Quest Program Participants Target Issues From Sex Trafficking to Job Skills

Leadership Greater Hartford’s highly regarded Quest program develops and engages emerging and established leaders in the region through opportunities to sharpen skills, build new professional relationships and – most importantly - address pressing community issues.  The 2012 class of Quest – 47 participants strong – were grouped into four teams, each pursuing distinct and important projects during the course of the year.  Their work is already in evidence in the community, and received high praise at a recent “graduation” ceremony held at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.  The initiatives:

  • The HartBeat Ensemble taskforce focused on what members described as the “appalling, abhorrent and terrifying nature of human sex trafficking” in the Hartford region, coordinating with the Hartford Police Department. They worked with HartBeat Ensemble, an ensemble company that creates original, professional theater based on stories from the community. To help increase public awareness of the issue, the taskforce developed a marketing, collaboration and public relations plan for their newest play in development, Project: Turnpike, which is based on the 2007 landmark federal trial of United States vs. Dennis Paris that took place in Hartford. The play represents 72 hours in the life of four exploited sex workers in a motel room on the Berlin Turnpike.  The play’s opening night is scheduled for April 24, 2013.

Law enforcement officials have observed that Hartford’s location  - near mass transit and between New York and Boston – contributes to the human trafficking industry’s presence here.  Recently, human trafficking – estimated to be a $32 billion-a-year business worldwide – has been the subject of a national crackdown by the travel industry, which has launched an initiative to train employees to identify and report potential trafficking incidents.    The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation along with Amtrak also announced plans to training 75,000 employees.

  • The North End Career Resources taskforce focused on the importance of providing career resources to the North End community of Hartford.  They developed and conducted a “Job Skills Resources Fair” at the Albany Avenue Branch of the Hartford Public Library on September 25, 2012.  It was a job skills fair, not a job fair – with the goal of connecting fair attendees with the skills necessary to make them employable in a tough hiring environment.  The “vendors” were non-profit agencies that work in the areas of job skills training.
  • The Billings Forge Community Works taskforce worked with Billings Forge Community Works, an innovative job education and training, housing, and community development organization that serves the residents of Hartford's Frog Hollow neighborhood. This taskforce accomplished three main goals: enhanced their corporate sponsorship program, implemented their auction event for the annual “Farm to Table” event/fundraiser and created an organizational membership program.
  • The Hartford Children’s Theatre taskforce partnered with Hartford Children’s Theatre, which provides theatrical training and entertainment for Connecticut children and families. The taskforce focused on the summer theatrical production of Hartford Children’s Theatre and worked specifically in the areas of development, marketing and general public relations efforts.  In doing so, they not only raised sufficient funds to offset the costs of the production, they also provided input and novel suggestions for future marketing and fundraising operations.

Participating in Quest 2012 were:

Kelsey Aderman - Lincoln Financial Group Debbie Albrecht- Murtha Cullina, LLP. Deb Battit - Hartford Foundation for Public Giving Yvette Bello - Latino Community Services Theresa Benoit - ConnectiCare, Inc. Joe Bierbaum - Stone Academy Maureen Bowman - Travelers Monique (Roxanne) Brown - Phoenix Life Suzanne Butler - OptumHealth Katie Carges - Hartford Hospital Vrinda Dabke - OptumHealth Theresa Desilets - Cigna Steve  Dibella - Hartford Police Department Alisa Dzananovic - Saint Francis Hospital Martin Estey - Hartford Consortium for Higher Education Tom Farrish  - Day Pitney, LLP Fred Faulkner - The Open Hearth Julie Geyer - Capital Workforce Partners LaResse Harvey - Civic Trust Lobbying Company John Henry Decker - Certified Financial Planner Kelly Hewes - The Hartford Carolyn Hoffman - Junior League of Hartford, Inc. Margo  Kelleher - VestA Corporation Lynne  Kelleher - CT Children's Medical Center Ryan Kocsondy - University of Connecticut John McEntee - Travelers Nicole  Miller   Goodwin College Kelly Muszynski - OptumHealth Tokuji Okamoto - Our Piece of the Pie Mario Oquendo, Jr. - Hartford Fire Department Janet Pasqua - ConnectiCare, Inc. Lisa Pawlik - Catholic Charities Sara Phillips - Travelers Jason Roberts - Travelers Josie Robles - Hartford Behavioral Health Kevin Roy - Shipman & Goodwin LLP Michael Ryan - Lincoln Financial Group Leslie Sanborn - Oak Hill Jerene  Slivinsky - UnitedHealthcare Quinten  Smallwood - Travelers Danielle Smiley - City of Hartford - HHS Jen Sprague - United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut Paul Stigliano - Hill-Stead Museum Amelinda Vazquez - Eastern Connecticut State University Sonia Worrell Asare, Esq. -  Travelers Andrea  Young - Goodwin College