Nonprofits See Tangible Benefits from Leadership Greater Hartford’s Quest Program

Four Hartford-based nonprofit organizations have received a boost from some of the region’s up-and-coming leaders participating in the flagship program of  Leadership Greater Hartford (LGH).  The Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, Oak Hill School, CountMeIn! Hartford and GreenShare Technology saw rising and established leaders from diverse career backgrounds - corporate, government, small business, academia and nonprofit – work on key projects as part of the Quest program.  It is the most recognized community-based leadership development program for professionals working throughout the Greater Hartford region, a landmark initiative of LGH for more than three decades.

The 11-month program kicks off with an orientation and retreat in January and ends with November class presentations and commencement. Workshops throughouQuestt the program focus on learning about one’s own leadership personality, participatory decision- making, effective group dynamics and leadership practices, including change leadership. The field experiences allow participants to meet the area’s key players and organizations, better understand the region’s assets and challenges, and gain a greater understanding of creative problem solving while leveraging limited resources.

Central to the Quest program is the community service component, a collaborative team project working alongside various nonprofits in the Hartford region. Through real world community projects, Quest participants work in teams and learn the tools and insights needed to become collaborative leaders. The four community-based projects tackled by the 2013 Quest participants, now completed, included:

Working with the Hartfordcareer beginnings Consortium for Higher Education (HCHE) to create a media device that would tell the story of the Career Beginnings program, which connects Hartford-area high schools, businesses, volunteers/mentors and parents in a coordinated effort to increase the percentage of Hartford teenagers who graduate from high school, pursue higher education and fulfill career goals.

One of the Quest project groups created a magnificent 25-page booklet – which has now been produced by HCHE and is being distributed to interested parties throughout the region - that effectively tells the story of the students who are a part of the Career Beginnings program.  They presented the publication to stakeholders of Career Beginnings at an event held at the Artist Collective.

 Working on the project were Brenda de los Reyes (Corporation for Independent Living), Diana Marsh (United Healthcare), Cara Farrrell (Women’s Health USA), Teresa Nieves (Village for Families and Children), Shawnee Baldwin (Archdiocese of Hartford), Lisa Galinski (Wild Heart Coaching), Brenda Pabon (Aetna), Vivek Mukherjee (OptumHealth), Karen Bernard (retired; Dept. of Correction), William Tarinelli, Jr. (Travelers), Alice Ferguson (HIV/AIDS Commission) and Shazia Chaudry (Alzheimer’s Resource Center). They coordinated with Martin Estey, a Quest 2012 participant, the executive director of HCHE. 

Working with Oak Hill School on a new, all abilities/inclusive wellness facility that is being built in Bristol, a second Quest group was charged with developing aspects of a recruitment plan for members and staff for the wellness facility.  They produced a video montage for marketing and a recruitment plan for staff and facility members.  The group worked with a 2012 Quest graduate, Leslie Sanborn.  The wellness center is projected to open in late 2014 or early 2015.

The participants in the projected included Bob Bourett (ConnectiCare), Pat Sebring (Imagineers), Kent Limson (Phoenix), Alex Cuevas (Stone Academy), Neville Brooks (Hartford Police), Leilany Rivera (Harc Inc.), Jim Mindek (UConn), Chris Baker (American Red Cross), Anne Hayes (Travelers), Casey Bandarra (Eastern Connecticut State University), Mel Camacho (United Way of Central and Northeast CT), and Dan Wenner (Day Pitney).

CountMeIn! Hartford is a new, local think tank whose mission is to provide thought leadership for individuals who want to turn an idea into an organization.  The third Quest group – anxious to help start an endeavor from scratch – set out to provide organizational structure.  The group focused on marketing, strategic relationships, board development and fundraising, breaking into subcommittees to develop a document with plans outlined in each of these areas.  They worked with Scott Orsey, a Quest 2009 participant , who is leading CountMeIn! Hartford.

The project team included Betty Ann Grady (Hartford Foundation for Public Giving), Aliza Finn-Welch (Junior League of Hartford), Mike Fritz (Shipman and Goodwin), Lee Hameroff (Goodwin College), Dartanion Reed (Hartford Arts Center), Jay Arcata (Halloran & Sage), Lindsay Ryan (Ryan Marketing Partners), Jas Millette (CT1 Media), Mick Connors (CCMC), Kiran Panati (OptumHealth) and Christian Sager (TravelersGroup Pic).

The fourth Quest group shared a passion for closing the digital divide for residents of Hartford, and worked with GreenShare Technology, a social enterprise and one of the first reSET Social Enterprise Trust projects, now operating in Hartford.  The organization refurbishes computers and then sells them to organizations that might not otherwise be able to afford computers.  The group developed and held a fundraising event which raised sufficient funds to purchase six refurbished computers that could then be donated to area nonprofits that the group had visited as part of their Quest program.

Working on the GreenShare Technology project were James McLaughlin (Murtha Cullina), Corey Fleming (Hartford Public Library), Jessica Gagliano (Lincoln Financial Group), Anthony DeSalvo (Travelers), James McLoughlin (Hartford Fire Department), Rasheed Ali (Phoenix), Christopher Pagano (Travelers), Jennifer Carrier (CRCOG), Matthew Wallace (CCMC), Dalyn Delgado (CNG) and Kim McPherson-Shiffrin (OptumHealth).

 Photo: Leadership Greater Hartford's 2013 Quest class