Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet meets with Secretary Jay Ash
Pittsfield — The Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet, co-chaired by MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board, 1Berkshire and Berkshire Community College, met Dec. 18 to continue their work on developing and executing strategies to create improved mechanisms and track meaningful metrics of success for the Berkshire workforce. Joining them for this meeting was Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, who brought with him updates from the Baker-Polito administration. North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard; Rep. John Barrett III, D-North Adams; A.J. Enchill from the office of Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield; and Lisa Udell-Fletcher from the office of Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, were also part of the conversation.
In discussion with the cabinet members, Ash noted that the work being done by the Berkshire cabinet and the other six cabinets from across the Commonwealth is directly impacting the work done at the state level. Resource allocation and sets of best practices developed through this process will be used to help sustain and grow workforce skills training programs and to help strategize the best use of available resources going forward. The board provided additional insights about the challenges it faces in terms of attracting and retaining midlevel professionals in the region, which allowed it to begin to frame out options for meaningful data collection for both a baseline and ongoing collection of data to chart the impact of the collective work. In February 2019, the board will have its aggregated asset map and baseline metrics set to begin tracking the impact of actionable work.
Also at the meeting, Heather Boulger presented updates on a number of joint applications that have been received to assist the manufacturing and hospitality/management sectors with upcoming training opportunities and highlighted several strategies that are being expanded upon.
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Berkshire United Way announces resignation of CEO Hazzard
Pittsfield — Berkshire United Way has announced that, after serving 10 years as president and CEO of the organization, Kristine Hazzard has resigned with an intended departure date of Sunday, June 30, 2019.
A search committee led by Berkshire United Way board member Pat Callahan, who has extensive recruiting experience as a former human resources executive at Wells Fargo, has been created to conduct a national search to identify a new leader.
Hazzard, who plans to continue to reside in the Berkshires with her husband, Larry, looks forward to having more time to spend with the couple’s two children and grandson as she seeks an opportunity to continue to impact the community in a new way. Prior to joining Berkshire United Way, Hazzard served as president and CEO of the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County Inc. in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
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Cultural districts, chambers of commerce to partner for 2019 ArtWeek festival
Berkshire County — A diverse team of local organizations has been announced for the 2019 ArtWeek festival, which will celebrate the arts across the Commonwealth with hundreds of creative events from Friday, April 26, through Sunday, May 5, 2019.
As part of the 2019 festival, ArtWeek will be working with over 100 statewide, regional and local partners, including the Downtown Great Barrington Cultural District, North Adams Cultural District, Upstreet Cultural District and First Fridays Artswalk in Pittsfield, the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, Art Lenox and the Lenox Chamber of Commerce. 1Berkshire and Berkshire Young Professionals are serving as regional collaborators in western Massachusetts.
“As a brand-new Cultural District, this was a perfect opportunity for us to serve the community,” said Karin Watkins, co-chair of the Downtown Great Barrington Cultural District, which received its designation earlier this fall. “We can encourage participation among our district stakeholders and neighbors, and then use our district’s communication tools to promote the festival itself when the time comes next spring.”
Plans are also underway for each of these local and regional partners to coordinate their promotion of ArtWeek in order to better leverage Berkshire County’s participation in the festival. The Berkshire partners will be working in the coming weeks to brainstorm ways to provide support to event hosts within the region.
Previously a Boston-based event, ArtWeek opened up applications to all of Massachusetts for the first time last year, and 130 cities, town and neighborhoods participated. Online event applications for ArtWeek are now available. Featured events should be hands-on, interactive, or offer behind-the-scenes access to arts, culture and the creative process. Events may be submitted by individual artists, informal groups, nonprofit organizations, or businesses, and there is no fee to apply as an event host. The early bird deadline to submit an ArtWeek event is Friday, Jan. 11, 2019; the final deadline is Friday, Feb. 22, 2019.
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Villalobos joins Railroad Street Youth Project as apprenticeship coordinator
Great Barrington — Railroad Street Youth Project has announced the addition of Nancy Villalobos as its apprenticeship coordinator.
Villalobos is Colombian and Argentine and grew up in Miami, Florida. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she studied textile and surface design. Throughout her college career, she interned with Brooklyn-based weaving studio and healing arts center Weaving Hand, where she mentored local teenagers and worked with a community-focused agency. Villalobos moved to the Hudson Valley with her cat, Feliz, in the summer of 2016 and loves working with young people and community members. When not at work, she makes elaborate meals for friends, takes care of houseplants and laughs very loudly.
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BCC hires financial literacy coordinator
Pittsfield — Berkshire Community College has announced the hiring of Nancy Stoll as financial literacy coordinator. BCC has also announced that Tina Schettini, who previously worked as a senior special projects coordinator, has moved to the Student Engagement Center to work as the coordinator of student activities. Additionally, BCC welcomes Eleanore Velez, an admissions counselor and coordinator of the Multicultural Center, back to the College.
Stoll’s position as financial literacy coordinator is based in the student financial services office and is funded by a grant from Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Stoll has been in the Berkshires for over 30 years and is a strong supporter of community college education. She served as vice president of community impact for Berkshire United Way from 2009–17, and has been working as a personal coach focused on wellness for the past year and a half. Stoll earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing and advertising from Baruch College in New York City. She lives in Lenox with her husband.