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During the last 9-months, Post University associates have been involved in Leadership Greater Waterbury (LGW), a program that focuses on personal and professional growth, leadership development, and community engagement. Offered by the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, participants in LGW engage in seminars and activities focused on the development of specific leadership competencies. Small group projects focused on addressing issues from around the region culminate this experience. Stephanie Dionne, director of the center for academic success, and Brandi Young, academic success counselor, worked as members of a group that planned and hosted “Taste and Talent” an event that supported local arts programs for Waterbury youth.

Held at the picturesque Hawk Ridge Winery in Watertown last month, attendees were treated to food prepared by students in Crosby High School’s culinary arts class and entertainment by “Bravo Waterbury!” an intensive after-school music program. While the event went through many phases of development, the goal was always focused around raising funds for Waterbury youth involved with the arts.

“The event was, in every sense of the phrase, a labor of love,” Stephanie shared. “From the start we knew we wanted to raise money for artistic education and showcase local talent. Through many iterations of what the event would look like, we stuck with those initial thoughts.”

“It was a long time in the making and the execution of the fundraiser was exciting and a really fun evening,” Brandi added. “Seeing it all come together was very gratifying.” Not only did the project allow them to work with other professionals from organizations in the area, but also the leadership program introduced them to many influential community members.

“Having face time with the decision-makers in Waterbury was not only fun and helpful for our project, but also helped me gain confidence in forging this type of relationship in the future,” Brandi said. “This whole process took me out of my comfort zone and forced me into situations that I would have never put myself in before. I’m honestly a better person (and leader) because of it,” Stephanie shared. “I got to meet some pretty amazing people that I might have otherwise never met.”

For Brandi and Stephanie, the event served to reinforce all that they had learned during their time in the LGW program. They learned valuable lessons that will serve them well in the personal and professional lives. When asked what advice they would have for future participants, both shared similar sentiments.

“Let it flow,” Stephanie said. “Even when you think you can’t see (or don’t get) the ‘end goal’ of the whole program, you’re learning.” Brandi added, “This is an incredibly useful training program to learn how to make a real difference in the Waterbury area and gain skills to essentially build something impactful from nothing.”