Friends, family and colleagues of Irvienne Goldson said to know her was to love her.
Sadily, Mrs. Goldson, who served as deputy director of Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Health Services, died suddenly last week.
Mrs. Goldson joined ABCD in 1992 as manager of education and training and rose to become deputy director of ABCD Health Services department and a powerhouse of healthcare advocacy in Boston.
“It is with the deepest sadness that I share that Irvienne Goldson passed away suddenly,” said EBCD President and CEO John Drew in a statement announcing her passing. “Her rare leadership and unflagging commitment to the Boston community made her not only respected but beloved.”
Drew said with more than 30 years’ experience in health education and training, and curriculum and program development, Mrs. Goldson was a trailblazer, teacher, and tireless advocate who saw health equity as a human right.
“With a passion for reproductive health, HIV and adolescent sexuality, she was an innovator who championed the inextricable link between equal access to health information, education, and care to personal development and empowerment,” said Drew. “Frequently recognized for her work with under-resourced people of color, particularly girls and young women, Irvienne was a woman of vision, determination, and action. We at ABCD mourn her loss as a dear friend and colleague, and we grieve alongside all those who knew her and loved her. Her heart was immense, her impact immeasurable. We will miss her always.”
As a former South End resident and Director of ABCD Field Operations that includes the ABCD South End Neighborhood Service Center on Columbus Avenue, Josh Young remembers the impact Mrs. Goldson had on young people and the neighborhood.
“We had a neighborhood teaming with young people and Irvienne was there to deal with the health services and reproductive health and sexuality issues that impacted them,” said Young. “She ran a program called Sister2Sister that was a one-to-one prevention program using video, brainstorming and skill-building activities to educate young women about sexual health and reduce their risk of sexually transmitted disease. There were programs to reduce teen pregnancy. There was Entre Nosotros/Between Us to promote health among Latina and Black women. And so many more. Irvienne achieved so much with these programs. She made it look easy – but what she did was huge. She truly made a difference.”
Former ABCD Health Services Director Joan Whitaker, who worked closely with Mrs. Goldson for so many years, said Mrs. Goldson was always a champion of women’s and community health.
“From the 1980s when Irvienne was part of the founding of the Cambridge Feminist Health Center, she has championed women‘s and community health,” said Whitaker, who retired in June. “She has exemplified empowerment for young people and community building by developing creative programs that have been key to alleviating health inequities. With compassion and wisdom, she has mentored and provided opportunities for countless young women of color. I will miss her kindness, her warmth, and the focused advocacy that have benefited me over the 27 years we worked together at ABCD.”
Current ABCD Health Services Director Jessica Aguilera-Steinert added, “Irvienne changed the lives of many young people in Boston and beyond. Young black and brown girls, women and men were her family, her joy and her purpose. She was a fierce advocate and had a lifelong commitment to educating and agitating around sexual health, reproductive justice and health equity. She taught us to be brave and to advocate for others. As one colleague said ‘she walked in her purpose.’ At ABCD, Irvienne was a force to be reckoned with. While working in the Health Services department as the Deputy Director of Community Prevention Programs for 27 years, she developed and led programs in reproductive health, HIV and STI prevention, sexual health and girls leadership and empowerment. Irvienne believed and fought for justice and we will continue to fight in her memory.”
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