My Leadership Worcester experience so far has been overwhelmingly intriguing, and I am privileged and humbled for the esteemed opportunity to be part of the Leadership Worcester Class of 2022.

I love Worcester and being inducted into the Leadership Worcester class further fueled my passion for this city. This class has provided personal and professional growth around public health initiatives and knowledge of different aspects of the city at the monthly educational sessions, highlighting the city’s critical issues and challenges. Worcester is a beautiful city and a great place that I call home, but how did I get here?

As an immigrant from Liberia, my mindset has always been to live impactfully. However, as a young adult, actualizing my dreams seemed impossible. Nevertheless, I remained determined to make the most of the opportunities the United States had to offer. My initial plan was to complete the nursing degree I had started in Liberia. I later pursued a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in community and public health. Currently, I’m working toward a Family Nurse Practitioner degree at Chamberlain University while still working as a Registered Nurse at the University of Massachusetts.

In 2018, being aware and recognizing the population needs and health care challenges in my community, I founded Community Health Awareness Network (CHAN). CHAN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health and healthcare access for low-income African immigrants through health education, outreach, and health promotion. Our goal is to empower community members, improve annual primary care visits, and encourage informed decision-making. While looking for ways to expand awareness and establish partnerships, I learned about the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and its incredible opportunities and immediately signed CHAN on as a new member. In 2021, I applied to the Chamber’s Leadership Worcester program. I’m thankful to Community Health Awareness Network (CHAN) and Leadership Worcester for their financial support provided.

Worcester, an all-inclusive city that embraces diversity, faces an equal number of challenges, making the Leadership Worcester program precisely valuable. The program brings professionals and leaders together to address problems from unique perspectives. Leadership Worcester is about changing the narratives and supporting emerging, innovative, and vibrant leaders with ideas to drive change and enhance the city’s upward trajectory. It uses a solution-driven approach, presenting critical issues at every session where leaders are motivated and encouraged to build relationships and develop community partnerships to collaborate on finding a solution.

Since joining Leadership Worcester, I’ve created space for myself to learn and discover various perspectives and experiences of individuals who appreciate the opportunity to be part of this leadership training program. We’re challenged and encouraged at every session to take advantage of the many platforms in the city and pursue opportunities that will put us at the decision-making table.

For example, Leadership Worcester has motivated and inspired me to apply for two open board positions, which I am excitedly anticipating favorable responses. I’ve also had the opportunity to engage and interact with local leaders from different backgrounds and create meaningful professional relationships. Moreover, the personal relationships established are priceless and some of my cohort colleagues have volunteered their expertise and time to support my organization, CHAN.

The Leadership Worcester experience is about having the heart for this great city and becoming the change you want to see, which means working together for a more significant outcome. The wealth of information, resources, and networking available has increased my confidence and productivity as a community leader. I can already see the impact it has had on me personally and professionally. I appreciate this opportunity and would love to encourage anyone passionate about community leadership and aspiring to be a leader to consider applying for the program, as the possibilities are endless. 

Applications for the 2022-2023 Leadership Worcester cohort are available online here and are due May 30. For questions about the program or application process, contact Chamber EVP Karen Pelletier at 508.753.2924. 

Lovo D. Koliego MSN, RN, Founder & CEO of Community Health Awareness Network (CHAN), is a participant in the Leadership Worcester Class of 2022. The Chamber Exchange editorial team can be reached by email here.

This story was originally published in the February 2022 edition of Chamber Exchange: The Newspaper, a quarterly publication of the Chamber. All newspaper editions are archived here.