Cristo Rey Boston High School

News & Features » One Goal Many Dreams: Alumna Yarlennys Villaman Hale Reflects on a Legacy of Service

One Goal Many Dreams: Alumna Yarlennys Villaman Hale Reflects on a Legacy of Service

"Growing up in the Dominican Republic (DR), our Catholic values were at the forefront of everything my family did. My grandmother was a community organizer, and I inherited that gene from her." Yarlennys Villaman Hale noted with a beaming smile. Exuding a deep spirituality, a sense of purpose, and joy, it's clear that Yarlennys puts God and others front and center. 

Now bearing degrees from Cristo Rey Boston '10, The College of the Holy Cross ‘2014, and a masters in public administration from Suffolk University ‘2018, Yarlennys is putting her education to use in the service of others. 
She recalls, "Attending Cristo Rey Boston High School shaped me to be a leader and an effective public speaker." In her current role as Director of Community Affairs at the Office of Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, Yarlennys brings a wealth of expertise gleaned from her different life experiences during her journey.

"Cristo Rey allowed me to expand my professional network and build my confidence," Yarlennys noted. While attending Cristo Rey Boston, she worked at Ernst and Young, Draper Laboratories (where she won a customer service award), and the Cambridge Assessing Department. She continued, "By the time I arrived on the campus of Holy Cross, I knew I had an advantage. I had confidence in my academic abilities, I had a great resume, and I was a strong interviewee. All I needed was an open door, knowing I had the power to excel once I walked through."
Graduating with a Spanish major, a minor in Catholic Studies and a concentration Latin American, Latinx and Caribbean Studies, Yarlennys had a legacy of service in her heart that needed fulfillment. She traveled to the Dominican Republic after college and founded Lazos Al Futuro with her sister Kati Fernandez, CRB '11 and Holy Cross '15. Yarlennys recalls, "Having received so much love and caring from my family, the Cristo Rey community, and Holy Cross, it was time to share my blessings with others." Lazos Al Futuro helps youth in the DR meet medical needs, school supplies, and assists with covering college costs as well as providing counseling and mentorship services. 
Returning to Boston to accept a position on the Board of Trustees at Holy Cross, Yarlennys took a job with the De Novo Center for Justice and Healing, a legal aid organization located in Cambridge, as a case manager and later serving as a commissioner on the City of Cambridge Commission on Immigrant Rights and Citizenship, while completing her master's in public administration at Suffolk University.

"During my tenure at various jobs, I kept visualizing myself making substantive changes to help others. I have always viewed myself as a visionary, in the sense that I focus on where I want to go and the changes I want to effect, and then visualize how to achieve them. I realized that working in a government agency might allow me to make policy decisions that benefited the communities I was interested in serving." Yarlennys recalled, and so she began to explore work at government agencies.

Working at the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office allowed her to focus on a significant initiative. She noted, "As the Director of Outreach and Language Access Coordinator at the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, I had the opportunity to advance the critical work of ensuring that all residents of Massachusetts have equal access to information. Ensuring that people can successfully navigate the corridors of government is critically important."

When Maura Healey became Governor of Massachusetts, she appointed Yarlennys as the Director of Community Affairs. Yarlennys commented, "Working at this level of state government allows me to work with all secretariats to advance initiatives and outreach to diverse communities across the Commonwealth, including the work of language accessibility through Executive Order 615. The impact is tremendous, as it makes the work of every government agency accessible to all communities!"

When prompted, Yarlennys reflects on her career success. "My junior year, I experienced a devastating medical diagnosis that threatened my future. I spent many months in the hospital, and my success in high school was in danger of being derailed. The Cristo Rey community lifted me up and added to the blessings I have received." She recalled that when her teachers did not give up on her, she was inspired to work harder and overcome obstacles. Yarlennys noted that Cristo Rey Boston's attitude at the time of her illness was, "You don't get left behind." That attitude has left a lasting impact and often informs her work with marginalized communities. 

"I am incredibly grateful for all the support I received along the way, and I am happy to share the grace I received from others and God. I carry the confidence instilled in me at a young age everywhere I go."