Central MA’s Woman of the Year
Thursday, January 01, 2015
GoLocal has named her GoLocal Worcester's 2014 Central MA's Woman of the Year.
Leshin, a geochemist, space scientist, and former dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, is WPI's 16th president. Born in Boston, Leshin grew up in Tempe, Arizona.
As GoLocal reported, Leshin was inaugurated this past November. At the inauguration, Leshin said, "Because we are a community that thrives on imagining more, because we are WPI, we must look at the challenges we face in our neighborhood, our nation and our world and we can ask 'How can we do better?'"
Leshin spent six years as a senior leader at NASA. She remains a member of NASA's Mars Curiosity Team and is still on call for monitoring the rover. At NASA, Leshin was Deputy Director of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and was also Director of Science and Exploration at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. In 2011, Leshin received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. Leshin even has an asteroid named for her, the 4922 Leshin, which is located in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.
“In addition to bringing exceptional academic credentials from some of our nation’s leading universities, Laurie also brings tremendous experience and expertise from her time spent in leadership positions at NASA. She is an academic who understands the role of – and the potential for – academia in the larger world. Laurie has the rare capacity to work as successfully with students and faculty as she does with the White House and Congress. She is well positioned to take WPI to an even higher level of excellence and prominence. We are proud to have her at the helm of this fine university," said Warner Fletcher, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at WPI.
In June 2015, WPI will host the fourth Sample Return Robot Challenge, a Centennial Challenges competition with a NASA-funded purse of $1.5 million.
President Barack Obama appointed Leshin to the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Leshin also served on President George W. Bush's Commission on Implementation of United States Exploration Policy. In 2007, Leshin gave a presentation on space exploration to Queen Elizabeth II.
At the conclusion of her inauguration speech, Leshin said, "As the President of this fine university, it will be my sincere privilege to work with our outstanding faculty and staff as we nurture and then launch students to a bright and bold future. It will be a tremendous point of pride to watch our research efforts grow. To see the fruitful realization of ideas and the creation of enterprises. To open new pathways for life-long learning and engagement. To build upon a foundation of excellence to become the premier global polytechnic. To take theory to practice to impact.”
Related Slideshow: 15 to Watch in 2015
Former Editor-in-Chief of Worcester Magazine
On December 24, Brittany Durgin finished her time with Worcester Magazine after nearly six years. Durgin began as a temporary staff photographer in 2009, but worked her way up the ranks, serving as Online Editor for two years, before serving the last two years as Editor-in-Chief.
So what's in store for Durgin now? She is going to back to school. Starting in January, Durgin will be working on a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science at Simmons. Fittingly, Durgin was also recently selected to serve on the Worcester Public Library's Board of Directors.
In 2014, comedian Orlando Baxter of Worcester was one of two Americans selected to participate as a finalist in the Montreux Comedy Festival in Switzerland. Baxter, along with five other comics from around the world, performed for three nights in the 'English speakers' portion of the festival.
"It was my international debut," said Baxter. "I was honored to be selected to represent the United States this year."
Dr. Melinda Boone
Superintedent of Worcester Public Schools
Earlier this month, Worcester Public School Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone presented her plans for an Academy for Advanced Learners at Doherty Memorial High School. According to those plans, WPS will spend 2015 evaluating and planning for the new academy.
At a School Committee meeting in December, Dr. Boone said, "This is a district-wide program. It’s not limited to any one school and Doherty is the most centrally located high school. For ease of transportation and access, that was the purpose."
The plan for the school is to hold at least one public hearing over the next few months. The School Committee will formally vote on the academy in April, and if it passes, an Advisory Committee will be put in place by August.
Newly Elected State Representative
At 32-years-old, David Muradian will begin his first term as State Representative for Worcester's 9th District. In November, Muradian defeated Democrat candidate Marty Green for the State Rep seat vacated by former representative George Peterson after twenty years in office.
Muradian served as an aide to Peterson for seven years as Director of Local Affairs before deciding to run. In aninterview with GoLocal Worcester before Election Day, Muradian said "I don’t think there’s any negative of any age and that’s the benefit of democracy. People go out and campaign and advocate about what they are going to be able to bring to the table. All the candidates out there are doing what they can to state their positives. No matter what your age, you need to identify your solutions and how you’re going to benefit your district.”
Register of Probate
In November, at the age of 26, Republican Stephanie Fattman won the Register of Probate seat for Worcester County in a huge upset over incumbent Stephen Abraham. Fattman is in her third year at Suffolk University Law School. Even at such a young age, and with no previous experience practicing law, Fattman caught the attention of Worcester County voters.
In just a few weeks, Fattman will begin her six-year term as Register of Probate. Fattman's husband, Ryan Fattman, one of GoLocal's 14 Who Made a Difference in 2014, will also begin his first term as State Senator next month.
WAM Executive Director
In a speech during the opening of the 'Knights!' exhibition at the museum, Worcester Art Museum Executive Director Matthias Waschek said "if the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for a swift institutional turn around, the staff of the Higgins and that of the Worcester Art Museum would have set something like a world record - where the former were preparing in no time for the transfer of assets, the latter were processing it in lightning speed: the Higgins closing was announced a year ago and we have now the entire collection under our roof."
That speech was made in March 2014. The 'Knights!' exhibition features armor and weapons that were assumed by WAM from the former Higgins Armory Museum. It was an unbelievably quick transfer of a collection and it put WAM and Waschek in the spotlight.
Nicole Gingras started Twine Floral right from her house this past April. A product of Rittner Floral Design in Boston, Gingras took what she learned there and incorporated aspects of her own life to the floral business.
"I have always loved flowers and making arrangements and thought that I could make a career out of it. I always wanted to own a flower shop and after doing research and talking with a lot of shop owners I decided to go to school," said Gingras.
Wonder Bar Pizza
Grand Re-Opening Expected Soon
The Wonder Bar, a staple on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester for nearly 85 years, was sold to the Prizio family this year. The Prizios currently own the famous Regatta Deli on Lake Avenue in Worcester. In October, the family announced that they had purchased the Wonder Bar and had begun renovations as they prepare for their Grand Opening.
Major Gifts Associate at the American Red Cross
Elizabeth Wambui, a Major Gifts Associate at the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts helps to raise funds through coordinating special events. These funds go directly to support the critical work that the Red Cross performs. For example, Wambui works with committees to plan events such as the Hometown Heroes Breakfast that honors local individuals who have performed heroic acts. Wambui also helped coordinate the Red Cross Annual Golf Tournament.
Boston Red Sox Assistant Director of Player Development
Brian Abraham, of Worcester, and a graduate of St. John's High School in Shrewsbury, has been a Major League Staff Assistant for the Boston Red Sox the past two seasons. Going into 2015, Abraham has recently been promoted to Assistant Director of Player Development. Abraham will be moving from a uniformed on-field staff member to the Red Sox front office.
Abraham will be dealing with players in the Red Sox' farm system and development of minor league players from the point of when they're drafted or signed as a minor league free agent or International free agent.
Co-Founder of Worcester Jazz Collective
At 25-years-old, Martin Gohary is the co-founder and pianist of the increasingly popular Worcester Jazz Collective and is a music teacher for Worcester Public Schools.
"Martin's only been playing Jazz for four or five years. He woke up one day and decided he wanted to do it. To be on the level as a musician that he is at, having only played for as long as he has, that's extremely commendable. He's gotten to a performance level that he's musically at right now is a huge deal. He's a raw talent," said Tom Lubelczyk, bassist for Worcester Jazz Collective.
Executive Chef and Owner of Sweet Bar and Restaurant
Alina Eisenhauer, Executive Chef and owner of Sweet Restaurant and Bar on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester is in the process of expanding Sweet's new menu for 2015.
As GoLocal reported earlier this month, Eisenhauer is also working on a new television called 'Surf n' Gourmet,' a food and travel show.
Executive Chef for Niche Hospitality Group
Chef Cornelius "Neil" Rogers won the Worcester's Best Chef Competition this past January. At the time, Rogers was the Executive Chef at Volturno on Shrewsbury Street. Nearly a year later, Rogers has left Volturno and has recently signed on with the Niche Hospitality group.
Niche Hospitality owns eight restaurants in Worcester County, Wellesley, and Providence. Their plan is to open a test kitchen with Rogers as the Chef running it and contributing dishes to each of their restaurants menus.
Deborah L Gonzalez
Quinsigamond Community College Director of Community Programs
As Director of Community Bridges at Quinsigamond Community College, Deborah L. Gonzalez is responsible for a number of programs connecting the College to the city of Worcester. As GoLocal reported in June, Gonzalez was extremely active with programs like the partnership between QCC and the Hector Reyes House. This program allowed thirteen ex-convicts and ex-drug addicts the oppurtunity to take culinary courses and learn to become chefs.
Gonzalez has also served as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Centro Las Americas, a social service Latino Community program that is home to the second largest food pantry in Worcester.
University of Michigan Graduate Heading to NYC to Dance Professionally
After graduating early from the University of Michigan, Worcester's Deanna Tomasetta is packing up her things and moving to New York City to start her dancing career. Although Tomasetta is home for the holidays, she will be heading to NYC within the next few weeks.
"I leave for NYC after New Years. I am super excited. I just finalized my living arrangements and I have a meeting with my agency once I get there and I will be getting into rehearsals with a dance company. I will be auditioning for more dancing opportunities once I get there such as commercial work, and dancing for other dance companies. I also found this newer passion for acting so I am kind throwing myself into the entire spectrum of the entertainment industry and see where that goes," said Tomasetta.
- Central MA’s Man of the Year
- GoLocal Worcester’s 2014 Company of the Year: Hanover Insurance
- GoLocal Worcester’s 2014 Non-Profit of the Year: The Friendly House
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Twine Floral’s Nicole Gingras
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Comedian Orlando Baxter
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Chef Alina Eisenhauer
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Chef Cornelius “Neil” Rogers
- 15 to Watch in 2015: WAM Director Matthias Waschek
- 15 to Watch in 2015: State Representative David Muradian
- 15 to Watch in 2015: QCC’s Deborah L. Gonzalez
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Register of Probate Stephanie Fattman
- 15 to Watch in 2015: American Red Cross’ Elizabeth Wambui
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Worcester Jazz Collective’s Martin Gohary
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Deanna Tomasetta
- 15 to Watch in 2015: Red Sox Asst. Director of Player Development Brian Abraham