First Street: Maraya Sierra Makes History in Lynn DPW

Maraya Sierra wasn’t aware that she was the first woman in the history of the city to work in the Lynn Department of Works Street Division.

But when she learned of her groundbreaking achievement, the 35-year-old Lynn resident was understandably proud.

Maraya Sierra (foreground) is pictured with other members of the Lynn Street Division DPW crew, from left, Danny Cannata, Foreman Dan Baetzel, Jose Menjivar, and Marcus Snook.
Maraya Sierra is the first woman to work in the Lynn Department of Works Street Division.

“It feels good – the crew treats me well, they’ve all been welcoming like I’m part of the team,” said Sierra. “I didn’t know I was the first woman in the division. But I feel it’s a good thing. There are a lot of movements going on right now and to be part of it is pretty cool.”

Sierra began her employment in the Lynn DPW in October and it’s been a busy schedule each day. “We do street work, paving, tree work, potholes – things like that,” said Sierra.

Last Thursday, Sierra was contributing to the Street Division’s meticulous paving of a sidewalk and driveway on Bennett Street. The weather was cold and winds were brisk, but the DPW contingent worked diligently to make the sidewalk safe for the public and complete the job.

Sierra credits the expertise of her foreman, Dan Baetzel, and the other members of the DPW crew for helping her making a seamless transition to the department.

“Dan is my foreman and he’s been teaching me a lot and he’s a great teacher,” said Sierra. “The crew makes sure I’m safe on the job. I was really nervous when I started, but they made me feel so welcomed, like one of them.

“I also want to thank [DPW Associate Commissioner] Lisa Nerich, [DPW Commissioner] Andy Hall, and [DPW Street Superintendent] George Potter for giving me the opportunity and believing in me to take part in this,” said Sierra.

“We’re very happy that Mariah is breaking new barriers as the first woman in the DPW Street Division,” said Nerich.

DPW foreman Dan Baetzel said Sierra has been an excellent addition to the team.

“It’s been great – ever since she’s been on the department, she’s been a great addition,” said Baetzel. “She gets her assignments every day, goes out, works hard, does her job – she’s been a blessing to have on my crew. Everyone gets along well with her. We got a great team of individuals down here in the DPW.”

DPW crew member Danny Cannata said, “This is my first week on the job and my first day I worked with Mariah and she’s great to work with. She’s good at the job. She’s actually showing me what to do. I enjoy working with her.”

Sierra previously worked for Aero Snow Removal and American Sweeper in plowing and street-sweeping operations. She had been working for Jet Blue at Logan Airport for seven years and received her Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with the MBTA.

“I can’t work in an office,” she says of her path toward mechanically inclined, outdoor places of employment. “I have to be outside doing things. I also like working in my hometown keeping the city nice and neat.”

Maraya graduated in 2004 from Lynn Classical where she played in the basketball program under the direction of varsity coach Gene Constantino and JV coach Geoffrey Boyd. “I was a freshman when Helen Ridley was a senior,” recalled Maraya. “I was at the game when Helen broke the scoring record. I actually know Helen well. I used to play street basketball with her. She’s a very good person and very dedicated to the sport.”

Maraya praised her favorite educator at Classical, Mrs. White, who was her English teacher. “She’s really dedicated to the kids,” said Maraya. “She went above and beyond for her students.”

After Classical, Maraya continued her education at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline.

Sierra and her DPW crewmates received a preview of New England’s cold winters Friday with the first snowstorm of the season. With her experience in snowplowing, the first woman in the DPW Street Division will be helping the department keep Lynn roads safe for motorists and residents alike, free of the wintry hazards of snow, sleet, and ice.

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