PITTSFIELD -- He left Pittsfield 31 years ago to join the Marine Corps, a recent high school graduate, "just trying to find my way."

William Monterosso's journey took him through several professions and numerous places, but mostly to Kentucky and West Virginia where he headed state workforce development firms in both states.

Now, the 49-year-old Monterosso has finally come home, this time as the new director of the BerkshireWorks Career Center, which has offices in Pittsfield and North Adams. The Pittsfield native assumes his new duties today.

"There's a James Taylor song, and one of the verses is ‘They long for home, but they never go,' ‘' Monterosso said. "I've longed for home. I've longed for the Berkshires for a long time."

Most recently the executive director of the West Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, Monterosso replaces former North Adams Mayor John Barrett III, who had held the position on both an interim and permanent basis since May 2011.

Although BerkshireWorks is a quasi-public agency chartered by the Berkshire Regional Employment Board to provide job training, planning and assistance to county residents, Monterosso was appointed to the director's position by Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, who is the appointing authority by virtue of being the leading elected official of the county's largest municipality.

Bianchi is also a Pittsfield native, but Monterosso said he's only met the mayor once, and that was during his second interview for the director's position.

Monterosso said his 15 years of previous workforce development experience has prepared him well for how an organization like BerkshireWorks operates.

"Throughout my experiences, I understand the policies and procedures of the workforce," he said. "I understand the policy and restrictions of funding streams.

"It's imperative and critical that you align yourself with staff who understand that, or have the training and resources of how to understand how you utilize those funding streams in the best way possible so you make the largest impact on your community," he said.

In addition to Bianchi, North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright, and Richmond Town Manager Matthew M. Kerwood also participated in the second and final interview with Monterosso. Bianchi said he decided to open the interview up to other local officials because the director of BerkshireWorks fills a countywide role.

"I clearly felt that he had the right personality, the right skill set, and clearly the attitude that we were looking for to bring the career center to the level where we all thought it should be," Kerwood said.

Alcombright said he was impressed by Monterosso's passion, and his longing to return to Pittsfield.

"I think the other things that really set him apart was that he spoke a lot about collaboration, getting out in the community and building relationships," Alcombright said. "Albeit, he's from here, but he's been involved in this work for so long so he can come in with a nice, fresh perspective and some new eyes. The fact that he ran a state agency dealing with this stuff put him on the list from my perspective."

Monterosso settled in West Virginia after meeting his ex-wife, who is from that state, while serving as an MP in the Marine Corps. He became certified as a workforce development professional in 2003. In 2010, he was appointed to a three-year term as executive director of the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.

Monterosso said he was still living in West Virginia while working in Kentucky, and after two years of commuting became the executive director of the West Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, a non-profit organization whose membership is comprised of community rehabilitation programs that serve people with various disabilities. He's also served as the director of West Virginia's Workforce Investment Board.

BerkshireWorks is a regional, not a statewide agency, like some of the other positions that Monterosso has held, where some of his duties included leading and managing more than 700 employees. But Monterosso doesn't see his new position as a step down.

"Is it a step down? I don't know. Obviously, if you're looking at titles, it's a step down," he said. "But when I was in Kentucky leading their workforce and education cabinet, I was in the field. I was in the offices. I visited every single office.

"If I've learned anything in my 15 years of workforce development education and training is that nothing happens at the state level," he said. "It happens at the local level.

"You have to create that buy-in at that local level," Monterosso said. "That's what intrigues me and gives me great hope about this position."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:

TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com

(413) 496-62224