A family attends a Pre-K open house at 18 Degrees. The Early Education and Care program at 18 Degrees is one of the 40 programs Berkshire United Way invests in. Photo provided by 18 Degrees

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Bruun named to CHP Board; 18 Degrees Youth Development VP; Church music director; Rabkin Prize winner; Food Systems Research Center; New HR Director; Big Y Bag Program; support for Ukraine; BWPCC scholarships; Berkshire United Way funds programs

Originally from the Bronx, Bard Professor Peter L’Official has won a Rabkin Prize of $50,000 for his work in visual art journalism.

Great Barrington — The Community Health Programs has named Erik Bruun of Great Barrington to its board. Brian Drake has been elected board president in the annual board reorganization. Celia Clancy was elected vice president. Allyson Homes remains as secretary of the board. Chuck Leach will continue as treasurer of the board.

Community Health Programs, Inc. is a healthcare network based in the Berkshires of Western Mass. serving approximately 30,000 regional residents with comprehensive medical and dental services at multiple practice locations.

— S.B.

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Pittsfield — Bryan House has joined 18 Degrees, Family Services for Western Mass. as the Vice President of Youth Development. In this role, House will lead Pittsfield Community Connection and North Adams; West Main Connection, two service sites that provide pathways to safer, healthier, and more prosperous lives for young people. House will also oversee other programs within 18 Degrees that provide opportunities for young people to reach their full potential.

Bryan House

18 Degrees promotes the well-being and strengths of children, young people, adults, and families. They provide education, parenting skills and support, prevention and intervention, advocacy, and life skills across a spectrum of programs serving young people, adults, and families.

— S.B.

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Salisbury, Conn. — The Congregational Church of Salisbury, UCC, welcomes David Baranowski as its Music Director. He succeeds Dr. Samuel Lord Kalcheim, who has been the Transitional Music Director for two years and is departing to focus on his passions for composing and teaching. In addition to guiding the church’s music programs, leading the choir, and providing music in worship services, David will continue the tradition of offering “Meeting House Music and Meditations,” on the first Friday of every month from 12-12:30pm.

Baranowski has had a long and prestigious career in the music industry. For the past eighteen years he toured internationally with rock icon Ritchie Blackmore as both keyboardist and singer. David lives in Danbury with his wife Jennifer and their son Vincent.

— S.B.

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Peter L’Official

Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. — Peter L’Official, associate professor of literature and director of the American Studies Program at Bard College, has won a Rabkin Prize of $50,000 for his work in visual art journalism. L’Official is one of eight visual art journalists to receive a Rabkin Prize from the Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation.

Peter L’Official (he/him) is a writer, arts critic, and teacher of literature and American studies from The Bronx, NY. He is an associate professor in literature and director of the American Studies Program at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, where he teaches courses in African American literature and culture, twentieth- and twenty-first century American literature, and on how the visual arts intersect with literature, place, and architecture. He is also the project coordinator for “Rethinking Place: Bard-on-Mahicantuck,” a grant supported by the Mellon Foundation “Humanities for All Times” Initiative. L’Official is the author of Urban Legends: The South Bronx in Representation and Ruin, published by Harvard University Press in 2020, as well as numerous articles published in such publications as The New Yorker.

— S.B.

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Burlington, Vt. — The University of Vermont announces the appointment of Polly Ericksen, Ph. D., as the inaugural director of the Food Systems Research Center, a collaborative partnership between UVM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. An internationally known expert in agricultural development and sustainability, Ericksen will oversee operations and provide critical leadership as the center grows as a hub for local and regional food systems research across the Northeast.

Ericksen holds a Ph.D. in Soil Science, an M.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College. She brings extensive leadership and management skills to the research center, as well as expertise on the impacts of climate change on agriculture, natural resource management, disease, and social equity. Ericksen has been recognized as an early pioneer in the field of food systems research and is a seminal scholar using interdisciplinary approaches to solve complex food systems issues in the context of global environmental change.

— S.B.

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Sophia Bletsos

Great Barrington — Sophia Bletsos has been named to the position of human resources director for five South County towns. Bletsos’ position, funded by a state grant for the first year, is shared among Great Barrington, Sheffield, New Marlborough, Monterey and West Stockbridge. She will be primarily based at Great Barrington Town Hall. In her shared position, Bletsos will be responsible for establishing and refining best practices in all aspects of human resources management in the five towns.

Bletsos earned two degrees from Springfield College: a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, with minors in art and environmental studies.

— S.B.

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Big Y Reusable Bag

Pittsfield — The Berkshire County Historical Society has been selected by local Big Y store leadership as the benefiting non-profit in the Big Y Community Bag Program for the month of August.

The Big Y Community Bag Program is designed to give back to the local community with every reusable bag purchased. Every $2.50 reusable Big Y Community Bag sold donates $1 to a non-profit local to the store in which it was purchased. This program offers a way for shoppers to give back as part of the regular weekly routine. For more information about the Big Y Community Bag Program, please visit bigy.bags4mycause.com.

The Berkshire County Historical Society is a non-profit corporation dedicated to collecting, preserving, and disseminating the history of Berkshire County in western Massachusetts. In addition, the Berkshire County Historical Society is committed to the preservation and interpretation of Arrowhead, home of author Herman Melville, designated a National Historic Landmark. The Berkshire County Historical Society provides tours of Arrowhead, and programming dedicated to the history of western Massachusetts and the life and writings of Herman Melville. For information on visiting, go to berkshirehistory.org.

— S.B.

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Enfield, Conn. — Polish Pottery importer Janelle Imports and its Manufaktura USA boutique shops today announced that, together with its loyal customers, more than $40,000 has been donated so far to a relief account that aids Ukrainian refugees. Since March, Manufaktura USA has pledged 10 percent of online and in-store sales to support Ukrainians who fled their precious country, while giving customers the option to donate during checkout. Leaders in the town of Bolesławiec, Poland set up the fund for Manufaktura USA to easily wire money directly into the account. The funds provide emergency assistance to Ukrainian refugees in need of food, accommodation, clothing, medicine and personal hygiene products. Bolesławiec is the birthplace of the president and founder of Janelle Imports, Elle Łoś-Englander. For more information about the company’s humanitarian efforts, visit manufakturausa.com/pages/humanitarian-assistance.

— S.B.

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Maisie Dufour

Ludlow — The Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation (BWPCC) has selected two students from the Mount Greylock Regional High School class of 2022 to receive $1,000 scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to qualifying seniors who are planning to attend either a two- or four-year college or trade school program. This year’s scholarship recipients are Maisie Dufour and Rosario Larios Sontay.

Rosario Larios Sontay

Dufour plans to study communications at Michigan State University. While attending Mount Greylock, she served as secretary of the National Honor Society and was a recipient of the Smith College Book Award. She also was a member of the Yearbook club, Youth Environmental Squad, and the Register, Educate, and Vote club.

Larios Sontay will attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall and major in business. While in high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society and participated on the soccer, basketball, and tennis teams. She also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the Berkshire Human Society.

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Pittsfield — Berkshire United Way announces renewal funding of $1,029,500 for 40 programs across 24 community partner organizations. This funding will be for a one-year period, from July 1 of this year to June 30, 2023, and will continue to stabilize BUW’s three main Community Impact areas: Early Childhood Development, Positive Youth Development, and Economic Prosperity. Learn more about the 40 programs. This assistance helps to fund programs such as Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity’s Community Navigator Program, which is designed to assist marginalized residents with connections to resources that will enable them to remain economically resilient.

A new round of funding requests will be announced in early 2023, but to help increase investments in quality, impactful programs, consider a contribution to BUW’s fundraising campaign. Donate at www.berkshireunitedway.org/donate.

— S.B.