On Thursday, June 3, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce was more than happy to host its first major in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Breakfast Club event held at the AC Hotel by Marriott Worcester allowed for roughly 160 business professionals to gather and network with one another over a plated breakfast. The Chamber also offered the option to attend the breakfast virtually; roughly 20 people joined from the comfort of their homes via Zoom.
Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, with supporting sponsorship from Rollstone Bank & Trust, and a friend sponsorship from Country Bank, the Chamber saluted six member businesses and organizations for major anniversaries and new leadership roles.
Kate McEvoy, vice president of corporate relations at UMass Memorial Health served as the event’s chief greeter and emcee.
During this quarterly event, the Chamber honored Jason Homer as the new Executive Director at the Worcester Public Library, Dr. Scott Casper as the new president of the American Antiquarian Society, and Caitlyn Carolan as the new president of the Worcester Restaurant Group. Three business members were also celebrated for milestone anniversaries, including Old Sturbridge Village for their 75th anniversary, TD Bank for 25 years in the City of Worcester, and Miles Funeral Home for their 125th anniversary.
In addition to the salutes, attendees heard former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift deliver a keynote address about public education, women in the workforce, and leadership. On the topic of education, Gov. Swift said, “Government-run institutions are not designed to change quickly,” yet, the careers that today’s students are gravitating towards, “exist in a world that moves really fast.”
As the President and Executive Director of LearnLaunch Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports equitable education for New England students, Gov. Swift spoke about the work the organization does to help provide resources to education leaders across the Commonwealth, especially during these pandemic times. “We give them high quality resources, insights from national experts, and peer networks, all delivered on Zoom.”
The former governor wrapped up the event by discussing the decreased number of women present in the workforce due to the unforeseen circumstances from the pandemic. As a woman and mother herself, the governor stressed the importance of having more women represented at all levels and in all industries in the workforce. “There exists a strong research base supporting the need for role models with girls and young women to support their success and entrance into careers, particularly in STEM fields where our economy needs them the most,” Gov. Swift said.
She discussed the importance of quality childcare in helping increase the number of women in the workforce. “I’m really hopeful that with business organizations […] some of you here today have joined the statewide coalition supporting the expansion of childcare. But joining the fight for quality daycare, we’ll see some thoughtful, sustainable — and, I would hope — market-based solutions, not just the one-size-fits-all government solutions,” said Gov. Swift.
The Breakfast Club is a networking event held four times a year by the Chamber that typically draws 300 local professionals to honor the achievements and milestones of area businesses followed by a keynote speaker. The next Breakfast Club will be held on September 9. Click here for more information on the event or to register.
Rayana Petrone is a communications intern at the Chamber from Lasell University.