8 Berkshire Women Selected for Leadership Institute

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EASTHAMPTON, Mass. — Eight Berkshire County women have been selected by The Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts as members of the 2010-11 Leadership Institute for Political Impact.

A new initiative of the Women's Fund, the 10-month curriculum is designed to create a cadre of effective and powerful women leaders in the region and to train local women to run for elected office.

Focusing on areas such as community organizing, the legislative process and policy-making, fundraising and campaigning for office, LIPI is designed to give women the tools — but more importantly the confidence — they need to become political leaders.

"We believe that a critical way to address the problems facing our communities is to engage the talents and the input of women at all levels and in all sectors of decision making," said Carla Oleska, chief executive chairman of the Fund. "With this project we will create wave after wave of confident, skilled, politically savvy women leaders who will be at the forefront of strengthening our communities."

The women:

Nakeida Bethel-Smith, an outreach educator at the Elizabeth Freeman Center

Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, co-founder and director of Berkshire Resources for the Integration of Diverse Groups and Education, or BRIDGE

Ariane C.Blanchard, Great Barrington Housing Authority Commission member and volunteer BRIDGE Youth Corps coordinator

Eliza Crescentini, executive director of  Berkshire South Regional Community Center

Tanya A. Hills, director of CHP-South Berkshire Youth Coalition

Susan Olshuff, fundraising consultant in Lenox

Marla N. Robertson, mentoring program director for Railroad Street Youth Project

Becky Schirber, an acupuncturist and chef in Lenox

They were publicly recognized as new Leadership Institute members on May 6 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Their yearlong participation in the institute begins in June.
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Keva Health Wins COVID-19 Connect Tech Innovation Challenge

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — On Friday, April 9th, 2021, a panel of  judges declared Keva Health of Lexington the winner of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Connect Tech Innovation Challenge, a competition focused on entrepreneurs and startups working on innovative solutions to enhance resiliency and guard against potential future disruptions in industries like ecommerce, manufacturing, digital health, FinTech, and EdTech.
Keva Health, developers of a remote monitoring platform to help physicians treating asthma patients and an app for patients to better manage their condition, was awarded $40,000 to continue developing their business. Thrive Community of Boston, developers of software to help family caregivers stay better connected with their loved ones, was selected as the runner-up and will receive the $10,000 second place prize.
"We learned a lot from the organizers and our fellow participants in the COVID-19 Connect Tech Challenge, so to come out of this competition as the winner is a great honor to us and our company," said Jyotsna Mehta of Keva Health. "This award sets us up to better help those managing respiratory conditions, not just in Massachusetts, but across the country and world."
Keva Health is also a participant in the Massachusetts Digital Health Sandbox program, aimed at helping Massachusetts healthcare technology startups test and validate their products. Keva has worked with the TechSpring innovation center at Baystate Health in Springfield, where they are piloting a project with asthma patients in the Baystate system. 
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