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The Milton Family Portrait Project: Home

Featuring Milton Families and Their Stories by Milton Resident Deborah Milbauer

photo credit: Deborah Milbauer and Karen Horan

Panel Discussion - Nov. 13, 2021 (courtesy of MATV)

Aaron, Beth, Abigail, Sofia and Gabriela

Aaron was born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua during the FSLN civil war/revolution to overthrow Somoza’s dictatorship, and where both his parents still live. He was born in a hospital in a war zone during a siege in 1977 (and still wonders how his mother got in and out safely). He has 9 siblings, and his father was in a popular Nicaraguan jazz band in the 70’s, through which his parents met. As a young adult, his father had been working in a cattle slaughterhouse when he was awarded a scholarship to attend the American School. He eventually became a trained English teacher, teaching the children of American diplomats (although his mom speaks Spanish only). Aaron first visited the US at age 22 when Beth’s dad, who volunteered for the Rotary Club, invited Aaron to speak at an annual meeting. Aaron moved to the US 2 years later. He studied industrial design in Nicaragua and interior design at the Art Institute of Chicago (earning 2 college degrees). Aaron works for an engineering company, and founded and owns his own architectural planning/interior design consulting company. Aaron would like to return to Nicaragua at some point to be with family and has dreams of owning his own coffee plantation!

Beth was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, where her parents still live. Her maternal grandparents are Slovak and Ukrainian. Her father was adopted by an Irish Catholic family but after some sleuthing (inspired by the film Philomena), they discovered his biological mother was Polish (who had died shortly before finding her). Beth graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati with a major in Social Work, and earned her Masters in Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, and currently works at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Beth went to Nicaragua the first time for a high school service-learning project in 1996 (her first time on a plane and leaving the country). She returned as a volunteer with ‘Witness for Peace’ after college, and then stayed for a couple of years working for a non-profit Kairos. While living in Nicaragua, Beth met Aaron, who often played basketball with his friends across from her offices. At Aaron and Beth’s wedding, prayers were said in English, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Slovak - and the Polka and Salsa were danced by all. Aaron was very close with Beth’s Ukrainian grandfather, who was the best man at their wedding, and sadly passed away last year. 

Aaron and Beth have 3 daughters. Twins Abigail and Sofia (15) are in 10th grade at Milton High School and were born in Aurora, Illinois. The twins were active members of GSA at Pierce and are both into graphic art and drawing. Sofia plays piano and ukulele, which she learned from YouTube videos and 8th grade music class at Pierce. Abigail likes to skateboard and taught herself how to play electric and acoustic guitar. The girls think it is fun being twins. They can understand and read Spanish but speaking is limited. Their younger sister, Gabriela (7) is in 2nd grade at Tucker. Gabi is the only family member who was born in Boston! She likes to ride her scooter and loves animals, especially cats and dogs, wants to try horseback riding, and is artistic and musically inclined like her sisters. 

Beth and Aaron were married in 2001 and moved to Milton in 2015.

Angel, Lorgia, Angel Cristino, Alanna and Alyssa

Angel's parents moved from Puerto Rico to New Jersey in their teens. Angel grew up in Jersey City, speaking Spanish and visiting their large family in PR frequently. His dad worked in a chemical factory in NJ and his mom as a seamstress. Angel recalls that growing up, his mother sewed all of his 4 sister’s clothes by hand. After retiring 30 years ago, his parents moved back to Salinas, Puerto Rico, “My parents had a good life in Puerto Rico”. Angel graduated from Northeastern University Law School and Rutgers University, where he is a ‘founding father’ of the nation’s first Latino/multi-cultural fraternity ‘Lambda Sigma Upsilon’, whose mission is to uplift and unite underrepresented communities through shared educational, social, and cultural goals with the hope of bringing positive change between the life-long fraternity brothers and their communities. Chapters have since been established all over the country since its founding 42 years ago. Angel is an attorney and has co-owned his own law firm on Beacon Hill in Boston for over 30 years. He hopes to eventually pass along the practice to his son, Angel C., an attorney who joined his practice 3 years ago.

Lorgia was born in the Dominican Republic and came to Boston with her 2 sisters and parents when she was 6, returning frequently to visit family. Her father was in the DR Airforce and was recruited in DR by the textile mills in New Bedford, MA. The family was granted green cards to be able to immigrate to the U.S. and settled in Mission Hill. Lorgia’s parents spoke minimal English and held many types of jobs, including owning a Pizzeria in Mission Hill (which is where Angel began to court Lorgia). Lorgia graduated from English High School in JP, the oldest public school in the country, attended Emmanuel College and then earned her Masters in Education from Wheelock College. After 36 years as a Boston Public School teacher, Lorgia retired this year to focus on taking care of her aging parents and her beautiful grandchildren, ages 1 and 2 ½. Her favorite grade was Kindergarten, “I miss them”. 

Angel and Lorgia have 3 children, who all speak Spanish, Angel C. (31), Alanna (30) and Alyssa (27). They collectively attended St. Mary’s of the Hills, Cunningham Elementary, Thatcher Montessori, BC High School, Fontbonne Academy, and the Woodward School in Quincy. All 3 graduated from College: Angel C. and Alyssa both graduated from Fordham University and Alanna from Stonehill College. All 3 earned graduate degrees: Alanna from Lesley University with a Masters in Special Education, Angel C. from CUNY Law School, and Alyssa from Tufts with a Masters of Science. After undergraduate school, Angel C. completed a year of service with ‘City Year’ in the Bronx and while in law school became a community activist. Alanna has taught in the Boston Public Schools for 9 years, 7 of them at the same school with her mom! She serves on the DESE, a cabinet of teachers and principals advising on anti-racism curriculum and equitable practices for all. Alanna is married to Luke, who is from Maine and of German and Irish descent. They have 2 children, Lena (2 ½) and Julian (1). The couple recently bought Alanna’s childhood home! Angel and Lorgia have moved down the street to stay close to their growing family. 

Alyssa’s passion is food justice and works for an organic, Fairtrade company called Equal Exchange. After college and Alyssa’s service year with JVC in Oregon, she moved back home and began dating Yonas, who grew up in the house next door! Alyssa was 8 when Yonas moved in. They became good friends, riding the bus together to St. Mary’s, playing in each other’s backyards and even went to Junior prom together. Yonas’s parents are from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The families are very close, and his family is featured in this exhibit too! 

Angel and Lorgia were married in 1986 and moved to Milton 1992.

Bryan, LeeMichael and Simon

Bryan was raised in Pembroke and LeeMichael in Quincy and New Hampshire. Their parents are from Rhode Island and Quincy (LeeMichael), and Hull and West Roxbury (Bryan). Their wedding was the very first gay wedding at the Boston Public Library in 2009. The nuptials were on the same day as a hurricane (which moved the festivities indoors) and coincided with Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral in which all the living Presidents - Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama - were in the hotel next door!  

Bryan and LeeMichael have been actively engaged in Milton town government for years. Both are Town Meeting Members in Precinct 10. Bryan was elected to the Planning Board and served for 5 years, 1 as Chair, and is on the board of Fuller Village. LeeMichael was appointed to the Warrant Committee and served for 3 years, 2 as Chair. Bryan works in commercial real estate. LeeMichael works in health care performance improvement. The couple’s home was built before 1850, and they try to honor the house’s history by preserving what they can and inviting over the daughters who lived in the house for decades to see their renovations. The daughters gave the couple their family photos of the home and its changes from the previous 100 years.

Their adopted son Simon (7), who is in 2nd grade at the Tucker Elementary School, was born in Hollywood, Florida. The couple made it to the delivery room in time to cut his umbilical cord, although Bryan just barely: The Captain held the plane for 15 minutes while Bryan bought a ticket even though the flight had closed! 

Bryan and LeeMichael made national news this year when it came to light that a neighbor had been harassing them for 5 years using homophobic names to send fake magazine subscriptions to the couple. A clever Milton resident who had heard about the incident but did not know the couple did some sleuthing utilizing the Freedom of Information Act and discovered town documents that matched the handwriting of the perpetrator – who resigned as a Town Meeting Member and whose criminal harassment charges are pending. “We have made some incredible friends in Milton and have been really impressed with the support we’ve received.” The couple raised over $35,000 on their T-shirt fundraising campaign ‘iammichellefruitzey’, a play on the harasser’s own words. The money is being donated to endow a college/trade school scholarship for the ‘Gender and Sexuality Alliance’ at Pierce Middle School and Milton High School ( “We wanted to take something that was really tough and use it as a way to support and empower young people,” Bryan said. “We want to turn Michelle Fruitzey into a superstar and allow her to spread the message that bullying, in all its forms, is not OK.” The scholarship will be awarded each year to a student that stands up against bullying.

The couple were married in 2009 and moved to Milton in 2010.

Akwa, Eno, Ime and Edi

Akwa, short for Akwaowo, means ‘great man’ in Ibibio. Akwa was born and raised in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria before the state was formed and named. He likes to tell people that the region was named after him, not the other way around. Akwa was raised Christian and grew up speaking Ibibio and English. He came to the US in 2001 at age 26 for graduate school in Chemical Engineering at the University of Southern Alabama. Akwa later earned his MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and he currently works as a Principal Program Manager in the Business Assurance department for National Grid. Akwa is the youngest of 7 children, whose eldest brother (25 years his senior), raised Akwa from age 5 like a father in the Nigerian tradition of welcoming family into one’s home. His non-biological father (bio brother) retired last year as Vice Provost from the University of California, Bakersfield, and holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics. Akwa’s biological father was a Chief on the local, state and regional levels. He worked in the Nigerian Ministry of Education responsible for building primary and high schools across the region, and he passed away was Akwa was 17. Akwa has many relatives still in Nigeria. His mother lived in the United States for over 20 years, returned to Nigeria in early 2020, and sadly passed away two months before this photo was taken at age 90.  Akwa is building a large country home in Nigeria for himself, his wife, his sons, and their extended family. 

Eno’s parents also came from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria in the 1970’s, and settled into Albany, NY. Both parents were students at the State University of New York at Albany, her mom completed a Masters degree and her father completed a PhD. Both of Eno’s parents worked for New York State Department of Social Services, serving developmentally disabled and refugee communities for decades, until Eno’s mother passed away in 2002 and Eno’s father retired in 2020. Eno’s parents were the founding members of the Black Catholic Apostolate, and also of a large tight knit Nigerian community in Albany, NY, where Eno was born and raised. The name they gave to Eno at birth, when pronounced correctly (sounds like Eh-Noh), means “gift” in Ibibio, although many people mispronounce it with a word that means ‘thief’ in Ibibio. Eno is the oldest of 5 siblings. Growing up, Eno’s family visited Nigeria every 2 years and bought a house where the family roots are. At the same time, Nigerian family members frequently visited Eno’s family in Albany, NY. As is the Nigerian custom, Eno’s first cousin came and was raised as her sibling. Eno earned her Bachelors degree at MIT and her Masters and PhD degrees at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Eno met and married Akwa while she was pursuing her PhD studies, when he came to the United States for graduate school. Eno completed her Post-Doctoral education at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. She is an Associate Professor and teaches chemical engineering and bioengineering at Northeastern University. 

Akwa and Eno deeply value their Nigerian-American identity, an important part of their lives and marriage. They appreciate that Milton is home to many Nigerian families, raising children and building community together. Akwa and Eno have 2 sons. Ime (12), whose name means ‘patience’ in Ibibio (pronounced ‘ee-may’), is a Tucker graduate and attends Milton Academy. Edi (14), whose name is short for Edidiong and means ‘blessing’ in Ibibio (pronounced ‘Eh-dee-dee-yong’), graduated from Pierce Middle School, and attends Boston College High School. Both boys previously attended St. Agatha’s. These days, Edi and Ime are busy with sports, church, and enrichment programs. Both boys say that they are grateful when teachers, coaches, and other people make an effort to say their names correctly. Eno said, “We chose Milton because it is very diverse, and we wanted our kids to be in a place where they can feel comfortable in their skin when they walk around”. Edi, the couple’s eldest son, added to his mother’s explanation by saying that he does. 

Akwa and Eno are active volunteers in their sons’ schools and in the Milton community. Akwa serves on the Milton School Building Committee and is a Town Meeting Member in Precinct 4. He is also a volunteer soccer coach. Eno has volunteered at Tucker and St. Agatha’s, participating in yearly science fairs, talking to students about her career, and serving as a visible scientist role model, for all students and especially for students who are female and/or of color.

The family moved to Milton the same day their entire neighborhood was having a block party in front of their new house. Edi and Ime were 4 and 6 years old at the time and thought the party was for them.

Akwa and Eno married in 2003 and moved to Milton in 2013.

Juan, Lisa and Canela

Juan was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and came to the US at age 20 where he received two graduate degrees; a Masters in Social Work from Smith and a Masters in Bilingual Education from BU (where Juan and Lisa met in their Bilingual Issues class).

His father was a dentist and his mother a Kindergarten teacher. Juan has been a social worker for 30 years, has taught college, led meditation and yoga workshops, and owns a private social work practice. 

Lisa is from Miami, Florida and speaks Spanish and Hebrew (at one point fluently). She attended public school until 5th grade, Jewish Day School from 6th to 9th grade, a commune for 10th, learned Spanish in Mexico for 11th, and for 12th attended Miami Dade Community College ‘Life Lab Program’ earning college credits as part of the ‘Free School Movement’. (Lisa credits her “hippie lesbian mother” for the unorthodox schooling). Although Lisa did not get a high school degree, the program enabled her to enroll and eventually graduate from Antioch college, and earn a Masters in Bilingual education from BU. Lisa works as an ESL teacher (English as a Second Language) and retired from the Boston Public Schools after 40 years. 

Juan and Lisa have an 11-month old Golden Doodle named Canela (meaning cinnamon in Spanish). They have 2 daughters (not pictured), who live together in Washington, DC, both of whom graduated from Milton High School; Rebecca (Becca) (age 32) in 2007 and Emma (age 24) in 2015.  Both played the cello, Emma ran track and Becca did theater. Emma lived in Japan for 10th grade, and among other accolades, Becca graduated second in her MHS class. Juan and Lisa have been active Milton volunteers for years, Lisa currently volunteers for the Friends of the Milton Public Library bookstore, maintains one of the ‘Little Libraries’ at Kelly Field, helps with the Pine Tree Brook Neighborhood Association, the Milton Animal shelter and was a Tucker parent volunteer for years. Juan was a Milton volunteer girls soccer coach, volunteered for Milton for Peace, is an avid bicyclist, and raises money each year for ‘Bikes not Bombs’. The family were members of the Humanistic Jewish Congregation ‘Kahal B’rairah’, meaning ‘Community of Choices’ where Emma and Becca were both Bat Mitzvahed. The family celebrates Christmas on their visits to Puerto Rico every couple of years. 

Juan and Lisa were married in 1987 and moved to Milton in 1995.

Scott, Meg, Julia and Hannah

Scott was born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. His dad was from Ellaville, Georgia and came north after serving in the Army. Scott’s mother’s family moved from South Carolina when she was in elementary school as part of the ‘Great Northern Migration’ of Black families (joining 6 million other families in the 20th century). His mother and father met when Scott’s mom was a passenger on the bus route his father drove. Scott remembers his father’s large mug collection which covered the whole kitchen. Scott’s ancestors were slaves on both sides but records of their country of origin are lost. Recent DNA testing by his mom found that his great, great grandmother’s roots trace back to the Temne Tribe of Sierra Leone, and the Kru Tribe of Liberia. “You know you’re from Africa but Africa’s a continent, so which country gets lost”, Scott noted. Scott moved to Boston after college for work, intending to return home to NY eventually, but met Meg and stayed for love. Scott works for the Broad Institute as a software engineer, and at the beginning of the COVID Pandemic worked around the clock to help establish their large-scale testing operation. Scott is a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 10, serves on the Town IT Review Committee, and is a founding member of the Milton Anti-Racist Coalition (MARC). He has served on Tucker’s Diversity Committee and was an active volunteer with the Pine Tree Brook Neighborhood Association before he moved neighborhoods. 

Meg is from Bedford, New Hampshire and both her parents are from Leominster, MA. Both sides of Meg’s family immigrated to the US from Scotland, hence her maiden name, MacPherson. Meg’s family was Protestant growing up. Meg and her sister Amy were called half of the ‘Little Women’ because like the book of the same name, Meg was the eldest and Amy the youngest - and because they were missing Jo and Beth. Meg’s dad is a huge sports fan and in retirement, has now visited all but 4 of the Major League Baseball stadiums in the country: St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta and Houston. Meg went to Wesleyan for college and came to Boston for graduate social work school at Boston University. She has since come full circle and is now a BU Academic Advisor and teaches clinical social work. Meg is a founding MARC member and serves on both the Milton Public School Equity Steering Committee and the Tucker PTO board.

Scott and Meg have 2 daughters. Julia (11) is a 6th grader at Pierce and Hannah (9) is in 4th grade at Tucker. Julia likes to read, write and is into theater and voice lessons. Julia is named after Scott’s family (grandfather, uncle, etc), many of whom were named versions of Julian, Julia, and Julita. Hannah, who’s middle name is Brooklyn, likes to horseback ride and take care of Destiny, their 5-month old kitten. She wants to be president when she grows up and get paid in cinnamon rolls. 

Scott and Meg met at a new years’ eve party of a mutual friend. They have been in Milton over 11 years with a brief stint in Scituate – but moved back after a year because they missed their diverse Milton community.  The family belongs to First Congregational Church in Milton

Scott and Meg were married in 2009 and moved to Milton in 2010.

Régine, Ohene, Bediako, Kwaku, Farah and Afia

Ohene is from Ghana, West Africa. He was the only child out of his 3 siblings who was born in the US when his father was getting his Doctorate at University of Rhode Island. Their family moved from Ghana to Sierra Leone to the US due to government instability in the region and eventually lived in West Bridgewater, Newton and Natick, MA. Both of Ohene’s parents graduated from the Boston University Divinity school and were clergy in the United Methodist Church.  Ohene attended Milton Academy (in the same class as Reginé), Tufts University and received his Masters in Public Health from Boston University. He is co-founder of AESARA, Inc a Biopharmaceutical consulting firm and has spent 20+ years in the pharmaceutical industry.  Ohene served as volunteer staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Black Campus ministries and serves on several faith and justice-oriented boards in the Boston area.

Régine was born and raised in Wellesley and has 3 older sisters. Her maternal grandmother immigrated on her own, and then sent for each of her 4 children one-by-one over 10 years as she could afford, as was the custom. Her parents immigrated from Haiti when her father came on a medical fellowship. Her parents knew each other in Haiti before they were dating. Her father started a free medical clinic in Haiti. Her father’s political activities during the Duvalier dictatorship were of concern so his parents sent him to the US, where they knew Régine’s mother. “I get my political rabblerousing from my father – I am very much my father’s daughter through and through”Régine was 8 when the dictatorship ended and the family visited only once or twice after that, although Régine’s research brought her back to Haiti many times where she still visits regularly. Growing up, Régine’s parents were very involved in the Haitian community as organizers and in service (church, work, dance, hair braiding). Her father co-founded the Haitian Multi-Service Center in Dorchester and was a doctor at Boston Medical Center serving underserved patients in need. When her parents retired, they moved back to Haiti.  Régine attended Milton Academy (in the same class as Ohene) and speaks English, French, Haitian Creole, and some Spanish. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in African American studies with a minor in women’s studies, and her PhD in Romance languages from Harvard. After several years at Boston College, Régine just began a new position at Northeastern University as the Dean’s Full Professor of Culture and Social Justice, and Director of Africana Studies. 

Ohene and Régine met through their parents. Ohene’s father was the pastor of Régine’s Aunt. Régine’s father was Ohene’s family doctor. The couple had a traditional Ghanaian/West African engagement ceremony, and a wedding ceremony at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton. 

The family moved to Milton for the French immersion program. Régine volunteers on the Pierce Middle School Site Council, and for the Tucker diversity committee. She is a founding member of the Milton Anti Racism Coalition (MARC). Ohene serves as an appointed member of Milton’s Warrant Committee.

Régine and Ohene’s 4 children speak French (the youngest is learning). Bediako (13) and Kwaku (12) both attend Pierce Middle School, 8th and 7th grade respectively. Farah (7) and Afia (5) both attend Tucker, 2nd grade and Kindergarten respectively. The kids play soccer, Farah loves theater and Afia loves ballet. 

The couple married in 2004 and moved to Milton 2009.

Jody, Tara, Chris, Rob, Ale, Brayden, Dylan and Max

Jody and Tara are twin sisters who were adopted at the age of 2 from a Columbian orphanage by a Jewish family in Worcester (both of their families are pictured). Their older brother was adopted from the Boston area through Jewish Family Services. Prior to the twins’ adoptions, their parents had been expecting one child from the orphanage. Unfortunately, the adoption agency informed the parents that the child had passed, and instead, there were twin girls that needed a home. Had their parents not accepted the twins, they would have likely been off to Holland. They arrived by plane at Logan Airport with 5 social workers traveling with the twins and 3 other babies. “You never saw such harried women in your life” according to Jody and Tara’s mom, Gayle (not pictured, who is from Brooklyn, NY and currently lives in Hingham). Jody was clutching a nip bottle as she emerged from the plane! “They arrived malnourished [among other treatable medical issues] in lilac and white gingham dresses with European type shoes, weighing roughly 14 pounds, speaking their own twin Spanish baby-talk language”. The twins grew up in Worcester attending synagogue with their family at Temple Sinai and shared a B’nai Mitzvah (plural for Bat Mitzvah). Today, the families celebrate the Jewish Holidays with their husbands and children, as well as Christmas and Easter. The twins graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology. Jody is a graphic designer and Tara is an interior designer. Both women have Taekwondo black belts. Tara and Jody credit their sense of “celebrating the diversity in everyone” to their late fathers’ public-facing role as Student Affairs Dean and Vice president at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “He was very passionate about equal opportunities for everyone and worked tirelessly, especially for International Students and women, for whom the women’s crew team named a scull after. "That was a strong part of why the diversity in Milton, and this neighborhood in particular, became such a major factor in our decisions to make this neighborhood our home."

Rob, Jody’s husband, was born in Boston and grew up in Bolton, MA. His family is half Scottish and half Irish. The Clan MacLeod has a castle named Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland. Their clan’s motto is ‘hold fast’.  Both sets of his grandparents came to the US via Nova Scotia, Canada. Rob studied architecture at University of Colorado and founded his own company with his brother in his late 20’s. He met Jody because her company was one of their clients. He loves to make BBQ, taught himself to play guitar (classic rock) and is a rabid Bruins fan. He has a photo of their son, Brayden, sitting IN the Stanley cup at 4-months old! 

Chris, Tara’s husband, is from Bethel, Connecticut. His father’s side is from Italy and his mother’s from Ireland, England and France. Chris’s mother is half Irish, and a quarter British and a quarter French. Chris’s White Anglo-Saxon British maternal great-grandmother was disowned for marrying a Roman Catholic Frenchman. His families’ British branch, the Boston Lockwood family, dates back to the 1640’s in Massachusetts, and includes (through marriage), General Herkimer, who fought the British in upstate NY in the Revolutionary War, and other family who met their untimely end in the 1704 “Deerfield Massacre”. Chris graduated from Cornell and received a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. He cofounded a non-profit Taekwondo school in Cambridge in 1998, where he first met Tara and Jody. He cofounded Modern Taekwondo Center in Dorchester in 2009, for which Tara designed the logo. Chris previously conducted atmospheric research at Harvard and reports he currently works on “rocket stuff” at Draper labs. 

Tara and Chris’s daughter, Alessandra (13) is in 8th grade and attends Pierce Middle School. She likes soccer, lacrosse, skiing, art, guitar, and has a Black Belt in Taekwondo. While at Tucker in 5th  grade, Ale won the artwork competition for the Monster Dash T-shirt logo, and recently won the Art Against Hunger art competition for the Milton Rotary Club! They also own Max, a 5-year-old Mini-Schnauzer. 

Jody and Rob have 2 sons. Brayden (12), a 7th grader at Pierce, likes tennis, guitar and art. He is 2 belts away from his Taekwondo Black Belt. Dylan (9) is in 4th  grade at Tucker. He likes lacrosse, drums, art, watching YouTube video games, and he’s “really good at cracking his toes”. 

The twins and their families are very close and live within a few blocks of each other.

Tara and Chris were married and moved to Milton in 2005. Jody and Rob moved to Milton in 2008 and were married in 2009.

Imge, Atilla, Ardıç, Bora

[narrative pending]

Chris, Anamika, Kalyani and Jai

[narrative pending]

Deborah, Corey, Bailey and Ruby

The artist, Deborah Milbauer, and her family in Milton.

Artist Statement

My motivation to undertake this project is inspired by my fellow Miltonians. When my husband and I first moved to Milton 20 years ago I could not believe our dumb luck. We had the good fortune to be raising our children among families from all over the world, speaking multiple languages, belonging to many varieties of religions, with stories of adoption, and marriages that were bi-cultural, bi-racial and LGBTQ. As the years progress, the variety and range has only deepened, including families with children who identify as transgender and other non-binary gender identities and expressions. And on occasion now, I even get to practice my Spanish that I learned living in Argentina and Guatemala! This was not the case even 5 years ago. The 2020 national census reflects these same changes too. More than 2/5ths of Massachusetts residents now identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), and every single city and town in the state (except one on the tip of Martha’s Vineyard) experienced an increase in residents identifying as Black, Latinx, Asian or some other racial demographic. Here in Milton (population 27,000), our school district of 4,355 has 31.2% students of color. Milton High School with 1,127 students has 33% students of color. Over 8% of students’ first language is not English and almost 14% of students are economically disadvantaged. In Milton, 20% of households speak a language at home other than English. Fifteen percent are foreign born, 4.3% are persons with disabilities under age 65 and almost 5% of families (pre-pandemic) live in poverty. Twenty five percent are Black, Hispanic, Caribbean, Asian or other minority racial/ethnic backgrounds - and an uncounted yet growing number of LGBTQ families. Amazingly, the national census found that the number of people who identify as two or more races increased 276%! 

So, why this exhibit? I’m very interested in understanding the meaning of community in a demographically changing society – and photos provide such a simple way to prompt reflection. While I am so deeply grateful to be living in such a unique place, I also appreciate that our blended community presents both gifts and challenges, especially for the families who experience Milton in nuanced and complicated ways. Even the definition of race itself is problematic (ask my sociologist husband about that one). A more in-depth discussion around Milton’s changing demographics – and the personal experiences of families featured in my exhibit – was held at my panel discussion at the Milton Public Library on November 13, 2021, (which is archived and can be viewed on the Milton Access TV website).  Ultimately, my family and I see our community as a strength, and I am so grateful to be living here. My only regret of this exhibit is not including all the families that I had wanted but couldn’t. 

A big shout out of thanks to my husband and children who have put up with my many hours of absence to get this done – and to my extended family who picked up my slack while I was MIA. I am indebted to Deb Savona, who is my talented visual designer and cherished friend, and to Jean Hlady of the Milton Public Library for her dogged support to bring my exhibits to their gallery, and to Regan Mulcahy who expertly gave the exhibit eternal life by converting it into a virtual, archived document (!), and to my dear friends who have patiently listened to me babble on and on about this project for years, and to my fiscal sponsors who helped finance the project: Celebrate Milton, Friends of the Milton Public Library and the Milton Cultural Council. Most importantly, my gratitude is extended to the families themselves, whose participation in my very public-facing exhibit took risk and trust, and would simply not exist if not for them. 
I hope you enjoy the experience and take away your own reflections and insights. My vision for next steps includes an interactive website for families to submit their own photos and stories. This Milton exhibit only scratches the surface. Until then, ENJOY!     

--Deborah Milbauer, 2021

Aidan, Allison, Dylan, Maddie, Finn and Rocky

Aidan was born in County Cork but was raised in County Waterford, Ireland, a very rural area in which the nearest store was 2 miles away, and the nearest town was 7 miles. "We biked, walked, or hitchhiked everywhere because we only had one car and my mom never learned how to drive." His elementary school class only had 12 kids – 10 girls and two boys. He grew up in a 3-bedroom home with ten children. He was 19 when they finally got a house phone. "The chaos was very normal to me." He is very proud of his father, who has worked on a pig farm for 28 years. He worked tirelessly to support and raise his family. "We grew up very modestly, but we were extremely happy and never wanted for anything." Aidan came to the US at age 21 for a better life, intending to stay for a year or so. That was about 25 years ago. He loves having a big family and frequently returns for visits. The immediate family now numbers about 60 (the adult children and their spouses, grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren), most of whom, including his parents, still live in Ireland. Aidan is a carpenter by trade and started his own general contracting business 20 years ago, building and renovating homes. He loves living in Milton because of its large Irish population and close-knit community feel. "All Irish are one big family here, and we have each other's back." Aidan has also volunteered in Milton as a coach for his kid's sports, including soccer and basketball.

Allison was born in Long Island, NY but grew up in Pompano Beach, Florida, with a brief move during middle school back to Long Island where her parents are from. She attended a Catholic elementary and high school in Florida. Allison graduated from University of Florida with a nursing degree and attended graduate school at Boston College in the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program. She and Aidan met when they were both visiting Florida – she while visiting her mother during her first year of graduate school and he while visiting his brother who also lives there. Allison is an only child and enjoys Aidan’s big family. She works at Neponset Community Health Center in Dorchester, her first job after graduate school 18 years ago. She loves the diverse population they serve and enjoys training Nurse Practitioner students from Boston College. In Milton, she volunteers at her children’s schools and has taught CCD at St. Elizabeth’s Church, where the family belongs. Allison loves the large community they have built.  

Aidan and Allison have three children and one dog named Rocky, a 2-year-old Shih Tzu. Dylan (13) is in 8th grade at Pierce. He plays soccer, basketball, and video games and likes watching football and hanging out with friends. Maddie (11) is a 6th grader at Pierce and likes walking to school with her friends. She plays guitar, enjoys painting and skateboarding, takes dance, and has taken ukulele lessons at the Milton Public Library. Finn (6) is a kindergartener at Cunningham, which he likes because his teacher is very nice. He plays soccer, lacrosse and T-ball, loves dinosaurs and the fireman's pole at the park behind his school. The three kids report that they know all of their (dozens) cousins by name. 

Aidan and Allison were married in 2004 and moved to Milton in 2012.

Belzie, Calvin, Eloise, Nile and Lucie

Belzie was born in Haiti and moved to US when she was about 13. Her father had been in the Haitian Navy (before it was disbanded) and then moved abroad to work and send money home to fund his children’s schooling, visiting twice a year. He reunited with the family when she and her siblings were teens. Belzie speaks English, Haitian Creole and French. Growing up, her family was Baptist. She attended Somerville High School and Boston College. She met Calvin when they were both working for Teach for America in New York City. Belzie works for the Boston Public Schools as an ELA Instructional Coach (English Language Arts) at a Pilot School. 

Calvin grew up in Iowa and moved in with his grandmother when he was 10 years old. Calvin’s brother recently found out through genealogy testing that they are “overwhelmingly English/Welch, 21% Irish/Scottish and a dash of German”. Calvin attended the University of Iowa and worked for Teach for America in New York City. Calvin is a corporate writer and author. He published a well-received memoir called ‘Once More to the Rodeo’ about his summer road trip back home with his 5-year-old son (who thinks that Iowa smells like pig manure). The book is a personal reflection of his childhood, his future, and his role as a white father of a biracial son. The book won the ‘Pushcart’s 2019 Editors Book Award’. 

Belzie and Calvin have 2 children who both attend Tucker, Nile (10), in 5th grade and Eloise (7), in 2nd grade. Eloise likes building Legos, playing guitar and petting Lucie, their 1-year old Cavachon. Nile’s talent is becoming legendary as he and his father share their co-produced series of comic shorts that they are hoping to publish formally as a graphic novel. Nile does the drawing and Calvin helps write the stories. They recently brought 67 copies of ‘Bad Cop vs Good Cop’ to the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, where Nile was the youngest exhibitor ever, and they completely sold out!  

The couple moved to Milton for its proximity to city, the French Immersion program, and its reputation for diversity. “We wanted our kids to see other kids who look like them”. They have had a “joyful experience at Tucker” and feel a sense of community there. 

Belzie and Calvin were married in 2007 and moved to Milton in 2013.

Eamon, Zina, Kenz, Aya and Jude

Eamon’s parents are from Tehran, Iran. They came to the US in 1971 for his father to finish his medical school training, but after the revolution in that country they chose not return because of the hostility towards people of the Baha’i Faith (over 200 prominent Baha’i’s were executed in the 1980’s and violations of human rights continue to this day). Eamon’s family is Baha’i, meaning ‘followers of glory’, a religion founded by Baha’u’llah, a Persian prophet figure in the 19th century. Eamon’s family has Jewish roots, including his paternal grandmother who became a Baha’i in her youth, and his mother’s’ grandparents, some of whose relatives emigrated to Israel. Eamon grew up in Scituate. He went to Tufts for college and attended both MIT and Harvard for graduate school to study business and economic development. Eamon works for an asset management company. He speaks English, Persian (Farsi) and some Spanish. 

Zina is half Iraqi and half Scotch/Irish American. Her mother is from Bagdad and her father’s grandparents on both sides came to the US via Nova Scotia from Scotland and Ireland. Zina’s first language was Arabic. 

In the 1970’s, Zina’s maternal grandparents were imprisoned in Iraq for 6 years for being Baha’i. Zina’s grandmother wrote a book about her experience, published posthumously, called “Without Hesitation: An Account of an Iraqi Prisoner of Conscience”. Zina’s mother translated the book from Arabic to English last year. They called themselves ‘Prisoners of Conscience’ because they were offered but rejected the opportunity to recant their faith and go free. Zina’s mother and siblings fled Iraq as refugees during their parents’ incarceration when they were teenagers/young adults, living in Turkey and Italy, and eventually the US. Zina’s mom and siblings were taken in by a family in Concord, NH

Zina’s father, who grew up in Woburn, was born and raised Catholic. He discovered the Baha’i faith in high school from a teacher, and from the band Seals and Crofts, who gave talks about it after their concerts. Zina’s parents met at a Baha’i event and bonded over their mutual faith. “My blonde hair, blue-eyed dad married an Iraqi refugee”. Zina was raised in Nashua, New Hampshire and went to college in Montreal. She is a trained lactation consultant and childbirth educator. She recently went back to school in hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner.

Eamon is a member of the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association (MICA) as a non-clergy representative of the Baha’i faith. Although there is no brick-and-mortar house of worship in Milton, as do many Baha’i communities all over the world, Eamon and Zina host a monthly prayer gathering at their home for Baha’i and non-Baha’i. Eamon explains: “We believe everyone is connected so our monthly prayer gatherings include people of different religious backgrounds as way to create community and bring people together. Race unity and racial justice is very important to the Baha’i faith”. 

Eamon and Zina have 3 children, all of whom have Arabic names. Kenz (9), meaning ‘treasure’, loves Legos, and writing and reading graphic novels. Aya (7), meaning ‘miracle’, loves her pet rabbit, Auggie. Jude (4), meaning ‘generosity’ is in kindergarten. He loves soccer and his favorite outdoor game is ‘ghosts in the graveyard’.

Eamon and Zina were married in 2010 and moved to Milton in 2015.

Jayne, Matt and Jake

Jayne was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois in the midst of cornfields near the University of Illinois campus, where she attended college as an undergraduate. Jayne’s paternal grandparents immigrated from Japan in the early 1900s, settling in Sterling, IL – a small town west of Chicago. Her maternal grandparents also settled there, on a farm outside of town. Her grandfather was from Germany and her grandmother was from the Amish community in Lancaster, PA. Improbably, Jayne’s parents met, fell in love, and then married in 1942, when the United States was fighting against Germany and Japan. 

Despite the injustice of Executive Order 9066 in 1942, which sent many Japanese in the US to internment camps, both Jayne’s father and his brother felt strongly about serving in the US armed forces and enlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Two uncles on her mother’s side also enlisted and served during the war.

Matt was born and raised in Waverly, Pennsylvania. His parents, both Jewish, are from the New York City area and Scranton, PA. His paternal grandparents were from what is now Ukraine. His maternal grandfather was from Romania, and his maternal grandmother’s family was from Salzburg, Austria. Matt was raised in a Reform Jewish congregation, where he was Bar Mitzvahed. He is a graduate of Haverford College. His father was a Sociology professor at Keystone College, and his mother taught in the public schools. Matt has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and is currently the Letters Editor at The Boston Globe.

Jayne and Matt met in an acting class, and they both worked as actors on stage and on camera in the early ‘90s.

Jake, age 25, went to Tucker Elementary and attended Meridian Academy in Brookline/JP from 6th through 12th grade. He graduated from Haverford College like his dad. Jake is trained in classical and Baroque violin performance. He studied composition and music theory at New England Conservatory. He plays many instruments (piano, guitar, viola, cello and other string instruments). He has performed at Jordan Hall, conducted an orchestra, played in his college pit band, and more. Jake is an academic editor and does other freelance work including giving tours of the Eustis Estate in Milton. 

Jake and his family have been members of the Humanistic Jewish Congregation Kahal B’Raira, meaning “Community of Choice.” Jake commemorated becoming Bar Mitzvah in a special service that the family officiated and crafted themselves in the Humanist tradition. When Jake was asked which box he checks on the census, he said “White, Asian, and I write in Jewish”. 

Jayne and Matt were married in 1990 and moved to Milton in 2000.

Ly, Nhi, Phil, Trinity, Ryan, Nhan and Cam

Grandparents Nhan Vo and Cam Luong were born and raised in Vietnam in the 1940’s, and whose siblings still live there. The couple were high school sweethearts and speak some English. They live in Milton with their daughter, Nhi Vo and son-in-law Ly, and have been helping the family raise their 3 grandchildren since the eldest was born 18 years ago. Nhan was imprisoned in 1975 by the Vietnamese communist government for 8 years after the war in a “Re-education Camp” (‘Trai Cai Tao’) for being a Military officer (Lieutenant) in the South Vietnamese army. While he was imprisoned, his wife Cam and their 2 children suffered great hardships and hunger and were treated as second class citizens. Nhan and Cam eventually came to the US (Quincy) in 1992 at ages 47 and 48 as beneficiaries of the “Orderly Departure Program”. The humanitarian operation helped over 500,000 eligible refugee families resettle in the US with host families, learn English and find employment - although they reflect that “It was very hard to live in a new country”. Watching the recent Afghanistan crisis of refugees rushing onto airplanes reminds them of the Communist takeover in Vietnam when people were fleeing to the airport and ships to escape.  

Their daughter Nhi came to the US with her parents and sibling at age 21 and remembers little of the time her father was in the war and later in prison – other than not knowing him when he finally came home when she was 12. Nhi learned English from a Church volunteer ESL teacher (English as a Second Language), and by taking English classes at Bunker Hill Community College. She eventually transferred to UMass Boston and majored in biochemistry. Nhi is now a research scientist, studying Glaucoma treatments for a large pharmaceutical company. “When you grow up poor, education is your way out so you just focus on studying. You want to change your life so you study hard”.

Ly was born and raised in southern Vietnam in a remote rice village of Camau province. His paternal grandparents moved to Vietnam from China during the Japanese occupation in the late 1930’s. When Ly was 13, 3 years after the war ended, his family escaped Vietnam via a fishing boat to Pulau Besar refugee camp in Malaysia as ‘boat refugees’ in 1978. They eventually arrived in Texas in 1979 where a sponsor family took them in. Many people lost their lives in the small, capsized boats while escaping, including his father’s cousin.  “I want to go back and visit one day - it’s on my bucket list because it’s an important journey of my life”. His parents still live in Texas and his youngest uncle still farms rice on the land they own in Vietnam. Both Ly’s two grandmothers passed away peacefully 3 weeks before and two weeks after this photo was taken at ages 99 and 100. Ly came from poverty and remembers having no food during the war, working hard labor at a very young age to help his family, and was almost killed in a crossfire while climbing a coconut tree when the 2 sides were shooting at each other below. Ly graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a BS degree in Chemistry and Stanford with a PhD in organic chemistry. He has spent most of his career developing antibiotics, and currently works for a biotech company working on vaccines. 

Ly and Nhi have 3 children - Phil (18), Trinity (16), and Ryan (14). Phil graduated from Milton High School in 2021 and is a freshman at UMass Amherst. He and his brother Ryan (9th grade at Milton High School), were/are Boy Scouts of Troop 5 Milton. Phil just completed his Eagle Scout Project for his Eagle Rank by building a community bulletin board with Troop 5 volunteers and his family for the Pine Tree Brook Neighborhood Association (in Milton). Trinity is in 11th grade at Milton High School and was on crew in middle school for Pierce Players. The 3 kids understand some Vietnamese but have limited speaking skills.   

Ly and Nhi were married in 2002 and moved to Milton in 2010.

Melanie, Sami, Omar, Maya and Rami

Melanie’s parents were both born and raised in Vietnam, then part of the French Colony of Indochina (today’s Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). Because it was a French Colony, her mom and her family were able to relocate in the 1960’s after the French-Vietnamese war to Paris, France, where refugees were helped by the Catholic Church – and where Melanie’s parents still live. Melanie grew up speaking French, Spanish and English (her parents chose to not teach her Vietnamese so that her and her brother would not experience any issue integrating to the French culture). 

Her father and his brother were born in Indochina from a French father (engineer in the Tonkin mines) and Vietnamese/Chinese mother. When her father was 2, Melanie’s paternal grandfather died in France and because the “mixed” couple were not officially married, their mother, who was considered by the French government as ‘indigenous’, was not able to keep custody of her children.

Melanie’s father remembers being dragged away from his mother, who died a year later. He later served in the French army as a paratrooper, fighting in the Vietnam and Algerian wars and when his brother later died at age 23 in the French Indochina war, her father was pulled out of the siege in 1954 and sent to safety in France. Melanie came to the US in 1993 and eventually landed in DC, working at the French Embassy for 2 years. She has been working in the telecommunications industry ever since. She met Sami in Washington, D.C. They had 2 weddings - a civil one in DC and a religious one in Beirut.

Sami, whose “official” name is Mohamad Sami, was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon and grew up speaking Arabic and French. Both his parents were Muslims of Turkish descent from the area that is now Tripoli. The maternal family were exiled to Lebanon after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk came to power in 1923 and seized the family’s assets. Sami’s grandfather, a Senator in the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul at the time, was slated for execution when he refused to join the new regime and “take off his Fez” (Tarboush). A high-ranking friend who became President Atatürk’s Prime minister, İsmet İnönü (and later second President of Turkey), allowed his grandfather’s family to escape to freedom in Lebanon. Sami’s mother was born in exile in Lebanon and became a French teacher. She grew up speaking Turkish because Sami’s grandmother did not speak Arabic. Sami attended college in Lebanon with financial help from the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri’s charitable foundation, for whom Sami worked after graduating towards the end of the Lebanese Civil War. After the war ended and because employment opportunities for young, educated Lebanese were limited, some friends talked Sami into taking a road trip to the Canadian Embassy in Syria to get Immigration visas. Sami wasn’t interested in the visa but went with his friends anyway. They ultimately convinced Sami to apply, and he ended up getting the only visa out of the group. He moved to Canada at age 23 intending to stay for five years. But five years later, and after his 2nd Bachelors degree at Concordia University in Montreal, he moved to the US for a 2-year Y2K project for work. He eventually stayed for love and became a US citizen.  Sami speaks Arabic, French, English and can hold his own in Spanish.

Melanie and Sami have 3 children who were all born in Tampa, Florida. Omar (16) is in 11th grade and Maya (14) in 9th, both at Milton High School. Rami (10) is in 5th grade (in the Inclusion program) at Collicot Elementary School. Because the family speaks French and English at home, Milton’s French Immersion program made Milton an appealing choice.  

Melanie flew to Paris shortly after this interview to say goodbye to her 91-year-old terminally ill father. “By his example, he taught me how to choose happiness - because it’s a choice”

Melanie and Sami were married in 2003 and moved to Milton in 2012.

Ron Sr. and Ron Jr.

Ron Sr. was born and raised in Mission Hill, Boston where his mother was active in community organizing. She co-founded the ‘Roxbury Tenants of Harvard’, fighting Harvard University for affordable housing in the 1970’s. She was born on a 40-acre farm in Camden, South Carolina. Ron’s maternal grandmother was half Cherokee. His paternal grandmother was part Canadian, part Black and part Jewish. Ron’s father was from Louisville, Kentucky and was in the Military, which brought him to California and eventually Boston. As a veteran, he worked two full-time jobs as a welder and a baker. The family assumes both sides were descended from slaves, but no records exist. “Everyone is able to trace their roots, but we just don’t know”. Ron attended Boston Latin School and was named an ‘All-City’ basketball player. He played basketball at Cheyney State University and Bentley College, and had fellowships at MIT, Harvard and UMass. Boston. Ron has been a community and political organizer in Boston for almost 40 years, including Executive Director of Mission Hill Community Centers, and founder of Dunk-the-Vote in 1992, a grass-roots voter education and registration organization that has registered (with their civic partners) nearly 100,000 people, and helped to increase Black and Latino voter participation by 20%. Dunk the Vote, which has since gone national, was started in response to the 1989 racially charged Charles Stuart murder in which a white man shot his white pregnant wife and publicly accused a black assailant – resulting in Ron witnessing his friends and family being strip searched and their civil rights violated. In 2005, on the anniversary of the 1968 march on Boston with MLK, Ron led an historic civil rights march in Boston ‘Retracing the Struggle’ with the late Congressman John lewis, Ayanna Pressley, Deval Patrick, Virgil Woods and the Late Mayor Tom Menino. Ron was Governor Deval Patrick’s campaign and community affairs senior advisor, and worked on the Obama campaigns. Ron is an ordained minister and an Elder in the Good Shepard Church of God in Christ. He helps develop political candidates, and is a radio and TV broadcaster on Boston Black News, Boston Praise Radio and TV, and Milton Access TV as the producer of ‘Super Tuesdays’. Ron worked on Milton Reflecting, a town-wide multi-media project in 2016, helped start Milton Dialogues to talk about race relations in Milton, and helped organize the one-year anniversary “March for George and Justice” from Milton to Mattapan in 2021. Currently, Ron is the campaign manager for ‘Real Talk For Change’ at the MIT Media Lab, a public conversation to amplify the voices of those unheard. 

In honor of Ron’s life work and service to Boston, Mayor Menino declared November 13th “Ron Bell Day”. 

Ron Jr. (21), attended Glover, Pierce, Blue Hills Regional Technical School, and Milton High School. His mother Michelle is Black and from Cambridge. She is an ordained minister in Dorchester at Greater Love Tabernacle, and an software engineer. Ron Jr. has a beautiful 5-year old son named Jayden, whose mom, Natara, also went to Milton High School. Ron Jr. works on Dunk-the-Vote campaigns with his dad. 

The family moved to Milton 1997.

Tahra, Sam, Noor and Sofia

Tahra is from Bakersfield, California. Her parents are from the Punjab province of Pakistan, and both speak Urdu and Punjabi. Both sets of Tahra's grandparents migrated to Paikistan in 1947 during the partition in India, a traumatic time in their lives. Her parents moved to the US in 1971. Tahra is eldest of five siblings and credits her parents for their interest in social justice. She earned degrees in biology and psychology at UC Irvine, and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. Tahra currently serves on the advisory board for the Center for Women and Public Policy at UMass. Boston, and has led national and local public health policy organizations. Tahra is a Milton Town Meeting member and founded the Milton Muslim Neighbors group. Plan for a Milton-wide Ramadan breaking-the-fast event in 2020 were thwarted due to the pandemic so their inagurual event in 2021, suggested by her 6-year-ol-daughter, was a successful Ramadan Food Drive in partnership with the Milton Public Schools and the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association (MICA).

Sam's family emigrated from Lebanon to the US at a young age. He went to school in California to become an economist.

The family is Muslim and prays at local mosques in Quincy and Roxbury. They have 2 daughters, both of whom attend the Collicot Elementary School. Noor (6) is in second grade and Sofia (5) is in kindergarten. Noor likes mermaids, chapter books, Legos and slime. She loves to give speeches and wants to be president. Sofia likes ballerinas, loves to sing and draw, and wants to be an exploere when she grows up. They both love to run, ride scooters and dance.

The couple moved to Milton in 2017.


Dinkneh, Fekerete, Groom and Yonas

Dinkneh and Fekerete (nicknamed ‘Fifi’ by her brother) were born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and came to the US when they were 21 and 20. They both speak English and Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, one of 80 in the country. Ethiopia was one of the first regions in the world that officially adopted Christianity, and Fifi and Dinkneh were raised with strong Christian Orthodox values from an early age. After the military coup in 1974 in which King Selaisse was jailed and killed, Fifi’s father was imprisoned briefly as the communists were taking over the land, homes and wealth of well-off Ethiopians. Fifi’s typical adolescent life changed overnight after the coup when her father pulled her out of her regular high school and placed her in an evening school due to the daytime riots, and their high school graduation cancelled. She eventually fled Ethiopia and joined her brother in the US to escape the dire political and economic situation, not wanting to be a burden to her parents. 

Before the King’s overthrow and during peaceful times, Dinkneh’s father worked in the Ministry of Education. Dinkneh attended school year-round and worked on their families’ farm in the summer. He moved to the US to attend Wentworth University, where he graduated in 1980 with a degree in electrical engineering. Dinkneh is now retired from working in bus operations for the MBTA for 22 years, but continues to manage his real estate property in his spare time.  Fifi works at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in accounts payable. Her son Yonas notes that his father and mother worked very hard all those years to give his family a good life in Milton. The family travels to Ethiopia every 2 years.

Yonas (26) and Groom (30) both speak Amharic, which they learned from their parents and in Sunday school at their church in the South End, Boston called St. Mary’s Ethopian Tewahedo Church. Yonas and Groom both attended St. Mary’s in Milton until 6th grade, and Belmont Hill 7th through 12th. Both brothers graduated from Tufts University. Groom lives in Brooklyn, NY and works for a business acquisition company. Yonas works at a small business-to-business software tech company in Boston. 

Yonas recently moved into an apartment with his girlfriend, Alyssa, who grew up in the house next door! Alyssa’s family was already there when Yonas moved in when he was 7. They became good friends, riding the bus together to St. Mary’s, and going to Junior prom together in high school. It wasn’t until after college and Alyssa’s service year in Oregon, that they became more than friends. Alyssa’s father is from Puerto Rico and her mother is from the Dominican Republic. The families are very close, and her family is featured in this exhibit too! 

Dinkneh and Fifi were married in 1990 and moved to Milton 2002.

Transgender statement

This family represents the many children, parents, and adults in Milton who self-identify as transgender and other non-binary gender identities and expressions. The number of these Milton families is growing, and the children attend all six Milton Public Schools.

They are included in this exhibit to honor and represent their valued presence in our community.

Exhibit supported with contributions from Celebrate MiltonThe Friends of the Milton Public Library, and application pending with Milton Cultural Council.


images and text © 2021 Deborah Milbauer