August 26, 2020

Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce Announces the Leadership Worcester Class of 2021

Twenty-seven, Rising Professionals Chosen for Civic Leadership Development Program

Worcester, Massachusetts—The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce announces the selection of 27 talented professionals who will make-up the class of 2021.

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 Dev. Coordinator, City of Worcester

Jennifer Hubert, Marketing & 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 & 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, Sr. Data Analyst, Population Health, UMass Memorial Health Care

Steve Winston Jr, Executive Director, Massachusetts Education and Career Opportunities

The class was carefully selected by committee and includes a diverse group of 19 women and 8 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. Selected applicants were notified in July.

The Leadership Worcester Class of 2021 represents a variety of industry sectors, cultural backgrounds, and diverse educational experiences. Participants are affiliated with the following organizations or employers: Century Homecare LLC; City of Worcester; College of the Holy Cross; Faith Fellowship Ministries Int.; Fallon Health; Gallagher Real Estate; Girls Inc. of Worcester; H.O.P.E. Coalition; Hanover Insurance; Kelleher & Sadowski; Legendary Legacies Inc.; Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester; Massachusetts Education and Career Opportunities; Mountain, Dearborn & Whiting LLP; National Grid; Nativity School of Worcester; Open Sky Community Services; Pernet; Seven Hills Foundation & Affiliates; Studio Theatre Worcester; The Menkiti Group; UMass Memorial Health Care; United Way of Central Massachusetts; Webster Five Savings Bank; Worcester Housing Authority; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The class will get underway on September 10, 2020, with an overnight retreat at the AC Marriott Hotel, offering participants an opportunity to get to know one another, determine individual leadership strengths, learn more about participants’ experiences, and to understand more about the Worcester community and the diversity of our emerging leadership.

Monthly sessions will explore topics that are critical to Central Mass. The first session, Education and Youth Development, will begin October 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 back up plan, depending on COVID-19 precautions and regulations with the health and safety in mind for the participants.

The daylong sessions will take place between 8:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month from October through May and culminate in graduation in June 2021.  Additional session topics include: Urban Environment and Sustainability; Economic Development; Health; Public Safety; Government; Arts, Culture and Quality of Life; and Food Insecurity.

“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, 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.”

“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, stated J. Christopher Collins, Of Counsel, Mirick, O’Connell, DeMallie & Lougee, LLP, one of Leadership Worcester’s founders.

The cost to participate in the program is $3,200. Scholarship assistance from employers and a number of Worcester foundations including: George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, George I. Alden Trust, Stoddard Charitable Trust, Hoche-Scofield Foundation, and the Fletcher Foundation is also available.

Applications for the next class will be available online in February 2021. For more information, visit

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