The Faces of Leadership
To date, more than 850 individuals from around the Seacoast have completed the program. Most graduates have remained in the Seacoast Region and can be found at the State House, leading local non-profits, serving on boards, and volunteering their time and talents to make a positive impact in the community. Here’s what a few of our alumni have to say about their experience in the program.
Class of ’15
I was trying to figure out whether I wanted to start a business or not. Because of the support that I received from my class, I did, and I am so grateful for the timing of it all.
Leadership Seacoast also motivated me to become more involved in my community and I have been an active volunteer and board member every since.
Class of ’13
On the last day, we were at the Navy Yard, and the bells tolled at 9:15 a.m. to memorialize the USS Thresher. A classmate spoke about the Thresher and to my surprise, I learned both of our fathers worked on that ship. My dad came home that day but his did not. It was a horrible feeling that brought back the sadness of that tragic day. We embraced realizing the bond we shared.
Leadership Seacoast opened my eyes to the issues affecting our community. I understood how economics linked to drug court, how arts linked to drugs, how economics linked to health, etc. It literally smacked me in the face. It made me question how I could have gone all that time without realizing how these segments related to each other. Shortly after graduation, I joined Rochester’s Economic Development Committee to assist the city in economic growth, and I began the process of building a new school for the Monarch School of New England. My connections through Leadership Seacoast helped me make that happen. In less than three years, I was able to coordinate the building of an adaptive playground with all-volunteer help, raised funds and add a wing to the middle school, and finally a capital campaign and donation of land to build a high school and vocational wing.
Class of ’96
…hearing from Peter Francese and understanding the importance of demographics and using informed data to make decisions and to plan strategically. That learning was profound and had a huge impact on me professionally.
After going through the program in 1996 I realized that I was less interested in my chosen profession (museum management) than community education and impact. It took a few years but my future work evolved into community initiatives. When I moved to Portland Maine in 2013 I thought the way to fast-track connections and learn about my new city was to do the same program in Portland. But it didn’t exist! So I went through Leadership Maine and made some local connections there. After a few years and hundreds of networking meetings later, Leadership Portland has been launched. We plan for the first class to begin January 2020.
Class of ’18
…when we visited the jail and met a man being held there waiting to be deported by ICE. A great discussion followed on the reasons why the county is involved and how the county benefits. As controversy about ICE develops daily, I think back to our visit and become more involved in the issue as a result. Information is powerful.
On the last day, I promised to get involved in the Conservation Commission in my town of Lee as a result of the environment day and our final discussions.
As it happened, an opening became available on the Commission, I applied, and am now a member. I don’t know as much as the other members, but my experience with Leadership Seacoast taught me to jump in, ask questions, and learn. I’m excited to be able to make an impact in my community.
Class of ’12
For me, Leadership Seacoast was an eye opener to the issues that exist outside of my personal circle of family and friends. The experience made me more thoughtful about others.
Prior to my involvement, I was unaware of the challenges faced by so many residents such as poverty, transportation, and working within the system to get the assistance they needed.
I learned the value of playing to your strengths in my efforts to be involved in the community and have utilized my financial skills to serve on two Boards; one as the Treasurer and one on the Finance Committee.
Class of ’17
Understanding that one voice can make a change, issues are often complicated and seem insurmountable but with a motivated team, progress can be made. Slow, steady progress – patience!
I had been on non-profits boards before Leadership Seacoast but after the program, I wanted to do even more to give back to great organizations and causes:
Portsmouth Rotary Board and 3 committees
Arts in Reach Board and 2 committees (fundraising and marketing)
Haven NH (currently not on this board) and was on finance committee
Class of ’02
Justice Day was the topic most unfamiliar to me and furthest from my personal and professional experience. It expanded my knowledge and perspective the most. Seventeen years later this is the only day that I vividly recall.
After visiting the Strafford County Jail our class generously offered to donate used books for their library. We did this without asking the jail what would be most beneficial.
Our donations were just piled on top of a lot of other books.
It was an important lesson, we should ask an organization what is needed before giving any non-financial contributions or volunteer time. Be respectful of their needs and limited capacity and better use our giving & volunteer resources.
I joined the Leadership Seacoast Board of directors and eventually chaired the organization. My first non-profit board involvement, and certainly not my last!
Class of ’13
Leadership Seacoast proved to be an invaluable investment for me. It opened my eyes to the “interconnectedness” of things. It also motivated me to help others.
Visiting Cross Roads House allowed me to witness poverty up close and inspired me to establish the Pease ‘n Carrots Annual Holiday Food Drive, a local initiative which over the past decade has raised over a hundred thousand dollars and many tons of nonperishable foodstuffs donated by the Pease community for the benefit of those served by the good people at Gather and at the Cross Roads House.
Inspired me to found or co-found the Jumpstart Program at Great Bay Community College, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program at Gather, the Pease Softball League, the Dan Healy Foundation, and the Seacoast Chapter of Veterans Count.
Class of ’06
Leadership Seacoast emphasized the interconnected nature of the 9 program days. One day in particular, underscored the importance of a strong family foundation and the significance of a simple family dinner to impact not only health and parent-child relationships, but also literacy, prevent behavioral problems, and reduce risky behavior.
As my son was entering high school, I noticed a profound disconnect between the school and the parent population. As a result of LS, I knew the impacts of parent involvement/engagement can have on a child–academic success, connection to community, less likely to go down a path that could lead to drugs, crime, etc.
I created a communication platform, Dover Journal, to keep parents informed and encourage engagement by providing information on school activities, the community in general, and information helpful to parents/guardians with teenagers.