Annual partnership meeting celebrates Lawrence's resiliency

·2 min read

Jun. 16—LAWRENCE — Juana Matias was once "just a little girl with a paper route."

But she said her personal story is evocative of so many others in the city of Lawrence, long known as the immigrant city.

Her parents, natives of the Dominican Republic, came to Lawrence in late 1980s chasing the American Dream.

Today, Matias is an attorney and former state representative who was just named the regional administrator for House and Urban Development in President Joe Biden's administration.

"She brings the perspective of a Lawrencian to her work," said Wendy Estrella, chair of the board of The Lawrence Partnership, during the group's annual meeting Thursday.

Matias headlined the annual celebration. This year's theme was "resiliency" for the event which featured music, art, food and awards.

"Thanks to the work of all of you in this room Lawrence has grown better and better," said Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College who also serves on the partnership's board of directors.

The Lawrence Partnership is a private/public sector collaboration for the economic development and general improvement of Lawrence. Thursday's meeting was held in a large, converted mill space at Sal's Riverwalk at 280 Merrimack St. with some 200 people attending.

The following people and institutions were recognized at the meeting Thursday: — Wendy Luzon was selected as "Entrepreneur Spotlight." She is the founder and CEO of Casabe Fruit Store and Delicatessen, A & J Demolition and El Caldero Restaurant, all of Lawrence. Luzon is also a community activist focusing on women's rights for 20 years. — Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Holy Family Hospital and Lawrence General Hospital were recognized for hard work and dedication to the community particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. — Senator Barry Finegold (D-Andover) was recognized for his "unwavering support" of the Lawrence Partnership and "zealous advocacy for the city of Lawrence." — Maggie Super Church was honored with the David Tibbetts Award. Tibbetts "has represented the ideals of this award through his life of service" to the state. "The award honors leaders who have successfully promoted and implemented innovative economic development strategies."

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.