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‘Funny Women . . . Serious Business’ raises $970,000 for Rosie’s Place

Featured speaker Glennon Doyle (center) watches videos of Rosie’s Place guests’ inspirational stories. She’s flanked by Massachusetts first lady Lauren Baker (left) and Rosie’s Place President/Executive Director Leemarie Mosca.David Fox

The recent Rosie’s Place fund-raiser was so successful, it’s not even funny. On Oct. 16, the women’s shelter held its annual benefit luncheon “Funny Women . . . Serious Business” at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The event typically features authors, and this year’s keynote speaker was Glennon Doyle , author of best-selling memoirs “Love Warrior” and “Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed.”

The event raised a record-breaking $970,000 and drew 1,800 attendees, including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Massachusetts first lady Lauren Baker, Boston city councilors Kim Janey and Michelle Wu, and former Boston first lady Angela Menino.

“It’s certainly gratifying to have such a level of support,” said Michele Chausse, director of communications at the shelter. “Rosie’s Place accepts no government funding, so events like this are critical.”


When Rosie’s Place was established in 1974, it became the first women’s shelter in the nation. It was founded by Kip Tiernan, who had a long career in advertising and also had roots in the radical Catholic left movement. Today, the shelter “creates answers” for 12,000 women annually, according to the organization’s website.

Tiernan was friends with actress and comedian Lily Tomlin , who began hosting a luncheon called “Lunch With Lily” at Rosie’s Place about 20 years ago. The event eventually evolved into “Funny Women . . . Serious Business,” which featured female comedians (hence the name). About six years ago, Chausse said, the event began instead to feature authors of memoirs about struggles many women at the shelter grapple with — addiction, domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, and more.

Previous keynote speakers include Piper Kerman, author of “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,” and Jeannette Walls, author of “The Glass Castle.”

Ysabelle Kempe can be reached at