LPV Welcomes Six New Board Members


Community Leaders elected for two-year terms

November 14, 2019 - Springfield, MA Leadership Pioneer Valley recently welcomed Michelle Barthelemy of Greenfield Community College, Dr. Calvin Hill of Springfield College, Gladys Lebron-Martinez of MassHire Holyoke and Holyoke City Council, Callie Niezgoda of Common Capital, Tony Maroulis of UMass Amherst, and Yemisi Oloruntola-Coates of Baystate Health to its Board of Directors. They also announced that Francia Wisnewski has been elected clerk. Each brings a passion for both the work of the organization and the continued success of the Pioneer Valley.


“We are delighted to have these dynamic community leaders join us,” said Lora Wondolowski, Leadership Pioneer Valley Executive Director. “They will bring important skills and experience to the board and will help to fulfill our mission of building and connecting more diverse, committed and effective leadership for the Pioneer Valley.”

Leadership Pioneer Valley Kicks Off Class of 2016


Leadership Pioneer Valley Kicks Off Class of 2016

35 Emerging Leaders Unveiled

SPRINGFIELD, MA — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) officially kicked-off the 2016 program year and introduced the Class of 2016 on Sept. 21 at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke at its annual Reach Beyond Reception. The reception marked the inception of an intensive, ten-month regional leadership development curriculum for the new cohort.

LPV’s regional leadership development program annually features a diverse class from Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties—representing private, nonprofit, educational and public organizations. This year’s class includes 35 emerging leaders from the Pioneer Valley that filled the room with energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to the future of the region.

“The LPV Class of 2016 represents the future of our region,” commented Leadership Pioneer Valley Executive Director, Lora Wondolowski. “They bring a wide variety of experiences and skills to bear while all of them are committed to deepening their community involvement. With LPV in their toolboxes, they will go far.”

Leadership Pioneer Valley addresses the critical need to build a diverse network of leaders who aspire to work together across traditional barriers to strengthen the region. The region-specific curriculum is designed to help the participants refine their leadership skills, broaden connections, and develop a greater commitment to community trusteeship and cultural competency within the Pioneer Valley.

In January of 2014, Class of 2014 member Isabel Serrazina passed away suddenly. To honor her memory and leadership, fellow-class members, alumni, and the board created the Serrazina Scholarship Fund to enable potential participants to attend LPV. The second-annual Serrazina Scholarship was awarded to Jose Saavedra, an advocate for low-income children and families in Springfield. Jose embodies Isabel Serrazina’s longtime work on low-income family issues in Springfield.

LPV Class of 2016 Participants

Name Affiliation
Ryan Barry of Easthampton Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP
Monica Borgatti of West Springfield WGBY
Heather Budrewicz of South Hadley Town of Southampton
Lakisha Coppedge of Springfield Mema’s II Family Childcare
Donald Courtemanche of Springfield Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce
Adrian Dahlin of Holyoke Conway School of Landscape Design
Damon Depaolo of Torrington, CT MassMutual
Yvonne Diaz of East Longmeadow Health New England
Charlene Elvers of Williamsburg Springfield College
Joshua Garcia of Holyoke Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
Desilynn Gladden of Springfield D.R.E.A.M. Studios
Lisabeth Jasniewicz of Northampton Smith College
Cathy Jocelyn of Westfield Westfield Bank
Amy Lantaigne of Springfield Sisters of Providence Health Systems
Freddie Lopez Jr. of Springfield NAI Plotkin
Josh Lubas of West Springfield MassMutual
Laura Masulis of Springfield MassDevelopment
Alison Messier of Springfield Springfield City Library
Daniel Montagna of Feeding Hills UMass Springfield
LaTonia Naylor of Springfield United Way of Pioneer Valley
Callie Niezgoda of Holyoke Common Capital
Christy O’Brien of South Hadley Center for Human Development
Jacquelyn Ouellette of Easthampton Cooley Dickinson Hospital
Noel Petrolati of Springfield Travelers
James Pignatiello of East Longmeadow MassLive
Amy Proietti of Greenfield Greenfield Community College
Shirley Rodriguez of Springfield City of Springfield
Jose Saavedra of Springfield Latino Education Institute
Lucesita Scammon of Springfield Baystate Health/Bay Care Health
Jeffrey Sexton of Agawam Comcast
Sonja Shaw of Springfield MassMutual
Katherine Sliwa of Chicopee Health New England
Jennifer Smith of Enfield, CT MassMutual
Kathleen Snow of Windsor Locks, CT Baystate Health
Bradford Turner of Belchertown UMass Amherst

Bring Creativity to Your Work Day


A representation of Brennan’s Hierarchy of Imagination, as designed by John Maeda.

Everything points to the importance of creativity as a leadership skill. How do you insert creativity into your workplace? How do you get into the right mindset to do so? It is important to recognize that creativity has several levels. Often we think of creativity when forced to make a decision. Whenever there is a reflex decision or some problem solving to handle, we pick our brains for creative ideas. Still, we often ignore the extent of what we can accomplish when we bring full-fledged creativity to the workplace.

Patti Brennan is a Professor at the School of Nursing and College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She views creativity with the notion that there is a Hierarchy of Imagination that can be modeled. The hierarchy has four levels: reflex, problem solving, creativity, and imagination. At the baseline of the hierarchy is reflex. As a reflex, you come up with an instinctive response to an external stimulus. A reflex can often be creative, although it requires no exploration and often has no deep-rooted basis. There is not much thought required for a reflex, and for this reason there is no guarantee of creative success.

Up a level from reflex is problem solving. The problem solving level of creativity considers outside forces in ways that a reflex does not. Creativity needs to be practiced in order to become reflexive. Problem solving considers factors part of a reality, often incorporating “street smarts” and a means of execution. For example, imagine sales at your restaurant during lunch hours have plateaued but you want to increase sales. A reflex may be to increase marketing or offer specials to increase the number of customers. But can you accommodate more customers? There are many outside factors to consider before jumping at your first sensible idea.

True creativity is a step above problem solving, and is something that also really lends itself to success in a team environment. Brennan suggests that creativity is like “rubbing together two great ideas.” You suggest a problem-solving idea that might work. So does one of your colleagues. How do you take these two separate creative ideas and fuse them together for the best chance at success? Finding this “bounded applied-imagination” means you will have creativity that transcends basic problem solving. Collaboration is often the best way to fuel your best creative ideas taking true form.

A step above creativity is the purest form of free thought: imagination. Imagination is pure, without constraint, and unapplied. It is that true “stroke of genius” we experience when out of nowhere, we come up with our next great idea Not every great idea you have will be a figment of pure imagination. However, it is pertinent to be tuned into the part of your brain that can be unconstrained, thinking outside of the box. A crucial differentiation to make is that creativity can be cultivated and fostered, but cannot be taught. To achieve each level of imagination, a corresponding attention to persuasion is required. With persuasion, there is also a demand for empathy. As a leader, it is not only important to unlock your creativity, but also convey it in a way that encourages collaboration with fellow leaders. In the workplace, this can be achieved in a variety of ways. Don’t judge the ideas of your colleagues. Leave room for exploration, not just for yourself, but for everyone. Allow for small failures, so that no one is afraid to test new ideas. Apply the same approach to yourself too, and try something new. Getting in touch with your creativity can bring your leadership to the next level.


Looking for a Few Good Projects

If you are like me, you probably have more ideas for projects than resources (time, people, money) to get them done. We’d like to help! Each year Leadership Pioneer Valley teams collaborate with community partners to take action on the partners’ projects.
We are asking non-profits to submit Leadership Project Proposal by OCTOBER 16TH. Project proposals will be presented to teams in November and they will submit their top picks. Unfortunately, not all projects will be picked. Teams will work on projects from December until late May. Projects should be flexible enough to allow for creativity but provide some structure.
There are five project teams this year, each with 6-7 emerging leaders from employers across the region. This is an opportunity for participants to have an experiential learning experience, put leadership lessons into action and make a difference. Each team will work with partners to ensure mutual agreements on outcomes. This is a win for your organization and a win for LPV leaders.
Past projects:
  • - Created Campus Engagement Model and volunteer event for the Foodbank of Western MA.
  • - Organized a full-day Peace Jam Slam event for more than 40 youth.
  • - Created an outreach video and plan for the Holyoke Youth Task Force.
  • - Organized a survey of young professionals in the Valley to understand how to attract and retain them.
  • - Organized workshops to educate communities on how their town could become a “Green Community”.

LPV Welcomes New Program Manager, Dawn Leaks

Dawn LeaksSpringfield, MA- We are thrilled that Dawn Leaks has joined the LPV team in a newly created position, program manager. In this role, Leaks will be responsible for managing LPV’s signature ten-month regional leadership development program and helping recruit future participants.

Dawn Leaks is a certified coach and speaker and Adjunct Professor of Business at Bay Path University. She joins Leadership Pioneer Valley after nearly five years in communications and development at the American Red Cross. As Director of Communications, Dawn was responsible for public affairs, media relations, social media and marketing communications. In previous roles, Dawn worked as recruiter for a mid-size public school system and an Account Executive for Masslive.com. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and has served on several boards of local organizations including Next Level Development for Women of Color and Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts. She is an active Board member at the New England Public Radio Foundation, Inc.

A resident of Springfield, MA, Dawn holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s of Communication and Information Management from Bay Path University. Dawn owns and operates Woman of Confidence Coaching & Consulting, LLC, where she provides professional development and leadership coaching to entrepreneurs and executives. She enjoys writing a regular column for Lioness Magazine - an online publication for women entrepreneurs.

LPV Seeks Project Proposals

We are looking for project proposals from you for our upcoming class of Leadership Pioneer Valley! The region and your organization benefit from the projects while the team members have the opportunity to apply the skills learned in their leadership training sessions. At the conclusion of the program, commencement will include presentations by each team highlighting their learning, their process and the outcomes of their project. All projects submitted will be reviewed by project teams of roughly 7 individuals who will choose their project. The teams will have roughly 6 months to implement each project and work with their community partner. This is a great opportunity for both our teams and your organization. Past teams have made significant impacts on a variety of issues

Proposals should be submitted by September 20th. Thank you for your consideration and do not hesitate to contact me with questions.

See RFP to submit proposal.