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LPV inaugural class alumna Jessica Collins is announced as Executive Director of Partners for a Healthier Community


Partners for a Healthier Community Confirms Twenty-Year Public Health Veteran Jessica Collins as Executive Director
Springfield, Massachusetts: Partners for a Healthier Community (PHC), the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, has confirmed Jessica Collins as its Executive Director. Ms. Collins is a nine-year veteran of the Springfield-based nonprofit, where she previously served as Interim Executive Director and Deputy Director. She will be leading the institute’s expansion of services in research and evaluation, coalition-building and policy advocacy.
“Communities of color, members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities face significant disparities in health in our region, noted Ms. Collins, “Our mission is to address these inequities so that all people will have what they need to lead healthy lives.”
PHC was recently awarded the contract to lead the Community Health Needs Assessment for the 10 regional hospitals in Western Massachusetts in collaboration with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Collaborative for Educational Services. According to Ms. Collins, “This assessment documents the existing health needs of each community and provides the data necessary to develop effective strategies to address health inequities.”

“Having a local public health institute to serve Western MA is invaluable,” said Rev. Karen Rucks, PHC’s Board Chair. “The staff of Partners for a Healthier Community bring an understanding of the context and communities in our region to their services. They are committed to building capacity in our region to better understand how to use data and to collect and report on specific issues that are worthy of collective attention.”

Prior to coming to PHC, Ms. Collins led community-based participatory research projects including the Shape Up Somerville program focused on the prevention of childhood obesity in Cambridge and Somerville. Other nationally recognized community health initiatives led by Ms. Collins include efforts to address substance abuse and suicide prevention, as well as preschool oral health.

In addition, Ms. Collins announced the hiring of Dr. Jessica Payne as Senior Research Associate. Dr. Payne brings 25 years of experience in program development, evaluation, and needs assessment. She has extensive knowledge of regional communities and public health initiatives, and is effective at collaborating with partners and informants of varied backgrounds relative to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, occupation, and region. Since 1988, her company, Jessica Payne Consulting, has provided high insight research and evaluation services in the healthcare, education, community development, marketing and culture and arts industries.

Also, PHC has relocated its new office in the Community Music School of Springfield, 127 State Street. “We are pleased to share a home with another local organization that shares our values of equity and community building,” said Ms. Collins.

Source: Partners for a Healthier Community

Disruptive Demographics

Earlier this summer, I attended the Association of Leadership Programs’ national conference in Huntsville, Alabama. I came back reenergized and brimming with new ideas, inspiration and information.

One of the fascinating keynotes was on “Disruptive Demographics” and what trends are emerging that are affecting our communities. As a demographer, Dr. Johnson from the University of North Carolina was careful to point out to us that talking about immigration is not about politics but date. Like it or not, the United States is in the cross-hairs of several major trends that we are also seeing impact our region:

  • The South Rises - Again
  • The Browning of America
  • The Silver Tsunami is About to Hit

The South Rises - Again

The largest gains in population in the 2010 census were in the South, while the Northeast was kong the areas with net decreases in population. This is a continuing trend that is affecting our region that has implications for political representation, funding and workforce. Each year tens of thousands of college students move to the area, only to go elsewhere upon graduation. This has workforce implications amounting to a brain drain and many unfilled, skilled positions. We are also losing populations from other age ranges. Population losses also have political implications, as we lost a Congressional seat recently.

The Browning of America

The Pioneer Valley saw a 38.7% increase in Latino/Hispanic residents from 2000 to 2010 which is in line with national trends. Due to immigration trends and lower average age of Latino population in the U.S., the trend is expected to continue in the U.S. and our region. Cities in the Northeast need to look at immigrants as a source of future population gains and workers, instead of a cause for alarm. The Latino population’s average age is 27 as compared to 41 for Caucasians and 31.3 for African Americans. This points to future growth coming from no-white households as the Caucasian population ages and their fertility rates decrease. By 2050, it is estimated that the Latino population in the U.S. will double its current percentage. Holyoke already has a majority minority population and Springfield is close. In the coming century, other areas in the region will look more like these cities.

Silver Tsunami

The Silver Tsunami, which refers to the aging of the large baby boom generation, will have huge implications including leadership, health care and structuring our society. There were 79,000 centenarians in the U.S. in 2010 and it is estimated that there will be 601,000 in 2050. Where will they live? What will their health care needs be? Japan has had a profound aging of its society and now sells more adult diapers than baby diapers! Retirements will also leave large gaps in leadership and opportunities for younger generations of workers.

These shifts will have profound impacts on our communities. We have opportunities now to plan for these trends whether it is succession planning, cultural competency training or looking at the future health care spending. Fostering inclusive workplaces markets and communities is a necessity and not just a nice thing to do. LPV looks forward to leading conversations within our program and the wider community that engage our leaders in these issues.

This article is written by our Executive Director Lora Wondolowski and has appeared in the October edition of An African American Point of View. Read more from the issue here:

Leaders in Economic Development

Leaders In Economic Development from the August 2015 edition of AfAm Point of VIew

Lora Wondolowski

Unbeknownst to the founders of Leadership Pioneer Valley, more than a decade ago the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) identified a need for a regional leadership development program to build the next generation of leaders in the Pioneer Valley. This spring they released the next ten-year plan: Building On Success: Economic Strategies for the Region.

It is sometimes easier to look around and feel like things haven’t changed in the last decade for the region or Springfield. Springfield, in particular, has come through some difficult challenges from the receivership to tornados. Many still have a tough time taking pride in Springfield or acknowledging the positive. I’m not sure if that’s a New England thing. The negativity was so pronounced that a local leader launched a “Say Something Nice” campaign in Springfield.

There are some great examples of positive changes over the last decade that occurred due to the leadership and vision of the Plan for Progress. These include rail service from Vermont to New York City connecting Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield for the first time in decades; the creation and success of Leadership Pioneer Valley; early education programs (Talk, Read, Succeed), and the Knowledge Corridor Partnership with Connecticut.

The new plan revolves around four major goal areas critical to our region including: develop and maintain a globally competitive and regional talent pool; foster an environment where established new, and growing businesses and organizations thrive, implement and enhance the infrastructure that connects, sustains, and ensures the safety and resiliency of the region; and conduct economic development activities in a regionally responsible manner, prioritizing collaboration and engagement. That all sounds well and good, but how does it affect our lives?

A plan is just a map unless leaders take action and implement it. The Plan for Progress relies on implementors from businesses, non-profits, and government across the region. It will take dozens of individuals who are willing to collaborate to work on a broader vision of building a talent pipeline from the schools to workforce development and training. We are optimistic that this will happen and the momentum will continue.

This vision is not just about the haves but also focuses on the economic disparities in the region. Equity and economic opportunity that are driven through public policy decisions and advocacy are and important strategy of the plan. Getting at these systemic issues will take better collaboration and civic engagement to ensure more people and voices are at the table. This will take a conscious effort on the part of the Plan leaders. The Coordinating Council of the Plan, of which I am one, are encouraging the wider community to engage with the working groups or progress of the plan at

There are many new opportunities around the Valley and the Plan for Progress provides a roadmap to build a more vibrant and inclusive region. This is a great vision but won’t be complete without more voices and leadership to keep it on track and ensure we reach our goals.

The Reach Program: Mentoring for Recent LPV Graduates

If you’re a graduate of LPV, perhaps you felt overwhelmed upon completion of the ten-month program. We jam-pack as much useful leadership material into the curriculum as possible. Maybe you say to yourself, “I have all of this new knowledge. Now how do I use it?” Or maybe you know how to use it—but want to optimize its benefits.

We’re in the process of developing a program for LPV graduates that will do just that: optimize application of all of the new skills you learned, on a personalized basis. This program, The Reach Program, will pair you with an established senior management-level professional from here in the Valley. Through the mentor-mentee relationship, the program will achieve the following goals:

  • Further the leadership development explored in the 10-month LPV curriculum.
  • Offer personalized assistance to mentees based on their needs and desires.
  • Promote goal development and attainment in professional leadership and civic leadership.
  • Create a collaborative environment among emerging and established professionals that allows for the sharing of resources, ideas, and knowledge about the Pioneer Valley.

Mentors will have valuable knowledge and experience that can meet your individual needs and leadership goals. In fact, you’ll be matched with a mentor based on the goals you have. The Reach Program would entail meeting with a mentor regularly for a one-year period. This will include one-hour-long meetings at least once a month, as well as an orientation and a closing session.

The only cost of The Reach Program will be LPV membership—you’ll be gaining invaluable guidance at a very low cost. We want to give our graduates tools to reach their personal leadership goals.

We’ll have formalized details and an application process for you in the near future, and we hope you’re as excited for The Reach Program to launch as we are!

Cultivating Emerging Leaders

From the July 1, 2015 edition of Af-Am Point of View

Cultivating Emerging Leaders
Tyler Leahy

As a recent Springfield College graduate and lifelong Pioneer Valley resident, I often find myself weighing the advantages and drawbacks of pursuing a professional career here in the region. The Pioneer Valley is an attractive workforce to join because of its diverse communities. An interesting amalgamation of small cities, suburban towns, and lush farmlands and woodlands, the Pioneer Valley offers geographical and cultural varieties that many regions simply cannot offer.

Perhaps the most significant challenge the workforce in our region faces is that it is aging—paired with other challenges that a local economy climbing out of recession faces. Many, if not a majority, of the leaders across all business sectors in our communities are likely to retire in the next decade. The question this quandary poses is simple: What do we need to do to cultivate a new generation of emerging leaders?

The first and foremost step to combatting this potential plight is identifying it as an important issue. The issue of a retiring ‘baby boomer generation’ often makes national headlines, but it has particular substantiality to a region like ours that relies heavily on self-sustainability.

The second step, which is much more complicated to execute, is to plan for the future with long-term leadership in mind. This is especially true for employers in the area. Without a doubt, it is difficult to remain adamant about thinking ahead when there is a multitude of economic and social issues that need to be addressed in the present.

Cultivating emerging leaders does not have to be a risk-laden endeavor. Leadership, as with any other acquired skill, is best honed through hands-on experience. Offer opportunities for promising young employees to orchestrate team efforts, or take on projects that require problem solving and innovation. Test their abilities to thrive in leadership situations, and track their progresses.

If 25-year-old John Smith has quickly become one of your top-performing employees, plan for him to be part of your company’s bright future. Collaborate with him to determine future goals, and develop a tentative action plan to get there. Perhaps there will not be an opportunity for upward mobility immediately, but it is still best to offer emerging leaders additional training while planning for the future.

If 32-year-old Jane Doe has impressed you for years but is by far the youngest to apply for the open management position you are hiring for, consider giving her the position. The qualities identifiable in emerging leaders are more closely associated with talent and enthusiasm than age and experience.

Of course this does not mean that suddenly all of the younger employees in your company should climb the ladder of leadership. In essence, the focus comes back to identification.
Who do you see that has a high ceiling of leadership potential?

Regardless of age, who are the people you can identify that are eager to make a positive impact in their work, and in their community? Are they being given the training and the opportunity needed to make the jump from emerging leader to established leader?

A bright future for the Pioneer Valley depends on emerging leaders, who need experience but have the qualities necessary to succeed.

LPV application deadline quickly approaching

The deadline for LPV Class of 2016 applications is almost here! Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1st. We’re really excited to begin working with the fifth graduating class of LPV! Applications are piling up, and we’re confident the Class of 2016 will be full of talented emerging and established leaders.

If you still need to apply, you can do so here.

Want to nominate a friend or colleague? You can do that too!

If you are an employer looking to send one of your employees through our ten-month, flagship leadership development program, you can choose to sponsor an employee.

We hope you are as excited as we are. Thank you for any support you have given to LPV along the way-it makes our work possible.

Making an Impact

The following is an article written by Lora Wondolowski for the June 1, 2015 edition of Af Am Point of View.

It’s hard to believe that Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) is now recruiting for the fifth year of its ten-month leadership development program. I’m amazed to see a project that was the dream of a number of amazing leaders has already made such an impact on our graduates, their organizations and our region. Our participants have seen many positive outcomes in careers and community as a result of participation in the program.
LPV working with Denny Consulting has evaluated skills transfer, learning, and career and community impact of both program participants and alumni over the last four years. The overall satisfaction with the program has increased each year with 100% rating the program as “good” or “excellent (54%).
The LPV curriculum focuses on developing leadership skills, creating broader connections, and increasing regional understanding leading to action. LPV’s evaluations reported attainment of these goals in each of these areas.
• Connections- Ninety-nine percent of LPV participants reported having made meaningful connections with fellow participants. Sixty-four percent reported having made meaningful connections with other leaders met through opportunities provided by the program.
• Leadership Skills- Participants reported statistically significant skill increases in collaboration, leading teams, creativity, confidence, managing conflict and understanding personality types.
• Seventy-six percent of participants increased their cultural competency.
• Career Advancement- Fifty-three percent of alumni have a new leadership role at work, while 29% have taken a new job with increased responsibility.
• Community Engagement- Sixty-four percent of alumni have joined a new board of directors and 31% of alumni have initiated a new community project.
We are astounded to already be making such an impact in the region after only four years. It is incredibly humbling to see the kind of changes that our alumni are making as a result of their participation in Leadership Pioneer Valley. I was speaking to an alumna of our first year’s class that remarked, “Lora, it worked, LPV helped me achieve where I am today.” We are incredibly proud of our alumni and the many ways that they are contributing to a better Valley.
The program has filled a critical need for a leadership program that builds a network of emerging leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the region, combining both classroom and hands-on, experiential learning at different locations throughout the Valley.
If you are an emerging leader looking to enhance your leadership skills and make a difference in our region, consider applying to the upcoming class of Leadership Pioneer Valley. If you are an employer looking to retain and develop your top-talent while connecting them to the larger region, consider Leadership Pioneer Valley. We are accepting applications for the Class of 2016 which will begin in the fall until July 1st at