Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, age 39
Danielle Letourneau-Therrien laughed as she explained that she has a magnet in her hand, and there always seems to be metal on the ceiling, no matter what room that ceiling is in.
In other words, whether it’s to raise funds for a student trip, serve as president of her high-school class, cheerlead for her high-school teams, fulfill a vacant city council seat, or serve on a board, that hand seems to be raised, “before I even have time to think about what I’m getting into,” she said.
A temporary job straight out of college landed her at the Northeast Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers workshops and professional-development certificate programs for educators in early elementary education to integrate ‘responsive classroom’ learning into their curriculum.
“It’s basically a social, emotional, and academic learning component that offers a whole-child approach,” explained Letourneau-Therrien. ‘Temporary’ turned into 12 years, but along the way, her never-say-no, get-it-done attitude attracted the attention of neighbors in the Greenfield area. In 2006, she found herself filling a vacant position on the Greenfield City Council, and being elected and re-elected over the next five years.
During that time, her hand shot up when she was approached about a board position with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County. When the executive director position became available in November 2012 after a rewrite of the job description, she found herself saying, “I think they really need someone like me,” and pursued it.
“At some point,” she told BusinessWest, “I stopped saying ‘someone like me’ and looked in the mirror and thought … I really am interested in this position.”
And now that she’s in it, she’s spending more time fund-raising, performing outreach, and handling organization operations, while leaving the micromanagement — mainly matching screened adult mentors with children ages 6-16 — to the talented case workers that have the system down pat.
Still civically involved, Letourneau-Therrien is a recent recipient of the Fortin Family Volunteer Award for community leadership in overseeing the fund-raising and buildout of the Greenfield-based Beacon Playground Project — proving that, personally and professionally, she’s playing for keeps, with a hand always in the air.
— Elizabeth Taras