YPN-ULEM History


    1999 - 2001
    In 1999 future YPN President Reggie Cummings attended an event held by Thursday Network, the YP chapter in Washington D.C. Being so moved and inspired by the work and unity performed and displayed by the D.C. chapter, Mr. Cummings decided he wanted to begin a chapter in his hometown – Boston. On his return to Boston, Mr. Cummings met with Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (ULEM) staff member Brian Anderson.After several meetings with Mr. Anderson and ULEM President and CEO Barbara E. Edelin, YPN had its official launch in October 2000. Along with President Reggie Cummings, Patience Bowden served as Vice President. Part of YPN’s initial duties included managing the ULEM Gala Silent Auction and building its membership base through various events and programs in the city.


    2001 – 2002

    Still functioning under one-year terms for executive officers and board members, President Cummings stepped down and President Liveda Clements was elected with Vice President David Jones. Under President Clements tenure, YPN went through a period of construction, foundation building and many firsts:   

    • First YPN president to attend an National Urban League (NUL) conference , held in Los Angeles
    • YPN chapter by-laws drafted
    • First chapter banner crafted
    • Inaugural Evening of Elegance and Jazz held – Hamill Art Gallery in Dudley Square


    2002 – 2003

    Following the tradition of one-year terms, President Brandice Burton was elected with Vice President Nancy R Rousseau. During President Burton’s term, YPN continued to mature as an organization both in structure and programming.     

    • YPN chapter by-laws are revised to make all executive officers and board member terms two years, beginning with the next election term
    • YPN collaborates with Codman Academy Charter School on their annual Kwanzaa celebration
    • YPN participated in NUL Conference in 2003, held in Pittsburgh
    • YPN hosts the 2nd Annual Evening of Elegance and Jazz
    • YPN hosts several voter registration drives throughout the city


    2003 – 2004

    Nancy R Rousseau was elected as President with Hillary Gabbidon serving as her Vice President. During President Rousseau’s 1st term YPN continued to not only mature as an organization but began to branch out to the Greater Boston area with their events and programming. Along with chapter participation in the NUL conference, held in Detroit, and the Annual Legislative Policy Conference (LPC) in Washington D.C., some this term’s greatest achievements include: 

    • Launch of the Power Breakfast series sponsored by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Miller Brewing Company, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and others
    • 3rd Annual Evening of Elegance of Jazz – held at new venue Hoosic Club in Milton
    • Chapter logo and tagline “Setting the Pace for Tomorrow’s Professionals” created – April 2004


    2004 – 2006

    President Rousseau was elected to her second term, now serving two-years under the by-law changes adopted in the 2002 – 2003 administrative year. Duane Johnson was elected as Vice President. YPN maintained their constant presence at LPC in Washington D.C. and the NUL conference in Atlanta. YPN also continued to stretch across the city with their programming and events including the installation of key chapter enhancements and continuations of previous chapter programming. 

    • Launch of Soul Food Cinemas, held at Northeastern University
    • Launch of the Civic Engagement Committee
    • Hosted several community event such as home buying seminars and Kwanzaa celebration
    • President Rousseau presents at ULEM Gala  -- 1st YPN President to do so
    • 4th Annual Evening of Elegance and Jazz, held at Hoosic Club in Milton
    • YPN makes 1st monetary donation to ULEM


    2006 – 2010

    Duane Johnson succeeds President Rousseau to office and serves two consecutive terms. Due to difficulties in developing a cohesive leadership team YPN had minimal programming, membership growth and engagement. Upon President Johnson’s conclusion of his final term, YPN donated $5000 to ULEM – the largest donation to that date.    


    2010 – 2012

    Nancy Rousseau was elected to her third and final term as President to YPN, appointing W.E. David Halbert as Vice President. Under President Rousseau’s term, YPN went through a period of revival and restoration. With further chapter structural enhancements and programming additions, YPN became a well-known service organization in and around Greater Boston.

    • Incorporate the official use of ULEM into the chapter name, changing the chapter acronym  to YPN-ULEM
    • Launch of the Public Health Committee in October 2010
    • Inaugural Leadership Development Conference (“Arsenal for Self-Empowerment”)
    • Won first chapter National Award – National Day of Service
    • 1100 service hours performed to ULEM; over 3500 service hours to the community resulting in 2100 individual and families fed and 400 children received brand new toys, books, and school supplies
    • Increased membership to over 200
    • YPN-ULEM donates $6000 to ULEM – largest donation to date
    • Launched chapter website and chapter social media accounts

    Established “Volunteering is Sexy™”


    2012 – 2014

    Charlene Luma was elected the 7th President to YPN-ULEM, with Rachelle N Villarson elected as Vice President. Under President Luma's term, YPN experienced several firsts and additions for the chapter.


    • Establshed YPN-ULEM "I Am Empowered" Scholarship for graduating high school seniors and Urban League of Eastern MA participants attending a 2 or 4 year higher education institution
    • Establshed the "Youth Development & Education" Committee
    • Donated largest amount to Urban League of Eastern MA to history date



    Rachelle N. Villarson currently works for the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department as an Assistant Director of Personnel, celebrating her fifth year in public service. An active member of the National Urban League movement, she currently serves as Chair of Leadership, Training and Development for the National Urban League Young Professionals (NULYP) Executive Leadership Team. In her local NULYP Chapter of Boston, MA she has served several roles from Community Service Chair, Vice President and President – recognized by her local and national peers for her dedication, service and contributions via commendations and awards. Other hobbies include going to the movies, reading, bowling and spending time with family and friends.

    As evident in her life so far, Rachelle strives to live by an old Haitian proverb taught to her as a child, "Sonje lapwi ki leve mayi w" which means "Remember the rain that made your corn grow". It taught Rachelle to never forget where you come from, who you are, how you got there, and where your blessings come from.