BCC's Coordinator of Multicultural Center Recognized as 2019 Latina Leader

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Velez was one of 11 Latina leaders honored at the March 29 event.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College's coordinator of the Multicultural Center, Eleanore Velez, has been recognized by Amplify Latinx as a 2019 Latina Leader.

Amplify Latinx is a Boston-based, non-partisan, collaborative movement whose mission is to build Latinx economic and political power by significantly increasing Latinx civic engagement and representation in leadership position across sectors.

In celebration of Women's History Month, Amplify Latinx launched a campaign to identify 11 outstanding Latina leaders who exemplify the best in their professions and who are lifting others as they climb. Amplify Latinx received 45 nominations from corporate, civic, nonprofit, political, and entrepreneurship sectors in Massachusetts. Velez was one of 11 Latina leaders honored at the March 29 event.

"We couldn't be more proud of Eleanore and all of the work she does to help our students, our campus and our community," Ellen Kennedy, president of the college, said. "Eleanore is known for her work in helping to humanize situations that often feel abstract or different. She helps our students embrace and understand each other’s backgrounds to expand their educational opportunities and worldviews."

Velez's nomination went on to explain how she has more than 25 years of experience working with cross-cultural initiatives. At Berkshire Community College, she has assumed a leadership role in fostering a welcoming and engaging campus for students from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds so that they can thrive and achieve their full potential. Through the years she has been a liaison and advocate with community agencies enhancing the dialogue that leads to deeper community integration. She is currently a board member of Barrington Stage Company and a member of the Four Freedoms Coalition.

"I feel quite honored and humbled in receiving this award," Velez said. "I come to work each day to try to foster better understanding between various people with different backgrounds – I feel blessed to be able to work at BCC and various segments of our community. To be recognized for doing something that I love – helping people connect and engage in a meaningful way – is a great feeling."

Velez is a diversity and inclusion champion who believes in the transformative power of education and genuine human interactions. Velez has received the Literacy Network of South Berkshire (LitNet) Founders of America Award, the Berkshire Immigrant Center’s Jane Addams Spirit Award and the Multicultural Competence Award from Multicultural Bridge.

Velez, who resides in Lee, was born in Mexico. She holds an associate's degree from BCC and a bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College.


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Brien Center Honors Two at Annual UNICO Dinner

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

Ed Sutton spent years struggling with addiction but now is a counselor at the Brien Center, helping others dealing with substance abuse. Seen here with his wife, Karen, he spoke at the Brien Center's annual fundraising dinner. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When Ed Sutton celebrated his 17th birthday in lockup, he knew something had to change. Like many addicts it took him several more years and realizations, and another stint behind bars to finally make that change permanent. 
At Thursday night's annual Brien Center/UNICO dinner at Berkshire Hills Country Club, he got to tell his story.
"I've used and abused substances for as long as I can remember. I went to my first detox when I was 16 years old. I turned 17 years old in a locked unit for people with mental health and substance abuse issues," he said. "It seemed everyone around me knew I had a problem except for me."
Sutton led an itinerant childhood under the thumb of his alcoholic, abusive biological father. After shuttling between Massachusetts and the state of Florida, he was barely able to make it to the 11th grade before quitting in the first week. If he blames his circumstances for his substance abuse, he didn't let on when addressing the crowd.
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