WORCESTER — The Leadership Worcester program provided both a bird’s-eye view and backstage pass to understand how the city works, according to early education consultant Kim Davenport.
“Every session presented me with surprises — from learning about our green spaces and waterscapes, to examining our judicial system, to learning about the Canal District’s history and future vision, to issues of need in housing, human rights, education, health, and rehabilitation, to touring the Table Talk Pie factory; I came away from each session with a wealth of new knowledge,” said Davenport, a member of the Leadership Worcester class of 2018 and managing director at Edward Street Child Services.
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce has named 27 individuals to the Leadership Worcester class of 2021, a program that aims to help future leaders understand more about the Worcester community and the diversity of emerging leadership.
The class was selected by committee and includes a diverse group of 19 women and eight men from Central Massachusetts. The selection committee sought motivated individuals who aspire to take an active leadership role in Worcester and the surrounding towns, and who want to learn and hone new leadership skills.
“With the pandemic and decades of racial injustice affecting the nation, now more than ever, we need leaders — those who understand the needs of our community and will step up to facilitate change and inclusivity,” said Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. “In its seventh year, Leadership Worcester has a track record of cultivating just such individuals. Graduates of the program have stepped up in many ways, before and during the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. I know that this new class will do the same to help us navigate these challenges and those that may lie ahead.”
The class will get underway in September with an overnight retreat. Monthly sessions will explore topics that are critical to Central Massachusetts. The first session, Education and Youth Development, will begin Oct. 8, and will familiarize participants with Worcester’s public school challenges and strengths. This and future sessions will be planned for in person with a remote-session backup plan, depending on COVID-19 precautions and regulations with the health and safety in mind for the participants.
“Every great city needs believers and creators. People who believe in how the city can evolve and prosper, and people who are willing to take the creative steps to make it happen. Leadership Worcester provides the foundation for those believers and creators in our city. It really works and it’s great to see the program is thriving,” said J. Christopher Collins of Mirick, O’Connell, DeMallie & Lougee, LLP, one of Leadership Worcester’s founders.
Members of the Leadership Worcester Class of 2021 are Nina Theresa Dow, associate attorney, Mountain, Dearborn & Whiting LLP; Afia Frempong, external affairs and public relations, Faith Fellowship Ministries Int.; Vaske Gjino, business and community development coordinator, city of Worcester; Jennifer Hubert, marketing and communications specialist, Seven Hills Foundation & Affiliates; Adrian Hubley, complex customer project manager, National Grid; Allison James, chief operating officer, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Walter Jovel, assistant director, H.O.P.E. Coalition; Beatrice Kiraguri, director of fund development, Pernet; Suzanne Langevin, director of training and professional development, Open Sky Community Services; Jennifer Maynard, site director - Summit Eldercare, Fallon Health; Emily McCann, vice president community engagement and Women’s Initiative Director, United Way of Central Massachusetts; Chris Naff, associate, Kelleher & Sadowski; Lauren O’Neill, assistant director, Center for Career Development, College of the Holy Cross; Jasmine Ortiz, Realtor/team leader, Gallagher Real Estate; Laura Roberts, director, Worcester Community Project Center, WPI; Lizbeth Perez Rodriguez, student support coordinator, Nativity School of Worcester; Theona Kalikolehua Pao Scola, assistant director of advancement events, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; John Wayland Somers, marketing and communications specialist, Studio Theatre Worcester; Kelsey Stuart, Senior Innovation Analyst, Hanover Insurance; Larissa Ann Swenson, grant writer, Worcester Housing Authority; Courtney Truex, manager - Commercial Real Estate, The Menkiti Group; Francisco Valdes, mortgage loan originator, Webster Five Savings Bank; Ronald Bernard Waddell Jr., executive director, Legendary Legacies Inc.; Elyse Waksman, executive director, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester; Beth Wangari, assistant administrator, Century Homecare LLC; Ryan Wilkie, senior data analyst, Population Health, UMass Memorial Health Care; Steve Winston Jr., executive director, Massachusetts Education and Career Opportunities.