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Hilda Wong-Doo has been involved with many activities in Winchester, including the Winchester Cultural District and Winchester Historical Society. COURTESY PHOTO/NETWORK FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

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Coincidentally in time for Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month, Hilda Wong-Doo agreed to be interviewed by the Winchester News. 

The long-time resident got involved with the Winchester Cultural District (WCD) during the pandemic, when she innocently suggested to one of its founders that it might be nice to have an outdoor sculpture exhibit like the one in her home town of Burlington.

And because WCD founder Mary McKenna had moved away, Hilda got roped into becoming chair of the WCD.  As she puts it, “Everyone stepped back and I was the only one left standing.”

Her reason for agreeing? 

“I realized during the pandemic how art-starved many people felt," she says.

That year the district, in collaboration with the Griffin Museum of Photography, launched the outdoor “Photoville Fence” exhibit, and Hilda says she visited it three or four times, “to replicate a museum visit.”

And once she was chair of the WCD, she organized several sculpture events, from a heron and a herring sculpture alongside the Aberjona for Earth Day last year, to the current Riverwalk exhibit, where four large sculptures stand near the Jenks and Town Hall.

But that’s not all!

Hilda has been the Winchester Historical Society’s program director for 10 years.  She said she agreed to do it when she “had a weak moment.”  Why was history compelling for a Fidelity Investments product lead (now retired)? 

“I’d forgotten how much I love history and art history,” she says. “I remembered everything I’d learned about it in school, which means I must have really loved it.”

She enjoys getting speakers that present different points of view. 

“Being able to push the envelope, and sometimes to go beyond Winchester,” she says. “We’re about to celebrate the 250th anniversary of our country and we want to know what happened here back in that era.”

This past year, she had a speaker talk about “Quock Walker’s Journey from Enslavement to Freedom,” but she also booked a talk on Fenway Park and another about the history of vaccinations.

Hilda notes how important it was during the pandemic to have the lectures on Zoom, and she made sure they’d be interactive so attendees could ask questions. 

“Before that it was so important for residents to be able to get out once a month to an event close to home where they’d meet friends and neighbors,” she says. “Now we found a way to replicate that and our attendees always have great questions.”

Matthew Bronski talks about Fenway Park at the Winchester Historical Society. COURTESY PHOTO/WINCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY

And yet there’s more.  Two years ago, she was invited to join the Network for Social Justice’s board of directors. 

“After the George Floyd murder, I didn’t feel like my work was complete,” she says.  “As a member of a minority group, even though I was a finance major at UMass Amherst, my senior thesis was about equity and diversity. And I learned a lot from the network’s former director, Liora Norwich, especially comparing a non-profit to my career at an investment company.” 

Hilda’s projects are ongoing, and right now she’s trying to get permission from the MBTA to hang a mural on the railroad bridge near the High School. Everyone involved from the town manager to a local attorney has been telling her how difficult dealing with the MBTA can be, but it seems obvious that once Hilda gets an idea, there’s no stopping her. 

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