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Celebrating 25 Years of Fostering Community Leaders

Leadership MetroWest marks its 25th anniversary this month with a celebration and a reminder of what the non-profit organization has contributed to the Framingham community.

This month, Leadership MetroWest celebrates its 25th anniversary. At the same time, its flagship program, the MetroWest Leadership Academy, will graduate its 25th class.

“We’re very proud of our record of success in terms of providing communities with a diverse, qualified, and energized pool of people who are engaged with community engagement and civic commitment,” said Executive Director Helen Lemoine.

Each year, new candidates for the MetroWest Leadership Academy are selected from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Each one has demonstrated an interest in serving the community in some way.

Twenty-five to 30 people make up each class. The class meets for a two-day retreat in September, then meets one full day a month for the next nine months. Each meeting focuses on a particular issue or challenge affecting the MetroWest community. Topics include education, the environment, public safety, health, arts and culture, government, and the economy. Local leaders from each subject area are brought in to lead discussions. The final class activity is planning and creating a community service service project.

At the end of the year, Lemoine said graduates have gained confidence, a fuller understanding of their community, and sometimes even found a new career interest or passion. Perhaps most importantly, they graduate with invaluable connections to other local leaders throughout the community, which they call on frequently as they go out and serve Framingham and surrounding towns. Recent graduates include a state representative, a community activist, the director of the , and the education director of the .

Executive Director Lemoine herself graduated from the MetroWest Leadership Academy in 1993. She then served on the board of Leadership MetroWest. When the position of Executive Director opened up, Lemoine leaped at the opportunity. After 11 years, her enthusiasm is unwavering.

“I’m passionate about building community. It’s a terrific job,” Lemoine said. “I consider myself very fortunate to land where I did. It really keeps me connected not only to my own community of Framingham, but it keeps me connected to other communities.”

Leadership MetroWest was originally created as a program of the , but became an independent non-profit organization in 1994. However, a close working relationship continues and Leadership MetroWest’s offices are housed within the Chamber office suite.

On June 15, the 25th Leadership Academy class will graduate. To mark the occasion, Leadership MetroWest is hosting a large-scale celebration at Corporate headquarters at 1 Mountain Rd. The event is called Music on the Mountain, after Bose’s address, and will be held at the company, because it was the first corporate sponsor of Leadership MetroWest.

All 550 alumni of the program are invited, as well as this year’s graduates, corporate sponsors, and more. There will be a reception, an official recognition of the class of 2011, and the awarding of the Founders’ Award to MetroWest Chamber of Commerce and the Bose Corporation.

“It’s going to be a very nice celebration with people attending from all the different years of the Leadership Academy, including the first year [graduates] who will be recognized, as well as the founding people who came up with the idea,“ said Lemoine.

There will also be a concert in the renowned Bose auditorium, featuring vocalist Christine Ohlman and  members of the Mohegan Sun All-Star Band. Ticket proceeds will go toward Leadership MetroWest’s future programming.

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