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Leading in Central MA: Worcester Local First’s Julie Theriault

Monday, December 16, 2013


Julie Theriault of Worcester Local First

The Executive Director at Worcester Local First, Julie Theriault is one of the city’s biggest boosters. A former resident of Quebec City, Canada, Theriault has been in the United States for 11 years. She lives with her husband and two sons in the Tatnuck area of Worcester.

A Conversation with Julie Theriault

SW: Lets talk first about your career. How did your career begin and where?

JT: My career started working for the largest jewelry company in Canada while I was in school. I hated working as a jeweler in the corporate environment, so I transitioned to the business administration side fairly quickly. That’s when I realized that speaking English was crucial in the field so I moved to Whistler, British Columbia to manage their store there and to also polish my English language skills. The world of retail can be wonderful but at the same time can be so draining. I moved on from jewelry to managing soft goods retail stores, and I worked in high volume stores for over 15 years. I miss it sometimes. I am a great team builder and I love teaching so retail always delivered for me!

SW: What led you to your current career path?

JT: I am a leader and have always been in managerial positions. This led me to my current position as the Executive Director of Worcester Local First and I am pretty proud of it. I had actually just had my second son and was thinking about spending time as a stay at home mom. Then friends told me about the opening at Worcester Local First and urged me to apply. It was such a perfect fit for me. I moved to the United States to join my husband and we settled in Worcester which is the perfect life for us. In our Tatnuck neighborhood, we feel like we are surrounded by a big family. We can walk to everything and enjoy being in a city with a small town feel. Growing up in Quebec City, I grew up supporting the small retailer and buying local. My husband and I have both said that if we won the lottery tomorrow, we would stay right where we are. I just love being able to live in Worcester while doing something that helps make it a more vibrant, diverse and sustainable community.

SW: Can you describe a day in your life?

JT: My days starts with the kids, I have two boys. I typically answer emails first thing in the morning, do the tour of social Medias post or schedule a few posts. I often go out to visit current members or potential members, but right now I am focusing on grant applications.

SW: Are you involved with any other organizations in the community?

JT: I’d love to be more involved within the community it’s just a matter of time though. I would love to be involved with the city on one of the councils. This year I wanted to focus solely on Worcester Local First because it needed the attention! I had been really active at my son’s school before that. I am involved at my own pace and I help my neighbors. I have a tremendous respect for those with lots of life experience and I love to hear and learn from their stories.

SW: Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life?

JT: Jim Collins who wrote “Good to Great,” a book that stuck with me over the last 15 years. Also my parents, who taught me to be a good citizen, respect people and work your hardest.

SW: Your favorite quote?

JT: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou. I can’t stand constant complaining.

SW: What is the something that few p eo p le know about you?

JT: Not a lot of people know that I studied jewelry design and gemology. I have dreams of starting my own line of jewelry. At some point I will surprise everyone with a collection, but nobody will know about until they get the invitation!

SW: How do you spend your free time?

JT: I spend my free time with my family and enjoy cooking and baking. I am really excited about cross-country skiing. I love winter!

SW: What is your advice for helping the area to reach its full potential?

JT: I think the city needs to come out of its shell, embrace what we have here, and stop comparing ourselves to other places. We are unique! We need to do a better job of promoting what this city has to offer, particularly when it comes to small business. Also, citizens should take a step back and look at the big picture. Lead by example. Pick up trash, clean their sidewalks and be considerate drivers. Being good citizens makes a city more inviting.

SW: Any special plans for your future?

JT: Going forward, my plans revolve around Worcester Local First. I want to find an office for us to operate out of, and I’d like to sign up more sponsors for the organization. Worcester Local First is so important to Worcester, and I want to make it the best! I am very excited about the future of the organization and where it’s headed.


Susan Wagner is the president of Susan Wagner PR. In this challenging economy, she has begun a new division to offer affordable start-up packages to new and emerging small businesses and non-profit organizations that include professional writing services, websites, collateral, marketing, social media, grassroots outreach and PR campaigns.

If you have any suggestions for an interesting leader, please email susanwagnerpr@gmail.com.


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