucher
MakeIT Haverhill

Jess Andors
Executive Director
Lawrence Community Works

Vilma Martinez Dominguez
Chief Operation Officer

Penny Guerrero
Footwear designer
Member, Haverhill Latino Coalition

Virgilio Velez
Director of Equity and Inclusion
Lawrence General Hospital

Tianisha Torres
Lawrence Public Library

Emma Burke
Social Justice Initiatives
Elevated Thought

Janelle Abreu
Lawrence Public Library

Kirsten Kortz
Associate Dean, Curriculum & Academic Policy

Maria Hernandez
Director, Special Populations & International Student Support

Marianne Paley Nadel
Member, NECC Board of Trustees and Chair of Equity Imperative
DyeWorks Project Director, Lawrence CommunityWorks, Inc.

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