Visionary Leadership Award honoree Souleymane Badolo MFA ’13, left, with Susan Sgorbati, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action. Photo by Prokriti Projukti Tusti ’25.

BUSINESS BRIEFS Part Two: Souleymane Badolo awarded; Bard acquires papers; Railroad Street Youth Project awards Sheyla Cruz; MCLA receives grant; Second Chances Job Fair at BCC

“Solo is one of those human beings that is multi-talented as an artist, a community activist, and a visionary that imagines what is possible from what seems impossible.”

Editor’s Note: We had so much news this week that we decided to break Business Briefs into two parts.  This is the second part.

Souleymane Badolo MFA ’13 Bennington College honored with Visionary Leadership Award

Bennington— Dancer, choreographer, and activist Souleymane Badolo MFA ’13 has been named the 2023 recipient of Bennington College’s Dr. Elizabeth Coleman Visionary Leadership Award. This annual award recognizes an engaged Bennington alumni who has successfully demonstrated leadership and confident willingness to step forward and take risks in order to solve problems and achieve results in the areas of education, government, the arts and sciences, or industry.

Honoree Souleymane Badolo.

Badolo graduated from Bennington College with an MFA in Dance in June 2013. He has returned several times as a recurring visiting faculty member. Of Badolo, dance faculty and colleague Dana Reitz wrote in his nomination, “He became an electric teacher, and he began to formulate and develop ideas for helping others in his native land.”

“Souleymane is a visionary leader who embodies the values and achievements of the quintessential Bennington graduate,” said President Laura R.Walker. “Through movement, gentleness, and creativity, he is improving the lives of villagers in his home country of Burkina Faso.”

In May of 2021, Badolo embarked on a project to help bring water to the drought-stricken village of Kya in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where his parents were from. He bought farmland in Kya with the intention of aiding the community by drilling a well for everyone’s use. There was no well in the Village of 1,300 people, so farmers and families were dependent upon the two to three month rainy season, which is more and more unpredictable due to climate change. Badolo engaged international partners and persevered through challenges to find water in December 2021.

“Bennington college is one of the coolest places that gives you more opportunity for creation and experimentation,” Badolo wrote. “[It] gives you space, time to dream and have real experiences with talented teachers who inspire all students. I learned these human values only with Bennington.” Badolo continued, “I am grateful for this award and how it will help me bring water and farming to villagers in Kya.”

Susan Sgorbati, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action, shared that, “Solo is one of those human beings that is multi-talented as an artist, a community activist, and a visionary that imagines what is possible from what seems impossible. I am so pleased that he is getting recognition for the outstanding work that he has done and will do in the future.”


Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College acquires the papers of distinguished art historian and scholar Eddie Chambers

Annandale-On-Hudson— The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) has announced that distinguished Black British scholar and art historian, Eddie Chambers, has placed his papers with the CCS Bard Archives, significantly enhancing the scope of CCS Bard’s research collections.

Portrait of Eddie Chambers by Hakeem Adewumi.

This archival acquisition is the first in a series dedicated to Black Exhibition Histories, an initiative co-funded by the Marieluise Hessel Foundation which included the 2021 conference and 2022 publication “Reshaping the Field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display,” published with Afterall in association with CCS Bard, Asia Art Archive, and the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts at the University of Gothenburg.

The collection spans the late 1970s to the 2010s and includes rare publications, invitations, flyers, press, photographs, and manuscripts primarily documenting British Black and Caribbean artists from the African Diaspora. “This archival collection broadens and expands the research collections at CCS Bard in a profound way, providing access to unique documentation that will support the writing of underserved exhibition histories and new scholarship,” states Ann Butler, Director of the Library and Archives at CCS Bard.

In 1989 Eddie Chambers established the African and Asian Visual Artists’ Archive (AAVAA), the only dedicated research and reference facility in the UK at the time concerned with documenting the history and work of British-based Black artists. Chambers coordinated AAVAA until 1992. Chambers earned his PhD at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 1998, working under Professor Sarat Maharaj and external examiner Professor Stuart Hall. His doctorate focused on the press and other responses to a new generation of Black British artists who emerged in the 1980s.

On November 6, 2023, Eddie Chambers will give a guest lecture entitled “The (Curious) Progress of Black British Artists” at CCS Bard, as part of the Center’s Speaker Series of public talks which are free and open to the public. For more information, please go to: eddie-chambers


Sheyla Cruz selected to receive seventh annual Railroad Street Youth Student Empowerment Scholarship

Great Barrington— Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), the dynamic youth empowerment nonprofit organization that advocates for and invests in young people in southern Berkshire County, is pleased to announce that Sheyla Cruz has been awarded the seventh annual Railroad Street Youth Student Empowerment (RYSE) Scholarship. 

This scholarship is the culmination of the Railroad Street Youth Student Empowerment (RYSE) Program, a unique example of intergenerational collaboration. Created in 2017 by local youth leader Zinc Estime in partnership with their peers, RSYP staff and board members, RSYE provides an opportunity for students to explore options after high school – whether at a private, state, or community college, through a gap year, or at a vocational school – in a safe and supportive space. Students from Monument Mountain and Mount Everett High School participate in the summer program, where they take part in a series of dynamic and youth-centered sessions on topics ranging from balancing tasks, goal setting, demystifying the Federal Student Aid application process, and productive financial behavior such as credit building, budgeting, and saving. 

Youth who successfully complete RYSE are eligible to apply for a scholarship of $20,000, which may be used over four years to assist with tuition at a state or private college or university, a community college or vocational school, a focused curriculum for a gap year, or any GED Program. A panel made up of staff and board members review applications in a competitive process and Sheyla was ultimately selected to be this year’s recipient. 

RYSE scholarship recipient, Sheyla Cruz. Image courtesy of RSYP.

An 18-year-old recent graduate from Monument Mountain Regional High School, Sheyla is currently attending the Mildred Elley School in Pittsfield to get her certificate in cosmetology. After completing her studies there, she plans to attend Berkshire Community College in fall 2024 to study psychology. 

“Attending the RYSE program made me think a lot about my future,” she says. “Listening to the panels made me understand that making mistakes is fine, because you learn from those mistakes. I also learned that it is important to do what I like no matter what other people say because it is my future. It’s never too late to explore your options and continue chasing your dreams.” 


MCLA receives $626,536 for new equipment from Massachusetts Life Sciences Center 

North Adams— Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a $626,536 Workforce Development Grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC). Over the next two years, this grant will fund the purchase of essential equipment for the College’s biology and chemistry programs. MCLA was previously awarded $253,542 from MLSC in 2022 to support its equipment needs.

MLSC seeks to further the development and expansion of life sciences education in post-secondary institutions to effectively prepare students for high-demand career opportunities in the life sciences industries. As MCLA joins this initiative, the College’s life sciences faculty collaborated with local life sciences employers to identify and select the equipment that best prepared students for careers in the life sciences. The grant will purchase equipment that is essential to pharmaceutical design, biomanufacturing, and biomedical research. Additionally, other lab equipment will be updated to improve data integrity and accuracy. These specific instruments are equivalent or identical to our industry partners’ tools, and crucial to student training and career preparation.

MCLA President James F. Birge, Ph.D. Image courtesy of MCLA.

“This grant is further proof of MCLA’s commitment to responding directly to local workforce needs and to providing robust curricular experiences that lead directly to meaningful employment,” said MCLA President James F. Birge, Ph.D. “We are grateful to the Mass Life Sciences Center for this investment in our region.”

The Workforce Development Grant program is part of $30.5 million released this year by the Healey-Driscoll administration to support life sciences education and innovation.


Berkshire Community College to host ‘Second Chances Job and Resource Fair’ on November 8th

Pittsfield— Berkshire Community College (BCC) to host ‘Second Chances Job and Resource Fair’ on Wednesday, November 8th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

The job fair is free and open to the public. Formerly incarcerated individuals are especially encouraged to attend. The location is BCC’s Paterson Field House, located on the main campus at 1350 West Street in Pittsfield.

BCC President Ellen Kennedy. Image courtesy of BCC.

Area employers with immediate job opportunities will meet and greet job-seekers. Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler, District Attorney Timothy Shugrue, and BCC President Ellen Kennedy will be in attendance.

Justice involved individuals, including those with a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) file, face enormous barriers to employment. This event brings together these individuals with CORI-friendly employers.