Grace Ross: 13 Who Made a Difference in 2013
Thursday, December 26, 2013
This summer, Ross, who founded the private, non-profit Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team, put her work into action, when she kept two Worcester residents from being evicted from their three-decker on Worcester’s East Side neighborhood. WAFT supported their legal efforts against German financial giant Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. Deutsche is trustee of the pool that contains that mortgages–including, purportedly, that of the residents involved–that had been held by now-bankrupt New Century Mortgage Financial Corp.
Ross, who was a regular GoLocal contributor throughout the year, was able to shine the light on economic, social, and political imbalances in Worcester -- and through her work continued to address them.
Related Slideshow: 13 Who Made a Difference in Central MA in 2013
The Lieutenant Governor's return to Worcester as the new head of the Greater Worcester Chamber of Commerce in May was a major move by the business advocacy organization.
Murray, who oversaw the City Square development as Mayor, came to a Chamber that in fiscal year 2011 had reported revenue of $1,285,789 -- but reported total expenses $1,406,306. The move from the public sector to the private didn't leave politics behind, as Murray was ordered in August to pay $80,000 for campaign violations for receiving "unlawfully solicited campaign contributions."
The retiring president of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, Schaefer has been a constant in debate and discourse in the City of Worcester for the past 30 years.
Under Schaefer’s direction, the Bureau grew from a one-person office preparing studies on municipal issues to a four-person regional center of information and expertise in all areas of public policy in Central Massachusetts. Reports and forums provide well-documented information and recommendations, which public officials and business and community leaders can use for considering important issues and developing sound public policy.
The slots proposal that dictated oftentimes heated debate -- and opposition -- had a major adversary in the way of Ed Moynihan, who spearheaded the "Vote No Slots" effort that helped defeat the effort by Rush Street Gaming to put a slots question before the residents of Worcester.
"When I first heard of the possibility of slots in Worcester, I began educating myself on the issue," Moynihan to GoLocal in April. "This is not the way for positive growth. Slots would change the character of the city, and not for the better. Just look at Atlantic City. This is no way to base an economy."
Branca, the Dunkin' Donuts head whose presence in the community runs the gamut from business leader to supporter of neighborhood organizations, made a difference in Worcester in 2013.
The Chairman of the Dunkin' Donuts Franchise Owners Political Action Committee was elected Chairman of the Dunkin' Donuts Regional Advisory Council of all Dunkin' Donuts franchisees in the Northeastern U.S., and is the Vice Chairman of the Washington-DC based Coalition of Franchisee Associations.
Following a year where the City Council gave mixed grades to his performance, O'Brien in 2013 certainly made an impact when he announced he would be moving on from his City Manager position to one in the private sector with Winn Companies.
O'Brien, who served at the post since 2004, has worked for the City of Worcester since 1994. He was named Commissioner of the Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Department in 1997.
Barger, the President and Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue Airways, certainly made a difference in Worcester in 2013.
After speculation mounted in 2012 that the airline might come to Worcester Regional Airport, Barger made it official this past April, marking the culmination of a year long effort to court JetBlue by local and state officials. The press conference announcing the development had a celebratory feel to it, with a source saying, "This is the political event of the year."
The Worcester Unemployment Action Group. The Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team. St. John's Church. These are some of the places you might see Horton in action, supporting those in the community in need of an advocate, or an organizer.
He's been a farm-worker, a steel worker, packing house worker, machine tool setter-operator and precision inspector. He worked his way up to non-degreed manufacturing engineer then went back to school to study physics. He's been a medical physicist and a college and high school physics and math teacher. He may be retired now, but he's hardly out of the game. Not by any stretch.
Block 5 and Niche Hospitality guru Covino didn't always set out to take the Worcester restaurant scene by storm. Armed with a masters degree in physical therapy, Covino was drawn back to his roots instead -- his grandfather was a chef and his parents worked in restaurants.
The restaurant scene got a big boost from Covino's efforts -- Bocado, Mezcal, The Citizen at One Exchange Place, The People's Kitchen. Where will Covino be in ten years time? "I just love food and wine so I will be working and I will still be working in the hospitality industry," said Covino in an interview with GoLocal's Susan Wagner earlier this year.
Co-Founder of stART on the Street, Worcester Arts Council chair, Program and Event Coordinator for the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Clark University, Worcester native Zlody was worn many hats in the name of furthering the arts in the city.
While stArt on the Street celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, Zlody and her team stepped up the festival once again this year, expanding food truck offerings and spreading out kids activities throughout and teaming up with Ecotarium to bring science to the arts. Zlody hardly rested on her laurels this year, having garnered 2012's ArtWorcester Award.
The three-time winner of the Central Massachusetts Entertainer of the Year, LePage isn't just a crooner extraordinaire -- he's both fashionable and cool, at least in the eyes of GoLocal -- and legions of fans, of course. LePage told GoLocal upon getting the fashionable nod, "I would consider my style to be nerd chic or modern crooner (with a twist of spanx)." In other words, the consummate Renaissance man.
A native of Templeton, LePage teams up with a cadre of talented musicians for his Duo, Trio, and five piece band, Dale LePage and the Manhattans, to entertain audiences around the region with standards, jazz and swing. And LePage just doesn't sound good and look good, he does good.
Jim Polito and Michael Graham
Polito's move at the end of last year from WTAG to Boston's FOX 25 marked a big shift for an oftentimes controversial voice in the Massachusetts media market. While his straight shooting style was embraced by small but vocal Republican right, the Democratic establishment didn't necessarily hold the same view.
Shortly after Polito's jump to the Boston market, conservative Graham brought his "Natural Truth" show from Boston's WTKK to Central MA's WCRN, ensuring that the Republican right was represented on the radio airwaves.
Carberry and Quinsigamond Community College oversaw a big boost for downtown when in February the lease at 18-20 Franklin Street was finalized. Nearly 600 students and 3 dozen faculty members are expected by December 2014, and future plans will boost the student number to 800.
With a focus on expanding the school's workforce development program and adult education center, Carberry was instrumental in the development for the community college -- and Worcester.
The one-time gubernatorial candidate, community activist, and author of Main Street Smarts, Ross worked to unveil earlier this year that five of the nation’s largest banks were in violation of an agreement with the federal government in Massachusetts, according to an investigation of local foreclosure affidavits conducted by GoLocalWorcester.
The investigation involved nearly 200 affidavits from Ally, Bank of America, Citi, Chase, and Wells Fargo filed with the Registry of Deeds in Worcester and Essex Counties and found that these documents had been expedited and signed without required knowledge of the signer, which is in violation of federal standards banks agreed to uphold with the federal government.
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- Grace Ross: Dreaming of a 21st Century Community