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About Gwendolyn (Cofounder & Executive Director)

Gwendolyn VanSant

Gwendolyn VanSant is co-founder of BRIDGE (2007) with Bob Norris and Marthe Bourdon… a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting cultural competence and integration of diverse groups in Western Massachusetts. Graduating from Bard College at Simon’s Rock in 1992, Gwendolyn began her life here in the Berkshires. Powered by her own life experiences as well as formal education, certifications and training, she advocates fervently and shares her personal and professional experiences with the community at large having met the challenges presented as an African-American woman, professional and mother. Her diverse family includes her own experience within her cultural identities and those of her children representing various dimensions of diversity (e.g. Type 1 Diabetes, Autism, LGBTQ, & biracial.)

Gwendolyn VanSant, diversity leader and trainer, bilingual certified interpreter, and community activist/organizer, designs curriculum for workplace language classes as well as highly customizable cultural competency, literacy & proficiency training & multicultural education curriculum for groups of all ages and professional, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Designing community forums and facilitating tough systemic conversations, Gwendolyn has established herself as an expert in diversity leadership and cultural competence. She has worked with corporations, schools, colleges & universities, law enforcement, hospitals, teaching and leadership institutes and more. Originating in Berkshire County, her social justice work has been sought out locally, in other Western Massachusetts counties, bordering towns of NY and CT and as far as Boston for cultural competence training, curriculum consulting, keynote speaker and as an expert to initiate both a Workplace Spanish for Law Enforcement, an incentivized year- long program for BCC in 2010 and the first Women of Color in the Workplace Retreat at Amherst College in 2013 for graduating seniors and alumnae. Gwendolyn VanSant has also served on the Great Barrington
Citizen’s Panel for Police Officer and Sergeant Selection.

Gwendolyn VanSant serves on a number of Boards including the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and Greylock A Better Chance. In 2011, she was appointed by Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and Senator Benjamin Downing as a Commissioner on the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women, she currently serves as Chair (Nov. 2013.)

As of February 2014, Gwendolyn is enrolled in Kripalu’s Certificate in Positive Psychology ten month professional program with Dr. Tal Ben Shahar and Dr. Maria Sirois. Gwendolyn has been trained by the Leadership Institute for Political & Public Impact (Womens' Fund of Western Massachusetts LIPPI); National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), Options Institute: International Training and Learning Center; Peoples Institute for Survival & Beyond; National Area Health Education Center (AHEC) & more. Most recently honored as an African American of Distinction and also honored by Governor Patrick (2010), Chamber of Commerce (2012), Women of Color Giving Circle (2009) and the Immigrant Community of the Berkshires (2011).

[Governor] Patrick praised her leadership, calling her a “treasure to Berkshire County and this Commonwealth.”
Contact: Gwendolyn@multiculturalbridge.org. Resume and References available upon request.

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