BUSINESS BRIEF: Wilmington’s UniFirst HR Director Catalina Dongo Selected As YWCA Tribute To Women Honoree

Below is a press release from Wilmington-based UniFirst:

WILMINGTON, MA — Catalina Dongo, Human Resources Director for UniFirst Corporation, a North American leader in providing customized work uniform programs, corporate attire, and facility service products, was selected by the YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts as a 2020 Honoree for their annual Tribute to Women awards. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s awards ceremony was held with a virtual Facebook broadcast on June 23.

“Catalina’s accomplishments are the embodiment of the American Dream, and her perseverance and exemplary leadership are just two reasons why she is being recognized,” said UniFirst Executive Vice President Cynthia Croatti, who nominated Catalina for the award. “Catalina’s professional achievements, including her leading UniFirst’s HR efforts during an unprecedented time of challenges and uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrate what great leadership looks like.”

Dongo joined a group of 22 other Northeastern Massachusetts honorees who represent more than 11 industries for the live broadcast, with State Representative Tram Nguyen serving as the mistress of ceremonies.

“The YWCA’s 37th Annual Tribute to Women was unusual in a number of ways, notably the absence of family and friends sitting amongst us to cheer on our honorees,” YWCA Executive Director Susan Staples said in her address to honorees. “It is important to note it still was a celebration, and we were so proud to be able to share with everyone who joined us. In our new virtual world, we had a great evening spending time honoring powerful women in our communities.”

A hallmark of the annual Tribute to Women awards is that the women honored come from all walks of life with varied professional contributions. Since 1983, the YWCA’s Tribute to Women awards have recognized more than 1,200 Merrimack Valley and North Shore women leaders from business and community organizations.

“I am both humbled and honored that the YWCA selected me as one of their Tribute to Women honorees,” said Dongo. “At UniFirst, we operate as a team. I owe a great deal of my success to my talented and diverse group of colleagues at every level of the company who have extraordinary determination to consistently do more and achieve more. They inspire me every day to do my best.”

Dongo first joined UniFirst in 2007 and achieved success early on in her career with a variety of corporate projects and initiatives due to her innate ability to communicate effectively with all of the company’s employee Team Partners and personally represent the diversity that is UniFirst—having immigrated to the United States from Columbia as a child. She successfully worked her way up the corporate ladder and was promoted to her current position in 2014. Dongo’s contributions to UniFirst are many, including being part of a team that led a sizable business acquisition, establishing several leadership programs, leading the creation of a UniFirst scholarship fund, and reinvigorating the employee CARE program focused on maintaining a family culture companywide.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dongo helped form the UniFirst internal COVID-19 response team and led many aspects of employee impact matters. She formed teams and processes to respond to employees who tested positive for the disease, developed COVID-19 leave and pay policies, and developed companywide health screenings and temperature check protocols. In fact, her expertise in this area of HR leadership was recognized and sought out by the textile industry’s leading professional organization, the TRSA, who asked Dongo to serve as an industry expert on several podcasts and webinars focused on best practices for “HR Processes during COVID-19.” The TRSA also featured Dongo as a primary speaker for its virtual HR and Safety Summit.

To learn more about the YWCA’s Tribute to Women program, visit, or to view a recording of the Facebook Live broadcast, visit

About UniFirst

Headquartered in Wilmington, Mass., UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF) is a North American leader in the supply and servicing of uniform and workwear programs, as well as the delivery of facility service programs. Together with its subsidiaries, the company also provides first aid and safety products, and manages specialized garment programs for the cleanroom and nuclear industries. UniFirst manufactures its own branded workwear, protective clothing, and floorcare products; and with 260 service locations, over 300,000 customer locations, and 14,000-plus employee Team Partners, the company outfits nearly 2 million workers each business day. For more information, contact UniFirst at 888.762.8944 or visit

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