News & Event
Link to Strategies for Children's Blog post here.
The Leadership Worcester Class of 2019 is an impressive group. Recently selected from a pool of 60 applicants, this fourth cohort is united by a desire to learn about their community and take an active role in its betterment. Members of the Class of 2019 bring unique perspectives, diverse cultural backgrounds, and experience in an array of industry sectors. In September, they will embark on a nine-month experiential learning program designed to prepare and propel them.
Leadership Worcester was re-established in 2015 and is co-sponsored by Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. Its curriculum is developed with the aid of local leaders who bring insights on critical public policy issues impacting Central Massachusetts. The programs’ day-long sessions allow participants to explore these issues, propose solutions, and connect with others equally committed to Worcester’s advancement.
The Class of 2019 will join the 75+ professionals who now make up Leadership Worcester’s alumni network have become thinkers and doers contributing to the region’s civic, economic, and cultural growth.
“You’ll find alumni serving on boards and committees, engaging on the decision-making level, and even returning as session designers for Leadership Worcester,” said Ann Lisi, president and CEO, Greater Worcester Community Foundation. “They have honed their talents and they aren’t hesitating to share them. We - the Worcester public - are the ultimate beneficiaries, as we are sure to enjoy what’s to come as these individuals step to the helm.”
Members of the Leadership Worcester Class of 2019 as of August 1 are:
“The support of many individuals, companies, and organizations makes Leadership Worcester a success. From the employers who encourage their staff to take part, to the companies who allow us to learn from them, collaboration makes it possible and speaks to the cooperative spirit of our community,” said Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.”
For more information about Leadership Worcester visit www.leadershipworcester.com.
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.
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and Greater Worcester Community Foundation, co-sponsors of Leadership Worcester, announced today that the application process for the 2018-19 class is now open. In its fourth year, the program identifies promising new professionals who aspire to take an active leadership role in the Worcester community and are interested in learning and honing new leadership skills for the long-term benefit of the community.
“It’s an exciting time of revitalization for the entire Worcester community,” said Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Identifying and cultivating strong leaders from all sectors in Central Massachusetts is an important component to that rejuvenation - one that the Worcester Regional Chamber and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation take pride in.”
Leadership Worcester participants gain a first-hand understanding of critical issues facing Worcester while also building professional skills that contribute to civic advancement. The program is seeking applicants who bring a proven record of leadership capacity, an eagerness to have a personal impact, and a passion and commitment to making Worcester a leading, livable city. The nine-month program begins in September with an overnight retreat. Daylong sessions will take place monthly from October to May. Each session will explore a regional topic and will help participants acquire an understanding of the critical issues impacting Central Massachusetts economy, government, and quality of life. Participants in Leadership Worcester represent all sectors of the community—business, non-profit, education, and government.
“Leadership Worcester cultivates relationships across a wide range of sectors, industries and backgrounds,” said Ann T. Lisi, president and CEO, Greater Worcester Community Foundation. “By better understanding the role that each participant plays in the community, they can collaboratively explore civic leadership and why it is critical to our region’s success.”
Applications are available online at www.leadershipworcester.com and are due on Monday, May 21, 2018. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance in late June. A limited amount of scholarship assistance has been made possible through the generosity of several Worcester foundations, including Fuller Foundation, Stoddard Charitable Trust, Hoche-Scofield Foundation, George I. Alden Trust, the Fletcher Foundation, and other private donations.
370 Main St. Suite 650, Worcester, MA 01608 (508) 755-0980 Email us Enews Signup
Give Now Donor Central
Privacy Site Map