Public Matters - Class of 2016

Ellen Anstey is the Manager of Administration and Engagement at the Tsongas Industrial History Center (TIHC), a partnership between the UMass Lowell Graduate School of Education and Lowell National Historical Park. TIHC’s interdisciplinary programs consist of hands-on workshops and tours of historic resources that enable students to explore the Industrial Revolution through multiple perspectives and points of relevance. Among her responsibilities is the management of Landmarks of American History and Culture teacher workshops for educators across the country. Ellen is the treasurer of the Western Avenue Studio Artists Association and was active for many years as a volunteer for Lowell middle schools and Lowell High School. Ellen holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass Lowell and a master’s degree in public history from UMass Boston. She is a Lowell resident.

Maria Aybar is a graduate  of Middlesex Community College (MCC) majoring in History, Politics and Global Studies. She was a member of Leadership in Action (formerly the Paul H. Sullivan Leadership Institute). Maria interned for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and is a peer tutor for Computer Applications and Writing at MCC. She was a marketing intern for the Cultural Organizations of Lowell (COOL). She is the President of Latino Unidos, the Co-Chair of the Women’s Leadership Network Club, and an Orientation Leader. She has volunteered at the Merrimack Valley Food Bank and at Pollard Memorial Library. She completed her service learning experience through the Prison Book Program. Maria is bilingual in Spanish and English and lives in Lowell.

Maryann Ballotta is the Director of Research and Development for Public Safety for the City of Lowell. Her works encompasses the Lowell Police Department (LPD), Lowell Fire Department, and Emergency Management Service. Maryann oversees and manages grant funding from a variety of funding agencies, including the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs. In 2012, she was awarded the Civilian Achievement Award for her commitment to the LPD. She is a graduate of Fitchburg State College, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from Framingham State University. Maryann lives in Methuen. 

Michael Breda has more than 30 years of residential, consumer, and commercial lending and compliance experience, as well as in community redevelopment partnership initiatives. Named Sage Bank's Senior Compliance Officer in early 2015, he coordinates and oversees the bank's Compliance Management System and Audit Management, including coordinating the Bank's fair lending review and price regression analysis with outside consultants and legal counsel.  Michael has also been the Bank's CRA Officer for over 5 years, working with local, state, and federal housing and development agencies to facilitate and encourage Sage Bank’s participation in community housing initiatives. Michael is the board president for the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership, JAMBRA Neighborhood Association, and Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Michael lines in Methuen.

Angel Brunelle is the Director of Development for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell. The Club provides educational, social, recreational, and cultural programming for youth aged seven to 18. Among hermanagement responsibilities are short- and long-term goals for funding; donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship; public affairs matters including the annual report, newsletters, and website content; and work with members of the Board of Directors, Trustees, Corporators and Alumni to reach fundraising goals. Prior to her current position, Angel worked for many years at Project Adventure, an innovative teaching organization based in Beverly that provides leadership in the expansion of adventure-based programming. She is the lead singer in Second Hand, a local cover band; a four-time participant in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure; and a volunteer with the Northeast Animal Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, and Adopt-A-Highway. A graduate of Miami University, she lives in Lowell.

Darcie Coleman is the Lowell Public Schools Early Childhood Department Social Worker. She works with children aged three to six who are experiencing significant behavioral and emotional difficulties and are in need of support in order to be ready to learn in Kindergarten. Her duties include: case management, assessment, and behavioral planning for students; collaboration with teachers and principals around classroom/family issues/needs; in-home support; crisis intervention; and conducting skill-building groups for students and families. Darcie is the Chairperson of a committee that is exploring the idea of a Lowell Children's Museum.  She has worked with children and families as a social worker and mental health specialist in Austin, TX; Costa Rica; Durham and Chapel Hill, NC; and Washington, DC. She received her undergraduate degree from Boston College in Elementary Education/Moderate Special Needs and a master's degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Darcie is a Lowell resident.

Sixto De Jesus is a Branch Service Manager for Enterprise Bank where he oversees the branch operations while helping employees grow in their positions. He enables consumer and business customers to succeed in their personal and business endeavors. Sixto connects well with the diverse customer base that represents the Lowell community. He creates strong and successful relationships built with a foundation of trust. In 2012, he was awarded Enterprise Bank’s Excellence in Leadership Award. Sixto participated in the Leadership Connection for the Jericho Road’s Board Diversity Initiative. He serves on the Advisory Board of Merrimack Valley Catholic Charities. Sixto attended College Universidad Catolica Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. He is multilingual, speaking fluent Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Sixto resides in Lowell.

Gail DeRuzzo is a Lead Chemist and Resource Center Manager at Nobis Engineering, a multi-disciplinary consulting firm providing commercial, federal, and municipal clients environmental, geotechnical, and civil engineering services. Gail has over 35 years of work experience in the environmental industry. She has contributed to the investigation, remediation, and/or monitoring of hundreds of sites improving levels of compliance and making the environment cleaner and safer. Gail has volunteered for Mill City Grows, Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Lowell Salvation Army, Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell, Lowell General Hospital Cancer Walk, and the Lowell Folk Festival. A graduate from UMass Amherst, she lives in Littleton.

Maria Dickinson is the Economic Development Officer for the City of Lowell. She works closely with the Lowell Development and Financial Corp., MassDevelopment, the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, and the Merrimack Valley Small Business Assistance Center to provide technical assistance to anyone seeking to start a business in Lowell. Often the first point of contact when businesses and entrepreneurs engage with the City, Maria assists them with site needs, zoning, permitting, and financing. Maria participated as a team member in the preparation of many recent public documents including: the Jackson, Appleton and Middlesex (JAM) Plan; Downtown Master Plan; Guide for Business; City of Lowell Master plan; Downtown Parking Study, and Downtown Housing Development Zone Plan. Maria volunteers for the Lowell Humane Society and is a member of Holy Ghost Park. She received a Bachelor of Earth Science degree from the University of Porto, Portugal, and is fluent in English, Portuguese and French. She lives in Hudson, NH.

Kara Doyle is Assistant Vice President/Commercial Lending at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union (JDCU). She has worked at JDCU since 2003. Kara oversees all aspects of business and commercial real estate loans including origination, processing, underwriting and portfolio management. She manages the business and commercial real estate loan portfolio to maximize earnings while balancing risk consistent with asset/liability management strategy, loan policies, and sound collection practices. Kara works with the Lowell Development and Financial Corp. on the Downtown Venture Fund. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Lowell Salvation Army, is a board member of the Lowell Rotary, and is involved with the Merrimack Valley Hospice House and the Home Health Foundation. Kara graduated from San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, and lives in Pepperell.

Barbara Jean Gilbert is Senior Campus Planner at UMass Lowell. She develops preliminary plans for major capital projects, as well as conceptual and strategic solutions for small- and large-scale space utilization initiatives.  Barbara’s recent projects including: arts and exhibition planning; recreation facility planning; machine lab installation; capacity-building at Durgin Hall for Music Practice Rooms and Instrument Storage; and reprogramming of Art Department Drawing Studio and Senior Studio Suites. Barbara has lived and worked in Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC; Blowing Rock, and Boone, NC; and Cambridge, and Brookline, MA. She received a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and master’s degrees in architecture and city planning from the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University. She’s taught at Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts and in the Career Development Program at the GSD. Barbara is a Lowell resident. 

Joseph Giniewicz is Associate Planner in the City of Lowell’s Planning and Development/Division of Development Services. His responsibilities include working with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board, and the Conservation Commission. His expertise is in zoning and land use planning. He is a member of the steering committee for City Open Spaces Plan, Master Plan Update, and Upper Merrimack Street Corridor Study. He collaborates with other departments to review Neighborhood Innovation Grant Applications and institute practical policies utilizing City databases (MUNIS) to ensure City Board conditions are carried, including enforcement actions.  Joe has been involved in significant private development projects in the City, including the Markley Group development on Prince Street, the second phase rehabilitation of Boott Mills, and the conversion of Downtown properties like 26 Merrimack Street into residential housing. He received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and is enrolled in UMass Lowell’s Master of Business Administration program. Joe lives in Chelmsford.

Clare Gunther is Director of Development and Communications for the Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC), a federally-qualified health center serving 50,000 people in Greater Lowell. Her responsibilities include working closely with providers and clinical staff to identify funding needs and opportunities. Clare manages major donor and private foundation relationships and internal and external communications. She oversees the Developing Leaders Council of young professionals to expand support for the LCHC’s mission and goals. Clare also represents the LCHC on the Working Cities Challenge Grant that Lowell received from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  Clare volunteers for Operation Delta Dog, an organization that trains shelter dogs to serve as service dogs for local veterans with post-traumatic brain disorder and traumatic brain injury. She is a proposal reviewer for Entrepreneurship for All Accelerator Program and is an advisor to Jericho Road Lawrence.  A graduate of the University of Delaware, Newark, DE, Clare lives in Chelmsford.

Meena Jacob is Senior Project Manager for the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAF), a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve, create and sustain affordable, healthy homes that support economic security and access to opportunity for all. In 2016, Meena was the Director of Real Estate for the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), a membership-based community development corporation dedicated to resident empowerment and sustainable community revitalization. In 2014, Meena closed two multi-million dollar Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing projects. She was instrumental in the recertifying the CBA as a HUD Community Housing Development Organization. She enhanced CBA’s long-term effectiveness and sustainability by facilitating CBA’s transition from a single neighborhood focused-organization to a regional development entity and initiated and managed their first real estate development outside of Lowell. She is a member of the National and Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the American Institute of Certified Planners. Meena has an undergraduate degree at UMass Amherst and a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University. She lives in Wakefield.

Sovanna Pouv is the Executive Director of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Center (CMAA), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Cambodian Americans and other minorities and economically disadvantaged persons in Lowell through educational, cultural, economic and social programs. Sovanna secures and evaluates resources to support the CMAA through grant writing, fundraising, and fee-for-service contracting. He assists in the development of marketing materials and promotion of the CMAA brand with the support of the Board of Directors marketing subcommittee. He works with community members to promote the CMAA’s programs on multimedia platforms, community workshops, and events. He was formerly the Marketing Director for, and worked for many years in various capacities at the United Teen Equality Center. Sovanna volunteers for many nonprofits. Among the positions he holds are: board member of the Board of the Angkor Dance Troupe; board member of the Lowell Development & Financial Corp.; board member of Greater Lowell Health Alliance; and board member of the Greater Lowell Workforce Investment Board. Sovanna lives in Lowell.

Mohammad Rizwan is Assistant Branch Manager of Eastern Bank in Dracut. Mohammad oversees a staff of 13 providing oversight of daily sales and service at his branch. He ensures bank operations are in place, including, but not limited to, customer identification, dual controls, regulatory requirement conformance, and audits. Mohammad manages quarterly sales to ensure the branch can meet and exceed sales. He endeavors to provide exceptional customer service as a means of strengthening Eastern Bank’s vision statement, “Here You’re First.” Prior to joining Eastern Bank, he was the Branch Manager for TD Bank in Methuen. Mohammad volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence and is particularly active with their Food Drive. He is bilingual, fluent in English and Urdu. He is enrolled in the business administration program at Southern New Hampshire University. Mohammad lives in Haverhill.

Susan Silva is Vice President, Operations Specialist, Branch Manager at Lowell Five. She started as a student teller for Lowell Five in high school, advancing in the bank from Head Teller, then Assistant Manager, to Assistant Vice President/Bank Manager, until being appointed to her current position. Her current focus involves all aspects of business and personal banking, as well as customer service, employee management, and support for all operational areas of retail banking. Sue is an advisory board member in the business technology area at the Greater Lowell Regional Technical High School. She is the treasurer for Northeast Xtreme Softball, and volunteer for Elder Services, the Salvation Army, the International Institute and Dracut Public Schools. Sue is of Portuguse descent and grew up in Lowell. She lives in Dracut.

Sean Thibodeau is the Coordinator of Community Planning for the Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell's public library. Sean heads the department responsible for planning and managing the library's adult programming. His department is also responsible for publicity and outreach for all library programs events and services including electronic communications (blog, newsletters, etc.) social media, physical signage, and booking the library's meeting room for library programs, municipal groups, and local non-profits. Sean helps staff the library's various public desks--especially the always busy reference desk, answering informational inquiries. In addition he aids in collection development, and participates in the library management teams decisions regarding library operations.  Sean is a board member of Lowell Telecommunications and serves on a number of community-wide initiatives, including DIY Lowell, Lowell Walks, Lowell Votes, and the McAuliffe School PTO. He received his BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maine at Farmington and his Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. Sean lives in Lowell.

Charles Tonetti is Lowell National Historical Park’s Architect, directing a complex program of historical architecture preservation activities. Charles has deep experience in preservation and architecture. Until his recent arrival in Lowell, he had served at Independence National Park in Philadelphia since 1999, most recently as Senior Historical Architect. He won the prestigious Appleman-Judd-Lewis Award for Excellence in Cultural Resource Management for the Northeast Region of the National Park Service in 2012 for the rehabilitation of the Independence Hall Tower. Prior to that, he was assistant Director of the Architectural Division of Texas Historical Commission and the Preservation Architect at Historic Districts Landmark Commission in New Orleans. Charles received his undergraduate degree in architecture from Syracuse University. Charles lives in Lowell.

Jennifer Zazo-Brown is a Museum Reserach and Program Specialist for the Smithsonian Institution. In 2016, Jennifer was a Park Ranger in the Interpretive Division at Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP). She worked with the management team to implement park-wide strategy for broadening connections to the local community, engaging next generation stewards, and diversifying park staff and audiences. Her experience in the museum curation and education fields include the development of a graduate place-based education course at Brooklyn College that trained teachers how to use museums, historic sites, and cultural institutions in their curriculum plans. Jennifer received her bachelor’s degree from the School of the Visual Art, New York, NY; a master of science degree in communications/museums education from the College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY; a master of arts in museum studies from New York University, New York, NY; and a graduate certificate in American history from the American Military University, Charlestown, WV.