8 Berkshire Women Selected for Leadership Institute

Print Story | Email Story
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.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to info@iberkshires.com.

PCTV Documentary Finds Pittsfield Parade Dates Back to 1801

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Television's recently released documentary "Fighting For Independence:  The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" has traced the first Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade back to at least 1801.  

An article in the Pittsfield Sun from July 7, 1801, says that "at 12:00 o’ clock at noon a Procession was formed consisting of the Militia of the town."

Previously the Pittsfield Parade Committee acknowledged that the parade dated back to 1824.

"This was a fascinating discovery, as we researched to put this documentary together," said Bob Heck, PCTV’s coordinator of advancement and community production and executive producer of the program.  "Not only were we able to trace the parade back further than ever before, but to see how the parade has impacted Pittsfield, and how the community always seems to come together to make sure the parade happens is remarkable."

The Pittsfield Fourth of July parade experienced bumps in the road even back in the early 1800s - most notably, when Captain Joseph Merrick, a Federalist, excluded Democrats from the yearly post-parade gathering at his tavern in 1808.

The parade ran concurrently from at least 1801 until 1820. In 1821, Pittsfield’s spiritual leader Dr. Rev. Heman Humphrey, canceled the festivities so the day could be dedicated to God before resuming in 1822 after residents decided they wanted their parade.

"Fighting for Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" premiered July 4 at 9:30 am on PCTV Access Pittsfield Channel 1301 and PCTV Select.  The program is available on-demand on PCTV Select, available on Roku and Apple TV, or online.

View Full Story

More State Stories