LEADs Program Recruits 66 Fellows from Haverhill and Lawrence for New Fall Cohort

Kerri Perry, chief executive officer of Community Action. (Courtesy photograph.)

Sixty-six fellows from Haverhill and Lawrence are the latest to participate in a training program known as “Leaders Engaged and Activated to Drive System-wide change,” or LEADS, for short.

The new fellows are participating this fall in the final Merrimack Valley cohort, comprised of diverse, cross-sectoral leaders from Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill. Members from Haverhill and Lawrence were recruited and selected by Lawrence Partnership and the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.

“The LEADs program is building a coalition of diverse leaders, oriented to action and focused on making a difference. We are fortunate in Haverhill to have a powerful cohort of leaders committed to the program. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish,” said Greater Haverhill Chamber President and CEO Irene Haley.

The majority of the cohort are people of color and include business and nonprofit executives, public officials and faith leaders. Evan Silverio, president and CEO of the Silverio Group of Lawrence, Haverhill and Lowell, and one of the newly selected fellows, said “Through the LEADS program, I get to be aligned with influential leaders from across the region in an effort to bring about positive change through learning, connecting and promoting creative ideas for the benefit of our communities.”

Beginning in Lawrence in 2018, LEADS expanded to Lowell and Haverhill in 2020, offering hybrid programming through the pandemic. It was initially created as an executive leadership program developed between local leaders and Harvard Business School faculty and staff. Through the program, various efforts have been accelerated to address some of the most pressing issues at the community and regional level, including affordable housing, downtown revitalization, food security and more.

Haverhill’s Community Action Executive Director Kerri Perry, a member of the recent group, described a cross-sector collaboration created through the program. She said, “The food initiative creates a scalable systems-level change in Haverhill, connecting food manufacturers and farmers with excess food to local pantries in need of food to distribute. It keeps locally grown and produced food local, cuts down on transportation and develops strong connections of people with the similar goal of caring for their neighbors in need.”

LEADS plans to expand to the North Shore with its next Regional Impact Cluster, scheduled for 2022.

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