News & Event
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and Worcester Community Foundation announced Tuesday 26 rising professionals chosen for a leadership development program.
Selected from more than 60 applicants, the chosen professionals include a diverse group of men and women from Central Mass. from both the public and private sectors who represent a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds.
The nine-month program, dubbed Leadership Worcester, begins in September with an overnight retreat and monthly sessions will explore topics critical to the Worcester area, including education, economic development, local government, health, community safety, creativity and urban environment, according to a press release from the chamber.
Those chosen are:
Diana Batista Katherine Calano Vaughn Calhoun Ryan Canuel Sarah Connell Kim Davenport Patrick DiGregorio Peter Dunn Marco Estrella Casey Freeman Meaghan Hardy-Lavoie Scarlett Hoey Erin Jansky Joel Kent Noah Ligetti Andrew Madigan Heather Mangione Laura Marotta Ryan Matson Derek Olson Angelo Padin Christina Santana Amie Shei Kira Terrill Alexis Travis Jessica Walsh
By Aaron Nicodemus
For more than two decades, Leadership Worcester was a program sponsored by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce that fostered midcareer professionals to become leaders in city government, nonprofit, education and business communities.
Year after year, from the early 1970s through about 2003, the program encouraged people to step up, help out, say something and do something to improve the lives of Worcester's citizens. Participants in Leadership Worcester were encouraged to participate in civic life by running for office, by leading companies, by volunteering, by teaching and by serving on the boards of nonprofits. They created mini-networks of acquaintances that could be tapped to overcome future community problems. I understand at least two prominent participants in Leadership Worcester later married and became a city power couple.
The program had been a leading community group in its heyday, like when it sponsored one of the first mayoral debates in 1987, when the city switched to the mayoral form of government for the first time.
In researching this column, I found a wonderful little newspaper story from 1980 that ran deep inside the Evening Gazette which discussed a rare moment when Leadership Worcester found controversy.
One of Leadership Worcester's meetings that year was held at the private Worcester Club, which at the time had separate entrances for men and women. The women in Leadership Worcester, who were already successful in their chosen professions, were none too pleased when the club's secretary called them before the meeting to ask that they use the side entrance, also known as the "ladies' entrance."
I recognized several of the people quoted in the story. One was Leah Lamson, then a reporter at the Evening Gazette who would, many years later, become the paper's editor. Another was Roberta Schaefer, then an assistant professor of political science at Assumption College who would later become the founding executive director of the Worcester Research Bureau and led it for many years.
For the record, Ms. Lamson declared she was more surprised than offended about being asked to use the ladies' entrance. Ms. Schaefer said she thought the kerfuffle was "kind of silly."
More to the point for Leadership Worcester, both women became leaders in the Worcester community, which speaks to the program's efficacy. I'm sure there are dozens of similar success stories of Leadership Worcester participants.
But sometime in the early 2000s - the last class I could find a newspaper clip about was in 2003 - Leadership Worcester quietly folded. While it was shuttered largely due to a lack of funding, it also suffered from a lack of interest.
When the Worcester chamber and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation sought to revive the program last year, they found enthusiastic support within Worcester's business, nonprofit, education and government communities. The program received 50 applicants for 25 openings. According to Gail Randall of the GWCF, all 50 applicants would likely have been great participants.
One of the participants is Josh Croke, whose nonprofit Action! Worcester is using the first-floor space in the renovated office space at 20 Franklin St. to connect entrepreneurial college students with local businesses.
Campuses in Worcester, he said, are mostly isolated from the local business community. His group plans to host regular meetings and mixers, so students can pitch their ideas for businesses, and local businesses can offer advice and encouragement. Companies can also use the space for corporate events, he said.
Last week, the 25 participants in Leadership Worcester 2015 met in the space to discuss their thoughts on improving downtown Worcester. They had taken a short walking tour of downtown, led by Roberta Brien of the Worcester Business Development Corp. and Heather Gould of the city's economic development office.
Ms. Brien talked about how 1960s urban renewal clear cut huge swaths of downtown Worcester in the name of progress, but ended up cutting off neighborhoods from the city center and building a huge downtown mall that failed not once, but twice. Ms. Gould discussed how residential uses were returning to downtown in many buildings' upper floors, but that many first-floor retail spaces remained vacant. Even with several parking garages within walking distance of City Hall, the downtown still suffers from a lack of parking, they said.
Afterward, the participants collected in small groups to brainstorm their own ideas to remake downtown.
I'm heartened that Leadership Worcester is back, to build a pipeline of future Worcester leaders who will, presumably, open whichever door they choose - or figure out a way around or through the closed ones.
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and Greater Worcester Community Foundation, co-sponsors of Leadership Worcester, announced today that the application process for the 2016-17 class is now open. Application deadline is May 2, 2016. Now in its second year, the program will identify motivated individuals who aspire to take an active leadership role in Worcester and the surrounding towns and are interested in learning and honing new leadership skills for the long-term benefit of the community.
For a long time leader, leadership transitions can bring specific challenges as executives explore their legacy, the board's increased leadership role, and the organization's preparation for change. The program Courage in Leading: Paving the Way for the Transitions Ahead supports this critical transition process by engaging leaders in strategic discussions and exercises on succession planning, leadership transitions, and the personal aspects of both that are unique to long-time leaders. Our ultimate goal is to help leaders to depart with strength and poise, and to help organizations prepare for and embrace change.
Greater Worcester Community Foundation is seeking a nonprofit professional to join its team in the role of Program Officer, reporting to the Vice President for Program. Responsible for guaranteeing smooth and efficient grant making practices, and for creating positive relationships with nonprofit grantees and other organizations in the Worcester area. Assures fair access to the grant review process, evaluates a large volume of proposals, and facilitates grant decisions with staff and volunteer panels. Serves as a key member of the foundation’s program team, and is committed to staying always current with community needs and priorities.
The successful candidate will demonstrate strong project management; excellent oral and written skills; an ability to read and absorb material quickly; public speaking and group facilitation skills; technical savvy on all business platforms; and analytic abilities necessary to absorb important detail while understanding larger goals.
Requirements: a college degree and four+ years working in a nonprofit organization ideally with ample experience in project management, fundraising, research, or volunteer relations. Must be available to work fulltime with some evening or weekend assignments likely.
Greater Worcester Community Foundation, est. 1975, builds healthy and vibrant communities in Central Massachusetts and is a steward of gifts entrusted to us by individuals, families and other foundations. We work with donors, nonprofits, and civic colleagues. The Foundation distributes over $2.0 million annually from discretionary funds, and another $3 million from donor designated funds. Our current priorities include early childhood, youth development, immigrant integration, housing and neighborhood improvement, workforce training, healthy populations, nonprofit effectiveness, and expansion of arts and culture. Our overall aim is to foster a strong community that works for all.
Salary is competitive and commensurate with background and experience. The Foundation offers an excellent employee benefits package. Candidates who are interested and qualified should send a resume and cover letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org. No calls, please.
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