The work of the Institute is informed by a diverse group of Fellows who bring regional knowledge and relationships along with expertise in policy areas central to the Institute’s mission. Fellows participate in forums, provide peer review for research, and help grow the network of leaders engaging in collaborative efforts to strengthen our Gateway Cities.
|Diluvina Vazquez Allard|
Diluvina Vazquez Allard is retired from the Social Security Administration. She currently serves as President of the Board of the Massachusetts Community Action Network and for 10 years previously as President of the Brockton Interfaith Community. Ms. Allard is a pastoral council member and an Eucharistic Minister at Saint Patrick’s Church in Brockton, where she has lived with her family for over 30 years.
|Pedro Arce |
Pedro Arce is a Vice President in Eastern Bank’s Business Banking Group and an Adjunct Professor at the Sawyer School of Management at Suffolk University. He has been in the banking industry for over 20 years and has been involved in the community and economic development arena for over 15. Mr. Arce is a trustee at Cambridge College, a board member at Family Services Inc, ICA-LEAF, and the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council. He is a founding board member of the Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council, Lawrence Community-Works CDC, and the Adelante Youth Center. He previously served as the Treasurer for Working Capital Inc, now ACCION USA, Chairman of the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, and as a board member on the Community Development Advisory Board at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
|Jennifer Davis Carey|
Jennifer Davis Carey is the founding Executive Director of the Worcester Education Collaborative, an independent, non partisan education advocacy and action organization. She holds Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. In 1998 Carey served as Special Assistant to Governor Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts, and a year later became Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations under Governor Jane Swift. She also served in Governor Mitt Romney’s administration for four years and briefly in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration as Secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. From 2007 until 2009, Carey oversaw the development of education and training solutions at Commonwealth Medicine, a division of University of Massachusetts Medical School. Before joining Massachusetts state government, she enjoyed a long career in education and worked at Ohio University, Harvard University and at Bancroft School, an independent K-12 school in Worcester. Carey is also the founding director of the Initiative for Engaged Citizenship, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides educational workshops about effective, meaningful participation in the public policy processes of the local, state and federal governments. A committed writer her debut novel, Near the Hope was released in late 2013.
He received the Fernando Miranda Outreach Educator of the Year Award from the Community Health Education Center in 2006. Also in 2006, he received the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award for his innovative leadership and gang peacemaking work. He was recently appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants, in addition to participating in the Governor’s Anti-Crime Council. The Massachusetts Speaker of the House also appointed him to a newly created Health Disparity Council.
Colleen Dawicki leads the Urban Initiative at UMass Dartmouth. Before joining the Urban Initiative, she worked in the nonprofit sector and as a researcher for a policy consulting firm. During graduate school, Ms. Dawicki was awarded a Rappaport Public Policy Fellowship and worked for the City of New Bedford’s Office of Housing and Community Development on neighborhood revitalization efforts. A New Bedford resident and South Coast native, she holds a BA in Public and Private Sector Organizations from Brown University and a Master’s of Public Policy from UMass Dartmouth. She currently serves as a National Dropout Prevention Center Fellow and as a member of the City of New Bedford’s Planning Board.
Chad has devoted a career in education to bridging the divide between research and practice, working with educators and policymakers to ensure all children have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life. He began his career as a teacher, serving high needs students in both urban and rural settings. He is the former assistant director of a nationally-renowned research center at Teachers College, Columbia University and, from 2007-2011, was the research and policy director at Strategies for Children. Most recently, he managed Massachusetts’ successful application for a $50 million Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge award. He has a Ph.D. in Education Policy and Social Analysis and an MA in the Sociology of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. His experiences bring an in-depth understanding of cutting-edge education reforms, yet he remains acutely aware of the realities of classroom practice and daily school life.
Brian Elliott has actively worked in public safety and law enforcement since 1987. He is a sergeant with the Springfield Police Department assigned to manage the Office of Grants and Planning. He has been a member of the department since 1997. He is on the advisory board of the Salvation Army Springfield Corps and will soon fill a similar role for the Springfield Y.M.C.A. Prior to Springfield, he worked for the towns of Amherst and Shutesbury as an officer. Brian also served under District Attorney Ryan and Bennett early in his career. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Western New England University. He resides in Wilbraham with his wife Sarah and two sons Aidan and Colin.
Fred Faust is President and founder of The Edge Group, Inc., a real estate consulting and brokerage firm located in Lowell. Formerly he served as managing partner of a regional real estate firm, executive director of the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission, and staff member for the late Senator Paul E. Tsongas.
Mr. Faust is a member of several Greater Lowell community boards including the City of Lowell Green Building Commission, the Merrimack Valley Small Business Center, and the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, which is associated with the Deshpande Foundation and UMass Lowell. He has also served as a board member and chair of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce. He holds a BA in communications from Emerson College.
Lew Finfer has been the Director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN) since 1985. MCAN is a federation of faith based community improvement organizations with affiliates in the Gateway Cities of New Bedford, Fall River, Brockton, Lynn, Salem, Springfield, and Worcester. Mr. Finfer has been a community organizer in Massachusetts since 1970, working with neighborhood improvement groups in Dorchester and Somerville in the 1970’s, directing the Massachusetts Tenants Organization and then the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance in the 1980’s, and as founding co-Director and later Director of Greater Boston Interfaith Organization from 1996 to 2002.
Jack was born and raised in the city of New Bedford, MA. He is a graduate of New Bedford High School and went on to obtain a Master’s degree in chemistry from Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute, now UMASS Dartmouth. He worked for nearly ten years at Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute and continued in environmental chemistry for about eighteen years at Springborn/Smithers Laboratories in Wareham. He retired in 2008.
|Rev. Donald Mier|
Rev. Dr. Donald S. Mier has served First Baptist Church of Fall River since 1972. Don’s vision for the church has always extended beyond the four walls of the congregation and has reached into many ecumenical and interfaith collaborations. Presently, he serves on the Board of the visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Massachusetts, the Homeless Service Providers Coalition and the School Committee Oversight Committee. Faith-based organizing has driven his ministry for the past 16 years.
Linda M. Noonan is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for the Commonwealth. MBAE is committed to a high quality public education system that will prepare all students to engage successfully in a global economy and society. Previously, Linda served as Executive Director of The Alliance for the Commonwealth (now the International Business Council of AIM), a nonpartisan research and educational foundation established to help companies increase their global competitiveness in order to create and maintain jobs locally. Linda has also served as State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business; as Assistant Secretary of Economic Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a policy analyst at the U.S. Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Linda’s civic and volunteer activities include serving on the Westwood School Committee, and on the town’s Permanent Building Committee. She is a member of the Teachers21 Board of Directors; Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE); Steering Committee of Global Education Massachusetts, and other task forces and advisory committees. Ms. Noonan holds degrees from Cornell University and the University of Chicago.
Kevin O’Sullivan is the President and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, a private economic development organization based in Worcester that promotes the growth and expansion of the Biotechnology, Medical Device and Bioinformatics industry. He previously served as Vice President and Director of Marketing in a combined public/private partnership position with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the City of Worcester. From 1986 to 1994 he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He served on the Worcester Business Development Corporation and was part of the development team which created the highly successful one million square foot Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park. Mr. O’Sullivan lives in Worcester.
Melinda Phelps is a partner at Buckley Richardson leading the firm’s Government Strategies Practice Group. A longtime resident of Springfield, Melinda has served as a Springfield police commissioner, and Springfield Technical Community College Foundation board member, Mount Holyoke Club of Greater Springfield past president, and Western Massachusetts Electric Company board member. She is currently a board member of DevelopSpringfield, member of the Massachusetts Council of School Attorneys, trustee of Springfield Museums, and a member of the WGBY Board of Tribunes.
|Maggie Super Church|
Ms. Church is an independent consultant with expertise in urban revitalization, sustainability, real estate development and non-profit management. For Lawrence CommunityWorks, she managed the master planning and Phase One development of Union Crossing, a $75MM mixed-use mill redevelopment project. As Executive Director/Associate Director of Groundwork Lawrence, she led the organization’s growth from a small start-up to a dynamic statewide and national model for public-private partnership. Ms. Church’s prior work also includes the award-winning Eastern Cambridge Master Plan for Goody, Clancy & Associates. She earned her Master of City Planning Degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was awarded the Wallace Floyd Award for City Design and Development and the MIT/DUSP Excellence in Public Service Award. Ms. Church is a Truman Scholar and received her MSc in Urban Design at Edinburgh College of Art and BA in Architecture from Yale University. She is currently serving as the Board Chair for Groundwork USA. She lives in Lawrence.
John Schneider is Director for Gateway Strategic Initiatives at the Massachusetts Charter School Association. Previously he served as Executive Vice President at MassINC where he started the Gateway Cities Initiative. Prior to joining MassINC, Mr. Schneider directed a regional planning and economic development partnership within the Massachusetts I-90 and I-495 corridors. He also served as chief of staff to the House majority whip and research director to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Education, Arts, and Humanities where he played a key staff role in the development, passage, and implementation of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. Mr. Schneider has degrees from Northeastern University and Loyola University of Chicago.
Charlie Toulmin is Director of Policy at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Previously, he was a Senior Policy Analyst in the Education Division of the Center for Best Practices at the National Governor’s Association (NGA). While at the NGA, he led the Center’s efforts to offer policy recommendations and technical assistance to governors and their staff on how to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for all students as a key component of innovative state economies.
Prior to the NGA, Mr. Toulmin served as the Deputy Director of Charter Schools for the Massachusetts Department of Education and as a School Finance Analyst for the Wisconsin State Legislature. He holds a BA in history from Harvard University, a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.
She was a resident fellow of Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research, from 1998 to 1999. Small, Gritty, and Green has been named among the best 15 books of 2011 by the American Society of Landscape Architects, and has been nominated for the C. Wright Mills and Sidney Hillman Awards.
Megan Whilden is the city of Pittsfield’s first Director of Cultural Development. Previously she has served as the editor of the Artful Mind, a regional magazine of the arts, a columnist for the Berkshire Eagle, Marketing Director for IS183, Art School of the Berkshires in Stockbridge, Marketing Manager for Lindisfarne Books in Great Barrington, and Associate Publisher for the Society for the Study of Myth and Tradition in New York City.
David Zoffoli is Executive Director of Creative Haverhill, a position created through the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Adams Arts Initiative to “identify, nurture and promote creative enterprise and its economic and social impacts in the Merrimack Valley and Essex County.” He has enjoyed a 30+ year career as a theater director, producer, administrator and teacher, notably working with every major university and two community colleges in Massachusetts, as well as the North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) in Beverly and the Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) in Lowell since its inception. His early, musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol at NSMT quickly became a holiday tradition after its World Premiere in 1989. MRT’s 1981 move to Liberty Hall from the UMASS Lowell campus “lit up downtown” and paved the way for that Gateway City’s re-emergence. He lives in rural Haverhill with his husband Steve, their dog Milo, and hundreds of woodland creatures.