By Kaarin Olofsson Milne, Co-Chair, Catapult Seacoast

Kaarin Olofsson MilneThe energy and enthusiasm coursed through the Redhook tasting room on December 12th, when dynamic individuals of all ages gathered to honor the alumni of Leadership Seacoast as recipients of Catapult’s JT O’Donnell Award.  In years past, the award has recognized an individual who made an outstanding effort to further Catapult’s mission: to cultivate a talent pool of emerging business and community leaders who contribute to social and economic development in NH.  But this year, the board realized that more than any one person, it’s a certain type of person who really helps young professionals develop and grow.  And it’s that type of person you find populating the ranks of Leadership Seacoast alumni.

Where else would you find someone like Catherine Blake, who routinely invites young professionals to serve as role models for UNH students?  Or Stephen Gianotti, who donated many hours to empowering young professionals through self-awareness?  People like Sean Clancy, who helped our board with team-building, or Carol Aten, who gathered business leaders to brainstorm Catapult’s development options?  What about connectors like Howard Altschiller, who opened doors to a Catapult / Seacoastonline program that will shine a light on promising young professionals?  Or Angela Carter, who leveraged Calypso’s talent to ensure that we enter the spotlight with our best foot forward, or  Christine Sieks who will expand the reach of that spotlight through Clear Channel?   What about Pat Closson, Jen Wheeler, Molly Hodgson, Steve Scott, Jen Powers, Elena Whittaker, Charlene Zerbinopoulos, Jay Childs and Jennifer Gray, to name a few, who have supported young professionals as part of their relationship with our community?  In the end, it’s all about people, and many of the good people who make this region thrive are alumni of Leadership Seacoast.

For those of us who’ve been around for a while, it’s easy to see that the familial habit of building, educating and nurturing is a big part of what makes the Seacoast thrive.  When you give guidance, share values, or tell newcomers ‘what they don’t know they need to know’, you give a gift with an  impact that resonates through others for many years to come.

As proud as I’ve been to be a participant, graduate, committee member, and past board member of Leadership Seacoast, I am equally proud to be a consistent supporter of Catapult Seacoast.  Every day I see the potential in each of the engaged ‘hand raisers’ I work with, as they strive to find the right niches where they can best apply their talents.  Whether it’s our humble yet amazing Events Chair Terri Way, our talented Marketing Chair Tom DiGiuseppe, our graceful Co-Chair Lauren Kane, or one of our many solid volunteers, in each of them I see the spark of leadership and service that I have come to know and love in all of my Leadership Seacoast friends.  Although these young professionals may be a step or two behind on the path, many Catapult participants are cut from the same cloth.  And it is in keeping with Leadership Seacoast’s mission for each alumni to extend a hand to some of these gifted individuals and help them find their place here, in our community.

In closing, I’ll mention that the connection between Leadership Seacoast and Catapult works both ways.  In addition to the Leadership Seacoast Alumni who have served on the Catapult board & committees, such as Helen Donington, Bridgette Desmond, Allison Potter, Brandon Stauber and myself, two current board members, Treasurer Jamie Brewer and Secretary Ryan Houghton, have been accepted into the Leadership Seacoast class of 2014.  We can’t wait to see the impact that their experiences in Leadership Seacoast will have on Catapult, and on the growing community of engaged young professionals in the Seacoast.