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Updated: March 2, 2020 Business Leader of the Year

Page led Abby’s House to new heights

Photo | Matt Wright Stephanie Page

Stephanie Page’s accomplishments this year were enormous, including facilitation of a $16.2-million renovation project of Abby’s House’s 52 High St. building to give the assurance of a safe, affordable place to call home for a rotation of 56 homeless and/or low-income women in Worcester. 

“I am so excited to say it is complete.” Page said. “It’s beautiful; it’s an uplifting place.”

To give an idea of the scope of a project like this for Abby’s House, the nonprofit’s normal operating budget is $2.2 million. Page assembled and cultivated ongoing collaboration with a myriad of government and semi-government agencies, foundations, key individuals, businesses, consultants and others to construct a complex, debt-free $16.2-million funding package. 

“Going to community and asking for that kind of money, we didn’t know it would work and she took that on,” said Alaina Olson, president of Abby’s House board of directors. “In a lot of ways, she has elevated our standing in the community, in the financial markets, by accomplishing what she has.”

In addition, Page executed a $2-million capital campaign, which exceeded its goal and provides for future growth.

“We are a pretty small charity,” Olson said. “We’ve never done anything that size.”

Page managed the contractors and professionals who performed the actual work on the building, resulting in the project being completed on time, on budget and with no added debt. During construction, she not only maintained housing stability for the group of tenants already living at 52 High St., but also managed ongoing operations of the Abby's House organization.

Before this project, neither Page or Abby’s House had any experience managing a project of this size. Olson attributes Page’s success to her determination and team-team-building efforts.

“It’s just her dogged, steely will to get things accomplished,” she said. “She is somebody who does not give up. It was difficult, but I think it was her love and passion of the mission that really drove her, as well as her collaborative efforts.”

Page came to Abby’s House with more than 20 years of nonprofit experience, a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s J.F. Kennedy School of Government and a master’s in theological studies from the Andover Newton Theological School in Newton. 

“I believe organizations need to have really meaningful missions, and they need to be managed effectively to carry out those missions,” Page said. “They also need a sense of values, and they have to merge all of that. Abby’s really has that and is a place that’s grounded in hospitality, compassion, respecting individuals, honoring their dignity, community, a place that brings together diverse background. They believe in women’s strengths.”

Page grew up in New Hampshire in a community with limited resources and saw first-hand the struggles families in her community faced. 

“I’ve always wanted to be in service to others,” she said.

She received a near-full scholarship to Brown University in Providence after high school, and that impacted her career path as well.  

“I felt education was a privilege, and I was committed to using education to improve communities like where I came from,” she said. “I wanted to use it to be of benefit to others while also listening to the voices of other people. I did not want to use education to tell people what the answers are, but to listen to what people need and help find solutions.”

Page said what she is most proud of is the women Abby House helps. 

“I am proud they come through our doors,” she said. “I am proud they come to us for help. I am proud that they have some significant challenges they are facing, and they have the perseverance to overcome. I’m proud they can hope; and they can dream.”

Page said she wouldn’t have been so successful without the staff, volunteers, donors, partners and even the women and children Abby’s serves.

“The people are so generous; even women getting served are helping each other out,” she said. “People really care about each other and want to help each other and lift each other up, and I think we have the best people at Abby’s House. That is so satisfying about what I do, getting to witness that and all that they do. That’s really incredible.”

Read about the other 2020 Business Leaders of the Year

Small Business Leader of the Year: Brandale D. Randolph, founder & CEO, 1854 Cycling Co.

Large Business Leader of the Year: Harry Kokkinis, president, Table Talk Pies, Inc.

Innovative Business Leader of the Year: Paul Sellew, CEO, Little Leaf Farms

Family Business Leaders of the Year: Edna, Gregory & Miriam Hyder, co-owners, Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace

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