Berkshire United Way Names New CEO

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire United Way has announced that Candace Winkler will replace outgoing CEO and Executive Director Kristine Hazzard.

Winkler comes to BUW from Santa Barbara. She will overlap with Hazzard for a month, and, after wrapping up things in California, will begin her full-time solo tenure in Pittsfield on July 1.

"We were looking for someone who had a passion for the health of communities and who we thought could really get to know and support the many agencies that work so hard in the county. We also wanted someone who we thought could have the vision for the Berkshire United Way could be in the future and who could support the board and staff as we evolve," said Pat Callahan, Berkshire United Way board member and chair of the search committee. "When we met Candace it just seemed like a great fit. Her experience and energy were right in line with what felt we needed."

Winkler grew up in South Carolina, attended Vanderbilt University, and earned two master's degrees from Columbia University, one in social work and the other in public administration. She then spent 14 years in Alaska, working on early childhood education initiatives and running the Alaska Community Foundation, before moving with her husband and twins to Santa Barbara, Calif. There, she served as president of the local Scholarship Foundation.

Despite its tony reputation, Santa Barbara is like Berkshire County: a place of haves and have-nots, Winkler said.

"There is actually some significant poverty in the area; people don’t realize that," she said.

In her professional roles, she always has partnered with United Ways, as a funded partner or collaborator. Winkler was supportive as the national United Way shifted to embrace a "community impact model," which requires funded partners to closely track their organizational goals and targets and how well they meet them over time.  

"The change was somewhat controversial. But I was one of the leaders applauding because I thought we all had to be looking at data and, 'Is the work we are doing making a difference?,'" she said. "What attracted me to this particular United Way is they are tying the first early education and youth development to economic stability later on. The most effective way to build a community rich in economic opportunity is by investing in those early years."

"Candace comes to Berkshire United Way with deep experience in and commitment to the early childhood field, an area that Berkshire United Way has been proud to provide invest in," Hazzard said. "As a social worker like me, Candace is deeply committed to the community, and understands the importance of partnerships."

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Dalton COVID Numbers Droppings, Schools Reopened

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

DALTON, Mass. — Over the past two weeks, the town of Dalton has only seen five new cases of COVID-19 and the Board of Health on Monday said case counts are going in a positive direction.

"I think because we are organized with the three large scale vaccination sites for the county, and the public health infrastructure and the health care community collaborated on it, we have been able to get a leg up on other parts of the commonwealth," Berkshire Health Systems Dr. Daniel Doyle reported.

Twenty percent of Berkshire County's population has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination as of Thursday and around 8 percent have received the second dose. There were more than 3,000 Berkshire County residents vaccinated on Saturday.

The board estimated that the majority of residents over 75 years of age who wish to be vaccinated have been. On Jan. 27, the Dalton Council on Aging began assisting elders without computer or internet access and Director Kelly Pizzi said about 300 people per business day had been helped to secure an appointment. 

Dalton currently utilizes the central Berkshire vaccination site at Berkshire Community College because it would reportedly not be efficient to hold smaller-scale vaccination clinics given the extremely cold storage temperature requirements of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.  

The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at minus-70 degrees Celsius and the Moderna can be kept slightly warmer.

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