Looking back over the past few years, I, Dr. Lara Setti, have been honored to serve as the chair of the BRIDGE board, working alongside our visionary CEO and Founder, Gwendolyn VanSant, and other dedicated board members to help cultivate a governing body with a clear sense of purpose, mission alignment, and steadfast commitment to the organization.
One glorious summer evening in 2018, we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of BRIDGE at our “Resilient Connections” Gala surrounded by our community of new and long-time supporters, friends, clients, educators, and activists. We continue to be supported by an incredible array of new, ongoing, and reinvigorated donors who have enabled us at BRIDGE to expand our work across professional domains throughout Berkshire County and beyond.
As a board, we had the great fortune in 2017 of working with Janet Block to develop a strategy for the next 3 years aimed to ensure adequate resources to allow Gwendolyn and her team to lead BRIDGE to the next level of expansion and growth while continuing to do BRIDGE’s justice-oriented work of collaboration, training, and activism. As a result of this effort, we were proud to introduce a new BRIDGE membership model to sustain and bolster BRIDGE’s mission and increase cross-sector connections, working with corporations, small business, and community leaders to make justice and safety for all a reality. This has created ways for businesses, organizations, groups, and individuals to support BRIDGE annually, through different circles of impact and receive a suite of services tailored for their needs (i.e. training, consultation, workshops, lunch n’ learns, cross-promotions, and discounts) to create and strengthen thriving, equitable workplaces and communities. Earlier this year, the board also spent a day with Ruby Maddox of Direct Your Purpose whose insightful facilitation helped us clarify BRIDGE’s organizational capacity needs, individual and collective board accountability needs, and mission as we move forward. Through all of these efforts, our goal has continually been to strengthen the board's foundation and in so doing, take BRIDGE's work to the next level while maintaining the integrity of its mission.
As BRIDGE’s outgoing board chair, I look back at the past few years of BRIDGE’s work with awe and inspiration. Gwendolyn has led BRIDGE’s team with tireless dedication--educating and inspiring so many and bringing individuals, communities, and institutions together to work toward a shared vision of a community based on justice, equity, and active participation. As a physician and community member of Berkshire County, I have personally found the work of BRIDGE to be critical, informing my everyday actions and weaving its way into the fabric of my life. I have learned to examine my own privilege, opportunities to create change, and obligation to take action. In January, as I step down and pass the baton to A. J. and Ari, I have absolute confidence in the resources of this board and its new leadership to carry out their work in support of BRIDGE as it continues to grow and deepen this work.
It has been an honor to serve in this role and my plan is to work with BRIDGE in other capacities in the future.
Dr. Lara Setti
Multicultural BRIDGE helps to improve the lives of community members throughout the Berkshires, and provides consultation and training to groups and businesses across the state and throughout the country.