Public Matters - Class of 2011


ED ALCANTARA was a Home Buyer Counselor with the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership (MVHP) in 2011. The MVHP is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible and sustainable home ownership. In addition to conducting home buyer training classes, Ed works individually with potential first-time home buyers to help them assess their readiness to purchase a home. His work requires a solid understanding of the home buying process, as well as the ability to assist individuals in making realistic decisions and setting appropriate expectations in line with their unique personal and financial situations. Ed has a bachelor degree in business from Salem State College and is fluent in Spanish. 

Public Matters - Class of 2011

Public Matters - Class of 2011

KENDRA AMARAL iss the Assistant Town Manager of Wilmington, MA. During her Public Matters year, Kendra was the Deputy Director of Planning and Development, in charge of development services for the City of Lowell. She oversaw project review and code enforcement operations, and is working to create a customer focused one-stop service for permitted projects in the City.  Prior to her work in Lowell, Kendra was Amesbury’s chief of staff. Her responsibilities included launching and managing the mayor's AmesStat management program, overseeing human resources, communications, constituent services, and special projects. She also managed the health and human services division, the city's larger service contract negotiations, and developed and implemented Amesbury’s regional health services program. She was also a founding member of NE StatNet, an organization of progressive municipalities focused on innovation in government management. Kendra joined the administration team for Amesbury after having served as the director of research and planning, overseeing the expansion project at the Children's Museum in Boston. Kendra lives in Stoneham.

RASY AN was Executive Director of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) in 2011. The CMAA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for Cambodian Americans and other minorities and economically disadvantaged persons in Lowell through educational, cultural, economic and social programs when he participated in Public Matters. Prior to his work at the CMAA, Rasy was a Foreclosure Prevention Coordinator for the Home Preservation Coalition of the Merrimack Valley (HPC), a program of the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA). The CBA, in partnership with Community Teamwork, Inc., founded HPC in 2008 to help homeowners experiencing difficulty meeting mortgage payments. Rasy conducted foreclosure education workshops, one-on-one foreclosure prevention counseling, budget counseling, and access to other resources in the community. Rasy founded Khmer Connections, a program that helps to make connections between the CBA and the Southeast Asian community. Rasy worked for many years for his family’s business Pailin City Enterprises, which consists of a restaurant and function hall, and jewelry and music stores. Rasy is a graduate of Lowell High School and holds an MBA from Rivier College. 

YOVANI BAEZ-ROSE is a Neighborhood Planner for the City Lowell in 2011. When Yovani participated in Public Matters she was a Real Estate Project Manager for Lawrence CommunityWorks, a nonprofit community development corporation working to transform and revitalize the physical, economic, and social landscape of Lawrence. She received her master’s degree in Regional Economic and Social Development from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  Yovani was as a legislative aide for state senator Steven Panagiotakos and worked on constituent issues and legislation. Her past experience also includes work as a resource development associate for Lawrence CommunityWorks and as a Community Organizer for the Coalition for a Better Acre. Yovani is bilingual in English and Spanish and is a resident of Lowell.

JOSE CRUZ is a Commercial lending Officer at Enterprise Bank. In July, 2010 Jose received the Rotarian of the Year Award from the Methuen Rotary. The award acknowledged outstanding service to the club and the community. In the same month, Jose was awarded the Service Leadership Recognition Award from his previous place of employment. He is active in many nonprofits in the Merrimack Valley area such as Community Teamwork Inc.'s Common Ground Development Corp., CLASS, Inc., and the Methuen Board of Trade.  Jose is a graduate of Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, Santiago, Dominican Republic and Southern New Hampshire University. Jose is fluent in Spanish and some Portuguese and lives in Salem, NH.

JENNIFER DEMERS is Program Director for Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell (Girls Inc.), a nonprofit organization that provides quality enrichment programs after school, and during summer and holiday breaks, for girls between the ages of 5 and 18. Jennifer has worked at Girls Inc since 2001. She organizes and plans for implementation of a range of classes for girls from programs in self-reliance and finance, to classes in science, math, and technology. She oversees Eco Smarts, an interactive ecology program for middle school girls that recently received a grant from Women Working Wonders Foundation. In addition to her work at Girls Inc., Jennifer volunteers on the executive board of Lowell’s Women’s Week, and she is chair of the Girls With Goals Conference. She is also active in the planning and implementation of Lowell Kids Week and the Healthy Summer program. Jennifer is a resident of Nashua.

BETH FONTAINE is Office Manager of Nobis Engineering, an employee-owned engineering firm that supports Environmental restoration; responsible growth and sustainable development; and infrastructure development and modernization. Beth played a significant role in the design of Nobis’ Lowell headquarters, the city’s first LEED certified building. As office manager, Beth is responsible for the quality control of work products, develops standard formats and templates, and trains staff on the usage of materials. Prior to joining Nobis, Beth was the executive assistant for the president of the startup company formerly known as ONI Medical Systems for ten years. She is active in business community groups in Lowell and volunteers for the Lowell Folk Festival and Doors Open Lowell. Beth is a lifelong Lowellian.

AMY GLOWACKI works for the National Park service as the Northeast Regional Coordinator of Youth services. In 2011, Amy was a Park Ranger and the Youth Programs Coordinator at Lowell National Historical Park. Amy managed the Mass Parks Student Career Intake Program (SCIP), a new initiative which recruits students from urban and minority communities and provides them with career training leading to permanent employment with the National Park Service. In 2010, SCIP interns visited 17 park sites, met individually with over 100 permanent and seasonal NPS employees representing careers in education, interpretation, law enforcement traditional arts, maintenance, administration, and natural resources. Amy worked as a front-line interpretive ranger for many years. 

MARIANNE GRIES was the Director of the Lowell Alliance for Families and Neighborhoods in 2011.  That organization's mission is to support families and communities by advocating for and promoting empowerment, inclusion, and diversity. Marianne previously worked for the Coalition for a Better Acre, and volunteered for Community Teamwork, Inc.’s Citizen Schools Program at both the Robinson and Wang Middle Schools. She served as a site host for the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project's World PEAS CSA. Among her accomplishments is creating and convening the Lowell Diaper Bank Collaborative. Participating organizations include: Acre Family Child Care, Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, Casey Family Services, Community Teamwork, Inc., the Department of Children and Families, Head Start, House of Hope, and the Lowell Community Health Center. Marianne is a Lowell resident.

GORDON HALM was a Program Supervisor for LifeLinks, Inc. a private, non-profit company that provides services and support for people with developmental disabilities 24 hours/day, 365 days/years in 2011. Their services include residential care, non-vocational day programs, shared living, independent living, family support and education & recreation activities. Gordon Halm, was born in and grew up in Winneba, Ghana, West Africa. In 1998, Gordon bought his first home in the US on West Sixth Street in Lowell. Gordon is Vice-President of the Ghana Association of Greater Boston; founder of Lowell’s Annual African Festival and the Osibi African Dancers of Lowell; Elder at the Elliot Presbyterian Church; and parent and community liaison for the Lowell Community Charter Public School. Gordon is fluent in Fanti and Effutu, dialects of Ghana. Gordon holds a master's degree from UMass Lowell in Peace and Conflict Studies. He is a resident of Lowell.

STACIE HARGIS is an Assistant Professor in the Business Department at Middlesex Community College. In 2011, Stacie was the Executive Director of the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center (LSBAC), a program of Community Teamwork Inc., in partnership with the City of Lowell and Middlesex Community College. The LSBAC’ s mission is to provide entrepreneurs from ethnically and economically diverse groups with the education, tools, and resources necessary to create sustain and expand small businesses and to assist, stabilize and grow existing businesses through education and technical support. Prior to her work at LSBAC, Stacie was the Economic Development Representative and Small Business Liaison in the Congressional Office of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. Stacie serves on the boards of various groups, including UMass Lowell's Center for Women and Work and the Cultural Organization of Lowell promoting both women's issues and the creative economy. She managed the first Lowell Film Festival. Stacie received a master in Regional Economic and Social Development from University of Massachusetts Lowell in May, 2008. Her additional educational experiences include a Bachelor of Fine Art from Florida Atlantic University and a Graduate Certificate from the University of Massachusetts Boston focusing on Women in Politics and Public Policy. Stacie is a Lowell resident.

MICHAEL HERBERT is the Director of Performance Management in Mayor Setti Warren office in Newton, MA. Mike was the Data Analyst for the City of Lowell when he was a member of Public Matters. He was responsible for developing and implementing the city’s LowellStat program which uses real time data analysis and reporting to find efficiencies, improve accountability, and increase transparency with the goal to improve delivery of city services. Prior to working in Lowell, Michael was a part of a team that developed a public service organization based at the University of Massachusetts. In that capacity, he developed and led a grant assistance program for smaller municipalities to access federal assistance stimulus funds. Michael also co-authored the final report for the Lieutenant Governor’s Regionalization Advisory Commission. Michael is a resident of Winthrop.

TIM HIRBOUR is a Commercial Lending Officer and Vice President at Enterprise Bank. Tim is a Lowell native who attended Lowell High School and continued his education at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Tim is active with the Downtown Lowell Business Committee within the Lowell Chamber of Commerce. He assists in the planning and production of downtown community programs including Great Plates, ArtWalk, Winterfest, and the City of Lights parade. Tim is also a member of the Young Professionals of Greater Lowell. He is a graduate of Enterprise Bank’s Leadership Development Program. As a participant in this program, Tim helped create an event that celebrates local businesses, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations. This event is now known as the Celebration of Excellence and occurs annually.

JOANN MARCOS is a Park Ranger at Lowell National Historical Park and is involved in many community-wide programs. She is coordinator of the NPS’ week-long February school vacation activities that are offered free to children from Lowell and surrounding communities. JoAnn serves on the Women’s Week executive committee. Women’s Week is an annual celebration of women and girls organized by an all-volunteer committee. This effort offers programs in topics that include women’s health, social and global issues, education, and history. JoAnn initiated the Holiday Express, offering families and seniors a free 90 minute holiday program that includes a "Trolley Express" ride, reading of the famous book The Polar Express, refreshments and a remembrance gift as a component of the City of Lights celebration. JoAnn was born and grew up in Lowell and now resides in Dracut.

RACHEL McHALE is Operations Manager for JVT Advisors for Technical Recuiting. Prior to her current position, Rachel was the Banking Officer and Manager of Eastern Bank’s Westford office. Rachel grew up in Tewksbury and lived in Lowell for over ten years. She co-chaired Eastern Bank’s team in the Lowell General Hospital TeamWalk for CancerCare for the past two years, doubling both the number of Eastern Bank participants and the total amount raised. In addition, Rachel supports other charitable and community activities including, the Girl Scout Leadership Day, the Manolis Family Thanksgiving (project Helping Hands), Merrimack Valley Food Bank Team (Blues and Brews Festival), the Lowell Folk Festival, and Winterfest.

DEREK MITCHELL is the Executive Director of the Lawrence Partnership, Lawrence, MA. Prior to his current position, Derek was the Site Director for the Lowell office of the International Institute of New England. In that capacity, Derek worked to support a population that is core to Lowell's history, identity, and cultural treasurers: its immigrants, refugees, and asylees. When he was in the Public Matters program, Derek was the Workforce Development Director for United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), whose mission is to "ignite and nurture the ambition of Lowell's most disengaged young people to trade violence and poverty for financial and social success."  At UTEC, Derek founded UTEC’s Fresh Roots Farm and Culinary Program and now oversees workforce development programming, which integrates social enterprises to create jobs and provide training through the management of small businesses.  Within the broader community, Derek has worked in collaboration with various partners to establish and maintain the Community Garden Coalition and the Food Security Coalition and served as a board member of the Revolving Museum.   Derek is a Lowell resident.

SOPHEAP THEAM works for Light of Cambodian Children (LCC). This nonprofit organization was established in 1998 to encourage underserved young people to seek higher education, become self-sufficient, and serve as positive role models in our communities. Sopheap moved to Lowell early in 2010 and began work as one of the principal organizers of the exhibition “More than a Number", hosted at the American Textile History Museum. The exhibition was held to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Prior to her arrival in Lowell, Sopheap worked in Tampa, Florida as manager and relocation director for Casa Fina Realty GMAC Real Estate.  She was one of the few (Cambodian) Asian-American licensed agents in the Tampa area, and the only Tampa relocation director for the GMAC Real Estate and Global Relocation Services a network. She also managed the Boston-area Offense Defense Sports Camp. Under her leadership, the camp became a partner with the NIKE/US SPORTS CAMPS family. Sopheap is conversational in Khmer and previously spoke and studied French at an intermediate level. 

GEORGE VILLARAS is Assistant Vice President at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union (JDCU), where he has been involved in real estate loan processing and the developed of the financial risk management department. George is active in the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. He has served as president of the Downtown Lowell Business Committee and created the city’s Student Welcome event to market the downtown to students at Middlesex Community College and University of Massachusetts Lowell. He was vice-president of the Center City Committee for many years. He is a founding partner of ArtWalk Lowell and is a contributor to the Lowell Transitional Living Center’s Festival of Wreaths. George is a lifelong Lowellian.

ALLEGRA WILLIAMS was the Neighborhood Planner for the City of Lowell when she participated in Public Matters. In that capacity, she developed short and long-range strategies to enhance the quality of life in Lowell’s neighborhoods and helped to ensure the integration of those strategies with other development initiatives in the City. Allegra has served in a variety of leadership positions over the past several years and has often reached out to diverse constituencies in these roles.  As a graduate student in UMass Lowell’s Community Social Psychology Master’s program, Allegra founded the Tent City Homeless Coalition and also supported the Revolving Museum and community partners in revitalizing the formerly neglected Harmony Park in the Acre neighborhood. In 2010, as a staff member of UMass Lowell’s Office of Community and Cultural Affairs Office, she conducted field research to assess the social and economic impact of the new Inn and Conference Center on the City’s downtown. Most recently, Allegra was project manager for this year’s Innovative Cities: Best Practices in Urban Development Conference. She chaired a conference planning committee with representatives from the City of Lowell, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Lowell National Historical Park, and the Lowell Plan, Inc. 

WALTER WRIGHT is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of 119 Gallery, Lowell’s only mixed-use contemporary art and performance space. Walter is a member of the art department faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and teaches in the aesthetics and critical studies area. Since 2005, Walter has presented the work of over 350 visual and performing artists at the 119 Gallery. Walter’s focus is to support emerging artists. In order to accomplish this, 119 Gallery is oriented toward flexibility, inclusion, exploration, and experimentation. Walter was one of the first video animators. He was a video animator for Ed Emshwiller’s ThermogenesisWalter is a Lowell resident. and Scapemates, aired by WNET’s Artists Television Workshop. Scapemates was the first computer graphics video nominated for an Emmy Award. Walter develops software and hardware for artists such as the Video Shredder, a desktop video processor for the TARGA2000. Currently, he is working with Max/MSP and softVNS and with VDMX.