COUNTY FARE: Leaders in the making


The state's next leaders are being groomed from our own Berkshire backyard.

The Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts recently announced the 37 women selected to participate in the organization's 2016-17 Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact. Four of those participants are from the Berkshires, including, Amber Besaw, of North Adams, and the program director for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition;

Sonia Filipczak, of Stockbridge, director of Youth and Community Health for Railroad Street Youth Project; Jeanet Ingalls, of Lenox, an artist, filmmaker and personal trainer; and Wendy Penner ,of North Adams, the coalition's director of prevention programs at Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.

The Women's Fund's leadership program has a competitive application process for its nonpartisan initiative, now in its seventh year with more than 230 graduates. The new cohort will participate in 11 intensive workshops, held in downtown Springfield, over the course of eight months.

More than 52 percent of participants in the 2016-17 class are women of color, and the group is diverse in age, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and represent multiple sectors and experience levels.

"We aim to advance a more equitable and just society by helping women develop individual leadership and a deep understanding of policy change," said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO of the Women's Fund.

"These extraordinary participants are leaders in their own right, with a diverse array of experience," said Ellen Moorhouse, program officer of the Women's Fund. "They represent industry sectors like business, government, law, health care, nonprofit and education."

The Women's Fund awarded over $50,000 in scholarships so that everyone who was admitted to the 2017 class could afford to attend the program, which has a tuition cost of $2,500

The Women's Fund is a public foundation that connects donors with the lives of local women and girls through strategic grant making and leadership development. Learn more at

Dental honors

Pittsfield resident, Thomas J. Sakshaug, DDS, was recently recognized as a William McKenna Volunteer Hero by the Massachusetts Dental Society, a statewide organization serving nearly 5,000 member dentists. Dr. Sakshaug was acknowledged by his peers for substantial contributions to organized dentistry at both the state and local district levels.

Practicing dentistry in the Berkshires for 30 years, Sakshaug has been a member of the Berkshire District Dental Society for 30 years, serving as treasurer for the past 13 years. He has also volunteered extensively with Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires, a Great Barrington-based organization that provides care for working, low-income residents in the county.

In a nondental capacity, he has volunteered with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and the American Chestnut Restoration Project. Locally, the dentist also has served as campaign manager for Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer; vice chairman for the city's Conservation and Animal Control commissions; and he is chairman of the city's Airport Study Committee.

Sakshaug, who resides with his wife, Kathleen Ochs Sakshaug, is a graduate of the Case Western Reserve University School of Dentistry.

The Volunteer Hero award is given in memory of the late Dr. William H. McKenna, considered a driving force behind the development of the Yankee Dental Congress and considered by many to have been a model of volunteerism within the MDS.

'Operation Copsicle'

Similar to the recent "Cone with a Cop" initiative on the Pittsfield Common, members of the Pittsfield Police Department's #HoopsNotCrime initiative partnered with Haddad Motors to present "Operation Copsicle" last Wednesday.

Officers Darren Derby and Sean Klink and Investigator John Bassi joined with Haddad's Paul Carmon, Dylan Scieszka, and Travis Torres to serve free popsicles to city youth.

Using the funds raised by the June #HaddadSockGame, during which the dealership donated a dollar for every social media post that month of community members wearing funky or funny socks, using the game's hashtag.

Along with some collaboration with Richard Rockefeller of Mr. Ding-a-Ling ice cream truck and the team at Graphic Impact, the officers and crew from Haddad handed out more than 400 popsicles, making 16 stops covering 10 neighborhoods in three hours.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.


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