Toasting to the Future of North Central Massachusetts

Developing the Talent to Move the Region Forward

Recognizing the importance of fostering an environment that attracts, retains and develops young talent in our communities, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce has established a creative suite of programs and initiatives to help members meet their workforce goals while also helping to forge the next generation of business leaders.

Young Professionals Committee | From Left to Right: AJ Tourigny, City of Fitchburg; Kelli Rooney, Leominster Credit Union; David Ginisi, North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce; Paulie Chlebecek, Edward Jones; Natalia Oliver, AIS, Inc.; Kelsea Benoit, The International; Courtney Brooks, Contemporary Design & Construction; Brendan Hannen, North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation

The Young Professionals of North Central Massachusetts is a talent initiative of the Chamber that helps engage, develop and empower professionals ages 21-40 in the region. This program offers a variety of events designed to give young professionals the opportunity to grow their business network, build relationships with their peers, establish valuable mentor experiences with business leaders and contribute to the future of the region. Events range from the CEO Unplugged series that provides mentoring opportunities with established CEOs, to behind the scenes company tours and unique networking experiences. Within these events, young professionals develop leadership, communication and organizational skills through practical experience. The group relies on young professionals within the membership for direction and guidance, and has recently formed a new leadership committee to help bring new energy and keep the programs relevant and impactful.

“I believe it is crucial for a developing professional to surround one’s self with a network that shares a similar passion and drive for success. Our highest aspirations can be reached by collectively motivating and supporting one another,” said Paulie Chlebecek, Financial Advisor from Edward Jones and Chair of the Young Professionals Leadership Committee. “The Young Professionals of North Central Massachusetts encourages like-minded individuals to do just that; to connect in a manner that will build strong and successful business relationships, while provoking an approach that resonates uniquely with our next generation of talent and leadership.”

“It is my job and passion to introduce customers to our most valuable asset, my fellow employees. Business is about relationships, and our costumers love learning about AIS, and who our people are,” said Natalia Oliver, Tour Specialist o fAIS,Inc. “That is why I am thrilled to be a young professional member of this committee and attend these events and see people connecting and learning how they can build relationships.”

CLI Graduate, Sweta Khajurivala of the Montachusett Opportunity Council, receiving recognition for graduating the Chamber’s Community Leadership Institute program.

Another important leadership development initiative of the Chamber is the Community Leadership Institute (CLI). CLI was developed in 1989 to support access to the region’s many organizations, industries and business leaders as part of the succession plan not only for individual businesses but for the communityatlarge. Participants in CLI learn how to cooperate and work as a team with a diverse group of people with differing backgrounds and experiences which helps to challenge and empower them, as well as how to think critically about the challenges and opportunities faced by the region.

“Our region is fortunate to have a program that invests in building that next generation of business leaders,” said Kelli Rooney, Vice President of Marketing at Leominster Credit Union and a 2014 graduate of the Community Leadership Institute. “CLI helps to strengthen leadership skills, enhance the knowledge of the resources available in our community and creates meaningful and lasting business relationships. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to experience this program.”

High School Senior, Betame DeBono of Nashoba Regional High School, is presented an Enterprise Bank Scholarship by SVP, Michael Toomey, at the Chamber’s Annual Scholarship Breakfast.

The Chamber’s efforts around developing future talent in the region go well beyond just these leadership development programs. The Chamber believes that the very foundation of our region’s talent pipeline has its roots in a strong educational system and has been a longstanding champion of education, actively engaged in supporting our schools. Perhaps the best example of this commitment to our schools is the Chamber’s longstanding scholarship program. Each year, the Chamber’s Foundation distributes over $50,000 in scholarships to local high school students graduating from among the 15 school districts within North Central Massachusetts. Since establishing the program, the Chamber Foundation has awarded well over $1,000,000 in scholarships – all made possible through generous contributions from members. Beyond scholarships, the Chamber’s efforts have included hosting career exploration programs, encouraging work- based learning opportunities, partnering with Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University, advocating on Beacon Hill for college and career pathways, publishing reports and convening education and business leaders together to work towards improving our schools. The Chamber has even received national attention, recently receiving two national education and talent development fellowships for its efforts to cover the entire talent development pipeline.

Young Professionals Chair, Paulie Chlebecek, poses for a photo with Kieshla Rosado, Raven Miranda, and Ann Dumezil of Work, Inc. at a Chamber event.

In today’s business world, the competition for talent is intense. The Chamber recognizes this as critically important to member businesses and to the health and prosperity of our region. We have tackled these challenges and opportunities head on with this multi-pronged strategy. The Chamber will continue its clear efforts in preparing the next generation of business and community leaders while maintaining the mission of Building businesses, Building communities. ◊

This article is from the latest Chamber Report.